My 10 Favorite Board Books To Read Aloud

My 10 Favorite Read-Aloud Board Books

I’ll let you in on a secret. I hate to read aloud. Always have, probably always will. But the benefits of reading aloud to young children are so enormous and life-changing (PDF) that I do it anyway, day in and day out.

Naturally, reading aloud is most enjoyable for me when it’s a book that I like myself. Read aloud books that are most fun for me have lots of scope for expression – elements such as silly voices, animal noises, dialogue, rhyming text, etc. Good illustrations are also a must – I especially like detailed illustrations with lots of stuff going on in the background that offers lots of opportunities to build and reinforce vocabulary. These types of elements make it less monotonous to read the same book 1,000 times, which inevitably happens when a toddler starts picking favorites.

Here are the top ten kid AND mom approved books from our personal library of board books:

Are You My Mother?, by P.D. Eastman

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A true classic, first published in 1960. A baby bird goes in search of his missing mother, with funny results and lots of scope for dramatic readings. My kids especially like the explosive “SNORT!”

Note: the board book edition is abridged. Though the story is still coherent and enjoyable, some families may prefer the full version found in the hardcover and paperback editions.

Baby Can’t Sleep, by Lisa Schroeder

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Not as classic as some of my other picks, but a funny situation that will be familiar to ALL parents, combined with cute illustrations and rhyming text, make this one of my favorite read alouds.

Barnyard Dance, by Sandra Boynton

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This book is not only cute and fun to read, it’s fun to act out. Stomp your feet! Clap your hands! It was an especially big hit with my daughter, but was also one of the earliest books that my son started acting out. When he was about a year old he loved to booooowwwww to the horse, boooowwwww to the cow…

Bear Snores On, by Karma Wilson

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A highly enjoyable read-aloud for both toddlers and older kids thanks to its lovely illustrations and funny, rhyming text. The friendship of the woodland critters (and their yummy feast) remind me a little of Winnie the Pooh or the Redwall series.

Belly Button Book, by Sandra Boynton

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My kids both call their belly buttons “bee bo” because of this book. The text is all about how much hippopotamuses love their belly buttons, and it’s so adorably silly and off the wall that it’s practically impossible not to read with a huge grin on your face.

Jamberry, by Bruce Degan

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A rhyming journey through a fantastical land reminiscent of The Nutcracker‘s Land of Sweets, only here it’s luscious strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries that will surround you on the way. A classic!

Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?, by Nancy White Carlstrom

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I enjoy the rhyming text about a lucky little bear’s idyllic childhood, which has enough repetition to appeal to young children and enough variety to keep the interest of adults. The illustrations are also beautiful, with a lot of background detail to explore with your own little one.

Peek-a-Boo!, by Janet & Allan Ahlberg

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This book is fairly long by board book standards and is best for children with longer attention spans. However, there’s enough repetition and rhyme in the text (plus the familiar element of peek-a-boo, with cut-out pages that kids love) that it’s appealing to surprisingly young children – it’s one of my son’s favorites at two years old. Adults and older children will be delighted by the richly detailed illustrations, which depicts a family in World War 2 era England and has many vintage toys, clothes, household products, and more.

Sheep in a Jeep, by Nancy Shaw

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My kids love the funny story about a group of bumbling sheep. Cute illustrations and sing-songy rhyming text add to the appeal.

Your Personal Penguin, by Sandra Boynton

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This book comes with a free download of the text set to music and sung by none other than Davy Jones, lead singer of The Monkees. My voice definitely doesn’t compare with his, but I like singing with my kids, so this is a fun book to read aloud together, plus the illustrations of the persistent penguin and the befuddled-looking hippo are adorable.

I could easily have filled up this whole list with Boynton alone, but I limited myself to my own top three favorites. My daughter would also add Moo, Baa, La La La!, Doggies, Blue Hat, Green Hat, and But Not the Hippopotamus, my son would likely add One, Two, Three! and The Going to Bed Book, and my husband seems especially fond of Hippos Go Berserk.

What are your favorite board books to read aloud? Please share in comments!