13 beloved board books and picture books for the kids in your life

13 beloved board books and picture books for the kids in your life

I’m excited to welcome MMD team member Chelsey Feder to this space today. She and her husband recently welcomed a new addition to their family and we could not be happier for them.

When we found out our siblings were expecting babies, my husband and I leaped into our roles as “Aunt and Uncle Bookworm,” immediately purchasing books for their libraries. Now our nephews are toddlers, and the joy of reading with them and finding books they love is unparalleled! 

We also welcomed our own baby boy in October. As two avid readers, one of our main parenting priorities is to surround him with books and read aloud every chance we get. 

Between shopping for baby showers and receiving piles of books ourselves, we’re always adding to our list of picture books to give and to read. Our son might be too little to tell us his favorites, but we give high marks for humor, interactive elements, and empowering themes. 

I’m so glad Anne invited me to share a small stack with all of you—and I’d love to hear your favorite titles in the comments! 

I hope you find a new or classic board book to send to a loved one or add to your shelf among this collection.

13 beloved board books and picture books for the kids in your life

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Last Stop on Market Street

Last Stop on Market Street

I’m always on the lookout for new picture books to share with my nephews. When I heard Anne recommend this title for Sara’s collection in Episode 260: A little free library with a life of its own, I knew I needed it for “Aunt Bookworm Reading Time.” The illustrations—and the message—in this Newbery, Caldecott, and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book are beautiful. It’s the story of a young boy named CJ and his grandma encountering a diverse group of passengers on a bus ride to their local soup kitchen. As they pass through the neighborhood, CJ has lots of questions for his grandma, and she answers them with honesty and care. More info →
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Shh! We Have a Plan

Shh! We Have a Plan

Author:

Three friends attempt to sneak up on a little bird. “Shh we have a plan!” They repeat. While the buddies run around the forest and scare the bird away, one pal decides to implement his own, gentler scheme. Repeated phrases like “1 2 3 GO!” make for interactive delight, and the color scheme is gorgeous and eye-catching.

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Puppies Pop-Up Peekaboo

Puppies Pop-Up Peekaboo

I found a few of these adorable pop up books in my favorite children’s section at Books and Company in Oconomowoc, WI. They proved to be a hit with my nephews from newborn days onward. Each page features a cute stuffed animal, a little bit of text, and a huge pop up flap that’s easy for little hands to maneuver. There’s no plot to follow here--just engaging hands-on reading and lots of color. These are my absolute favorite to give as baby gifts, as there’s a subject for every interest. Tip: I’ve even found them at TJ Maxx on occasion, making for an excellent one-stop-gift-shopping experience. More info →
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Peek-a Who?

Peek-a Who?

Author:
A diaper bag essential! This book is compact, making it perfect for travel. The mirror on the last page is perfect for that stage when little ones love to see themselves, and they’ll adore the simple rhyme and repetition. My nephew carried this one around the house for months, and now I have multiple copies on baby’s shelf. More info →
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Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

This was my husband’s favorite book when he was little—his mom can still recite it from memory (as I’m sure many of you can, too!). I love that classic picture books like this one are now available in board book format, making them easier to read with tiny kiddos, though the picture book is also a bookshelf staple. Fun fact: I didn’t realize the illustrator grew up in the same small town as my grandmother! Surprisingly, they didn’t know each other (usually my grandma knows every family name and farm from the area). More info →
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Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum

Author:
This was my favorite book to check out from the library when I was in kindergarten. Chrysanthemum is a mouse who loves her name, until she goes to school and gets teased about it. Her supportive parents try to restore her confidence, but it takes a special teacher to turn things around. Henkes is a phenomenal illustrator, but his sense of humor and genius use of vocabulary makes this book such a delight to read aloud. Book nerd alert: I remember being so pleased with myself for pronouncing long words while reading with my parents. More info →
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Little Hoot

