Book Lists Gift Guides

Gift Guide: Board Books

I love giving books as gifts, but it’s also one of those things that is fraught with anxiety because, what if they already own it?! What if they hate it? What if they think books are lame gifts? (If that last one is the case, I can’t help you there).

This year, I’m planning on doing a series of 5-10 books in several different categories that I would not hesitate to give as gifts. I’ve tried to steer clear of really obvious choices like Goodnight Moon or The Hunger Games. If you’re thinking of giving a book, you’re probably the kind of person who is already familiar with those titles. These books will mostly be just a little less wildly popular, but just as fantastic (I think). I’d love it if you’d share in the comments your own suggestions!

And, so, without further ado, here are six of my favorite board books, all of which I own and which Ella has given the stamp of approval (which means that they have chewed corners):

Piggies by Audrey and Don Wood. This continues to be a favorite. The illustrations of the human hands with the fat, smart, long, silly, and wee piggies doing all sorts of silly things make me laugh every time. I’ve never read this without noticing at least one new thing.

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury. I love Helen Oxenbury – Ella often requests We’re Going On a Bear Hunt (mainly because she loves the dog), and this is another lovely book. The text rolls right off the tongue and the babies are sweet and diverse.

Very Hairy Bear by Alice Schertle and Matt Phelan. This book has been out for a while, but the board book edition published only recently. It took me a while to get the feel for the rhythm of the text, but now I love it. The illustrations of a bear through the various seasons (catching salmon, eating blueberries, getting honey from a hive, hunkering down for hibernation) are lush and colorful. 

Calling All Animals by Matthew Porter. Bart’s parents gave this to Ella for her birthday and she loved it (as she loves all things that involve animals. I love the retro feel of the illustrations and the clever text – each page shows an animal and then gives one of the names that the whole group of that animal is called (a sleuth of bears, anyone?). This book went missing for a while and when we discovered it under the seat of the car, Ella carried it around for an hour. 

Peter Rabbit Peekaboo! by Beatrix Potter. This book includes several of the most famous Beatrix Potter characters, each hiding behind a flap – Ella loves pulling the flap open to reveal the animals before I have a chance to finish reading the text on the page. There are also multiple other things to find on each page and as she gets older, I think she’ll continue to like this book as a kind of I Spy.

Baby Talk by Dawn Sirett and Victoria Blackie. Ralphie gave this to Ella for her birthday, telling me that her little girl loved this book more than any other. And so does Ella. She’ll open the flaps over and over again, exclaming “baby!” on each page. Each of the six flaps shows a baby and then under the flap shows a close-up of the baby with one large word underneath (“mama” or “yum-yum” for example).

Any other fantastic titles to add?

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  • Reply Camille November 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    This is a nice list, thanks Janssen! We have the piggies book, and plenty of Boynton books and Dr. Seuss and little golden books, but I'm always on the lookout for something good.

    Earlier this year I had to replace a library book because JBallz ate practically the whole thing. Gross.

  • Reply Sherry November 15, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Don't you love that your non-pet-owning self has a daughter who is totally obsessed with pets?

  • Reply Elsha November 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I'll need to check this out- we're always on the lookout for new books. If you haven't read Little Blue Truck you definitely should (and it comes in board book form as week as hardback.)

    Any recommendations for good dinosaur books?

  • Reply Kimberly F. November 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Have you read any of Herve Tullet's board books? I mean the ones that are not Press Here (which I also love). They all start with "The Game of." They're similar to Press Here – they encourage interaction but in a very simple way.

  • Reply Becca November 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    You could add anything by Sandra Boynton. Her stuff is hilarious!

    And FYI, the "here" in "here is a million times more than you wanted to know about me" in your About Me is not linked.

  • Reply kristen November 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    we LOVE piggies. although piper is still confused on whether to call her fingers or toes "piggies." 🙂

  • Reply Jenn November 15, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Great list – I haven't seen any of these before. I'll be on the lookout for them. One of our favorites is Chicka Chicka ABC. We constantly have that one checked out from the library, so I think I'm finally going to just buy it for Christmas. The rhythm is so catchy, it makes Libby smile immediately.

  • Reply Ralphie November 15, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    NieNie's new favorite is Dear Zoo, by Rob Campbell. It's another flip the flap book with repetition. I have brought it to nursery several times and the kiddos LURVE it. They ask to read it several times in a row, which of course makes NieNie bawl because it's "Mine!"

  • Reply Ali November 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    I'm totally passing this list on to my family, so they know what to get Jesse for Christmas. 😀

  • Reply The well rounded mom November 15, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Kiss Goodnight By Amy Hest is a favorite of all 4 of my kids and now it's a board book.
    We also like Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann and several of the Sandra Boynton Books like Moo Baa La La La, The Going to Bed Book, and Barnyard Dance

  • Reply Katie Rich November 15, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Thanks for the list! It came just in time for me to do a little baby gift shopping.

  • Reply heather November 15, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Ten little fingers and ten little toes is a standard baby shower gift for me. Hardly anyone I know has read it/seen and but every kid I've ever read it to has quickly fallen in love. And I love getting to kiss my kiddos on the nose at the end of the book.

    Baby Cakes by Karma Wilson is another of our favorites. My littlest loves the interaction (peekaboo, tickles, bouncing) and my older one loves the rhythm.

    I'll also second the Sandra Boynton suggestion. Doggies is a great one for babies and Red Hat, Green Hat for routine-loving toddlers.

  • Reply Carly November 15, 2011 at 8:40 pm


    I haven't read (and thus obviously don't own) any of these. Yay for new books to keep an eye out for!

    I love Eric Carle. We only own "Polar Bear, Polar bear…" but it's beena favorite for both my kids. Any anything else of his I get from the library is a favorite for the week too!

    Also both of my kids adore "what do you say?…" It has been a favorite for all three of my sister's boys too.

  • Reply Saskia November 15, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Hmm, it probably doesn't qualify as a board book, but I have to say it anyway. When Ella gets older, please read her The Cow That Fell Into a Canal. I loved it as a kid, so much that when I ran into a copy with a friend, I picked it up, gushing, and tried to make her understand how much I loved the book as a child. It could be my Dutch genes, of course, as the book does take place in Holland (a very nostalgic Holland, that's not what most of the country looks like anymore, but still, it's fun).

  • Reply Emily November 16, 2011 at 12:08 am

    Little Blue Truck! Just discovered this book, and it is a favorite in our house!

  • Reply Katie November 16, 2011 at 12:53 am

    Great list! Might I suggest Mem Fox's Time for Bed and Jez Alborough's Hug? Both are favorites with my 19 month old.

  • Reply Angela November 16, 2011 at 2:51 am

    Boynton's lesser known "Belly Button Book" and "Snuggle Puppy" are favorites around here.

  • Reply Mia November 16, 2011 at 3:14 am

    What is the age range for these… or board books in general? (Or really the age cap?) Obviously there is no CAP, but… say i'm shopping for an almost 1 year old, should I go with board books or something more advanced (for future growth)?

  • Reply Meghan November 18, 2011 at 4:35 am

    just doing some christmas shopping for my wee one..and thought maybe i should search your blog. Perfect timing. Hooray! Thanks

  • Reply Jillian November 29, 2011 at 4:24 am

    I want to get Lucy some new books for her birthday so I think I shall look for these! With the except of Piggies of course!

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