21 Must Own Baby Board Books

If there’s anything we do, it’s a lot of research. This list of 21 must own baby books has been curated after days of scrutiny. We combed through our personal collection, read countless Amazon reviews, talked with other parents, pulled from library shelves (a great resource!), sourced teacher recommendations, dug through blogs and forums.

In short, if you own these 21 books – or even half of them – your babies’ library is off to an excellent start.

Is every book listed here perfect for everyone? Maybe not. In fact, we included one book that drives us nutty. But, since everyone else seems to love it we wanted to squash our harsh negativity and give you the chance to love it too. (We’ll let you know what book it is below.)

When possible, we have linked to the Board Book version being sold on Amazon.com.

So, here they are, MostRoyal’s 21 Must Own Baby Books:

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Let’s be honest, as a parent you are required to own this one.  This is a no brainer.  It defines the entire genre and with good reason.  The story has a nice flow, the illustrations don’t grow tiresome and best of all it works great as a bedtime book. I personally like all the little details.  For example, check out the clock.  According to the watch face it takes this kid two hours to fall asleep!  …I can relate to that.

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

A story that relies heavily on its illustrations, and doesn’t disappoint!  The rambunctious gorilla sneaks away the keys from his zookeeper and silently releases the other animals of the zoo from their cages as he says goodnight to each.  All of the animals then follow Mr. Zookeeper home for the night.   This is a book that is wonderful to share with your newborn and your toddler.

Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? A Lift-the-Flap Book by Karen Katz

This is a cute lift-the-flap book for toddlers, helping to teach body parts and concepts such as “behind the cup.”  As with most lift-the- flap books our son loves to be involved in lifting the pages to reveal the babies’  belly buttons and mouths, etc. The illustrations are colorful and cute, and our son loves to find our belly buttons now and point his out too.  I look forward to him growing with this book for many more months.

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Rod Campbell

This book is really cute.  It’s about a child looking to find his perfect pet, so he writes to the zoo and they keep sending him different animals.  Some are too big, some are too tall, etc.  Finally they send him the perfect pet that he decides to keep.  Someday maybe our son will get one too!

Guess How Much I Love You by by Sam McBratney

Okay, this is the one book we can’t stand.  To be fair, the story is super cute and the illustrations are very well done.  My complaint is in the author’s decision to write out the characters names in full each time they speak. Saying “Big NutBrown Hare” and “Little NutBrown Hare” doesn’t roll off my tongue.  (My mom also can’t stand it and had to switch to a different book midway.) That said, this book comes up time and time again in lists, reviews and discussions of great baby books.  It came up A LOT.  So, maybe it’s right for you. Just not me.

Pat the Bunny (Touch and Feel Book) by Dorothy Kunhardt

This is the classic interactive touch and feel book for kids.  Main characters Paul and Judy can do all kinds of things, and they invite your little one to do the same.  Children love the interactive nature of this book and enjoy doing the activities along with Paul and Judy.  One word to the wise, it is recommended that you do not purchase the plastic comb bound version of this book, as children can very easily pull it apart.  Why anyone would bind a children’s book with a plastic comb binding is beyond me…  This is a cute book for kids and a must have for any library. Your children will be playing with it for a long time.

Peek-A Who? by Nina Laden

A colorful and surprising peek-a-boo book for little ones, this colorful book has an animal hiding behind cut out pages allowing your little one to anticipate the turn of each page.  With colorful illustrations and rhyming text, this book will keep your child entertained every time you read it, and for some that could be multiple times a day!

A Good Day by Kevin Henkes

Really cute and straightforward illustrations are paired with a wonderful story of four creatures who start out having a bad day.  Everything turns around for the characters and in the process they learn that life will get better.  Essentially a, “Don’t cry over spilled milk” message that kids can easily understand.

Black on White by Tana Hoban

No words.  Iconic images.  Simple, strong, and oddly interactive as the work is on you and your child to point to the illustrations, talk together and bond as a family.  The others in the series are very popular too, but this one stands out as the best after researching the general consensus.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle

Iconic illustrations by Eric Carle are paired with a nice rhythmic text from Bill Martin.  This book is part of themed series, each starting with a different bear (Baby Bear, Polar Bear & Panda Bear). We find Brown Bear to be the strongest of the set.  This book is also a good reason to do some research before buying.  We had picked up another book by Eric Carle assuming it would be just as good. Nope!  So it’s best to stick with this series and one other listed below.

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow

Everyone needs a good counting book. “Five Monkeys” provides that with a nice lyrical text, charming illustrations and a great ending. In short, the story is that Momma tries to put the monkey children to bed, they start to jump on the bed when she leaves, someone falls off and hurts themselves and she tries all over again. I won’t give away the ending but it’s very cute.

I Kissed the Baby! by Mary Murphy

Much like Black on White, this book is filled with illustrations utilizing contrast and well placed color. As a result this makes for a great infant experience.  The story builds as the barnyard animals all ask about the newly born baby duckling.  This one is filled with a sweet tenderness that parents and children will enjoy.

