When I saw Allie’s post of baby board books, I thought, “Oh no! I wanted to blog about that.” But as it turns out, we have totally different lists. I couldn’t believe it. After reading the girls’ list, the boys wanted to put together their own.
So we went through our baskets of board books. A few years back, I decided to organize the books in the boys’ room. I wish I could say they stayed that way! At least the board book baskets stay relatively neat. I found these open metal containers and knew they would be perfect for the odd shapes and sizes of board books. You can see the titles yet the books stay contained. And they are easy containers for the boys to slip off the shelves, go through, and then put the books away (and back on the shelves…at least that’s how it works in my dreams).
For our list of favorite baby board books, I decided to limit ourselves to 10 books that we read the most when the boys were babies. It was a tough pick. But we found a good indicator: if we’d memorized the book, it should probably go on the list.
This is our classic pick by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd. Ironically, I can remember receiving it from a friend right before CJ was born and thinking what a boring, old-school book. (I was, after all, enamored with Click, Clack, Moo. And I have no memories of this classic from childhood.) But I grew to love it. I’m not sure if it was because it was so simple to read or because CJ loved it and requested it every night or because it was one of the first books he memorized and read to me, but it is a book I now think should be on every baby room bookshelf.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
OK. One more classic—this one is from Eric Carle. And I remember this one from childhood. I can hear my Mom reading the end, “and he was a BEAUUUUUTIFUL butterfly” (“beautiful” drawn out in an almost singing voice). And that’s how I read it.
What CJ might remember when he reads this to his children is “POP.” It was his favorite part and I’d stop reading to let him “read” that part. We also took the time to go through all the food the caterpillar ate. We’d count it or I’d wait for him to say the food’s name or he’d say the day of the week. It was not only a regular read, but a regular learning experience.
Planes, Trains, Trucks, Machines At Work, and other Byron Barton Board Books
These simple books were my go-to books for keeping the boys occupied. I had some in my diaper bag, the car, and even a basket at the dining room table. While I did read them, more often the boys looked through them on their own. They were fascinated by the illustrations of the vehicles and people in action.
How Do Dinosaurs…
Dinosaurs always seem to be a winner with boys. This collection by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mike Teague offers a little lesson in each book. The beginning is usually filled with questions that have an obvious answer, which is, “No,” the dinosaur should behave that way. For example, “Does he hide all his dump tracks, refusing to share?” or “Does he put dirty socks in the back of his drawer?” Then it says, “No. A dinosaur…” and tells what a good dinosaur does. We had a set of four that we read many times. Then we started checking out others at the library. Our favorite is How Do Dinosaurs Eat Cookies because it is scratch and sniff AND includes recipes. (A post unto itself for another day.)
Belly Button Book!
We also have a book on our list by Sandra Boynton. It’s a silly one. And the reason why my boys still call a belly button, a “bee bo.”
According to the book, hippos love belly buttons. They especially love showing them off at the beach in the bathing suit a little too small. They even have a song for belly buttons. I’m not sure if I got the melody right, but it works. The book puts a smile on our faces every time.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Now we don’t only have this popular ABC book in a small board book, but a large board book (which is where we found out what happens after the letters fall out of the tree) and a paperback version with CD that recites and sings the book a couple hundred times. (I recommend ear plugs if you buy this version.) But this didn’t just make the list because it is fun to read and helps kids with their alphabet. It was the first book CJ read to Cam when he was a baby. As a book lover and children literacy advocate, it had to be one of the sweetest, best Mom moments, which I’ll never forgot. (Don’t worry. I caught a bit on video.)
Miss Spider’s Tea Party
I never would have guess this book by David Kirk would make the list, but the boys picked it and I have to say both of them have always been drawn to it. They’d often ask me to read it and thumb through it themselves. And we inherited it from another family of two boys who also like it. Maybe it is the counting. Maybe it’s the bugs. Whatever the reason, it’s a sweet story of a spider who wants to play, but no one will join her tea party. Of course, all the other bugs are scared of her. (When the boys got older, we talked about why and how spiders capture and eat other bugs.) Don’t worry. There’s a happy ending. Miss Spider saves a moth and the other bugs see she’s a friendly spider.
Allie mentioned this in her post about Leslie Patricelli, but it is one of our favorite “love books” (after the last two on this list). It was a Valentine’s gift for Cam, which turned out to be very appropriate because he’s such a love. He often comes up and gives a hug or kiss for no reason. He’ll say, “I love you!” unprompted. And he’s most tuned in with other people’s feeling…well, maybe not his brother’s…at least not all the time. In particularly, we love the two pages of “More huggies and kissies” like “Eskimo kiss,” “Group hug,” and “Tight squeeze.” Looking at those pages now, I realize that these are regularly signs of affection or requests in our house.
Guess How Much I Love You
I started reading this book by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram when CJ was a baby. I’m not sure when it started or where we got it, but it was read so much that it is incorporated into an “I Love You” mantra we created. In the book, Little Nutbrown Hare is telling his Dad, Big Nutbrown Hare, how much he loves him. Big Nutbrown Hare always comes up with a way to say/show he loves him even more. At the end, Big Nutbrown Hare says he loves Little Nutbrown Hare “right up to the moon and back.” We say this to each other on a regular basis.
I Love You Through and Through
Finally, I’d say this is our favorite board book by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak, illustrated by our favorite author/illustrator Caroline Jayne Church. Each page features something we love about our kids from body parts to the good (giggles) and bad (cries). As I read each body part—fingers, toes, ears, nose—I’d kiss it. I also somewhat act out the actions/emotions that are mentioned. It all ends with “I love you through and through. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, too.” That last part is also part of our “I love you” mantra and said on a regular basis.
That’s our list…for now. Some are definitely “boy books.” But others can work for everyone. What books would make your list?