Our 10 Favorite Board Books to Give at Baby Showers
We are firm believers in the magic that’s made while reading to your kids - not to mention how incredibly important it can be for a child’s development. In fact, after taking care of the essentials - food, clothing, shelter, and love - I absolutely consider books to be the most noble and meaningful gift you can get into the hands of a child. So, while diapers may be a very useful and practical choice for a baby shower, I always make a point of including some of our favorite books as well.
I actually put a lot of thought into our book gift choices. When choosing a gift for such a special moment - I can’t help but imagine the book ending up in their little hands and introducing them to the magic of storytelling. I think hard about the books that our family loves, and I try to figure out what we love about it. Sometimes the books made our kids gleefully happy - other times I was inspired by their depth and beauty.
Luckily I’ve had a lot of practice with this very specific type of gift shopping recently as well. We’ve definitely had an abnormally high number of baby showers at work in the last few years - including our own! In fact, at our last baby shower we told everyone that all we wanted was books. That was a very good day!
And while shopping for others I’ve learned a few things. First of all, of course board books are the best choice if possible. While I’ve also been known to give a few hardbacks of our favorite books - it’s so much nicer not to have to worry about baby eating them or tearing out their favorite page.
I’ve also learned to consider the possibility that they already have a book - or that they will very likely receive it from someone else. I’m talking about classic, amazing books like Goodnight Moon, Corduroy, The Snowy Day, or Where the Wild Things Are - and I often end up assuming they will get their hands on these books without any help from us.
This list is a collection of the best board books to give at baby showers. From top to bottom these are the board books that I am personally most excited to give to new parents (or experienced parents for that matter). The criteria we considered is how much we love these books, how great they are for young kids, and how likely we would be to choose them if our best friend was having a baby next month.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Affiliate links will lead you to view the items’ listings on Amazon.com.
Written and Illustrated by Sandra Boynton
Sandra Boynton has built up the most amazing collection of board books featuring her recognizable cartoon animals. They’re funny and they’re catchy and they’re often very sweet. I honestly enjoy every single one of them quite a bit. But The Going to Bed Book has a special place in our heart because it became a part of our bedtime ritual with our son.
My wife would read this book to our son every single night. We’ve always subscribed to the idea that bedtime needs consistency and rituals - and nighttime has always been the best time to get our daily allotment of books read aloud. Of course that means it’s important to get your hands on a good bedtime board book from the very beginning - and, in my opinion, this is cream of the crop.
Written by Julia Donaldson and Illustrated by Axel Scheffler
Both of our kids love Room on the Broom. The combo of Donaldson and Scheffler is definitely a favorite for me as well. Donaldson’s writing is such a joy to read and her rhymes flow so well. And, of course, it’s great for kids to be exposed to wordplay and all of those rhymes for their language development.
Room on the Broom is about a witch and the various animals she befriends while flying around on her broom. It’s a great theme for this household - being fans of Halloween and spooky things as well as animal lovers. And, if that’s not enough fantasy for you - there’s also a big scary dragon antagonist in the story. Make sure to check out the short film on Amazon too because they did a remarkable job adapting it for the screen.
Written and Illustrated by Alexandra Day
We received Good Dog, Carl at the baby shower of our first son from a good friend and it has been a special book for me ever since. I was also very excited when I learned that Alexandra Day had also illustrated another childhood favorite: The Teddy Bears’ Picnic. I think Good Dog, Carl is undoubtedly one of the best wordless picture books of all time. But, to be fair, there are actually a couple of lines of dialogue.
“Look after the baby, Carl. I’ll be back shortly.”
And, of course:
“Good dog, Carl!”
That’s right. The dog is watching the baby. Why anyone would actually leave a dog in charge of their baby is certainly beyond me, but don’t put too much thought into it. Watching the mischief they get into together is what makes this book so great.
It’s a lot of fun reading wordless picture books with kids because it kind of forces a dialogue between parent and child that wouldn’t always exist otherwise. I love how they have to pay close attention to the pictures to give their interpretations of what is going on.
Written by Michael Rosen and Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
This is definitely one of the most engaging books we own. I think it’s fair to say that if a book inspires kids to want to run around the house reciting the words and playing an imaginative game - it’s probably a pretty good book.
That’s certainly what happened in our house. For a very long time our son wanted to stomp around the house singing the words to this book like it was a song and pretending like we were on a bear hunt as well. We’d go through the river and the mud and the forest and we’d make all the silly sounds. Then we’d find the bear and we’d run back to our bed and hide under the covers. Then we’d do it all over again.
For my part I have to admit it’s pretty awesome that the bear actually chases them back home - and it’s actually a legitimately creepy moment when they realize they forgot to close the front door and the have to run back down to shut it. No wonder they insist they’re never going on a bear hunt again.
