Board Book Evolution: No Longer 'Just for Babies'

Summer is here and it's time to celebrate with a fresh round of board books! This round-up includes an eclectic mix of books about emotions, pronouns, family, shapes, plants, and more. Every librarian will find something for their library in this board book round-up of fiction, non-fiction, and some that are a little bit of both. 

Summer is here and it's time to celebrate with a fresh round of board books! This roundup includes an eclectic mix of books about emotions, pronouns, family, shapes, plants, and more. Every librarian will find something for their library in this board book collection of fiction, nonfiction, and some that are a little bit of both. 


Beck, Melinda. We Are Shapes. illus. by author. 32p. Phaidon. Apr. 2022. ISBN 9781838664749.
PreS-K–Shapes work together to create a home in this shape primer. Square, rectangle, triangle, circle, squiggly, and lumpy are all introduced with descriptive phrases about their sides and points. “I am a rectangle. I also have four sides. Sometimes I am very wide … and sometimes I am very tall.” After multiple attempts, the shapes finally work together to create a house. VERDICT A fun purchase for collections that need more books about shapes aimed at the very young.
 Bishop, Gavin. Pops. illus. by author. 18p. Gecko. Apr. 2022. ISBN 9781776574001.
PreS-K–Showcasing a multigenerational relationship, this board book focuses on the bond between a young child and grandfather. Simple text explains the character’s day with developmentally appropriate text. However, the illustrations are the true star of this book. Vivid colors highlight the size difference between the child’s hand compared to the grandfather’s. Readers will love this book and comparing it to their own special days with grandparents. VERDICT A beautiful board book highlighting the joy of spending a day with a grandpa. Recommended for every shelf.
Three book covers, one of a boy screaming, one of a Black baby talking and one of shapes Call, Kirsti. The Big Scream. illus. by Denis Angelov. 26p. Little Simon. Jun. 2022. ISBN 9781665907392.
Toddler-PreS–Big emotions can be hard for little ones to understand. This developmentally appropriate board book meets toddlers where they keep their feelings and does a spectacular job of tackling the topic with sparse text and vivid illustrations. A young boy is having a hard morning after realizing there are no more cookies left in the cookie jar. “Uh-oh! Big cry/ Can’t stop Toys fly/ Can’t breathe Fists Pound/ Big wail Kick ground.” After a time-out with deep breathing and counting to ten, a hug and big love make it all better. VERDICT A first purchase.
Cousins, Lucy. Little Fish’s Ocean. illus. by Lucy Cousins. 10p. Candlewick. Mar. 2022. ISBN 9781536216851.
PreS–Little Fish explores the ocean and introduces readers to new fishy friends along the way in this interactive lift-the-flap. Readers follow Little Fish as he journeys throughout the ocean and eventually returns home: “Now back to my coral reef. It’s the best place in the sea.” Readers will appreciate all of the hidden surprises under each flap, and the thick black outlined illustrations will help engage the youngest onlookers, just learning to navigate this thing called “books.” VERDICT A great addition to board book shelves, and for younger elementary students who love Cousins’s work.
Fleck, Jay. Crinkle, Crinkle, Little Car. illus. by author. 10p. Chronicle. May 2022. ISBN 9781452181660.
Baby-Toddler–This new twist on the classic “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” will appeal to readers everywhere! “Crinkle, crinkle, little car, Like a noisy shooting star. Your rocket engine goes VROOM VROOM! Now you’ve woken up the Moon.” The conciseness of the text and the ability to sing it makes it spot-on appropriate for babies and toddlers. A crinkly interactive panel is included on each page. VERDICT A supplemental purchase, but sure to be popular.
Larue, Nicole. Snore Like a Bear. illus. by Nicole LaRue. 22p. Gibbs Smith. Oct. 2022. ISBN 9781423661696.
PreS-K–Interactive prompts will help little ones settle down in this bedtime board book. Each spread shows an illustrated animal sleeping, with accompanying text encouraging meditation. “You’re a drowsy meerkat, nestled in a furry pile. Huddle with your family and dream a little while.” The book ends with the prompt returning to a human child, and will hopefully make bedtime an easier transition for caregivers. VERDICT With an emphasis on the actions children can take to get sleepy, this is a useful book for the shelves, and a purchase anywhere bedtime books are popular.
