My sister-in-law and brother-in-law welcomed a baby boy in July promoting me to first-time aunt and my girls to first-time cousins! The happy family lives in New Orleans so as soon as we got word of his arrival, the girls and I started preparing a package of books to send him.

We thought of hundreds that we love and wanted to share. But we decided in this first package we’d only send the books we thought were ideal for the very young. With input from both my 20-month-old and four-year-old, we put together the following collection of must-have board books for our new family member.


Pat the Bunny
It doesn’t get more old school than Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt. In our house, we’ve loved and wrecked several copies. My oldest cut her teeth on Pat the Bunny, learning how to turn the pages and exploring its touch and feel pages. It’s definitely not the most durable board book but it’s a classic.

Boats Go
This is a family favorite from Steve Light’s series about noisy vehicles. Its only text is the sounds that eight different boats make. We added it to our library when my littlest was only a few months old, and it captured her attention from the start.


Big Red Barn
This classic by Margaret Wise Brown is another book we’ve had to replace at least once from overuse. In this simple rhyming story about a day on the farm from dawn till dark, the text and illustrations name and describe its inhabitants with more substance than a simplistic farm animal book. We love it at bedtime.

Goodnight Gorilla
When the gorilla secretly follows the zookeeper home from his rounds at the zoo in Peggy Rathmann’s silly bedtime book, giggles always ensue at our house. My little one always exclaims, “Oh my goodness!” when the gorilla is revealed to the zookeeper and his wife. I love it as much as they do.


Freight Train
This mesmerizing Caldecott Honor book is a rainbow of color and such a beautiful read. Trains captivate my girls and this book is no exception.

If you read my post about Leslie Patricelli, you’ll know that in our house we are avid “Baby” fans. The girls just had to introduce their cousin to one of their favorite characters in this silly book about baby bodily functions.


A You’re Adorable
When the girls’ great grandmother gifted us with this board book illustrated by Martha Alexander, I had to look up the words to the 1940s pop song that make up the text. I’m so glad I did! We love to sing it to each other and it’s a reprieve from the traditional A-B-C song that we find ourselves singing constantly these days. It’s a love song and a sweet book all in one.


Dear Zoo
Rod Campbell’s lift-the-flap book about prospective pets is endearingly simple for little readers, especially my nephew who has a dog for a “big brother.” Along the same lines we thought his library needed a book by Sandra Boynton, and Doggies fit the bill—a pleasure for kids, parents, and maybe even the dog.


Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
My babies always loved looking at pictures of other babies! This book, written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, was one of those they loved to leaf through gazing at baby faces. The text reflects on the universality of babyhood around the world but comments on the special bond between each mother and child. It’s appropriate for a new mom, too!


In my post about author team Janet and Allan Ahlberg, I wrote about rediscovering this book from my own childhood so I thought it would be fun to include it for my nephew. Another fun “peek-a-boo” book of sorts is Lois Ehlert’s Color Zoo. In this Caldecott Honor book, colorful shapes become animals and cutouts morph creatures into others as baby turns the page!


Last but not least was my baby’s choice, Baby Be Kind by Jane Cowan-Fletcher, a sort of how-to book for the very young on sharing and caring. When I asked her what book she wanted to send to her cousin, this was the first one she suggested…by name! How could I refuse?



We’ve packaged up the books and sent them on their way! We’re already plotting our next book shipment to our budding reader.


What are your favorite board books for babies? Check out Christine and the boys’ picks in our next post.