21 Board Books to Enchant and Inspire Young Children

These 21 board books enchant young audiences with lively colors and fascinating themes as they demonstrate love, fun, care, family, and change.



Mud! (Bailey) ©2022 by Jen Corace

Spring is a time for beginnings and growth, so what better way to enchant young audiences than with new interests represented in board books with lively colors and fascinating themes? These selections inspire children with invaluable opportunities to reach just a little further, to grow just a little more. Alphabet books show more than letters as they illustrate real life hobbies, while onomatopoeia, rhymes, and interactive elements encourage different ways to tell a story. Board books branch beyond humble expectations as they demonstrate love, fun, care, family, and change; life and lessons can be found in these books at a time when attending to the world with kind hands and voices is needed.

Bailey, Annie. Mud! illus. by Jen Corace. 32p. Abrams/Appleseed. Mar. 2022. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781419750977.
Toddler-PreS –There is no such thing as too much mud for this energetic brother and sister duo as they play games and race around the woods after a rainstorm till their mother calls them home. Young readers who love to play outdoors and funky onomatopoeia will freely revel in this story of messy fun. ­VERDICT An affectionate look at the old school joys of unsupervised play; pair this with a project making mud prints.

Beer, Sophie. Change Starts with Us. illus. by Sophie Beer. 24p. Dial. Dec. 2021. Board $11.99. ISBN 9780593406106.
PreS –Illuminated by a bright, bold color scheme, carefully crafted scenes reveal sensible good habits, like conserving water and reducing waste, that can help save the planet. Beer, creator of Love Makes a Family, depicts diverse illustrated young characters to show how all may do their part to enact positive change. VERDICT All children will see themselves in these pages, and feel a bit more empowered to make better choices.

Chepusova, Cheryl Yau. Noodles, Please! illus. by Rebecca Hollingsworth. 28p. Collective Book Studio. Apr. 2022. Board $12.95. ISBN 9781951412364.
PreS –Framed like an arched kitchen doorway, this alphabet book invites readers of any age to delight in warm, bird’s-eye view illustrations of noodle dishes from around the world. Details about the dishes’ delicious ingredients and unique composition present place of origin and the dishes’ names in their native language. VERDICT Bring this into the preschool classroom and let children talk about their family’s “noodle” dishes. Delectable.

Claire, Alexandra. Baby Animals First Colors Book. 24p. Collective Book Studio. Feb. 2022. Board $8.95. ISBN 9781951412487.
Baby-Toddler –Awesome full-color photographs of animals’ bright natural hues pair with bouncy rhymes to introduce babies and toddlers to color names and a variety of species, from a red crab to grey koalas. A fun read-aloud with large, close-up photos that make it easy to appreciate the colors of the rainbow in nature. VERDICT Charming and educational in one joyful package, this will be a hit with the very youngest “reader.”

Davies, Becky. Looking for Mommy: A Lift-the-Flap Storybook. illus. by Anna Doherty. 12p. Tiger Tales. Feb. 2022. Board $9.99. ISBN 9781664350144.
PreS-K –Little Brown Bunny searches for Mommy Bunny in an engaging lift-the-flap book amid cleverly applied mixed media of springtime watercolor textures and animal photographs. Neatly organized for smooth interaction between flap elements and text, the story reveals hidden creatures that will interest Bunny—and readers—before the happy reunion. VERDICT A good search is hard to find, and this one will be read again and again.

Dewdney, Anna. Llama Llama ABC. illus. by JT Morrow. 24p. (Llama Llama). Viking. Mar. 2022. Board $7.99. ISBN 9780593464298.
PreS –A charming addition to Dewdney’s “Llama Llama series, this alphabet book presents each letter with words and scenes describing largely recognizable pieces of Llama Llama’s daily routine as a preschooler. Expressive illustrations give life to the bold text as readers watchLlama Llama stay busy with family and friends. VERDICT This is an easy book to add to the ABC shelves, whether young readers have met Llama Llama or not.