Little Hoot

A friend sent a box set of Amy Krouse Rosenthal books, and I had never seen them before! I sat down to read them right away and giggled the whole way through. The way she subverts expectations and uses irony—it’s perfection! Little Hoot features an owl whose family expects him to stay up late (as owls do…) but all he wants to do is go to sleep. Such sweet illustrations, and the funniest premise. Humor goes FAR for me. I love reading a book that makes me laugh and entertains my little one. More info →
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Hippos Go Berserk

Hippos Go Berserk

Author:
I love when friends send a book and say “we loved this one!” It feels like I’m placing memories on my shelf along with a great story. Thanks to thoughtful friends, we have an abundance of Sandra Boynton books in baby’s growing library, and for good reason. They’re so much fun! And great for teaching counting. This one features a hippo house party, silly illustrations, and clever rhymes. More info →
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Dream Big, Little One

Dream Big, Little One

Author:
Vashti Harrison books are gorgeous, and I love learning about iconic historical figures along with my son. This one features 18 Black American women who made history in their fields, like Mae Jemison and Bessie Coleman. It looks lovely on the shelf and encourages further research and storytelling as the sparse text introduces these women but doesn’t share their full biographies--which is perfect for curious parents and kids. More info →
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Say Hello!

Say Hello!

Author:
A Caldecott winning author, stunning collage-style illustrations, and a sweet premise make this colorful book a joy to read. Carmelita loves to greet her neighbors who hail from all over the world, and she learns their custom greetings and walks her dog around the neighborhood. Colorful, bright, and fun, this is a great way to introduce kids to the beauty and diversity of language. More info →
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The Snowy Day

The Snowy Day

Author:
A classic. What more is there to say? It’s the most checked-out volume of all time at the New York Public Library and beckons to be read on a literal snowy day. When I’m in the thick of winter blues, this book reminds me that snow is magical and dare I say—FUN. It makes me nostalgic for growing up in snowy Wisconsin and helps me appreciate each snowstorm where I live now. Someday, I hope my son gets to enjoy the freedom and wonder of a snowy day outside just like Keats’ famous character. More info →
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Dog’s First Baby

Dog’s First Baby

Author:
This was a #bookstagram-made-me-do-it pre-order—after seeing a few posts featuring the bold illustrations and thinking of our sweet pup Penny meeting baby for the first time—I had to add it to our collection. A dog tries to determine just what in the world his parents have brought home (“Hmm...are you a dog?”), he quickly learns they’ve provided him with a new best friend. This is a must-purchase for anyone who considers their dog to be part of the family, or who feels nervous about introducing their fluffy friend to baby for the first time. More info →
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Something’s Wrong!: A Bear, a Hare, and Some Underwear

Something’s Wrong!: A Bear, a Hare, and Some Underwear

Authors: ,
This book is hilarious. My husband and I started reading it in the bookstore and cracked up--we had to bring it home. A bear named Jeffrey leaves his house wearing only underwear. He knows something is wrong, but he just can’t figure out WHAT. (Adults reading this book will know that feeling well--where did I put my sunglasses? Oh, they’re on my head.) The animals in the forest look askance when Jeffrey walks by, but finally, a kind friend asks about his unique outfit and soon the whole forest is sporting the latest fashion. This book is better suited for slightly older kids, as it features lots of text on the page, quite a bit of internal dialogue, and the themes of embarrassment and anxiety. More info →
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What are your favorite board books and picture books? We’d love to hear about them in the comments section!

P.S. Check out Build your kids’ libraries with these wonderful, beautiful books and 10 series kids love—and their parents do, too.

13 beloved board books and picture books for the kids in your life

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74 comments | Comment

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  1. Kara says:

    We love The Snowy Day! And I think I’ve read The Very Hungry Caterpillar about 6,738 times.

    I would also suggest Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. This is the same writer/illustrator duo who brought us Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site (another great choice).

  2. Stacy Wittenberg says:

    I’d add Goodnight Gorilla and Dear Zoo. I’d also suggest the Llama Llama board books! Congratulations on the new baby!

