Our Most-Read Toddler Board Books

posted by Andrea | 06/12/2019
 

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The kids and I love utilizing all the “free” books at our local library — I honestly can’t even begin to count how many thousands of books we have checked out over the past 7 years (our kids are all part of the “1000 books before Kindergarten” program).

Since we check out piles of library books every week, and since I don’t particularly love buying or having lots of extra things around our home, we’ve never really gotten into the habit of BUYING books to keep. 

Our children have been gifted books over the years and we’ve picked up a handful from the local thrift stores, but in general, when it comes to children’s books, we borrow instead of buy.

However, I will admit to having a teeny-tiny “soft spot” for toddler board books… so we have a dedicated shelf for those in our living room (inside the end table next to our couch). 

We don’t have a huge number of board books, but the ones we have are chosen carefully and have been read, and read, and loved and loved for the last 7+ years, through all 4 of our toddlers. 

Dave and I know them by heart, the kids know them by heart, they know when to flip the pages, they know if we skip words, and they know if one book is missing off the shelf.

I realize there are hundreds and thousands of amazing children and toddler board books — in no way do I think my list contains the “best books” or the “right books” — they are simply the books ALL 4 of our kiddos have loved and enjoyed and requested and memorized and talked about and dragged around with them on a daily basis for the last 7 years!  

Here they are, in no particular order…

Our Most-Read Toddler Board Books

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle

Photo Credit: AndreaDekker.com

This was the very first book Nora memorized and it has been a favorite of my toddlers ever since. They love "reading" it to younger siblings.

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Freight Train by Donald Crews

Photo Credit: AndreaDekker.com

I don't know what it is about this book, but our toddlers are obsessed with it. They love the colorful train, they love listing the names of the different train cars, and they love the last picture with the smoke billowing behind the train that has driven past the page.

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Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino

Photo Credit: AndreaDekker.com

This is one of my personal favorites -- the rhyming, the alliterative names, it's just so fun to read. And my kids love shouting out the name of the next animal as we turn the page.

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Mother Goose Rhymes

Photo Credit: AndreaDekker.com

I can't even find this exact book on Amazon (ours is SUPER old), but any type of Mother Goose Rhyming book is a big hit with my tribe!

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Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Photo Credit: AndreaDekker.com

This lift-the-flap book has been a favorite of ours since we first got it when Nora was a baby. She requested it over and over and over again, and all the kids have just loved it. The poor flaps aren't doing so well anymore, but we make do!

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Peek-A Who? by Nina Laden

Photo Credit: AndreaDekker.com

This super short book is a fun interactive book because the kids need to lift the pages to see what's "hiding" behind the cut-outs. They like shouting out the last word -- peek-a-BOO, peek-a-ZOO, peek-a-CHOO-CHOO, peek-a-YOU! etc.

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Thank You, God! by Kathleen Bostrom

Photo Credit: AndreaDekker.com

This book reads like a rhyming prayer and follows the story of creation (thank you for day/night, thank you for land/water, etc). I can remember reading this book to Nora in the middle of the night with my eyes closed, and still turning the pages at all the right places because we had read it so many times!

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar By Eric Carle

Photo Credit: AndreaDekker.com

I suppose I can't list favorite children's books without including this one! The little holes in all the fruit are just the perfect size for tiny fingers to poke through -- an activity that apparently never gets old, even after reading this book hundreds of times!

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But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton

Photo Credit: AndreaDekker.com

I thought this book was so odd the first time I read it, but it has thankfully grown on me after years of daily reading! The over-all message is fantastic, and I'm a sucker for clever rhyming! šŸ™‚

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Counting Kisses by Karen Katz

Photo Credit: AndreaDekker.com

This is the PERFECT bedtime story book -- not only does it teach kids various body parts and counting to 10, it's also a great way to give a few extra smooches before heading off to bed when they put the baby to bed in the book. And the artwork is fantastic!

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Where's Spot? by Eric Hill

Photo Credit: AndreaDekker.com

I believe every single one of the flaps on this fun lift-the-flap book has been torn off at least once. It's just so much fun to "find spot" that eager hands get a little too rough. Never-the-less, it's apparently still just as fun to "find spot" with re-taped flaps!

