Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Board Book Favorites: Mother Tested, Kid Approved

As the mom of a one-year-old and a three-year-old, I feel I've become something of an expert in the area of board books. We've spent many happy hours all cuddled up and reading. Of course, that means I end up reading the same books over and over and over-- and I've discovered that some books are just more fun to read than others.

My kids and I seem to agree that the best board books require some kind of audience participation, whether it's physical (giving a hug) or verbal (squealing or shouting or making funny noises). These little ones definitely like to be actively involved when sharing a book. Here are a few of our favorites: three published in the last decade, and three classics.

Three recent board books

You Are My Cupcake, by Joyce Wan
Scholastic, 2011
Simple text accompanies the most adorable illustrations. Bold lines, raised textures, pastel colors, and Hello Kitty-esque levels of cuteness are nearly irresistible to toddlers. Text such as "You are my cupcake. My sticky little gumdrop" gives the reader an excuse to squeeze and cuddle their child at every turn of the page, culminating in a barrage of nibbly kisses at the end as the last page proclaims, "I could just eat you up!" Nom nom nom... mwah!

Yum Yum Dim Sum, by Amy Wilson Sanger
Tricycle Press, 2003
Dim sum is a staple of my family's restaurant-going patterns, and I'm so happy that there's a kids' book about the food we so love to eat! My three-year-old can recite the text along with me, and we all have fun pretending to pluck food from the pages and chomp.

This book is part of Sanger's "World Snacks" series, featuring food from various cultures cleverly fashioned from fabrics and papers. (First Book of Sushi is another of our favorites!) Now, if only Sanger would do a book about pho or banh mi...

In My Flower, by Sara Gillingham and Lorena Siminovich
Chronicle Books, 2009
Chronicle publishes the prettiest books, don't they? The main appeal of this one, of course, is the felt butterfly finger puppet. The reader can wiggle it to and fro while turning pages, making for a delightfully tactile storytime experience with a curious child. My daughter loves to grab at the butterfly, and has recently discovered how to manipulate it on her own. She has so much fun making it "fly" around! This volume is part of the "In My..." series, which includes books about all sorts of other creatures, such as In My Nest (bird) and In My Den (bear).

Three classic board books

The Monster at the End of This Book, by Jon Stone and Michael J. Smollin
Random House, 2000 (first published 1971)
You know how librarians are always saying every reluctant reader just has to find the right book? Well, for my daughter, this was it! This is the book that made my one-year-old daughter a reader. When she was tiny, she was more into grabbing than reading, so this book played in nicely to her preferences. We discovered that she LOVED turning the pages to elicit a loud gasp or melodramatic "oh nooo!" from mama.

She's since branched out, and loves all books now... but is always happy to come back to lovable, furry old Grover. I can hardly get through the story properly, to be honest-- it's just a series of frenzied page turns and shouts. And that's what makes this book so much fun! 

Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
HarperFestival, 1991 (first published 1947)
This one is a no-brainer, but I have to mention how much I love the board book format. We also have it in hardcover and paperback, but this sturdy little board book gets the most use. The thick pages are a must when reading to a eager, grabby child night after night-- and it travels well, which is essential when taking the bedtime routine on the road for some family travel. 

Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham
HarperFestival, 2006 (first published 1956)
This book is perfect for an older toddler or young preschooler who's ready to experience a longer, more complicated narrative, but still benefits from those thick cardboard pages. My three-year-old loves the story, and really sits still with me to hear what's going to happen to that naughty runaway dog. My one-year-old loves the book too-- if only to point out all the illustrations of dogs.


  1. I love You Are My Cupcake! And the In My series are so popular at my library that I just went and bought a ton of them for our storytime collection.

    Also, the boys and I love the Monster app (which was free from Starbucks a while back). :)

    All great choices - thank you for sharing!

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