The 15 Best Board Books for Babies and Toddlers

13 of the best board books You've Never Heard of

By now, you probably know to start reading to your baby as soon as they are born. But what to read and when might be confusing, so we’ve rounded up the best board books for babies and toddlers below.

The board books we suggest in this article are the ones beloved by the combined 5 children we’ve raised in the last 16 years. Some of these are well-loved classics you’ve probably heard of and other baby board books will have never been on your radar.

We hope you find new treasures to add to your home library!

*best board books Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

Black and White Baby Board Books

Babies can’t see color for the first few months of their life. Instead, opt for high-contrast pictures in any board books you buy.

I kissed the baby

I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy

This black-and-white board book is perfect for newborns since they can only see black and white initially. It’s all about a new baby duckling and animals talking about their interactions with it. Make it interactive by following the tasks talked about in the book – tickling, hugging, and kissing!

Why We Love This Book: It has repetition and rhyme, black and white illustrations for newborns, interactive.
Appropriate for ages 0-1
Find this book in Newborn Books / Best Board Books / 1-year-old Books / 2-year-old Books

look look

LOOK LOOK! by Peter Linenthal

The simple text mixed with Black and White high contrast photos makes this a great book to read off the bat. My boys used to point and stare at each image as I repeated over and over again what they were seeing.

Why We Love This Book: Black and white illustrations for newborns, high contrast images
Appropriate for ages 0-1
Find this book in Newborn Books / Best Board Books / 1-year-old Books

Board Books with Faces

Did you know children learn emotions from watching other children’s facial expressions? Think of these board books as the first step in their social-emotional development.

Baby, boo and more books for 1-year-olds

Baby, Boo! by Beth Hardwood

My husband loved to read this to our little one repeatedly. It’s peekaboo in a board book. There are black and white photos of other babies, then the baby goes missing and a mirror appears for your child to find themselves. The giggles this book produced from kids were the best!

Why We Love This Book: Black and white illustrations for newborns, high contrast images, interactive, baby faces
Appropriate for ages 0-18 months
Find this book in Newborn Books / Best Board Books / 1-year-old Books

Baby Faces and other books for a 1-year-old

Baby Faces by Margaret Miller

We mentioned this book in our essential first-year books post because babies love to look at each other. As they get older, they can start to vocalize the faces that the babies are making.

They can also listen to you and make the faces the baby in the picture is making. You can use the book to prompt your baby. For example “That is yucky. Show me yucky.”

Why We Love This Book: Faces to mimic and teaches emotions.
Appropriate for ages 0-1
Find this book in Newborn Books / Best Board Books / 1-year-old Books / Learning Books for 1-Year-Olds 

Bedtime Board Books

We will always advocate for a bedtime story! Reading together is a crucial part of the bedtime routine even for babies. The stories below are the absolute best board books for bedtime!

Time for Bed and more books for 2-year-olds

Time for Bed by Mem Fox

Rhyming, animals, and the sweet words in this book make it the perfect companion before bed. I loved setting up a routine that let my kids know bedtime was coming.

We would bathe, put on lotion, and snuggle up to read a story. I made sure that my voice was quiet and soothing. Even if you have a new baby, incorporating a book into your nightly routine is a wonderful way to end the day.

Why I Love This Book: Rhyming for language development and lovely illustrations of animals make this a perfect going-to-bed book to include in the first books for babies.

Appropriate for ages 0-3
Find this book in Bedtime Books / Classic Books for Kids / First Year Reading Tips / Newborn Books / Best Board Books / 1-year-old Books / Animal Books for Kids

Goodnight Moon and other books for a 2-year-old

 Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

This classic children’s literature is beloved by generations of readers and listeners. The quiet poetry of the words and the gentle, lulling illustrations combine to make a perfect book for the end of the day. This is one of the most popular bedtime stories for babies ever written.

Why We Love This Book: Soothing, repetitive phrases guide children to sleep.
Appropriate for ages 0-4
Find this book in Newborn Books / Best Board Books / 1-year-old Books / 2-year-old Books / Bedtime Books / Classic Kids Books/ Bunny Books

the going to bed book

The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

We read this book until it fell apart (which for a board book is difficult to do).  The story makes no sense but that is part of the reason that we love it so much. If you are looking for hilarious bedtime stories for toddlers, Sandra Boyton has a few picks perfect for you, like Pajama Time.

Why We Love This Book: Boynton’s books are filled with humor, bright colorful pictures, and wonderful rhymes. 
Appropriate for ages 0-4
Find this book in Newborn Books / Best Board Books / 1-year-old Books / 2-year-old Books / Bedtime Books / Classic Kids Books

mama mama

Mama Mama by Jean Marzollo

A sweet rhyming book about a mother’s love (or father’s if you get that version too.) Featuring mama and baby pairings from the animal kingdom this book allows you to point out new species to your little one.

