The Best Board Book Ideas for Toddlers

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January 2020

Here are Elephant Books, we are always on a search for the best children’s books out there. We thought we’d share some of our favorites by compiling a list of the Best Board Book Ideas for Toddlers.

Reading from a young age is so important, and finding engaging and educational books for your child can be difficult. So for this list, we chose some fantastic books that not only excite and entertain but also support your child’s development and encourage a love of reading. Focusing on topics ranging from Christmas to colors to landmarks, each of these books offers something special and enjoyable for your young reader.

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What Is a Board Book?

A board book is a children’s book specially designed for toddlers, usually aged 12-36 months. Built from cardboard or other durable materials, they are made for young children to explore. They can be tossed, bitten, tugged, and stepped on without worry.

They often come with interactive components like interesting textures or shiny surfaces to encourage your child to engage with their other senses. The text is often simple with large print that makes learning to read easy and more approachable. Board books are designed specially to open the world of reading by allowing children to explore books, their texts, their different components, and the act of sitting down to read together.

Our Top 20 Board Books for Toddlers

Photo Board Books for Toddlers

Creature Colors
Andrew Zuckerman

Explore colors and numbers with this wonderful board book featuring photographs of animals from all around the world. Experience the colors of the rainbow with red snakes and orange fish. Grow your child’s number skills while four penguins waddle and nine ants work. This fantastic book is a great way to celebrate nature, while learning a lot along the way.

Rah, Rah Radishes!
April Pulley Sayre

This board book takes you and your child on a trip to the market to explore all the different vegetables out there. From broccoli to bell peppers, learn about the kind of veggies on your plate. This fantastic book features a rhyming scheme that makes reading it feel like a fun and exciting chant. It also includes real-life photographs of each of the vegetables, making it a great opportunity for your child to learn more about the world around them.

Swim, Duck, Swim!
Susan Lurie

It’s time for duckling to go swimming in the water, but he is hesitant to get wet. It’s always hard trying something new! With encouragement from Mama and Papa Duck, though, he bravely joins his family in the pond, and they end up having a blast. This sweet story about trying new things carries a great message and allows your child to learn more about nature.

Happy Birthday, Cupcake!
Terry Border

Join Cupcake as she plans her birthday party with her best friend, Blueberry Muffin. They brainstorm different activities they think their friends might enjoy until they decide on one last idea that’s just perfect. This book is so creative and features real-life photographs of different deserts as characters. It’s humorous, entertaining, and sure to engage your young child. It’s also great for birthdays!

ABC: The Alphabet from the Sky
Benedikt Gross and Joey Lee

Get ready to get high up in the sky and discover letters in all kinds of places around the globe. The books authors used satellite imagery and computer technology to find “accidental letters” in rivers, roads, buildings, and landmarks. This book is an amazing way to explore the alphabet with your child and to talk to them about different aspects of geography. Be sure to look closely–you never know what you might find!

Board Books for Toddlers That Explore Colors

Color Zoo
Lois Ehlert

Having won the Caldecott Honor Award, this board book is a classic. It takes you and your child on a color adventure through the zoo, pointing your attention to animals and their different colors and shapes and sizes. With very intentional color choices, this book will capture your child’s attention and encourage them to think about different colors. Its rhyme scheme also makes it a great book to use for a read aloud that you can explore together.

Freight Train
Donald Crews

Another Caldecott Honor Award winner, Freight Train introduces your child to different parts of a train. Each type of car is a different color and the entire train makes a beautiful rainbow. Each illustration makes it easy to identify and talk about different colors. With simple text, this book will help introduce your child to reading and just might spark a new passion in trains.

You Are The Light
Aaron Becker

Celebrating light and the different ways it can change color, this absolutely captivating book features a bright yellow sun surrounded by die-cut circles. If you hold the pages up to the light, the colors change and transform into something completely new. Throughout this book, you and your child will explore different colors, as well as the way that light makes our world beautiful.

Mouse Paint
Ellen Stoll Walsh

What happens when three mice discover jars of paint? Equipped with red, yellow, and blue, the three mice explore what they can do with their new discovery. Join them as they learn about these new colors in this light-hearted, captivating story. With beautiful, yet simple illustrations, it is sure to become a favorite.

Black on White
Tana Hoban

It might seem silly to mention a book in black in white when talking about color, but young toddlers actually have a lot to gain by looking at things in black and white. The contrast helps them identify shapes better! This book in particular does a great job of emphasizing the contrast to help your child discover shapes. Its pages also fold out like an accordion, perfect to wrap around during a read aloud or to splay out on the floor for tummy time.

