Beyond Brown Bear: New-ish Board Books We Love

Updated: Dec 21, 2018

While we love Goodnight Moon and will always hold any and all Eric Carle close to our hearts, there are so many new books out now that deserve to be classics, too. Whether you're looking for a baby shower gift, shopping for a birthday, or building your own home or classroom library, here are a few board books we love to gift.

A Sock Is A Pocket For Your Toes, by Liz Garton Scanlon

"A cave is a pocket for a bear, a breath is a pocket full of air. A hat is a pocket for your hair, and a seat is a pocket called a chair..."

The rhymes and images are pure delight in this book by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon. While this is admittedly a scaled down version of a paper book, which we tend not to recommend, this particular version holds up perfectly.

Whose Toes Are Those?, by Jabari Asim

This rhyming book is an ode by Asim to some precious brown toes, some darling feet, that will absolutely have your tiny reading companion in fits of giggles, if only because it's impossible to read this book without smiling... and without tickling some tiny toes juuuust a little bit. The joyful illustrations by LeUyen Pham make this (and the following book Whose Knees Are These?) great additions to your collection.

We Sang You Home, by Richard Van Camp

I'll admit that when I first picked this one up, actual tears came to my eyes. The text waxes lyrical on the way a child arrives in their parents arms, using just enough language and metaphor to include any type of birth story and all types of families.

My Heart Fills with Happiness, by Monique Gray Smith

What makes you happy? What small moments fill your heart with warmth and happiness? A lovely story to share with children that captures—and encourages you to savor—all those moments, big and small. Don't miss the surprise ending (spoiler, it's a narwhal!).

The House In The Night, by Susan Marie Swanson

A Caldecott-winning picture book turned into board book form, The House in the Night translates beautifully into a form more durable for little hands. With a cumulative pattern familiar in songs and stories for young people, each page turn pulls the reader further into the house and all the way back out again. Beth Krommes' black, white, and yellow scratchboard illustrations provide both bold contrast and warm reassurance, perfectly suited to the very young.

Peek-a-Who? By Nina Laden

You may not know it, but you've been looking for Nina Laden's rhyming spin on peek-a-boo. Her book of windows is both a guessing game at what's coming next as well as a sample of all the work a rhyme can do. And, as is any baby or toddler's favorite—Peek-a-You!—it's ends with a mirror. Check out Laden's other books in this series: Peek-a-Moo, Peek-a-Zoo, Peek-a-Choo-Choo, and a potential seasonal favorite, Peek-a-BOO!

Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions by Molly Magnuson

Babies love seeing babies. This diverse book of baby mugs will delight the reader, too, because it's purely a collection of photographs of real children and an introduction to language identifying emotions and expressions. And, thanks to a mirror at the end, the last baby is the best of all—yours.

Twinkle, Twinkle, ABC, by Barney Saltzberg

This "mixed-up, mashed-up melody" will delight the toddler familiar with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and the Alphabet song as it muddles the two together (plus some other lyrics) into an utterly singable, giggle-inducing lesson in the elasticity of language and tune. Sing this book together, then just try to stop experimenting with other combinations—and for a bit of additional fun, see if they realize and Baa Baa Black Sheep completes the triad.

The Swing, by Robert Louis Stevenson and illustrated by Julie Morstad

A sweet, simple poem, The Swing is a meditation on "the pleasantest thing /ever a child can do." Morstad's illustrations of a diverse collection of swinging children show cows, trees, ships, and gardens as seen from the top of a swing's pendulous path. A lovely piece of art and an equally lovely introduction to poetry.

Snow, by Uri Shulevitz

This is another condensed version of a larger book, but one that we feel works beautifully. The transformation of a small city begins with just a few flakes, and ends with a blanket of white snow. It's a quiet and peaceful read perfect for bedtime, or the start of the snowy season, or any day at all.

Give and Take, by Lucie Felix

This tactile book of opposites will keep small readers engaged with simple, graphic illustrations completed by turning a page. Young children will enjoy the vibrant images and be able to practice early motor skills, shape recognition, sorting, and the vocabulary of opposites.

Print this list! Click here for a link to a condensed version of this list in Google Drive.


A note about buying books: We encourage everyone who's able to shop locally as much as possible. However, if you plan to buy this book on Amazon, you can support us by buying it with our special affiliate link, accessible by clicking the book title or image. Thank you for your support!

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