Why We Love This Book: Rhyming words, introduction of animals.
Appropriate for ages 0-4
Find this book in Newborn Books / Best Board Books / 1-year-old Books / 2-year-old Books / Bedtime Books / Classic Kids Books

Board Books for Learning

Start your child’s learning journey with stories that introduce concepts like colors, seasons, and food. They can look at gorgeous pictures of everyday objects and have you point them out!

Freight Train and other books for a 1-year-old

Freight Train by Donald Crews

This is another classic book for kids that has both trains and colors. What could be better? The simplicity of this book adds to the fun. If you have a child who can only sit for a very limited time, this book is a perfect choice.

Why We Love This Book: High contrast images, introduction to colors, perfect for train-loving children.
Appropriate for ages 0-3
Find this book in Color Books / Best Board Books / 1-year-old Books / Learning Books for 1-year-olds / 2-year-old Books / Classic Kids Books / 3-year-old Books

brown bear brown bear

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See by Bill Martin Jr.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear is a classic for a reason. It uses Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s signature style to teach about colors and animals.  The repetitive pattern is addictive.  There are so many activities that can be done with this great book for toddlers. But the colors and pictures are perfect for even the littlest reader.

Why We Love This Book: It’s a great introduction to colors and animals.
Appropriate for ages 0-4
Find this book in Color Books / Newborn Books / Best Board Books / 1-year-old Books / Learning Books for 1-year-olds / 2-year-old Books / Classic Kids Books

I Like Fruit by Lorena Siminovich and 12 other amazing baby books you've never heard of.

I Like Fruit and I Like Vegetables by Lorena Siminovich

Any book that introduces children to healthy foods from an early age is OK in my book. Add in the lessons about colors in I Like Fruit and also the lesson of opposites in I Like Vegetables and you have two winners. Oh! And did I mention these are textured and perfect for babies to explore with their fingers too?

Why We Love This Book: Textured pages are perfect for tactile learning about colors and opposites.
Appropriate for ages 0-2
Find this book in Color Books / Best Board Books / 1-year-old Books / 2-year-old Books / Food Books for Children

spring is here

Spring is Here by Taro Gomi

A wonderful tale that introduces the concept of seasons. Watch as the field changes through the year and the cow grows too! Beautiful illustrations make this a mommy favorite too. It’s a must-have nature book for a 2-year-old.

Why We Love This Book: Introduces nature and seasons to babies with high-contrast images.
Appropriate for ages 0-3
Find this book in 2-year-old Books / Best Board Books

Best Board Books for Toddlers

Soon your child will want to “read” along with you or by themselves. Board books are perfect for their little hands to get used to turning pages. These storybook board books are some of our favorites for kids who can sit a little longer.

Each Peach Pear Plum and 12 other amazing baby books you've never heard of.

Each Peach, Pear, Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

This adorable eye spy book has wonderful pictures, featuring nursery rhymes and fairy tale characters. It’s a perfect classic children’s book for a 2-year-old.

Why We Love This Book: The rhyming makes it memorable and easy to recite.
Appropriate for ages 0-3
Find this book in Classic Kids Books / Best Board Books / Books for 2-year-olds / Food Books for Children

The very hungry catterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

There are so many things about this classic book for kids that I love. Not only can you talk about days of the week, food, and counting, but you can follow the caterpillar on his journey to becoming a butterfly. When it comes to books for 3-year-olds, this one is tops.

Why We Love This Book: A gorgeous introduction to nature, food, counting, and days of the week.
Appropriate for ages 0-5
Find this book in 2-year-old Books / Classic Kids Books / Preschool Books About Food / Best Board Books / Educational Books for 3-year-olds

jamberry

Jamberry by Bruce Degen

This was Kirsten’s favorite book to read to her kids and as soon as you look at the pictures and start reading it, you will understand why. The rhythm of the story and the non-sensical rhymes make the book completely captivating. 

A boy and a bear head out on an adventure to pick berries in this delightful classic kids book. Marshmallow Cattails? Waffle and butter lily pads? Yes, please!

As a bonus, there is counting in this alliteration picture book as well. No list of first books for baby would be complete without this adorable read.

Why We Love This Book: It has rhythm and rhyme, counting, and alliteration, and it is adorable.
Appropriate for ages 0-5
Find this book in Alliteration Books / Counting Books / Rhyming Books / Best Board Books / Kids Food Books

That’s our list of the best board books! Did you find anything for the little one in your life?

Baby's First books: The 17 Best Books for Newborns and Infants

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Find the perfect board books and baby books for baby’s first year.

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