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  • Where the Board Books Are

25 Board Books for Baby's First Library

Some of you have been asking for baby shower gift ideas/baby's first library ideas, so I thought I'd start with these 25. Many of these books (if not all of them) will already be familiar, but hopefully the compilation of these 25 in one post will be helpful for anyone looking for ideas. And as always, I'd love to hear about your own personal favorites.

1. Animal Babies on the Mountain by Julia Groves

I've already written about the Animal Babies series here, but in case you are new to my blog, Animal Babies is a beautiful series by Julia Groves about the various names of baby animals. In this one, you'll find a cria, kittens, eaglets, a panda cub, kids, and wolf cubs.

2. Colors by Xavier Deneux

Another one of my favorites, Colors is part of the popular TouchThinkLearn series which stands out for its thick raised and cute-out illustrations.

3. Where's the Ladybug? by Ingela P Arrhenius

There are so many lift-the-flap board books on the market, but this is the first lift-the-flap I've seen with felt flaps instead of paper ones. What a clever idea since paper flaps can be difficult for little hands to lift whereas the felt is easy to move. A really fun book for babies first library and there are so many Ingela Arrhenius books to choose from!

4. The Secret Garden: A Flower Primer by Jennifer Adams

An attractive looking spring-themed book, The Secret Garden introduces children to basic flower names -- crocus, snowdrop, daffodil, columbine, snapdragon, poppy, lily, and others.

5. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

The Runaway Bunny -- a must-have for baby's first library. The classic tale of a baby bunny who playfully tries to run from his mother turns into an imaginative journey of hide-and-seek as the mother bunny assures him that she will always find him.

6. Farm by James Brown

For baby's first farm animals, I've picked out Farm by James Brown. A beautifully illustrated book with a unique collage on the opposite side of each page, making it visually intreging in a way that many farm books aren't.

7. Goodnight Goodnight Sleepyhead by Ruth Krauss

Illustrations by Jane Dyer never disappoint. Her work is really stunning. In Goodnight Goodnight Sleepyhead, a little girl prepares for bed by saying goodnight to all the things around her. "Goodnight windows, goodnight doors, goodnight walls, goodnight floors..." In many ways Goodnight Goodnight Sleepyhead reminds me of Goodnight Moon.

8. Take a Nap by Marsha Diane Arnolds

There are so many different ways to take a nap! Penguins take standing naps, dolphins take swimming naps, bats take upside down naps, baby koalas take inside-pouch naps...and babies, babies take snuggly naps. A perfect precursor to the nap time routine with your little one.

9. You're All My Favorites by Sam McBratney

This is such an adorable story, and the perfect book for siblings. As three baby bears suddenly want to know who the favorite is in the family, the mother and father bear assure them that each one is the most wonderful and perfect bear that anyone has ever seen -- boy or girl, spots or no spots, big or small.

10. Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin

While all good picture books have artistry, Emily Winfield Martin's illustrations are exquisite for their detail, whimsicality, and fantastical nature. Written in rhyme, Dream Animals carries the reader off to a place of dreams. When you're snuggled in your bed and fast asleep where will you go? Whom will you meet?

Perhaps a bear will carry you to meet peculiar friends

Who set their misfit table for a feast that never ends.

Or will you hold on tightly as a red fox leaps and bounds

Towards an elfin hollow hidden underground?

A beautiful book.

11. Little Tug by Stephen Savage

As you can see, this is a very well-loved copy in our house. Little Tug may not be the biggest or the fastest boat in the harbor, but he sure is helpful! So when the tall ship is still, he pulls, and when the speedboat's motor breaks down, he pushes, and when the great big ocean liner can't fit into the harbor, he guides the ship to safety.

12. All the Awake Animals are Almost Asleep by Crescent Dragonwagon

Another one of my favorites! With illustrations by David McPhail, All the Awake Animals is full of vocabulary from a-z.

Antelope is already asleep, all the way to his antlers...Cat's circled up on a crimson couch cushion, while Chimpanzee's created a cozy cradle of leaves, and she and her child climb in cuddling.

For those of you familiar with Animalia, you'll definitely like All the Awake Animals are Already Asleep.

13. Time for Bed by Mem Fox

For children who love the repetition and rhythm of words -- "It's time for bed, little mouse, little mouse, darkness is falling all over the house..." -- Time for Bed is, to me, an illustrated lullaby. With illustrations (once again) by Jane Dyer, a baby's shelf wouldn't be complete without this gem.

