The holiday season is upon us once again, and if you have a baby or two on your shopping list, why not consider giving the gift of literacy with a board book or two? Now, anyone who has walked into a bookstore will know just how many board books are available these days – which ones do you pick?! That’s where I come in!
Instead of listing specific books I think you should purchase, I’ve decided to break this shopping list into suggested categories. I don’t know the babies you’re shopping for, so I can’t really tell you which books they and their caregivers will like best. Instead, I’m here to help you build a well-rounded collection that offers a variety of different sensations and experiences for a tiny reader.
This list was designed with infants in mind (the sturdy board book format is perfect for little ones who learn best by experiencing things will all their senses, including their sense of taste…), but many of these board books will still appeal to toddlers as well, making them gifts that really do keep giving.
Without further ado, let’s get into the list!
The high contrast offered by black and white board books is ideal for very young babies whose visual acuity is still developing, making this kind of book a perfect gift for newborns.
Some examples of black and white board books include:
Babies take in the world around them using all of their senses, especially their sense of touch, which is why board books with textural elements can be so fascinating for little readers. There are literally hundreds of touch-and-feel books to choose from, so there’s plenty of choice to be had!
Some examples of touch and feel board books include:
Babies adore staring at other babies, and you can’t go wrong with a baby face board book. There are a number of baby face board books featuring diverse babies from around the world that are very worth the purchase. Books that include child-safe plastic mirrors can also be a lot of fun, as little ones haven’t quite come to realise who that adorable baby is looking back at them through the mirror.
Some examples of baby face board books include:
Flaps are so much fun for curious little ones! Babies love playing peek-a-boo, and lift-the-flap books capture that magical experience in book form. Learning to lift a flap is also a fantastic way for little ones to build muscle tone and practice the fine motor skills they’ll one day need to turn pages and hold a pencil. This is another incredibly broad category, so feel free to choose whatever books appeal to you most!
Some examples of lift-the-flap board books include:
This another incredibly broad category with countless options, but I’ve decided to shake things up a little bit and highlight a few beautiful board books that tackle the theme of colour vocabulary through a diverse lens. It should go without saying that ideally any at-home library should introduce little ones to their new world in all its breathtaking diversity, and these books are a lovely way to do just that, while also fitting in some fantastic early vocabulary.
Some examples of colour board books include:
Now, you probably don’t need to have animal sound board books in a first home library collection, but they really are so much fun to read with babies, who often find their grown ups’ imitations of various animals absolutely hilarious. And really, what’s better than the sound of baby laughter?
Sound examples of animal sound board books include:
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t particularly care about “classics” when it comes to children’s books. Whether it is old or new, well-known or a hidden gem, what matters most to me is how developmentally appropriate a board book is, and to be honest, some of the so-called “classics” really don’t do anything for me, at least when it comes to books for infants. But, I’m very aware that there are certain classics that many caregivers consider “must haves” for their home libraries, and I’m not here to judge what people want to include in their personal collections. So, here are a few classic board books that have earned a place on countless bookshelves across the decades.
A few examples of “old standard” board books include:
Alright, this last category is a cheeky little one that I just couldn’t resist including on this list! It’s no secret that I adore the work of Japanese artist and designer Yusuke Yonezu, and I highly, highly recommend including at least one of his ingenious board books in every home library collection.
Some of my favourite Yusuke Yonezu board books include:
And there you have it, a recommended shopping list for a baby’s first library! Obviously these are just the suggestions of one children’s librarian, and should not be taken as gospel – if you have favourite baby books, by all means, share them with the world! There are more wonderful books out there than I could ever possibly list, so I’m sure I’ve left countless fantastic board books off this list, simply in the interest of time and space.
What are some of your favourite board books for babies? I’d love to get your recommendations!