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Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Photo Credit: AndreaDekker.com

This book has very few words but there are SO many things to look at on every page -- different patterns to follow, different colored keys to find, etc. etc. and my kids like saying "goodnight" to each animal. Of course, they find it hilarious when all the animals end up in the zoo keeper's bedroom (sorry, spoiler alert)!

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All Things Bright and Beautiful

Photo Credit: AndreaDekker.com

I think we have the 90's version of this book (the new one on Amazon is much prettier!) but the soft edges, puffy pages, sparkly flowers, and cut-out designs offer much fun for little hands. And the book follows the lyrics of the song, so we regularly "sing" this book instead of reading it!

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Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton

Photo Credit: AndreaDekker.com

The infamous "oops book", as my children call it, is a HUGE favorite for all my toddlers. They giggle and laugh the whole way through, and try to say the "ooooooops" in their highest-pitched voice -- which of course, makes them all laugh again (even more so when Dave does it!)

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Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

Photo Credit: AndreaDekker.com

I said this list wasn't in any specific order, but in my opinion, I "saved the best for last"! I absolutely LOVE this book, the pictures, the story, the message, everything. I practically get choked up every time I read it (which is SO abnormal for me)! I will read this book to my kids as long as they let me -- it's just fantastic.

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As you can (maybe) see by some of the book pictured above, these books are WORN! 

Even though they are board books that are supposed to hold up to rough toddler hands, our books have “been through the wringer”. The covers of some have been completely ripped off and tapped back on, most of the “lift-the-flaps” have been taped back on (multiple times), there are stickers covering many of the covers and marker scribbles inside. The books are covered with stains, water marks, frayed edges, and even a few bite marks. 

These might be signs of a lazy parent who doesn’t properly supervise her children while reading… or they might be signs of how much my children have loved these books over the years!

Our beloved board books might be ready for the trash… but we’ll hang onto them for another year or so, until Clara is ready to start reading bigger-kid books with her siblings! 

In the meantime, you’ll probably find me reading Blue Hat, Green Hat 27 times every day, just so she can say “oooopssss” in her tiny little voice at the end of every page! šŸ™‚

What are/were your most beloved, well-read toddler board books?

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26 comments

  1. Geraldine

    06/13/2019

    You’re missing Owl Babies by Martin Waddell

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  2. Janet Pfaff

    06/12/2019

    My granddaughter loved Snuggle Puppy and Moo , Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton.

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  3. Margaret

    06/12/2019

    I learned about book tape when I was working part-time at the library–it’s what they use to repair books, and it doesn’t yellow or peel off, and it is as wide as a roll of duct tape.
    You can find it online–just Google Scott book tape. A roll will last for years unless your kids are super-book-rippers. I also use it to reinforce the binding on paperback books.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for the heads up on the tape — I’ll look into it!

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  4. Myrna Eisenlauer

    06/12/2019

    Absolute favorite is Good
    Night Moon. The sounds of the words are so soothing and calming -almost puts me to sleep!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we love this book too — but ours isn’t a board book, so I guess I never thought to add it to my list!

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  5. Jennifer VeStrand

    06/12/2019

    My very favorite was “The Greedy Python”. I’m not an Eric Carle fan, in general, (blasphemy, I know!) but this one teaches a great lesson!

    My kids also loved the “Carl” books. They had no words but had beautiful illustrations of a beloved Rottweiler and his toddler “master”. They were so sweet and the imagination could run wild! They are still available on Amazon.

    And, not board books, but I have to mention “The Duchess Bakes a Cake”, “Double Trouble in Walla Walla”, and “Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree”. The first two are rhyming, tongue twister books that are so much fun! I always read them to my kids’ classes when it was my turn, and they were always a hit! And the last one is almost the BEST Christmas book ever! Oh and also “Jasper, the Fish Who Saved a Marriage”. Nora would probably love all of these!

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    Jen Reply:

    And I had to mention any Richard Scarry book! Not sure if they are available as board books, but they are so interesting. There’s something different every time you look at them. I remember looking at them for hours as a kid, and my kids loved them too! Okay–done now! I could talk about books for hours! šŸ™‚

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh yes, our kids LOVE Richard Scarry books! We have the HUGE books with bazillions of tiny pictures and things on every page. I thought they’d eventually tire of look at them, but they all come off the shelf at least once a week šŸ™‚

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  6. Christine Meurer

    06/12/2019

    In addition to many of the ones you listed, i love the ABC board book by Dr Suess because i get to say zizzer zazzer zuzz and four fluffy feathers on a fiffer feffer feff. šŸ˜‰ Another one i love is Each Peach Pear Plum. I have it for my kids and loved it as a kid.

