Board books are sturdy; their pages are like, well, boards... they can't be ripped, bent, or swallowed. Many picture books have been republished as board books so that younger readers can begin to enjoy classic texts at an earlier age.
Before kids learn to "be gentle" with paper books, and after they've graduated from touchy-feely cloth books, it's time to bust out some boards books. Just about all of these books also come as paperbacks and hardcover picture books, but if you're looking for something that can be gnawed on, it's best to stick with the board book editions.
10 Best Board Books
1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
He created a world of gentle, visually-pleasing characters, each with its own book. Most, if not all, are now in board book editions. In this story, the caterpillar eats his way from egg to butterfly.
I've never met a little kid who doesn't like Eric Carle books (and I hope I never do). The Mixed Up Chameleonis another of my favorites by Carle. If you're looking for a lovely gift set, try a trio of Eric Carle board books, such as Very Little Library, which includes The Very Lonely Firefly and The Very Busy Spider.
2. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
Eric Carle's distinctive artwork combines with a call and response text that is perfectly geared toward the youngest readers. The colors are bold and integral to the story. The rhymes are simple and sweet.
In an effort to begin my daughter, Zelda, on her path to becoming bilingual, we also stock her bookshelf with Spanish editions of our favorites; in this case it's Oso Pardo, Oso Pardo.
3. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
A good friend told me about this little truck's adventures. I was skeptical at first, thinking it was a lame imitation of The Little Engine That Could, but by the end of my first read-through, I couldn't stop smiling. There's something about happy-go-lucky animals helping a friend out of a sticky situation that makes me happy. And the truck "beeps"!
Meg: "Could not agree more! This is STILL one of Lucie's favorite books -- and she's 3!"
4. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Everyone needs this book. EVERYONE. I can't imagine how children ever enjoyed bedtime before this book was published. (Of course, ever since I saw the Simpsons episode in which Christopher Walken reads a portion of this book, I've read it - in my mind - in his voice, which is both hilarious and terrifying.)
5. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
More likely than not, someone read you this book when you were very small. After more than fifty years, this quiet story of a little boy out and about on a winter's day is still a staple in early childhood classrooms and bedside tables. I've read it a hundred times, and after each reading I just feel all warm inside.
6. Pete's A Pizza by William Steig
What does a creative and attentive dad do when his son is having a bad day? Why, he turns him into a pizza! This book gives everyone permission to stretch their imaginations when stuck inside on a rainy day. Read the book and then turn your kid into a burrito — or maybe some sushi.
7. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
Also a lift-the-flap book, this classic by Rod Campbell is a must-have for every child's library. The narrator asks the zoo for a pet, but isn't quite satisfied with each animal that is sent. The elephant is too big (of course); the giraffe is too tall (what did he expect?).
The illustrations and accompanying flaps give little readers the chance to guess which animal has just arrived. In teaching, we call this making inferences.
8. On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
I dare you to read this to your child without getting teary-eyed and choked up. This heartwarming book has gorgeous illustrations of starry nights; you can almost hear the lullabies lift off the page.
The book gives homage to the idea that every child is special and perfect in his or her way. Your child will remember the nights you read her this book as she drifted off to dream of what her life will be.
9. I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
When parents say we love our children unconditionally, we mean it. As this adorable book points out, even if our children were smelly scaly, carnivorous beasts, we would still love them with all our hearts.
10. Barnyard Dance! by Sandra Boynton
Sandra Boynton is a tremendously prolific writer of hysterical board books full of lovable animals that love to sing, dance, and make kids smile. Barnyard Dance! is one of my favorites.
Her poetic verse lends itself to rhythmic storytelling. You and your child will have a grand ol' time acting out the action on the pages. (I already wrote a funny little blog about her Belly Button Book that you might enjoy.)