  3. Jodie says:

    I love so many on this list too. Peek-a Who? by Nina Laden was my youngest son’s favorite. We even had an owl cake for his first birthday. Dog’s First Baby has been one of my favorite board books this year and a cat version I believe is coming next year.

    Others I really love are board books from the Global Babies series filled with photographs of babies around the world, Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson, and the newer Shhh! The Baby’s Asleep by JaNay Brown-Wood. I could talk about books for children for hours and hours!

  4. Cathy says:

    All three of my boys (now 17, 14, and 12) loved Jamberry by Bruce Degen. There’s so much detail in the illustrations to point out and talk about with little readers!

  5. Carol Auger says:

    I would add anything written by Charlotte Zolotow. her books are hard to find and I would love to see them more readily available. A few of my favorites are The Seashore Book, Big Sister & Little Sister and The Summer Night.

    • Carol Lindberg says:

      I was thrilled to see that Charlotte Zolotow’s book Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present was still in print – one of my favorite books when I was a child – decades ago. I actually still have that book in paperbook am am surprised it lasted so long.

  6. Becca Weston says:

    I’m going to order Little Hoot (actually the boxed set!) They look adorable!

    My very favorite childrens book is New Big House by Debi Gliori. A growing family needs a bigger house, so they set out on a big misadventure to find one.

    We also love Leslie Patricelli books! Awesome, fun tools when we are learning new things!

  7. Edie says:

    My daughters loved Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann and Freight Train by Donald Crews. We read those multiple times a day and had to replace both copies. They were well-loved!

  8. Kelsey says:

    Now on our 5th baby, the books that my kids have treasures and that I STILL delight in reading to them after countless readings would also include all the Little Blue Truck series by Alice Schertle, all the books in the series Brown Brown Brown Bear What Do You See by Bill Martin Jr, Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, Curious George books by Margret & HA Rey, anything by Robert McCloskey (although his picture books are a bit longer than board books), Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak, A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Phillip C Stead, and as previously mentioned both series Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney. Many of those books my older kids (6, 5, and 3) have memorized or can read and now read to my 1 yr old and infant.It takes a lovely, well-written book to still be a joy to read over & over after 6 years of reading it regularly!

  9. eculatta says:

    These are great titles. A FAVORITE in our household (that doesn’t get much attention, that I’ve seen) is “I Know a Rhino” by Charles Fuge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLcFsxNI_9U

    We also love More More More by Vera B. Williams and all of the Jellycat “If I Were…” books (If I Were A Fox, If I Were a Calf, If I Were an Owl) which make GREAT gifts because they’re tactile (and not ideal to get from the library) and they now sell them with little stuffed animals – a perfect baby shower gift.

    Another couple favorites of mine for gifts (because they are my favorite to reach for and so lovely) “All The World” by Liz Garton Scanlon and “Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth” by Oliver Jeffers. With a 5yo and a 1yo I’m firmly living in picture and board book land these days – and it can be wonderful!

  10. Darcy says:

    We also love The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors by Drew Daywalt, and I Lost My Hat by John Klassen. Both are laugh-out-loud funny for adults, and our kids really enjoy them too!

  11. Robyn says:

    Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. I give this as a gift at every baby shower. Some of the lines are still quoted in our family after 20 years of reading it.

  12. Melissa says:

    Goodnight, Gorilla is a must. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, The Rainbow Fish, Little Blue Truck, and Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel were favorites too.

  13. Crystal Berdion says:

    Being in a bilingual household, my little girl loves the Lil Libros books by Patty Rodriguez. It’s been a great way to introduce her to different places and people in Latin America.

    • Carol Lindberg says:

      Quiero a mi papa Porque (I Love My Daddy Because English / Spanishedition)
      by Laurel Porter Gaylord and Ashley Wolff is a great book with the accompanying I Love My Mommy. I’ve been purchasing books tonight with the 3/2 Amazon sale for Los Ninos Primero, an amazing not-for-profits in Sandy Springs/Atlanta Georgia. It’s really hard to find bilingual books – I saw many more Spanish books than bilingual Spanish-English books. Thank you for the Lil Libros suggestion.

