Board Books to the Rescue! Titles that Instill Positive Behaviors

These 12 board books tackle topics from sharing to bathtime routines with a deft  touch.

Introducing behavior concepts to young children can be challenging. Luckily, there are plenty of board books that tackle this subject. Here are a dozen suggestions to reinforce good habits and ease developmental transitions.

Baicker, Karen. I Can Do It Too! Chronicle. 2010.
“I can do it!” is a common toddler refrain. While family members and neighbors perform various tasks during the day, a delightful child mimics them and says, “I can do it too!” The rhythm of the text will please little ones, and the warm, colorful illustrations complement this story, which explores the topic of independence and newfound skills.

Behrens, Janice. I'm Not Ready! A Morning Routine Book. Children's Press. 2017.
A young girl prepares for her day in this "Rookie Toddler" series title. Photos of the child getting ready are integrated into illustrated spreads that depict typical morning routines such as brushing teeth and eating breakfast. The child's progress through each activity, while commenting “...but I’m not ready yet,” will help children understand what needs to be done before leaving home for the day. Youngsters will also enjoy finding a small illustration of a cat hidden on each page.

Church, Caroline Jayne. I Am a Big Brother!  Cartwheel. 2015.
Becoming a big sibling can be a huge transition. This sweet board book, which has a short, rhyming text, describes how older siblings can help with the recent addition to the family, as they move into their new role in the family. The upbeat text can also help siblings see the positives a baby can bring. A complementary title for big sisters is available.

Dahl, Michael. Big Bed for Giraffe. Picture Window. 2015.
Do elephants listen to their grownups? A little elephant with big ears is the star of this charming series title, focused on listening. The short, simple text features a young elephant: “He listens to Papa Elephant. ‘Time to eat!’” While this young elephant is an excellent listener, even toddlers with not-so-large ears will understand the underlying message about the importance of paying attention. Bold, graphic illustrations help convey the story.

Krasinski, Geraldine. Let's Care for Baby! Twirl. 2017.
How do you take care of a baby? This interactive board book addresses the topic with engaging flaps and moveable parts. Each page displays a simple prompt or two, such as “Put the socks on Baby’s feet,” next to movable socks that children can slide over the baby’s toes. While helping young children develop a sense of responsibility, this is also a great gift for soon-to-be big brothers and sisters.

Krensky, Stephen. I Can Do It Myself! Abrams. 2012.
As part of the "Empowerment" series, which addresses behavior, this title captures the small victories and accomplishments of toddlers as they become more independent—from blowing their noses to selecting their clothes. The retro illustrations, filled with colors and textures, will capture toddlers' attention.

Leung, Hilary. Will Ladybug Hug? Cartwheel. 2018.
What happens when someone doesn’t want to hug? The titular character, Ladybug, loves to embrace everyone. While getting ready for a trip, she wants a goodbye hug from all of her friends. The simple text and brightly illustrated pictures introduces the idea of consent in a developmentally appropriate way. By showing alternative ways friends can acknowledge each other, this title will also empower those who don't like hugs. A top choice for toddler shelves.

Mühle, Jörg. Bathtime for Little Rabbit. Gecko. 2017.
A little rabbit is resisting a bath in this interactive book. Little white rabbit does not want to bathe, and he definitely doesn't want to wash his ears. However, with a little cajoling, and reader interaction, the creature soon starts enjoying bathtime. Prompts such as "cover his eyes" or "rub in the shampoo" make the bath an enjoyable experience for the small animal, and young listeners will learn some bathtime routines, too.

Patricelli, Leslie. No No Yes Yes. Candlewick. 2008.
How do you explain right and wrong to a toddler? Patricelli takes a simple, direct approach in this amusing book featuring her trademark expressive baby with a wide smile and button eyes. The text features only the words “No, No” and “Yes, Yes” on each page. Caregivers and young children can talk about what the baby is doing (right or wrong) based on the bold graphic illustrations.

Smith, Monique Gray. My Heart Fills with Happiness. Orca. 2016.
Can a young child describe happiness? This story helps introduce the concept and how to express it in a manner that will resonate with the preschool audience. Through family and culture, small items and acts are described with the refrain, “My heart fills with happiness when….” Everything from the scent of familiar food to loved ones' faces are described in this book. The brightly colored, simple illustrations add to the appeal.

Van Lieshout, Maria. I Sleep in a Big Bed. Chronicle. 2018.
Moving from a crib to a big bed is a huge event for a preschooler. This volume, from the "Big Kid Power" series, tackles the subject with ease. Sparse text and digital illustrations featuring thick black lines convey a story about a young boy with a few worries about his new sleeping space—who ultimately adjusts—and relishes his bed.

Verdick, Elizabeth. Sharing Time. Free Spirit. 2009.
Sharing can be fun in this volume of the behavior-themed "Toddler Tools" series. While sharing some things, like hugs and smiles, can be easy for most, sharing toys can be difficult. The spare text helps introduce the concept to toddlers, while prompting caregivers on the appropriate words to use when dealing with the issue. Developmental tips on the back of each book make the series a first purchase for libraries everywhere.

Brooke Newberry is the Collaborative Consultant for the Winding Rivers Library System (WI).


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