Board books are picture books designed to be read with babies and toddlers (from birth to 3 years of age). They are typically smaller than other picture books so that little ones have an easier time holding them and turning the pages. They also have hard covers and hard pages since babies and toddlers tend to throw and mouth books-- and would likely rip paper.
Board books often include minimal text and a repetitive structure. They may have more simplistic illustrations, or bright / high contrast images (like black and white) since babies tend to see simple lines and bold patterns more easily. Bright pictures are designed to hold babies' attention.
Board books (and really any picture book you read to your baby or toddler) can be extremely beneficial in terms of building early communication skills and pre-literacy skills. As a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who helps little ones learn to talk, I often use board books during speech therapy sessions.
But... not all board books are created equal! I tend to gravitate towards board books that have only one or a few basic images per page, so that babies can practice pointing to pictures (which builds comprehension skills). I also choose board books that include early speech sounds, environmental sounds (ex: beep, vroom, whoosh) and early words (hi, bye, mama, dada, baby, up, yum, more, eat, etc.) I look for books that encourage gestures/interaction or finger plays (waving, acting something out like pretending to beep a horn) since shared book reading ideally includes interacting with baby while reading the books' text. I pick books where words, sounds, story elements are repeated since little ones learn more through repetition.
Here are some of my favorite board books!
by Peggy Rathmann
It's bedtime at the zoo, and all the animals are going to sleep. Or are they? Who's that short, furry guy with the key in his hand and the mischievous grin? Sneak along behind the zookeeper's back, and see who gets the last laugh in this riotous good-night romp.
by Eric Hill
With its bold blue cover, this board book edition of Eric Hill’s classic story featuring everyone’s favorite puppy is just as iconic as the first lift-the-flap edition.
by Stephanie Ciatti, SLP
Turn your baby's babbles into words with Let's Talk, Baby by Stephanie Ciatti. As a Speech Language Pathologist and mom, Stephanie has created a fun and foundational baby book to support speech development starting day one!
by Molly McIntyre, SLP
Big Bears, Little Bears, Pink Bears and more! Another hit with littleones and early readers. This charming book pairs early adjectives or qualities with delightful bears who go on parade. It helps young children describe their world!
by Rod Campbell
Rod Campbell’s classic lift-the-flap book Dear Zoo has been a firm favorite with toddlers and parents alike ever since it was first published in 1982. Young readers love lifting the flaps to discover the animals the zoo has sent—a monkey, a lion, and even an elephant! But will they ever find the perfect pet?
by Bill Martin Jr. / Eric Carle
A big happy frog, a plump purple cat, a handsome blue horse, and a soft yellow duck--all parade across the pages of this delightful book. Children will immediately respond to Eric Carle's flat, boldly colored collages. Combined with Bill Martin's singsong text, they create unforgettable images of these endearing animals.
by Claire Laties-Davis, M.S. CCC-SLP
For toddlers ages 0-3. Provides opportunities to learn essential words and one-, two-, and three-word phrases connected to 90 everyday objects found in daily activities/routines. 150 single words and short phrases are introduced, then along the border of every scene a photograph of each item is presented as an additional search-and-find activity.
by Roger Priddy / Bright Baby
From ‘boat' and ‘car' to ‘apple' and ‘banana' Roger Priddy's Bright Baby First Words provides the youngest readers with the fundamental first words that will form the foundation of their vocabulary. Babies and toddlers will love the brightly colored images on every page, and the board book format is the perfect size for little hands to hold.
by Eric Carle
THE all-time classic picture book, from generation to generation, sold somewhere in the world every 30 seconds! A sturdy and beautiful book to give as a gift for new babies, baby showers, birthdays, and other new beginnings! Featuring interactive die-cut pages, this board book edition is the perfect size for little hands and great for teaching counting and days of the week.
An interactive touch and feel book for babies that inspires hands-on learning. Tactile elements and delightful imagery will encourage the development of motor skills and early learning.
by Sandra Boynton
Serious silliness for all ages. Artist Sandra Boynton is back and better than ever with completely redrawn versions of her multi-million selling board books. These whimsical and hilarious books, featuring nontraditional texts and her famous animal characters, have been printed on thick board pages, and are sure to educate and entertain children of all ages.