Board Books for Toddlers That We Love

At Elephant Books, we pride ourselves in filling our subscription boxes with some of the best books out there. We search thoughtfully and carefully for new and exciting titles that excite and engage every young reader. Every month, we send out three wonderful board books to inspire young readers. Here are a few titles we love that we have sent out in the past.

Landmarks
Katie Wilson

What better way to teach children about historically significant landmarks than with child-like drawings of some of the most famous ones? With camels roaming a desert below a blazing sun to highlight the Pyramids in Giza, Egypt to traditional Italian architecture as the setting for the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, each destination is a lovely glimpse into important places around the world. We love this title because little fingers can easily trace the structure of St. Basils’ Cathedral in Russia or the Sydney Opera House in Australia, making the reading experience both fun and memorable.

Hopper and Wilson
Maria van Lieshout

Two lovable stuffed animals sit on a pier overlooking the ocean and muse about what it’s like at the end of the world. Fanciful ideas of endless lemonade and a staircase to the moon convince the two to embark on a boat to find out. Although a storm leaves Hopper alone in the boat, the little mouse is relentless in searching for his missing friend. Reunited, the two stuffed animals are overjoyed to find themselves back where they started and exactly where they wanted to be: home. This heartwarming story teaches young readers about the importance of friends dreaming together and sticking together.

Catching Kisses
Amy Gibson

Get ready to have fun introducing or sharing personal memories of such famous destinations as New York City’s Time Square, the Washington Monument in D.C., and Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Kisses travel everywhere and this book showcases popular landmarks to explain just how far and how different they might be. Catching Kisses is the perfect book to introduce children to famous landmarks throughout the United States. The book lends itself to opening dialogues about travel, history and maybe even some family memories of past visits to some of these sites.

Lionel and Molly: Colors
Joanna Lake

You could not find two better friends than Lionel and Molly. They’re always on some kind of adventure together, and, in this book, they explore the world through colors. Whether picking green apples or splashing in blue puddles, they show that color—and fun—is everywhere! We love this book because its whimsical illustrations and lighthearted tone are sure to get your child excited about learning their colors.

I Dig Bath Time
Brooke Jorden

You could not find two better friends than Lionel and Molly. They’re always on some kind of adventure together, and, in this book, they explore the world through colors. Whether picking green apples or splashing in blue puddles, they show that color—and fun—is everywhere! We love this book because its whimsical illustrations and lighthearted tone are sure to get your child excited about learning their colors.

Christmas Board Books for Toddlers

Where’s Santa Claus?
Nosy Crow

This board book will help you and your child get ready for Christmas as you follow Santa on his adventures. Felt flaps conceal where Santa is hiding and when lifted they reveal Ole St. Nick himself. This book is so interactive that it will get your child engaged and curious. It’s especially perfect for those who love to grab and play with texture as they’re reading!

Duck & Goose, It’s Time for Christmas!
Tad Hills

Join best friends Duck and Goose as they explore the winter wonderland and get ready for Christmas. Goose is so excited about wintertime that he wants to go sledding and make snow angels, but Duck knows that they have to prepare for all the festivities. Help the two get into the holiday spirit! This board book has great illustrations and comes in a larger size, making it absolutely perfect for warm and snuggly a read-aloud by the fire.

Little Blue Truck’s Christmas
Alice Schertle

Little Blue Truck gets in the holiday spirit by delivering Christmas trees to all his animal friends! As he goes along, you and your child get to help him count out each of his trees and to spread the holiday spirit! This warm story of friendship will engage your child by expanding their understanding and knowledge of numbers all along their adventure with Little Blue Truck. The last page also has a special interactive surprise that is sure to make this fun book a new holiday favorite.

Carl’s Christmas
Alexandra Day

The beloved dog Carl is back and ready to spread glad tidings and cheer! After helping his best friend baby decorate their christmas tree, he goes out to explore on Christmas Eve. He goes window shopping to think about gifts for his friends, he emphasizes the power and importance of generosity by giving to the needy, and even has a surprise visit with Santa Claus. This adventure-filled book with incredible illustrations is a classic that will warm you and your child’s heart this Christmas.

Cozy Classics: The Nutcracker
Jack Wang

Introduce your child to one of the most famous Christmas tales of all time–The Nutcracker. This board book depicts different scenes from the ballet with simple text like “mouse” and “gift” to help your child expand their vocabulary. Each illustration is made of felt, allowing your child to explore their senses while also exploring the iconic story. This book makes for a great read aloud, as you guide your child through each captivating scene.

Personalized Books for Toddlers

Sometimes the joy of discovering books can be made extra-special by personalizing or customizing the actual book itself. There are a number of services that provide this individualized book creation that can be a unique delight for your little one as they imagine themselves as part of the story.