14. Go to Sleep, Little Farm by Mary Lyn Ray

It's dusk and a little girl looks out of her bedroom window. A bee is flying by. But where is it going? Children will love imagining the different animal habitats as the book describes how somewhere a bee, a beaver, a bear, mice, foxes, horses, etc. are making their beds. "Somewhere a bee makes a bed in a rose, because the bee knows day has come to a close. Somewhere a beaver weaves a bed in a bog." With striking illustrations by Christopher Silas Neal, Go to Sleep, Little Farm sets the tone for bedtime with its dimly light, shadowy illustrations in a way that captures the end-of-day mood -- that day is coming to an end, that the world around you is slowing down, and that it's time for even the busiest child to go to sleep.

15. Little Blue Truck Leads the Way by Alice Schertle

I have to say that while the Little Blue Truck series is full of fun characters, I particularly like the text and story in Little Blue Truck Leads the Way. When Little Blue Truck comes to the big city, he's surprised by how fast and unfriendly the other cars and trucks seem to be. It's not until Little Blue Trucks speaks up saying, "Stop for goodness sakes. You might be fast and I might be slow, but one at a time is the way to go" that the vehicles change their ways. With car and truck noises that little ones will love, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way reminds all of us that while it's easy to rush or overlook those around you, lending a hand and being friendly is always best.

16. Sheep Go to Sleep by Nancy Shaw

While Shaw does a lovely job with rhyming, it's the illustrations by Margot Apple that really bring this story (and all of the other books in the series) to life. As five sheep (and the tag-along seagull) settle in their shed, night time noises keep them up. But with a little help from a trusty collie, soon all the sheep are snug in their straw, fast asleep.

17. Cookies: Bite-Sized Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I am such a fan of this book. With illustrations (once again) by Jane Dyer, Cookies: Bite-Sized Life Lessons breaks down words like cooperate, patient, trustworthy, fair, compassionate, optimistic, etc. in a way that children can really understand. "Cooperate means, how about you add the chips while I stir? Patient means, waiting and waiting for the cookies to be done...." With so many good examples of ways to be honest and caring, you'll be reading this book and making cookies a lot!

18. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker

It wouldn't be bedtime in our house without Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site. Out of all the construction picture books on the market, this one tops them all -- in both text and illustration. Sherri Duskey Rinker's rhyming is exceptionally creative and children will love pointing out crane truck, excavator, dump truck, cement mixer, and bulldozer. After a hard day of work they're ready for bed. "Construction site all tucked in tight, the day is done turn off the light. Great work today! Now...shh...goodnight."

19. Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

A classica that I'm sure all of you are familiar with -- a zookeeper is out saying good night to all of the zoo animals when a gorilla gets ahold of the zookeepers keys. An animated story through illustration unfolds as the gorilla tip-toes through the zoo, letting out all of the animals.

20. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr/Eric Carle

Both of my children seemed to love this book as babies. With a repetitious rhythm and big illustrations, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a perfect first read.

21. My First Book of Things that Go by Alain Gree

I've written more about this series here, but as a brief overview, My First Book of Things That Go is a simple first concept book. French author and artist, Alain Gree brings a refreshing character to day-to-day objects with his attention to detail and vibrant color pallet.

22. Paddington Bear All Day by Michael Bond

It's never too early to introduce children to Paddington Bear! Paddington Bear All Day goes through the routine of Paddington's day from morning until night. "First it's breakfast , tea, and toast...lunch comes next, and then it's tea, with marmalade. Oh lucky me!" A book that shows the excitement in starting a new day and the satisfaction of resting at the end of it, Paddington Bear All Day is a lovely introduction to the world of a well-mannered, curious, and sometime clumsy, Paddington Bear.

23. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Another classic for baby's first bookshelf, The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter.

24. We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

As a family goes on an adventure to find a bear, their journey presents a series of obstacles as they run through wavy grass, splash through a deep river, trudge through mud, or stumble through a forest. With words like swishy swashy, splash splosh, squelch squerch, or hoooo wooo, little ones will love the book's humor and adventurous excitement.

25. 1 is One by Tasha Tudor

Tasha Tudor! This list wouldn't be complete without a book by Tasha Tudor. In this lovely counting book (which is one of the few counting books that actually goes past ten!) children will be able to not only see the numbers 1-20 but also the written form of the numbers. While the youngest readers will just want to listen and look at the pictures, I think this is a book that grows with children as they begin to identify numbers and letters as well as the sounds of words that rhyme. A classic worth being on every child's first bookshelf.


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