Sunday, March 11, 2012

Starting Your Baby's Library

Last weekend I went to Maryland to visit my BFF and her two month old baby boy. It was really fun and one of the things we did while I was there was drive to DC to see the famous bookstore Politics and Prose (where I also got to finally meet Teresa of Shelf Love -- yay!). While we were there, my friend said that she needed to start getting books for her boy's library. I bought one book for him and then said I would make a list of books I would suggest for a baby/toddler library. Well, why not make that list on the blog, right?

Note: All of these are board books. Though some board books are edited down for the format, they are the only thing worth buying if you are going to let your kid put their own hands on the books. Regular books will be torn within minutes, if not seconds. Board books are sturdy and grubby-hand-resistant and even hold up well to some chewing on the corners.

The book I bought without a second thought was

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Everybody loves The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Z even has a plush caterpillar that he got in an Easter basket one year.

Peek-a-Who? by Nina Laden
Any book that has cut-outs and a mirror at the end will be a big favorite with young book-lookers.

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
This book has very few words but lots of story. It's sweet and funny and I like it better than Goodnight Moon.

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
This is a classic and is just right for the little ones when it's in board book form.

Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli
This board book is the perfect way to teach your kid that some things are food and some things are not. They will still end up with some hideously inappropriate items in their exploring mouths but that's childhood!

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
This is the first book that Z read aloud on his own, just weeks after he turned three. I credit the great rhythm of the story and the easy concepts of colors and animals. Remind me some day to share the video we took of him reading this. It's adorable! Also, any of the books in this series are worth getting. The others are Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? and Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?.

The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone
This one probably isn't a book to read with your baby but toddlers love the build up and they'll especially be amused when you break out your best Grover voice.

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Rod Campbell
This one will need either a bit of supervision or have to wait for the older toddler years or else it will quickly become a flapless book. But Z was careful and he loved this book about choosing the right pet.

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham
This was one of my favorite books as a kid and the board book version is fun. Any kid who has watched mom or dad try and wrangle the family dog into a bath will love it.

I could keep going with a big list of every other Eric Carle board book, tons of Dr. Seuss titles, the other Leslie Patricelli ones or any of the Roger Priddy books that are so bright and colorful and great for introducing "firsts" but I'll stop here.

Which board books do you think are must haves for a baby/toddler library?

Feeling a bit nostalgic,


  1. We love anything by Eric Carle, including the ones you mentioned. My daughter is obsessed with The Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Busy Spider and Mr Seahorse. When the children were both babies, they loved Allan Ahlberg's books (Peepo, The Baby's Catalogue, Each Peach Pear Plum) and they were all board books, so have survived their babyhood (she's 2.5 now and my son is 4.5). We also really like the "That's Not My..." series from Usborne books, which are brilliant as they have little textured patches on each page for the baby to touch. We love anything by Julia Donaldson (some are available in card book) and, though, the pictures and text are quite complex, the rhythm of the language is beautiful.

    I realise these are quite British, but we also love Goodnight, Moon, given to us by our American friend. I could go on forever about books we love. :)

  2. Great choices! The board books I give to all new moms are Lois Boynton's Going to Bed Book and But Not the Hippopotamus. I also think The Little Quiet Book by Katharine Ross makes a terrific gift!

  3. Excellent choices!!! WE have all the same but two! I'd recommend any of the Eric Carle board books … we loved them all. And we really got into Pat the Bunny. (It didn't survive all the patting.)

  4. I think of "You are not my mother, you are a Snort!" every time I see any large vehicle whatsoever. So I would say of all the board books in the world, Are You My Mother is maybe my favorite.

  5. What a great list! I wish I'd had this when I was looking for a board book for my friend's new baby last Christmas.

  6. Great list. My kids have all loved Sandra Boynton books for the simplicity and rhymes--and they are great as board books. I had to laugh when you said that it might not be great to read The Monster at the End of this Book to a baby, but a toddler would like it because my husband was scared of that book for a long time after a babysitter read it to him when he was about 4 and his parents were on a trip out of town. My kids love it, though!

  7. Kinga - I think we have maybe a dozen Eric Carle books. They are all great! And I don't think we have any Julia Donaldson board books here in the states but we love them as picture books.

    Col - I'm not sure I've seen The Little Quiet Book but it sounds like a great one. I'll look for it since I'm always giving books!

    Jenners - So, at least we have the same taste in books for our kids! Yay! And the one book my friend already had was Pat the Bunny so I didn't list that one. But I love it even though my kid got his finger stuck in the ring.

    Jenny - Haha! That's awesome.

    Tasha - Well, I'm sure you will be buying more board books in the future so hopefully it helps going forward!

    Jody - We didn't end up with any Boynton books because I'm not a big fan of the art style but I know a lot of parents that love them. And that story is hilarious and I'm going to have to tease your husband when we finally meet. :)

  8. I really need to put Peak-a-Who on my list of books to pick up soon. I keep hearing it mentioned! Most of the books in Elle's library seem to be little Dr. Suess board books. Right now, though, she mostly likes to chew on them rather than read them. Ha!

  9. Peek-a-Who is really cute! There are a couple of others in the same series that are also cute but this is the best one. :) And I hope that Elle can learn to read by osmosis!