But it’s also important to read about the world around us, especially other children. So let’s look at board books for babies and toddlers that show people of color, families from different cultures, and other diversity.
Let’s start how we want to continue…showing kids our rich, diverse world.
Diverse Board Books for Toddlers
Global Baby BEDTIMES by Maya Ajmera
Babies and toddlers love photos — especially photos of other kids! In this sweet board book about getting sleepy and going to sleep, each page shows a baby from a different country. Some babies sleep in a cradle, some on their mama’s back, and some snuggle near a sibling.
Baby See, Baby Do by Robie Rogge, photos by Jennifer Hale
A board book with kids of color all about babies. From “Baby smiles” to “Baby’s surprised” — this darling board book introduces children to actions (waves) and feelings (happy). Plus, it has a mirror so your baby can see their own face!
Who? A Celebration of Babies by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Natascha Rosenberg
Who? Who’s that? the narrator asks on each page. See baby with mama, dada, birdie, doggie, and more in this sweet multicultural board book with predictable text.
Baby Loves A First Book of Favorites
“When Baby is hungry…Baby loves a yummy BANANA” begins this captivating book of photographs, diverse babies, and everyday activities things. It continues “Find the BANANA!” Similarly, the pages show Baby in different situations (thirsty, wants to cuddle, wants to play, etc.) and ask the reader to find something (find the ball, find the puppy, etc.) for Baby. I love the diverse photographs and so will your toddler.
Watch Me Grow!
Toddlers and babies LOVE books like that begins with a milestone at one month of age (“Watch me clench my fist!“) and continues until 24 months (“Watch me stand on my tiptoes!“). It’s really interesting for us adult readers to follow the developmental milestones of these children who lift their heads, stand, walk, and eat with a spoon.
Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison
Incredible, beautifully illustrated African-American women fill the pages of this darling board book. They are astronauts, leaders, singers, dancers, reporters, actresses, and painters; the trailblazers that show little girls many possibilities. This diverse board book is perfect for young readers, too. For the most part, each page tells the name of the woman in the one sentence describing who they are. For example, “Augusta Savage sculpted toys when she had none.”
You Can Be by Elise Gravel
“There are many ways to be a kid. You can be . . .” begins this brilliant book filled with acceptance for a child’s ways of being including funny, sensitive, noisy, artsy, caring, dirty, strong, studious, helpful, and scared. Gravel shows the possibilities in being yourself and feeling different emotions. Parents reading this book will express their parental love and acceptance of their children. Not only is the book lovely, but Gravel’s artwork is also captivating and expressive.
I Love Me by Sally Moran and Ambelin Kwaymullina
Celebrate all the things about YOU as you read this self-esteem affirmation-filled book. “I love me. I love my eyes. I love my noes. I love the way my curly hair grows.” And so it continues. The happy, expressive illustrations swirl and whirl in rainbows of colors. Love yourself. You’re amazing.
Let’s Go, Ted! by Sophy Henn
Ted shows us how he uses his imagination. Why is he sitting in the box? Lift the flap to see that he’s actually in a speedy race car! On the next page, lift-the-flap to see how the cardboard box becomes a yellow digger followed on subsequent pages to become a submarine, a train, and a rocket shop. Kids will love the interactive flaps and imaginative play. I hope this inspires lots of cardboard box play!
Bedtime, Ted! by Sophy Henn
It’s, “Bedtime, Ted!” but Ted is not quite ready. First, he has to “brush, brush, brush [his] teeth with a toothy crocodile.” And get water. And jump. Until he is ready for “snoozing, sleeping dreaming with a cuddly friend or two.” Kids will love unfolding the pages then seeing all Ted’s special plush animal friends with him in the bed.
Rosa Loves Dinosaurs by Jessica Spanyol
This little girl of color loves her dinosaurs and is pretend playing with them defying stereotypes that only boys like dinosaurs. She makes a dino den, digs skeletons, reads books, goes to the museum, and even reads her dinosaurs a bedtime story. Fabulous illustrations.