  14. Teresa Joachimczyk says:

    Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae is one of my recent favorites. It’s about a giraffe who is teased for not being able to dance. He then comes into his own way of dancing with some motivation and everyone applauses him. It brings tears to my eyes. A good book for kids to know that their uniqueness is special!

  15. Sharon Nagele says:

    A told B, and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree! I’m going to be repeating that all day long, lol. I have 5 children, all sadly way past the age of reading board books, but I can second the Kevin Henkes recommendation (Lily and the Purple Plastic Purse and Owen were favorites at our house), and also add anything and everything by Mo Willems. His Elephant and Piggie series was so, so good, and beloved by both parents and kids.

    • Margaret says:

      My library has the Elephant and Piggie series in French and English (Piggie is “Rosie” in French!) and I have been using them to introduce my 8 and 7 year olds to French. So repetitive and funny!

  16. Jennifer says:

    I second Donald Crews and Peggy Rathman. Plus Byron Barton and Kevin Lewis. All of their books were well loved to shreds in our home of 5 boys. Rathman is best in regular book because the board book loses fun details.

  17. mary hunt says:

    I love these lists. As I read through, I could see which child I would give which book! Thank you! My necies and nephews are all grown now, but I was the Bookworm Auntie too!
    I recommend the Carl books by Alexandra Day. No words, just beautiful pictures of Carl and Baby and their adventures while Mommy is away. The first book is Good Dog, Carl. I even used these books with middle school Deaf or Hard of Hearing students. So, they could make up the story themselves.

  18. Susan says:

    Our Grandkids lov”Pre the “Pout-Pout Fish” books by Deborah Diesen. Dan Hanna’s illustrations are so fun! The PRESS HERE book by Herve Tullet is so much fun because kids interact by doing the actions to change the dots from page to page. With the right age of the child and their imagination, it is a delight!

  19. Colleen Lodders says:

    Each Peach Pear Plum was my favourite as a little girl and I loved reading it to my daughters too. I think I have it memorized!

  20. For every baby shower or young child’s birthday my go to book is My Many Colored Days. It’s a boldly colorful book that not only teaches colors, but helps kids understand they will have different emotions and that it’s ok to have them.

    “Some days are yellow, some days are blue. On different days I’m different too. You’d be surprised how many ways, I change on different colored days.”

  21. Michelle O. says:

    Our son, who has Down syndrome, loves Goodnight Moon. When he was younger we would sign most of the words, and now he can read it, verbally, on his own (11yrs old).

  22. Eileen Sullivan says:

    I always give The Mitten by Jan Brett along with a couple of different sized pairs of hand knitted (by me) mittens to new moms. The story and illustrations in this book (and all of Jan Brett’s books) are magical.

    • Nichole says:

      My kids called this the “mommy sad book” because I could never get through it without crying. Happy tears and it is a beautiful book, but none of my kids liked it because of that! 🤣

    • Haya Finan Mckinley says:

      yes! we were gifted Nancy Tillman’s “I’d know you anywhere, my love” before our baby arrived and I enjoyed reading it so much that I quickly added many more to our collection. “On the night you were born” is a favourite for sure- polar bears were a part of our nursery theme.
      i see that she has quite a few more books out now than there were 5 years ago, so I may need to grow our collection again.

  23. Suzy says:

    I don’t have children, but my FAVORITIST book in the whole world as a child was The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. I read it over and over and over and never tired of it, even now. To make it even more relatable for me, we lived in a little Cape Cod house at the time. @erinapier of Hgtv’s Home Town loves it so much, she wrote her own version, called The Lantern House!

  24. Nichole says:

    The Dr. Seuss board book adaptations were huge hits with my kids. They particularly loved The Foot Book, There’s a Wocket in my Pocket and Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb…at least I think that’s the title of the last one! They’re all shortened versions of the longer titles and a lot of fun to read.

    I also agree with all of the Llama Llama recommendations. Anna Dewdney was such a treasure.