Pinhole Press

Pinhole Press has an entire selection of custom and personalized board books for kids around a variety of themes: ABCs, Animals, Mommy & Daddy, and Colors. The child’s name is incorporated into the text as well as a range of personal pictures that can be uploaded to illustrate the story.

Pint Size Productions

Pint Size productions has some adorable books telling stories in the best possible sense: “Are You a Cow,” “My Monster Book”, “My Pet is the Best”, and many others. Simply select a template, upload photos and text, and wait for your book to arrive. It’s a great way to encourage reading and also allow the child to take center stage in the story being told.

Put Me in the Story

Put Me in the Story does exactly that! Through a tie-in with National Geographic Kids they have a range of board books featuring pictures and illustrations that mimic that publication. Counting, colors, shapes, and matching are all themes and each book is customized with the child’s own name throughout the book.

Simply Personalized

For another take on the customized board book, Simply Personalized provides a whole range of sturdy books covering classic subjects like colors and alphabet as well as some unusual ones like “ _____ the Unicorn” or “What Makes _____ a Hero?”. Each is again an opportunity to explore reading with a child while making it more relevant with his or her name embedded in the story.

Why Is It So Important to Read Books to Toddlers?

Reading with your toddler is incredibly important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it helps with their development. Looking at illustrations and moving their eyes across the page, for example, helps develop eye mobility. Listening to your voice will also test their ears and attention while putting together the building blocks for language acquisition and greater comprehension skills. Touching different textures on the page or flipping through the book helps with fine motor skills and exercises their sense of touch.

Reading also often scaffolds and supports learning in other areas, as well. Board books, in particular, often emphasize colors, shapes, numbers, and letters. Learning more about these essential topics and growing in their understanding and comfort will only help your child when they begin school.

Beyond development, it will also help encourage your child into a great reader. Reading with them from a young age will get them in the habit. They will learn that reading is fun, exciting, and fruitful. They will also grow comfortable being around books, encouraging them to feel less intimidated when they begin to read on their own. The habits you create together will carry them as they grow independent, so if you start off strong, your young reader will continue to blossom with encouragement and support.

Furthermore, reading with your toddler is a fantastic way to bond with them. Having them sit on your lap with the book in front of you creates a safe space that offers comfort to your child. You can have a million laughs and smiles reading books, and these memories will last a lifetime. Reading together is a great way to spend quality time together, no matter the place or time.

How Do I Introduce My Child to a New Book?

Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start in reading a book with your child. Here are a few quick tips to help you introduce them to the book and get them engaged and ready to read:

Read them the title

Read them the title and elaborate on it. Perhaps make a guess about what the story will entail or relate it to something your child might already be familiar with. For example, for the book about bathtime, you might mention to your child that they take baths too just like the characters.

Talk through the cover art with them

Cover art can be a great introduction to a book. It often offers a sample as to what the book will be about. Point out the different characters, the setting, or similar features.

Let them explore the book themselves

Board books are made for exploration. Hand the book to your child and allow them to explore it however they’d like–so long as it’s safe, of course. Let them flip through the pages, touch the different textures, and even throw it if they’d like. That’s exactly what board books are designed for.

Introduce them to the topic if it’s something new

If the book is about something your child has never been exposed to, you can introduce the topic beforehand and give some background to pique their interest. 

Personalized Books for Toddlers at Elephant Books

Here at Elephant Books, we focus on quality recently published picture and board books  you would find in a bookstore rather than custom publishing. We do, however, pride ourselves in the different ways each month that the gift of reading is customized for the gift giver, parents, and the child.

Custom Gift Message

For another take on the customized board book, Simply Personalized provides a whole range of sturdy books covering classic subjects like colors and alphabet as well as some unusual ones like “ _____ the Unicorn” or “What Makes _____ a Hero?”. Each is again an opportunity to explore reading with a child while making it more relevant with his or her name embedded in the story.

Personalized Delivery

Each month, a package wrapped in an orange ribbon arrives in the mailbox of the young reader. Kids are always excited to see their name on the mailing label and enjoy the magic of receiving something just for them.

Reading Tips for Parents

Reading and the love of reading begin at home. That’s why we provide with every shipment new suggestions and ideas for parents to keep reading fun and engaging. Each gives a different way to approach reading with the child and some useful ways to maximize the interaction.

Bookplates for Board Book Subscribers

For our younger board book readers we include classic book plates where parents can record who gave the book and when. It’s another way to create special memories for both kids and parents.

For more great reads, check out our board book packages here at Elephant Books. And for more reading tips and information about why reading is so essential, check out more of our articles.

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