Elliot, David. Bumblebee Grumblebee. illus. by David Elliot. 18p. Gecko Pr. Feb. 2022. Board $9.99. ISBN 9781776574025.
PreS-K –Finely illustrated with pencil drawings and light watercolors, pairs of wildly original rhymes with animal names, like “buffalo, fluffalo,” are hilariously presented in wide-open spreads spotlighting an original animal character followed by its newly named counterpart. Readers will laugh aloud at the changes these animals undergo by adding simple words. VERDICT This board book may have a life in the classroom, where children can make up their own names and rhymes. A winner.

Hendricks, Amber. Butterflies Soar. illus. by Gavin Scott. 20p. (Little Nature Explorers). Amicus Ink. Mar. 2022. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781681527055.
PreS-K –From leafy snacks to snug cocoons to unfurled wings, delicate watercolorlike textures reveal how caterpillars metamorphose before happily taking flight as monarch butterflies. Along with Wildflowers Grow, this series captures quietly remarkable moments in nature in gentle, short rhymes with carefully selected verbs winding through soft, expansive compositions. VERDICT Children are never too young for the fascinating details surrounding the monarch. This is a perfect addition to the natural science shelves.

Hendricks, Amber. Wildflowers Grow. illus. by Gavin Scott. 20p. (Little Nature Explorers). Amicus Ink. Mar. 2022. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781681527062.
PreS-K –Sometimes the quietest moments in nature are the most remarkable, like the slow but steady growth of a seed as it pushes up from rich soil to bloom as spring flowers. Painterly textures and gentle, short rhymes with carefully selected verbs match the curling quality of the seeds’ delicate sprouting tendrils. VERDICT Preliterate young gardeners will love the images of the process unfurling.

Hill, A.H. Masks: A Lift-the-Flap Book. illus. by Junissa Bianda. 16p. Little Hero. Mar. 2022. Board $12.99. ISBN 9781946000668.
PreS-K –Full of color and smiles, this timely lift-the-flap book reminds preschool-age children that behind each mask is the friendly face of a person who is a part of their daily lives, like a best friend or neighbor, or someone important to the community, such as a mail carrier, doctor, or teacher. ­VERDICT A recently acquired habit of masking up becomes iconic in the pages of this book.

Jin, Cindy. You Complete Me: A Sliding Pull-Tab Book. illus. by Yuzhen Cai. 14p. S. & S./Little Simon. Mar. 2022. Board $9.99. ISBN 9781534498587.
PreS-K –This book weaves metaphor into its large, bold verses to assure children how much they are loved and how perfectly they complete their adults. Large, movable shapes against blue, green, and pink backgrounds clarify the metaphors with a soft touch. VERDICT Read this aloud, and it becomes a loving message to a child; in story hours, all will feel cherished.

Kerbel, Deborah. Grumble Yawn. illus. by Jacqui Lee. 20p. Orca. Mar. 2022. Board $10.95. ISBN 9781459828674.
PreS –Onomatopoeic words are the sole textual cues in this creative example of storytelling, which relies on the readers’ interpretations of an amusing variety of sights and sounds in order to understand the choices of a young girl reluctantly going about her bedtime routine. Those who do similar tasks will catch on quickly. VERDICT Kerbel never fails to delight, and this one will have lapsitters giggling off to dream time.

McCann, Jackie. Little Bunny. illus. by Kat Kalindi. 10p. (You are the Light: Bk. 1). Viking. Jan. 2022. Board $7.99. ISBN 9780593464892.
Baby-Toddler –Speaking in soothing verses perfect for bedtime, Big Bunny watches over Little Bunny’s explorations of the springtime woods, where blossoming flowers and other critters abound. As Little Bunny darts through green slopes and blue skies, each rhyme closes with “Little Bunny, I love you,” lulling a beloved little one to sleep. VERDICT For nap time or evening story hours, this is a refreshing look at love.

McLean, Danielle. This Is My Farm! Not Yours! illus. by Charlie Alder. 12p. Tiger Tales. Feb. 2022. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781664350199.
PreS-K –Farm animals loudly insist that the farm belongs to them and them alone, before realizing their home belongs to all. This is a comedic debate for this age group, and it’s all neatly dramatized by peek-ahead panels. Given the ever-growing number of easy-to-read speech bubbles in books for young readers, school-age siblings can lead eventful read-alouds featuring different voices for fun. VERDICT A familiar argument of “Mine!” comes to a stunning conclusion, with giggles on the way.

