We’ve read a lot of board books in the last few years. Some we loved, and some were terrible. Since I’m always on the hunt for good books, here are a few of our favorites — the ones we open again and again.
What are your favorites? I’m always looking for recommendations particularly for authors of color or that feature main characters of color.
No Matter What by Debi Gliori
This is one of my staples as a foster parent. I read it regularly to kids in our home, and it’s one that I always send with kiddos when they leave our home.
What do I love about it?
First, I appreciate that the story uses the terms “Large” for the parental figure and “Small” for the kiddo. It sidesteps the “Mom” and “Dad” language I find awkward as a foster parent.
Second, it does a beautiful job telling what unconditional love is, how relationships can be mended, and reminds that our love is still with us even when we might be far apart.
Always by Emma Dodd
This is another one that I try to read regularly and send with each child who leaves our home. It’s what I hope for them as they grow — that they land somewhere knowing they’re loved always, without condition, no matter what. Plus, the characters are elephants, and I love elephants.
Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joose and Barbara Lavallee
Both the artwork and the message of unconditional love are beautiful! An Inuit child asks her mother whether she’d still be loved in varying circumstances. Plus, I love that the story features humans talking about love instead of animal characters.
Happy Hippo, Angry Duck by Sandra Boynton
I love the introduction to emotional intelligence as we read through the book. It walks through different feelings, asking if you’re “frazzled like a frazzled thing”, and then offers the reminder that feelings aren’t forever and that when you’re not happy, there are folks who still care for you a lot.
It’s both light-hearted and deep, and I appreciate that in this little intro to feelings.
Honorable mention goes to the Doggies: A Counting and Barking Book by Sandra Boynton. It’s ridiculous as we bark aloud to read, and we can’t help but get the giggles each time.
Little Green Frog by Ginger Swift
We’ve enjoyed this one with a couple of our littles. Lift-a-flap and pop-up books are fun for kiddos. And I have a soft spot for this particular one because it’s connected to their childhood stories. For one, a first smile came as I sang this song to him. For the other, I started singing the “Little Green Frog” song when I saw the tiny’s tongue poking out at me all the time. For both, I wrote why I picked up the book in their copies.
What’s a book that you bought simply because it connected to your child’s story?
Crinkle, Crinkle Little Star by Justin Krasner and Emma Yarlett
This is a classic for J and the kids. He’s into astronomy, and he can teach the kiddos constellations with fun artwork and rhymes. Plus, the littles get into touching the crinkle star on the last page.
baby bear sees BLUE by Ashley Wolff
During a trip to Birchbark Books, I found this gem on the shelves. The artwork is cute, and I love the way baby bear discovers colors and wonder as he explores the world with his mom. It gets a bit long for infants, so I start abbreviating the text. But the pictures get the tiny eager to touch the pages and engage.
Pandas Love Pickles by Liz Lynch
Pandas Love Pickles combines learning about the alphabet, animals and foods. There’s an animal trying a food for each letter of the alphabet, and some of the combinations are hilarious! Plus, I appreciate the way it encourages littles to try new things from burritos to sushi to radishes.
A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na
My appreciation for this book deepens the more I read it. The artwork is stunning, and it’s a bit of a treasure hunt to find the owl on each page watching over everyone as they sleep.
Honorable mention: Welcome Home Bear by Il Sung Na. The artwork here is fantastic as bear explores other animals’ homes and finds his own place in the world.
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
We have this memorized. When either of us is reading it aloud, the other frequently recites as the other is talking. All the kiddos got into the illustrations and the animal sounds. It’s a staple in our house.
The Goodnight Train by June Sobel and Illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith
This makes a frequent appearance at bedtime, and I’ve enjoyed the sound effects in the poetry along with the whimsical artwork as the goodnight train makes its way to bedtime. The current little has loved it too, and though I’ve lost count of the times he’s fallen asleep part way through as J was reading to him.
We All Count & Ojibway Animals by Jason Adair
We also discovered these two books on visit to Birchbark Books. The illustrations are vivid, and the back covers help explain the meaning in the artwork and the connections to Ojibway culture. Plus, the “We All Count” book teaches how to count in Ojibway.
Carrot & Pea by Morag Hood
This was a gift from my sister and discovered at Wild Rumpus (another local bookstore that I love). It’s zany, and I get the giggles as I read the story about these unlikely friends. The illustrations are simple and kitsch, but that’s part of what I love.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
It’s a classic that I’ve slowly learned to enjoy. I had bad experiences with it in kindergarten when I was behind the other kids in reading since I didn’t do preschool. But slowly, slowly as J and I’ve been reading it — it’s grown on me. J already loved it— it was his (and his mom’s) favorite.
Honorable mention goes to Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?
It’s simple. It’s catchy. But that’s part of its charm as kids learn colors and animals.
So what are your family’s favorites? What else should we check out?