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    Andrea Reply:

    we have the ABC book too — but I dont’ like it! haha! I make Dave read it to them šŸ™‚
    I’ll have to look up the Each Peach Pear Plum — that sounds like one I would like too!

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    Diana Still Reply:

    We have it too and at first I did not like it because it was boring. Did you know there’s a longer version that has a little more variety for each letter? I think I’d like that one better, but it’s definitely more for older kids because of the length. So when I do read it, sometimes I sing it to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, and sometimes I just put up with it šŸ™‚

    Each Peach Pear Plum is one of my favorites! It alludes to a whole bunch of nursery rhymes and folk tales šŸ™‚

    Most of the ones you’ve listed are on our favorites list too! Board books are amazing, and I’ve definitely done the eyes-closed read, too!

    Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is another favorite here. And there’s a series that includes 3–Toot Toot Beep Beep, Tip Tip Dig Dig, and Tap Tap Bang Bang (about cars, big machines, and hand tools) that all my kids have loved as well. We do actions or sounds for each page so they’re interactive. Emma Garcia is the author, I think.

    Happy reading!

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    Christine Meurer Reply:

    That’s hilarious – i have it memorized so i can “read” it when i need to distract a kid during a diaper change or waiting in line or something. I wonder if some of your kids will grow up to not like it too! So funny.

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    Andrea Reply:

    no our kids love this book — and request it often. I just don’t like reading it!

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  7. Carol

    06/12/2019

    We read “The Going to Bed Book” by Sandra Boynton every night for well over a year!

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    ShellyL Reply:

    Yes!! My crew and I loved The Going to Bed Book. I enjoyed reading it to them many times. Also, almost any Dr. Seuss books are favorites of ours.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’ll need to look this one up — it honestly doesn’t sound familiar to me!

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  8. Evie

    06/12/2019

    Great to see a whole family of book lovers. My kids loved so many books and loved reading out loud to the younger sib. Be sure not to miss the board books by Gyo Fujikawa. Some are picture books for babies, and there is a series of wonderful toddler story books. Beautiful stories and beautiful illustrations.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks — I’ll look up that author too!

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  9. Kim

    06/12/2019

    Doggies by Sandra Boynton was our favorite…………..b/c of course, one has to use a DIFFERENT voice and bark for each dog. I loved giving it at showers. It gave the new parents-to-be time to practice and create all the voices/barks needed.

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  10. JJ

    06/12/2019

    This is a great list!!! The pictures and well loved books are fantastic!!! My grandma gifted my babies/toddlers subscriptions to Hello magazine. They have rounded corners and are laminated, so they have endured many reads and three teething babies. Normally I am a purger. Normally I am not sentimental. Maybe it’s hormones, but when my husband grabbed our baskets with the Hello magazines and the babybug magazines(also gifted by a friend and so loved by my kids!) and said he was going to throw them away I choked up. I was all tears as memories flashed from all of our times snuggling and reading while laughing and making memories. He was all, “Um. OK…” Haha! I did leaf through them and got rid of the really worn or not favorites(okay, so it wasn’t many!).

    My children LOVE the free book they get every month from https://imaginationlibrary.com/

    At first they weren’t offering it in our area. I put my kids’ names on the list, and they emailed once it was available. We have been very impressed with the quality literature. One book was The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Thought of this when I saw yours! They get one free book in the mail each month until they turn 5.

    If I had known some did this, I might have looked around more to choose a pediatrician that gave a free book at each checkup. That builds a nice little library for babies and toddlers!!! One of my friends had mentioned her kids got a free book at each checkup–so nice!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, we can’t get the imagination library books by us either — bummer! It’s such a cool program though!

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  11. Annette Silveira

    06/12/2019

    Iā€™m going to say that a worn-out book can be nothing but a good thing!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I’d have to agree!

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  12. Ashley

    06/12/2019

    We have many of these on our shelves, too! We love anything Sandra Boynton. My kids also enjoy Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site and any of the Usborne “play” books with all their interactive and textured parts.

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    Andrea Reply:

    The Goodnight, Goodnight, construction Site book has been checked out of the library at least 10 times over the last few years — they LOVE it!

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