    Goodnight Moon, I Love You Goodnight and Goodnight Gorilla were favorites too. I feel like there should be more, but it has been several years since I looked through our board books!

  25. Kirsten says:

    We loved “Where is the Green Sheep?” and “10 little fingers and 10 little toes” (always teared me up at the end!), both by Mem Fox. Julia Donaldson’s “What the Ladybird Heard”, Jez Alborough’s “Where’s My Teddy”, “Edwina the Emu” by Sheena Knowles. Pretty much anything by Alison Lester, but especially “Noni the Pony” and “The Magic Beach”. So many more, but I can’t think of them right now!

    • Carol Lindberg says:

      We joined my best friend and her extended family for a Myrtle Beach vacation a few months before my now high school senior son was due. They threw a surprise baby shower for us and Linda’s sister-in-law gave me the book Time for Bed by Mem Fox and Jane Dyer, one of her kids’ favorite books. I wasn’t familiar with the book at the time and absolutely loved it.

  26. Ellen says:

    Love You Forever by Robert Munsch (in paperback-because you’ll read it so many times the book will get lovingly ratty) (and it’s really written for adults… I’m happy tears crying just thinking about it!)

    Little House in the Big Woods series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (read in order of course.) Get the ones with black/white illustrations by Garth Williams- (no color)

    Anything at all by William Steig: Dr. DeSoto, Pete’s a Pizza, Amos and Boris, Brave Irene, etc. (clever imagery, advanced vocabulary, inanimate objects are often main characters.) Wonderful author. My very favorite!!

    • Carol Lindberg says:

      The HarperCollins Treasury of Picture Book Classics: A Child’s First Collection is an amazing book and has Goodnight Moon, Caps for Sale, Harold and the Purple Crayon (a childhood favorite of mine), Crictor (Tomi Ungerer), A Baby Sister for Frances, Leo the Late Bloomer, William’s Doll, A Chair for My Mother, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Chrysanthemum (Kevin Henkes), From Head to Toe (Eric Carle), and Pete’s a Pizza – so fun – the little boy turns into a pizza (William Steig). We read all of these stories over and over! Note that my book & what is pictured has Baby Says and George which I actually think is George Shrinks (an amazing book by William Joyce). My book doesn’t have a Chair for my Mother (Vera Williams, I think) and Chrysanthemum – one of our favorites ever!

  27. Boone says:

    One of my favorites was a book that had been my dad’s when he was a child…born in 1920. “The Little Auto”. My granddaughter loved it as well, and a favorite saying is That’s All Mr. Small!
    Also love any of Laurie Keller’s books- the scrambled states of America is a fun geography lesson!!

  28. Holly A says:

    My Many Colored Days by Dr. Suess– it’s a little known one of Suess, and in a different style.. but it equates feelings with colors and animals. (it also comes in both picture book and board book form) My nephews loved it and I’ve gotten it for dozens of friend since.– one told me her daughter referred to pink as ‘happy pink’ for years.

  29. Julia Paradine-Rice says:

    We loved Goodnight Moon. Our oldest son is almost 30 and he still remembers some of the lines we read every night! It was definitely a book he chose frequently because of the simple rhyming and comforting repetitiveness. Ah, those are wonderful memories reading aloud at bedtime.

  30. Jennifer Jones says:

    My go-to gift for first-time parents is the board book, You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano Love, illustrated by Satomi Ichikawa. The story and illustrations are beautiful, and I remember crying tears of joy when I read it with my first baby. We love lots of the books in these comments, and I always enjoy learning of new titles. Thank you!

  31. Adrienne says:

    I have a few favorites I don’t think I’ve seen listed in the comments yet… “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney, and the “Max and Ruby” books by Rosemary Wells. I also love the Frances books by Russell and Lillian Hoban. Children’s books often have the most beautiful artwork, which I think, sadly, is not fully appreciated by children.

    • Carol Gallman says:

      Glad to see that you mentioned the Max and Ruby books! I have given them to many new parents, and now my granddaughter loves them. They’re short and simple, but so clever.