6. The Gruffalo
Written by Julia Donaldson and Illustrated by Axel Scheffler
Donaldson and Scheffler most certainly deserve a second spot on this list. The art is just so great and Donaldson’s stories are so incredibly creative and full of fantasy. We read The Gruffalo so many times to our son that we memorized the words - and our son did too. That’s what’s so fantastic about repetition and rhymes - they really help kids soak it all in and start playing with words.
What I really love about this story is how it feels like a classic fairy tale or folk tale about outwitting a monster. The protagonist is a little mouse who manages to scare off lots of potential predators by telling them about a fictional monster called a gruffalo that will be coming soon and will probably eat them. It turns out there really is a gruffalo though, and the mouse has to think of a way to avoid becoming his snack as well.
Written and Illustrated by Sandra Boynton
This book is solid comedy gold. You might be surprised, but there’s a very high-percentage chance that your child will find it uncontrollably funny that this turkey just can’t figure out how to put on his clothes. Come on you crazy turkey, pants don’t go on your head!
I swear, both of our kids laughed out loud harder at this book than any other book we’ve ever owned. And all it takes is the well-placed repetition of one word: “OOPS!”.
Comedy is so important in life. Laughing is so good for you. Give the gift of a one-year-old laughing so hard that their stomach hurts.
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller and Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
This picture book absolutely blows me away. I was completely taken aback by its beauty. Wherever You Go is in the same vein of growing up books like Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, but it’s far and away the most beautiful one I have ever seen.
I love children’s books that have depth and beauty to them, and I think a baby shower is a great time to give the gift of a book that reflects on life - and even hints at its ultimate meaning. Wherever You Go does just this with one of my very favorite pages in all of children’s literature:
“Which path should you choose?
That’s easy to see.
The one that will take you
where you wish to be.”
I’m a real sucker for beautiful parenting advice like that. It’s really powerful, and it’s enough to make me tear up. I just want our kids to find their place in this world and to always follow their happiness.
And there’s another reason this is one of my favorite pages ever - Eliza Wheeler’s artwork is mesmerizing. The detail of her work overwhelms the happiness part of my brain. I can’t begin to explain how much depth it adds to this book. A beautiful poem is somehow transformed into an immense fantasy world and I want to know every single detail about it.
Written and Illustrated by Jon Klassen
Our very first baby photos of our son feature him curled up with I Want My Hat Back - and now finally there’s a board book version available. That’s a good thing because kids need to get a dose of Klassen’s deadpan humor as early as possible.
I’m a huge fan of Klassen’s artwork. We’ve gotten to the point where we’ll buy books he illustrated before we know anything about them. And for us it all started with I Want My Hat Back. It really is incredibly clever and funny. The combination of the adorable animals with their emotionless, straight faces and their deadpan conversations with each other is just a blast.
It’s really a very smart book as well. Kids have to piece together what happened based on the testimony of untrustworthy characters. Identifying that they are being untrustworthy is one leap in understanding they have to make - and then they get to explore why the obviousness of their lies actually makes it very humorous.
Written by Philip C. Stead and Illustrated by Erin E. Stead
This is one of our favorite books of all time - and I certainly want to make sure any and all babies around me get it in their hands. In fact, anything written by Philip Stead or illustrated by Erin Stead is most assuredly an instant purchase as well. They have such an amazing track record of beautiful stories.
True friendship and love is always a wonderful theme in picture books, but the Steads apparently know my biggest weakness - make those friends animals. Amos McGee works in a zoo and his best friends in the world are the animals he takes care of. And when he gets sick and has to miss work one day - the animals come to his house to take care of him. I very much want to hang the image of the animals waiting for the bus on our walls.
I feel like it’s our duty to put beautiful art into the hands of our kids, and A Sick Day for Amos McGee is just about as inspiring and as beautiful as it gets.
Written by Sara O’Leary and Illustrated by Julie Morstad
This is Sadie is a celebration of childhood and all of the things that make it special. It’s a champion of creativity and the imagination. It’s a powerful reminder of the positive impact stories can have on all of us. I definitely think it’s the perfect board book to give to start a new baby’s bookshelf.
There’s so much beauty to discover in life, and nobody seems to realize that better than children. But we can’t ever forget it, and we have to do our very best not to ever drown that flame in our kids. In a similar vein, Claude Monet has one of my favorite quotes of all time:
“Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it.”
Sara O'Leary also wrote a very similar quote in This is Sadie that I find very inspiring:
“The days are never long enough for Sadie. So many things to make and do and be.”
I consider it our most important duty making sure that that exact feeling lasts for as long as possible in our children - ideally for their entire lives. This is Sadie is more than just a tool for firing up your child’s imagination - it’s also an important reminder for parents of that sacred duty.
For a much closer look about why we love This is Sadie so much, make sure to read our full article on it.
Have you ever gifted any of the books on this list? Is there one particular book you always think of giving when there’s a baby shower? Tell us your favorites in the comments!