Li, Maggie. Seed. illus. by author. 26p. Candlewick/Templar. Mar. 2022. ISBN 9781536223873.
Toddler-PreS–How does an apple tree grow? Children will discover the entire development of an apple tree, from a tiny seed to a full-grown tree, in this informative board book. A die-cut throughout the book showcases how much a seed can change with time. Readers will enjoy watching Pip, the tiny seed, grow. VERDICT If more apple tree books are needed in your collection, this is a lovely one.
Meyok, Rosemarie Avrana. I Can See You. illus. by Michelle Simpson. 28p. Inhabit Media. Apr. 2022. ISBN 9781772274202.
Toddler-PreS–Mothers play with their babies using all five senses in this delightful board book. Cartoon illustrations depict different mothers and children as they go throughout their day. “My little sweetheart, I can hear you. Where are you? I can hear your giggles. I can hear you, and you can hear me, too.” The words “My little sweetheart” are repeated multiple times, and children will love the reassurance of hearing them again and again. VERDICT This comfort read is a great peek into Canadian arctic life. Recommended for general purchase.
Miles, David & Stephanie Miles. I Love You, Little Truck. illus. by Natasha Molins. 24p. Bushel & Peck. Jan. 2023. ISBN 9781638190837.
PreS-K–Sweet, gentle rhymes introduce readers to Little Truck as they get ready to go to bed. Little Truck questions what Big Truck means when they say, “I love you…With all of my heart.” Various scenarios play out where Little Truck pretends to be a variety of construction vehicles encountering problems. “What if I were a big mixing truck? I might get cemented. I might get all stuck!” However, Big Truck assures them that their love will never go away. VERDICT Sure to be a hit with young construction lovers, and comforting for any child worried about all those “What ifs.”
Murray, Diana. Buenas noches, vegetales /Goodnight, Veggies. illus. by Zachariah OHora. 30p. HarperCollins/Clarion. Feb. 2022. ISBN 9780358513179.
PreS-K–Vivid acrylic art showcases vegetables getting ready for bed in this bilingual (Spanish and English) board book. Readers say good night to each individual vegetable in the garden in this soothing story. The addition of the Spanish text next to the English will help it reach a wide audience. “Y lose vegetales que estan creciendo van quedandose dormidos./ Tossing, turning veggies need to get some rest.” VERDICT This belongs on every board book shelf.
Shin, Yujin. My Magical Rainbow. illus. by author. 10p. Abrams/Appleseed. May 2022. ISBN 9781529059953.
PreS–A tactile rainbow experience is sure to delight children in this engaging board book. After a storm washes away all of the colors in this magical land, Rainbow helps everyone gain their color back with a little help from onlookers. Featuring slide tabs, a wheel, and a pull tab, this book will engross children seeking hidden elements to get the wished-for result. VERDICT A general purchase for all libraries.
Otter, Isabel. Hello, Bee: Touch, Feel, and Reveal. illus. by Sophie Ledesma. 12p. Tiger Tales. Apr. 2022. ISBN 9781664350052.
Toddler-PreS–A bee goes on a fun adventure in this bright and interactive board book. Each spread has multiple flaps and sensory items such as die-cuts and touch-and-feel panels. Bee meets multiple bug friends along the way: “Hello, ladybug! You have spots just like this mushroom.” Little ones will find delight in the variety of choices on each page. VERDICT A first purchase wherever interactive board books are popular.
Rossner, Rose. You Make My Heart Go Vroom! illus. by Kathryn Selbert. 24p. Sourcebooks/Wonderland. Jun. 2022. ISBN 9781728249438.
Toddler-PreS–Puns and things that go abound in this hilarious board book. Cute rhyming couplets and wordplay will keep young onlookers laughing along with caregivers. “It’s plane to see, we’re meant to be! You’re the wind beneath my wing.” Featuring everything from garbage trucks to school buses to race cars, this book will be beloved by vehicle-loving kids. VERDICT While this book “brakes” no new ground, children will love it regardless. A first purchase.