      • Adrienne says:

        Hi Carol! Yes, they are so clever. We have two children, a daughter (oldest) and son (youngest), and I saw their relationship mirrored so many times in Max and Ruby’s adventures. Those books are so much fun!

  32. Karin Miller says:

    Thanks for introducing me to some new books I’ve likely missed since my kids are now way past this age. Love board books! Happy to have new titles for baby gifts. 🙂

  33. Rachel says:

    I have loved this post because my daughter is expecting in March and we now know it is a boy. My son’s favorite book was Jessie Bear What Will You Wear? And my daughters and I can still recite the book from memory.

  34. christina mermis says:

    I recommend Read Aloud Revival by Sarah Mackenzie- she has the best read aloud suggestions. Check out her website and podcast. She organizes her recs by age and topic (I love the monthly suggestions for seasonal reading!).

  35. Margee Krebs says:

    Kevin Henkes is wonderful, as are books by Tomie dePaola. I have to put in a plug for my mother’s books: “The Beeman,” “We All Went On Safari,” “We’re Sailing to Galapagos,” and many more by Laurie Krebs. Mom was a first grade teacher, and she wrote about her travels and my dad, the Beeman. The books’ rhyme scheme, coupled with the factual information at the end of each story, make them fun and a great learning opportunity!

  36. Beverly J Wrigglesworth says:

    Following are some picture books that I did not see mentioned in the comments above. Most (but not all) of these are fairly recent, published in the past 2-4 years. I love humorous picture books and some of these are quite funny. I also love gorgeous illustrations, and these books have outstanding illustrations.
    Angleberger, Tom. McToad Mows Tiny Island
    Biedrzycki, David. Invasion of the Unicorns
    Fan, Terry. It Fell From the Sky
    The Barnabus Project
    The Antlered Ship
    Hale, Shannon. Itty Bitty Kitty-Corn
    Harkness, Andy. Wolfboy
    Hatke, Ben. Julia’s House for Lost Creatures
    Julia’s House Moves On
    Henkes, Kevin. A House
    Waiting
    Higgins, Ryan T. Mother Bruce (and all the sequels)
    Howl, Vanessa. The Foodie Flamingo
    John, Jory. Cat Problems.
    The Bad Seed
    The Good Egg
    The Cool Bean
    Johnson, Janet. Help Wanted: Must Love Books
    Klassen, Jon. The Rock from the Sky (he also has written/illustrated several books about creatures and their hats)
    Lobel, Anita. Ducks on the Road
    Meltzer, Brad. A New Day
    Rocco, John. Hurricane
    Seeger, Laura V. Red
    Green
    Blue
    Lemons Are Not Red
    Tabor, Corey. Mel Fell (a fabulous story about a little bird learning to fly)
    Wenzel, Brendan. They All Saw a Cat
    Wheeler, Lisa. Someone Builds the Dream
    Wolff, Ashley. How to Help a Pumpkin Grow

  37. Anna Lindsay says:

    Our all-time favorite has been Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson (we’re on year 6 of reading it), followed closely by The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen. And all Richard Scarry books are wonderful; long, but delightful.

  38. Sheila says:

    “Pat the Bunny”, “Are you My Mother” and “Everywhere Babies” where just three of my daughters favorites. I am also a HUGE fan of Frog and Toad books and Frances (“Bread & Jam for Frances”, “Best Friends for Frances” etc).

  39. Terri says:

    My most cherished board book for my son was Hush Little Baby by Sylvia Long. She created new words for the old lullaby my mom used to sing that focuses on the beauty of the world around us.

    It starts, ” Hush little baby, don’t say a word, Mama’s going to show you a hummingbird. If that hummingbird should fly, Mama’s going to show you the evening sky.” It continue through many items in nature and about going to bed. I sung it to my son every night as we looked through the pictures.

    • Haya Finan Mckinley says:

      we have this one too and it is so beautiful! I love the shift in theme from “mama’s going to buy you…” to appreciating our surroundings. I like nothing more than a book that I can sing.

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