McQuerry, Maureen. Conservation with Jane Goodall. illus. by Robin Rosenthal. 20p. (Big Ideas for Little Environmentalists). Putnam. Mar. 2022. Board $8.99. ISBN 9780593323601.
PreS-K–New readers will encounter informative, relatable text about Jane Goodall’s life as a conservationist, accompanied by vocabulary and visuals with simple features. This valuable series introduces young readers to celebrated environmentalists, describing their awareness and care for nature as children to their inspirational work as adults to protect the Earth. VERDICT If only in the name of cultural literacy, children need to hear these names early on.

Moyle, Sabrina. My Grandma Is Great! illus. by Eunice Moyle. 24p. (Hello! Lucky). Abrams/Appleseed. Mar. 2022. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781419755453.
PreS–Designed for shared reading with a grandmother figure, this book praises the strength and love of a grandma through a lively fuchsia dragon characterization, surrounded by dynamic patterns, color, and sparkle. The other title in the series—My Grandpa is Grand!—proves equally complimentary of a grandfather figure, using the characterization of a lion. VERDICT Any elder could read this aloud to rapt preschoolers, followed by a discussion of their own grandparents. Essential.

Musgrave, Ruth. Birds. 26p. (First Board Books). National Geographic. Mar. 2022. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781426371448.
PreS-K–Vibrant close-up photographs bring readers directly into the world of birds in this introductory informational book. As the high quality details of the visuals attract the eye, older readers can guide toddlers and other listeners through the uncluttered structure of supporting captions and labels about the habits and features of different types of birds. VERDICT An ideal version of a child’s first connections to the natural world.

Sattler, Jennifer. Little Buckaroo and Lou. illus. by Jennifer Sattler. 24p. Sleeping Bear. Mar. 2022. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781534111592.
Toddler-PreS–Little Buckaroo saddles trusty horse Lou for a ride to the beat of a fresh take on the nursery rhyme “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.” As a counting book with affable, roly-poly style, young readers can easily practice one-to-one correspondence and cardinal counting with horseback riding items in isolated page spaces. VERDICT A charming, confidence-building romp.

Shum, Benson. Little Seed. illus. by Benson Shum. 32p. S. & S./Little Simon. Feb. 2022. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781665902946.
Toddler-PreS–An adorable talking seed travels with beautiful Mama Earth for the day to show love and appreciation for all living things, big and small. Bright, rich colors and flexible lines give graceful shape and movement to Little Seed’s cheerful interactions with Earth’s creatures, showing how caring for nature can lead to growth. VERDICT A delicate idea, borne on the wind, makes this a peaceful book to share at story hours.

Smith, Danna. Wake Up, Freight Train! ­illus. by Jon Andersen. 16p. S. & S./Little ­Simon. Mar. 2022. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781534492516.
Toddler-PreS–Bound to be popular with young ones who like trains, these witty rhymes tell readers of each freight car’s function as they roll past on an all-night journey. The book’s lulling rhythm, like a clicking-clacking track, is fitting for bedtime as darker illustrations reveal sleepy animals watching the train chug by. VERDICT This is surprisingly soothing fare, and sure to be a winding down favorite.

Wright, Caroline. B Is for Brownies: An ABC ­Baking Book. illus. by Alison Oliver. 22p. (Little Bakers: Bk. 3). HarperFestival. Mar. 2022. Board $9.99. ISBN 9780063071858.
PreS-K–Three miniature chefs—one Black, one Asian, one possibly white—plus their sidekick oven mitt joyfully whip up warm brownies in this baking themed alphabet book with a pastel palette, complete with a closing brownie recipe. With help from older readers or in the hands of more advanced readers, all will enjoy this delicious way to explore letters, words, and the kitchen. ­VERDICT The contestants are ready! Let the Great Board Book Baking Show begin.

Rachel Mulligan, a certified NJ Elementary educator, holds a M.Ed. with a concentration in children’s literature.

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