Three book covers, of cars in space, a big elephant and one with buttons and zippersAyala-Kronos, Chris. The Pronoun Book. illus. by Melita Tirado. 26p. HarperCollins/Clarion. Mar. 2022. ISBN 9780358653158.
PreS-K–A first look at a topic to help even young children navigate social relationships, this board book tackles the topic of confusion around what pronouns people should use. “How do you know what someone wants to be called? Ask.” With a diverse cast, spreads show a pronoun on the left, and people identifying as that particular pronoun on the right. A few of the illustrations are of pronouns that aren’t described, such as, “xe, ze, co.” This is a great starting point for a topic that is getting a lot of notice. VERDICT A simple book with a simple message. A great purchase for libraries.
Cohen, Stephanie. My First Learn-To-Talk Book. illus. by author. 20p. Sourcebooks/Explore. Jul. 2022. ISBN 9781728248103.
Toddler-PreS–Children learning new words is a huge developmental milestone. This board book aims to help caregivers understand how to encourage sounds and words with their little ones. “When the baby’s sleeping, my mouth says shhhh!” In a note at the end, the author, a speech-language pathologist, explains that pairing facial expressions with a sound of exclamation helps children understand communication better. Caregivers will appreciate and learn from the easy-to-understand information. VERDICT A great purchase for public libraries, offering palatable science on nurturing.
Edwards, Nicola. Button! Snap! Zip! illus. by Thomas Elliott. 10p. Tiger Tales. May 2022. ISBN 9781664350120.
PreS-K–Getting dressed can be hard for little ones. This board book tackles the topic with real-life examples for children to practice with on the cover. A button, zipper, snap, hook-and-loop, and shoelaces are all available. The inside text describes how to successfully use the object, while encouraging children to keep trying. “Button/ These can be tricky, but keep practicing. Start from the bottom and button upward.” Visual cues are available as well. VERDICT This novelty book’s cover is a wonderful tool for teaching children how to get dressed. Purchase multiple copies for library use.
Farina, Marcos. Babylink: Colors in the Garden. illus. by author. 16p. Interlink. Apr. 2022. ISBN 9781623718497.
Toddler-PreS–High contrast, retro illustrations are featured in this color primer. An eclectic mix of plants and animals is introduced to young lapsitters on each spread. Children will enjoy looking for the hidden bugs in multiple pages. The color is located at the top of each page, while the descriptor for the item is located near the bottom. VERDICT An additional purchase if books on color are needed.
Forman, Ruth. Ours. illus. by Talia Skyles. 24p. Little Simon. Aug. 2022. ISBN 9781665903059.
Baby-Toddler–This board book features a luminous celebration of skin tones. Encouraging young children to love the skin they are in, sparse text accompanies illustrations showing a variety of children with brown and black skin. A mirror is incorporated into the design. “You love yours?” prompts discussion about self-love and skin tones. VERDICT A generous first glimpse of acceptance and inclusion, and a first purchase for most libraries.
 George, Bobby. Seed Work. illus. by Alyssa Nassner. 22p. Abrams. Apr. 2022. ISBN 9781419743696.
Toddler-PreS–A Montessori approach to plant growth is shown in this developmentally appropriate board book. The book starts with a seed and a sunflower. From there, readers follow the journey of the sunflower seed through the seasons until a new sunflower blooms the following summer. Small prompts such as, “How many sunflowers can you count?” will keep readers engaged throughout. An interactive texture panel is also presented on every step of the plant life cycle. VERDICT A first purchase for plant-loving patrons everywhere.
Geron, Eric. Bye Bye, Binary. illus. by Charlene Chua. 24p. HarperFestival. May 2022. ISBN 9780063215146.
PreS-K–This slightly tongue-in-cheek board book explains some basics about gender expression. A new baby arrives and refuses to bow to social constructs. The baby chooses what they love instead of focusing on gendered items like dinos or dolls. “Blue… or pink? Why pick just one?! I think I like… lots of colors!” This board book would be a great baby shower gift, or one to counter some of the signaling in the world for slightly older readers, to empower youngsters to follow their hearts and not societal pressures. VERDICT A purchase for libraries looking for more inclusivity and diversity.
Rossner, Rose & Brooke Backsen. The ABCs of Calm: Discover Mindfulness from A-Z. illus. by AndoTwin. 28p. Sourcebooks/ Wonderland. Aug. 2022. ISBN 9781728250700.
Toddler-PreS–A is for affirmation, B is for breath, and C is for calm in this soothing alphabet board book about mindfulness. Anthropomorphized animals are highlighted on each page with an accompanying letter and sparse text. “N is for Nature. I show the Earth that I care,” shows a narwhal planting items in the sea. Children will enjoy this basic primer to mindfulness, while laughing about the unique illustrations. VERDICT A general purchase for most libraries.
 Sevigny, Alisha. Give Me a Snickle! illus. by author. 20p. Orca. Apr. 2022. ISBN 9781459828704.
PreS-K–A charming board book that names a feat children perform regularly, creating portmanteaus, or the blending of two words to make a new one. The text starts with, “A snuggle... A tickle... Both at once? That’s a snickle!” Each spread features a real picture of a young child and caregiver on the recto page, while the verso page introduces the new word. The rhyming cadence makes this title a great one for baby story times and one-on-one readings. Older children will love it, too. VERDICT A first purchase for all libraries, and not limited to the conventional board book audience.
Trounce, Charlotte. Sometimes Babies...: A Book for a New Baby. illus. by author. 18p. Nosy Crow. May 2022. ISBN 9781536224054.
Baby-Toddler–Babies come in all shapes, sizes, and behaviors in this cheery board book about animal babies. Bright graphics and bold lines make this an ideal book for babies and toddlers, while preschoolers will love learning more about opposites. A novelty mirror completes this title and elevates it to a first purchase for most collections. VERDICT Great for group choral reads, one on ones, and gifts. A perfect board book for every shelf.
Brooke Newberry is Youth Services Coordinator in La Crosse, WI. Board books are her favorite collection in libraries and she loves to find hidden gems to use in programming.  

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