The Babies and Doggies Book by John Schindel and Molly Woodward
This diverse book is spot-on for the age group as it shares the fun antics that both babies and dogs do — things like cuddle, peek, sniff, and squirm.
The Nutcracker (Bedtime Classics) illustrated by Carly Gledhill
Clara’s toy nutcracker comes alive and turns into a handsome prince. They travel to the land of sweets. Simplified for the youngest readers and absolutely wonderful, read this at Christmastime to celebrate this classic story.
Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland (Bedtime Classics) illustrated by Carly Gledhill
Meet a diverse Alice who follows a white rabbit and tumbles into a magical place called Wonderland. Alice has adventures that are easy to follow and beautifully illustrated.
Black Cowboys by Kyla Ryman, photographed by Andrea Robbins and Max Becher
Predictable text (“This cowboy is . . . laughing“) and photographs show black cowboys and cowgirls riding horses in this well-done, diverse board book.
Future Engineer by Lori Alexander, illustrated by Allison Black
Finally, a developmentally appropriate book about a STEM concept! “Engineers want to know how things work. // So does Baby.” The diverse illustrations show an engineer with her robot and a little boy with his toys. “Engineers make things that help others. // Baby loves to help!” What a darling introduction that makes engineering relatable to kids and what kids do.
Busy City: Indestructibles by Maddie Frost
Light-weight pages that are chew proof, rip-proof, non-toxic, and 100% washable show people and vehicles living, playing, and working in a city. “Construction workers build,” says one page filled with big machines and people working including noise sounds like “grr” and “clank“. “People shop and eat,” is on the next page with sounds like “huff huff” and “toot” and “vroom“. This is a book designed just for young readers that they can hold and chew if they want.
Hero Vs. Villain: A Book of Opposites by T. Hat Fuller, illustrated by Alex Eben Meyer
OOOH, I like this book so much. he hero and villain, shown in amazingly colorful graphic-style illustrations, become friends at the end. Which I LOVE!! Because we are more than just one thing. Opposites include: “Up in the air / Down in the lair” and “Build / Destroy“.
Good Morning Buenos Dias by Meritxell Marti & Xavier Salomo
Read this book to say good morning to the sun (sol), rooster, Dad, Son, alarm clock, neighbors, and baker. It’s time to get up! Slide the levers and watch what happens. The bakery’s windows open to reveal the bread-filled store, the windows show the neighbors busy inside their houses, the dad shaves shaving lotion off his face, and more. How fun is this book? I highly recommend it.
Good Night Buenas Noches by Meritxell Marti & Xavier Salomo
The text is basic — first in English, then in Spanish — making it easy to either read in one or the other language or both languages. With the slider illustration as reinforcement for your second language, you don’t need to read it in your first language at all. Kids will be able to infer “estrellas” with the illustration of four stars. “Good night, stars. / Buenas noches, estrellas.” Say goodnight to the moon, tree, stars, squirrel, cat, house, and baby.
Cerca / Close by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Blanca Gomez
A young girl of color shows us her world, specifically what things are close to other things. She does this by connecting things together. “The door is close to the apple tree. The daisies are close to the apple tree.” What will be close to the apple tree? The horses! Read it in Spanish or English or both! “Mi amigo esta cerca de mi. My friend is close to me.” Earthy colors, an important concept (close), and enchanting illustrations.
Lejos / Far by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Blanca Gomez
Like the book Cerca / Close, this book shows things in a young boy’s world that are far apart from each other. “The lemon tree is far from my house. My house is far from the city.” It’s a lovely story that develops the concept while showing geographical features and a kid who the readers can relate to.
City Block by Christopher Franceschelli, illustrated by Peskimo
Super cool but quite heavy. This dense board book introduces kids to the city’s many features (subway, museums, parks, food options) as a grandfather and two children explore. Vibrant illustrations with some pages that open up and others that are cut away to show the next page. I like this book but think it’s a bit unwieldy weight and size-wise for toddlers so it would be best for shared reading.
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