It’s no secret that reading baby books is one of the best things you can do for your infant. Reading to baby—even from a very young age–stimulates brain development and strengthens the parent-child bond. Additionally, reading helps babies develop language skills and make sense of the world around them. Fostering a love for books is a gift your children will treasure for the rest of their lives.

The best first books for babies are board books. The smaller size and chunky pages make them easier for little hands to grasp and turn while the cardboard can withstand everything from teething baby chomps to over-enthusiastic toddlers.

It can be a bit overwhelming to start your baby’s first library, so we’ve created a guide featuring the best of the best—classic and new baby board books that will take you from baby’s first day to their first birthday.

The best board books for babies

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls Baby's First Book of Extraordinary Women, one of the best board books for babies

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls Baby's First Book of Extraordinary Women

A board book adaptation of our favorite inspiring series, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls Baby’s First Book of Extraordinary Women features artists, inventors, activists and trailblazers that changed the world. Accompanied by colorful illustrations and simple text it’s the first Rebel Girls book you’ll buy and it certainly won’t be the last.

b is for bison board book, a classic board book for babies

B is For Bison

This recent release from BabyLit teaches the ABCs while introducing the tiniest adventurers to the wonders of America’s National Parks. Illustrator Greg Paprocki is at his finest with gorgeous retro mid-century takes on everywhere from the Grand Canyon to Yosemite.

My First Shapes Book, a creative board book for babies

My First Shapes Book

What better way to learn about basic shapes than alongside the timeless architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright? Each page features bold and colorful geometric illustrations along with interactive hunt and find questions.

little feminist board book set, one of of motherly's favorite board books for babies

Little Feminist Board Book Set

Ok, so this is technically four books but they come in a bundle and it’s too hard to pick just one. The bold and colorful volumes feature iconic female artists, pioneers, leaders and activists so that little ones can get their history on from day one.

So Many Stars Book, an iconic board book for babies

So Many Stars

Baby’s first art book! The iconic pop art of Andy Warhol combined with a sweet and simple messages (and a mirror at the end!) make this a must-have.

no no yes yes board book, a hilarious board book for babies

No No Yes Yes

Yanking the cat by the tail? No. Gentle pats? Yes! This expressive book uses their favorite first words and common behaviors to teach right from wrong.

goodnight moon, a classic board book for babies

Goodnight Moon

We’ll never get tired of this ultimate classic of children’s literature, beloved by generations for its quiet prose and simple beauty.

the runaway bunny, one of the best loved board books for babies

The Runaway Bunny

“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.” This book has never gone out of print since its publication in 1942; if that isn’t enough of a ringing endorsement, we’re not sure what is.

very hungry caterpillar, a classic board book for babies

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Little ones have loved chomping their way through the pages of this book for decades, right along with everyone’s favorite little caterpillar.

brown bear brown bear, one of the very best board books for babies

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?

Read it once and it will be in your head for days… and in baby’s vocabulary within weeks! Beloved for his drawings, Eric Carle’s famed career as an illustrator began with this book back in 1966. Despite being more than five decades olds, the story’s lessons on colors and animals are still as relevant as ever.

a is for activist, one of motherly's favorite board books for babies

A is for Activist

This is one you’ll come back to time and time again, well beyond the toddler years to spark conversations about social justice, community and the power of people to make change. Who says ABC books have to be babyish?

ABC Touch Think Learn Book, a sensory board book for babies

TouchThinkLearn: ABC

The TouchThinkLearn series stands out as a favorite for its clean, modern aesthetic and engaging tactile die-cuts and cut-outs. Tiny, curious hands will love touching—and learning—their ABCs.

sally at the farm, an animal themed board book for babies

Sally at the Farm

This colorful, visually stimulating story about a dog enjoying the splendors of a day at the farm is a great way to teach little ones about animals, colors and more.

i love you through and through, one of motherly's favorite board books for babies

I Love You Through and Through

This sweet book will teach them from day one that no matter what, you’ll love them through and through. Bonus: This is one of our favorite books to gift new parents.