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

This one will give you a serious case of “The Feels.” The tender text starts with, “”I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”  This book may put a lump in your throat and tears on your shirt as you think about your own parents and begin to understand how the love you feel for you own child was first felt by them for you.  Highly recommended.

Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton

Selecting a single book by Sandra Boynton is a difficult task.  Her works come up all the time in “best of” lists.  You can’t go wrong with Moo Baa La La La. Beyond this perennial favorite we personally like the silly Hippos Go Berserk!, the beautiful message of Happy Hippo, Angry Duck and our bedtime standard The Going-To-Bed Book (read our full review).

On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

This book articulates many of the emotions a parent feels for their child without becoming too saccharin.  There is a great magical quality to the illustrations – although sometimes the “composited in photoshop” look feels a little strong for me.  This book makes a great present for new parents and would make a fantastic addition to any baby shower gift.  Another popular Tillman book is The Crown on Your Head, for which we wrote a full review.

Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett

A delightful book tacking concepts about shapes, colors and sequences. The entire text is made up of only 5 words (4 in the title) so you can imagine the creativity involved in telling this story. A very clever book that will make you laugh.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

The Design!  OMG.  The design and illustrations are just fantastic. The text lives up to the challenge with a great rhythmic pulse and playful vibe telling the story of a young child waking up to find freshly fallen snow and his adventure exploring.  This book was also the 1963 Caldecott Medal winner. Much like Goodnight Moon this is a must have.


We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen

One of the best parts of researching this article was finding this book.  I had never heard of it before. I know what you’re thinking, “Well this can’t really be about a bear hunt.”  Nope, it is.  The story is based on an old camping chant/song and it’s a playful romp as a father and his four children go trekking through vistas in search of a bear, find it, and then get chased all the way back home.  A great read-aloud book.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This is the most popular book by Eric Carle and there is little question why.  The very hungry caterpillar eats his way through the pages of the book in bright bold colors.  Also, kids seem to love butterfly metamorphosis stories.  So, start with the best.

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss

You need to have some Dr Seuss!  This board book has an excellent text that’s full of silly sounds. This will be something your child will want you to read for many years and eventually they will want to read it out loud themselves. A classic.

Munch! by Matthew Van Fleet

Yes!  Yes, just buy this one.  We love this book so much we wrote an entire review about it.  Our kid loved this the first time we read it when he was just a few months old.  Not only has the story held up, but his enjoyment continues to deepen as he has grown older and begins to explore the tactile elements.  Of all the Matthen Van Fleet books (and they are all worth owning) I also think this one has the strongest writing.  Great rhythm to the words and a super fun read!

Because I’ve been asked twice this year…

Twice this holiday shopping season I’ve been asked to recommend a video game system and games for kids around age 10.  Here is my fast and simple recommendation:

PS4

This is the most popular system.  It might be a bit advanced for younger kids, but it’s designed to last years and they will grow into it.  It’s also the system most of their friends will have.  So make your life easy and go with this.  I like the version bundled with Uncharted 4.  This adventure game is filled with puzzle solving and action without being a straight up “shoot everything in sight” game like Call of Duty.

You will see three games from the LEGO franchise and with good reason.  These are low on violence, hilarious, and super popular with kids as young as 5 all the way to to adults.

LEGO Jurassic World

Following the epic storylines of Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park,  Jurassic Park III, and the most recent Jurassic World, LEGO Jurassic World is the first videogame where players will be able to relive and experience all four Jurassic films. Reimagined in a hilarious LEGO retelling.

Snoopy’s Grand Adventure

Lead Snoopy on a grand adventure through worlds full of imagination to help him find Charlie Brown and all of his friends!  This is super cute. Check out this YouTube video to get a sense of the action.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

If your kid loves the Marvel comic books and movies then they are going to love this Lego version.  This might be the most popular Lego game of all time and because it’s a few years old now the price is super affordable.

Also, if your kids love this, there is a sequel called: LEGO Marvel’s Avengers

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens

If your kid love Star Wars then this lego game will be perfect. The game features exclusive playable content that takes players on adventures between Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, providing additional insight about the new movie and its characters.

Welcome to the Terrible Twos

Our son turned 2 this past week. It’s amazing how fast this second year went by.

The first year was a strange mix of slow and slower, a feeling like a decade of life had been crammed into 365 days.  But, between year 1 and 2 time was delivered as a crazy-rapid bust. Maybe it’s because he’s moving so much more but I feel like so much is happening and it’s all slipping past me before I can get photos and videos.

Being a parent has been such an amazing experience.  Even if the “terrible twos” literally kicked in on his birthday.  🙂

I gotta admit, as frustrating as the tantrums can be – when I see that little glimmer in his eyes and that sneaky smirk while he’s misbehaving it takes a lot of effort to hold back a my own smile and giggles.

I love that kid.

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Epilepsy, Kids and Cannabis

Lenny and Amy’s 5-year-old son has epilepsy. When conventional medications caused terrible side effects, they started giving him a daily drop of cannabis oil, with dramatic results. But it’s a calculated risk: While there is anecdotal evidence of cannabis’ effectiveness, scientists face research roadblocks because it’s a schedule 1 controlled substance. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports

The Hidden Cost for Stay-At-Home Parents

Bloomberg News posted a fascinating article about the money a stay-at-home parent loses over time.  Beyond the obvious loss of a regular paycheck, it discusses reduced wages when returning to work and the loss of retirement funds.  With the costs of daycare being sky-high more and more families are keeping a parent at home to raise a child.  This is what we choose to do and while we can scrape by each month these expounded costs are eye opening… and a little depressing!

It’s really worth reading if you want to learn how a stay-at-home parent can, “lose about $706,778 in lifetime income from taking five years off to care for a child.”  WOAH!

In our situation at least, staying at home was precipitated by a birth injury he suffered (it’s fully healed now).  We don’t have any family near by to help with raising our kid so to be able to help him recover it was a no-brainer that one of us was going to leave our job.

Being the main breadwinner, I kept working while my wife became a stay-at-home parent. And not having family around means that she is always on, no sick days, no breaks and no extra hands to help out.

We’ve thought about daycare or a nanny-share but now that our income is so reduced it’s just not possible.

On the flip side… If we were both working he wouldn’t see either of us either.  I don’t know how so many families can handle this emotionally.  As his dad I feel like I only get slivers of time in the morning and at night.  It’s a bummer to not be involved with him more.

Weekends are so important in helping us bond – something I really notice when he falls, skins his knee and Mommy is the only he will allow to comfort him (note to self: it’s only a phase!).

At the same time we are all so lucky that he’s been able to bond so closely with his mom. That’s a financial sacrifice we have chosen to continue to make. We know that when he does have his sad moments she can comfort him in a way that no caregiver will ever be able to.  A hug from mom is somehow always that much better.  (Do you agree?)

My wife has the hardest, most exhausting and important job on earth now.  It’s a shame that it’s costing us so much money to provide that to our son.

What do you do?  Are you a stay-at-home parent or are you working?  How do you manage the emotional strain and stresses that each causes?  I’d love to read your thoughts in the comment section below.

Hardcore music, the Children’s Tumor Foundation & Jiujitsu?

A few weeks ago I was asked to put together a video documenting a fundraiser for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. The mix of people involved was just fantastic and a reminder to never judge a book by it’s cover.

Please take a moment to watch the video below and see hardcore music Legends John “Bloodclot” Joseph, Hoya de la Roc and the Brazilian Jiujitsu Community put on a great event to benefit the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

These guys may be “scary” with tattoos and gruff language but they have hearts of gold and what they are doing to help this family is inspiring.

 

Learn more about John Joseph here:
http://www.purepma.com

Learn more about Hoya and Madball here:
https://www.facebook.com/madballNYC/

Learn more about Clockwork Jiujitsu at:
http://clockworkbjj.com/

Kindle for Kids – Limited time sale on Amazon!

Check out this super great deal for an Amazon Kindle designed just for kids! This is a really nice price reduction so if you were ever thinking about getting an e-book for your daughter or son, now is a great time.

Unlike tablets, Kindle is designed just for reading, which means kids can lose themselves in a good book rather than get distracted by videos or games.

Amazon Kindle For Kids Bundle – $20 Off – with the latest Kindle, 2-Year Accident Protection, Kid-Friendly Cover

Includes:

  • latest Kindle without sponsored screensavers ($99.99 value)
  • A kid-friendly cover ($19.99 value),
  • 2-year warranty provided by SquareTrade ($19.99 value). Save $39.98 compared to when purchased separately.
  • Set reading goals and track progress with Kindle FreeTime
  • Two 2 years of accident protection provided by SquareTrade.
  • Power up a young reader’s vocabulary with features that offer hints for difficult words and let you practice them on digital flashcards
  • Zero distractions – unlike tablets, Kindle is designed just for reading
  • Lighter than a paperback and holds thousands of books
  • Kindle offers more than 250,000 children’s titles, plus easily borrow e-books from your public library

VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Songs & Sounds

Looking to get any of the VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels cars as part of a play-set or individually? Then you should have an idea of what songs and sounds they make. I took 4 of the 6 cars we have and turned them all on at once so you can get an Idea of the noise generated when your kid plays with these. The sounds trigger when the cars roll, the button is pressed or when the cars interact with any of the coordinating play-sets. It can get noisy! Luckily each car has a switch on the bottom to turn the sounds off. 🙂

BMI gains during childhood may increase stroke risk in adulthood

A new study out of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark is suggesting a link between a high body mass index (BMI) in childhood and the risk for strokes in adulthood.

As widely known, the effects of being overweight as a child can influence a wide range of health issues later in life, such as type 2 diabetes.

Read the full article at healio.com