8 little planets, a science themed board book for babies

8 Little Planets

Travel the solar system with this cute and colorful planetary party. With the added interest of a stacking cut out, it’s certain to become an instant hit!

pout pout fish, a funny board book for babies

The Pout Pout Fish

We dare you not to start singing (or rapping!) the catchy phrase pout pout fish repeats over and over in this brightly illustrated tale that takes place on the ocean floor.

little gorilla board book

Little Gorilla

“Once there was a gorilla, and everybody loved him. His mother loved him. His father loved him….even when he was only one day old, everybody loved Little Gorilla… But then Little Gorilla began to change.”

This heartwarming story about how baby—and love—grows over the first year of life will give you all the feels. (We may or may not be crying as we type this… ) And the amazing retro illustrations will never go out of style.

peek a who book, a silly board book for babies

Peeka-A Who?

Our favorite peekaboo book promises lots of giggles, while lots of flaps to lift and brightly colored animals to spot promise lots of learning for little ones!

ten little fingers and ten little toes book, a much loved board book for babies

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

As parents, we really can’t get enough of baby fingers and toes, and this book celebrate all their tiny body parts with rhyming prose and sot illustrations of of babies from all backgrounds.

where is babys belly button, a classic board book for babies

Where is Baby's Belly Button

This sturdy lift-the-flap book puts babies on the hunt for their favorite body parts and will bring lots of delight along the way.

dear zoo board book

Dear Zoo

Babies will love to lift the flaps and find out which animal will be coming home as the new family pet!

indestructibles baby faces board book for babies

Indestructibles Baby Faces

Indestructibles are just that: chew proof, rip proof, nontoxic, and washable. We love them for stroller entertainment or tossed in the diaper bag for a “I need to distract baby now!” emergency.

jane fosters black and white board book for babies

Black and White

The black and and white images throughout this board book will help your little one’s visual development, and the sophistication of the illustrations—created by a British textile designer—means you won’t mind reading it again and again.

look at you board book

Look at You!

Fun fact: babies love looking at other babies! Short of running a daycare in your own house, this oversized board book is perfect for showing your little one bright baby faces and expressions all day long.

colors board book for babies


Let those little hands work their way through the rainbow with this book featuring sturdy cardboard pages of graduating lengths. This unique design introduces colors in a fun and creative way.

first 100 words board book

First 100 Words Book

With 100 first words accompanied by 100 clear, bright photos, this word book stands out as one your baby will go back to again and again.

chicka chicka boom boom rhyming board book for babies

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

“A told B and and B told C, “I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree.” This lively alphabet chant couldn’t be better—we’ve never met a little one who doesn’t agree!

sunrise moonrise, a beautiful board book for babies

Sunrise Moonrise

This simple, beautiful story about the passing of a day will capture baby’s attention with its bright, high contrast art and sparse, rhythmic text.

gossie board book


We 💜 Gossie, our favorite precocious little yellow gosling who loves to wear bright red boots. (And get into all sorts of trouble.) We think your little one will agree!

baby signs educational board book for babies

Baby Signs

Babies as young as eight months old can learn to communicate with basic sign language—and this simple primer is the perfect introduction. With 13 essential signs like milk, more and all done, it can provide a path to fewer tantrums and less frustration.

wibble wobble animal themed board book for babies

Wibble Wobble

Get ready to practice those animal sounds ? Babies will love the bright backgrounds set against black + white images, and you’ll have fun perfecting the noise of penguins flip-flopping across the sand.

lllama llamas little library, one of the best board books for babies

Little Llama's Library

We love little Llama so much that we couldn’t choose just one! This four-board book set is the perfect introduction to Llama Llama and all of his rhyming adventures. These are the perfect first read-alouds.

but not the hippopotamus, one of motherly's favorite board books for babies

But Not the Hippopotamus

Our love for Sandra Boynton knows no bounds, and we can’t imagine kid lit without her. This cheeky board book about a silly hippo is guaranteed to put a smile on your baby’s face—and yours, too.

go dog go, a classic board book for babies

Go Dog Go

This one doesn’t always make the classic favorites lists, but we have a soft spot for it—it always elicits the giggles, features of a lovable cast of silly dogs, and was edited by Dr. Seuss. Little ones will love the basic concepts but will enjoy it as they get older, too.

Whether you’re expecting in months or mere days, let Motherly guide you with our registry featuring curated collections of essentials for you and baby.  

A version of this story was published September 16, 2021. It has been updated.

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A version of this story was published September 16, 2021. It has been updated.