Building your library: Board Books that are good for a group!

So my mom and I were talking yesterday -- we're both sorting through books right now.

I'm going through my library and pulling anything that I don't want to move across the country. (That's right folks, Jacob got his dream job! In Connecticut!) In fact, since we plan to rent at first, I've got to figure out which books are good enough that I want to move them twice. Pack, haul, unpack. Repeat: pack, haul, unpack. Only the best of the best are coming with us. (The point that I'm trying to make here is that if you're local, you should definitely come to my book sale. Date TBA.)

First box of books is packed! Keep them safe, Anna and Elsa.
(Little did Jubilee know, that was her last day with the pacifier.)

My mom, on the other hand, is going through her own library and the library of the church nursery. She is now a teacher in the children's class for 1- 2- and 3-year-olds, and their story time selections need an overhaul.

So she asked me to recommend some board books that were a) bigger b) had a little more story to them and c) could handle the harsh treatment of a childcare situation.

Accordingly, you will NOT find on this list some of my favorite board books that are small, that are mainly concept books, or that have flaps (bound to get ripped off) and textures (bound to be grabbed and fought over).*

Anyway, let's get to the list!

5 Board Books to Please a Crowd

Rocket Town by Bob Logan -- I've mentioned this book before and Ashley's family loves it, too. In fact, we've loved our copy to death, but we're not ready to let it go -- we've put it on life support. The story is pretty basic: rockets go up, they go down, they're big, small, fast and slow. But the connecting thread on all these pages is the man and his dog driving a pickup truck. And when they finally blast off? What a stellar ending. (Pun intended.) Haven't met a preschooler who didn't like this book. The double-page spreads make the pictures bigger, for when you're reading to a group, and the book size is larger than your typical Sandra Boynton.

Speaking of Sandra Boynton, she's pretty much board book royalty. I highly recommend a copy of Barnyard Dance, even though it's not large, because I can see that leading to an excellent hoe-down. "Stomp your feet! Clap your hands! Everybody ready for a barnyard dance!" I always make a few fiddle noises there, as I turn the page.

I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy -- This one, too, is typical board book size, but I just have to pull it in over here (I first featured it on my post Books to Give at Baby Showers). The bold, black on white illustrations are going to make seeing the pictures easy, even in a big group. And the sweet actions described in the book could lead to some excellent pretend play -- holding the baby, feeding the baby, tickling the baby, etc. This book is super sweet for a one-on-one read aloud, but I think it's going to hold up fantastically with a big crowd.

The Wheels on the Bus by Raffi, illustrated by Silvie Wickstrom -- Found this one at Home Goods today,** and of course it's a classic. I'm sure that reading this one to a group would turn into singing, complete with hand motions. But I picked this one for the list (and passed on this one) because of the superior illustrations. Bold colors and broad outlines, but lots of details for the little one who wants to look closely at it later. (See?)

Last but not least, I pick Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle. I found this one at Home Goods just before Christmas. Though I've never read it to the kids, I was with my friend Nicole at the time, and she said it is the #1 favorite of her 3 year old right now. Even better, she said she doesn't mind reading it to him. Haha! I read it in the store and it's got a nice rhythm. I wish now that I had taken a picture of it in my hand (though at the time that would have been a very odd thing to do, since I wasn't planning this post) but it IS larger than usual. You can probably guess from the cover that Little Blue goes around collecting farm animals, and each makes his noise in turn.

Ok, there you have it! A handful of great board books that will both please a hoard of toddlers AND last long enough to please their younger siblings, too. Cover images above are affiliate links to Amazon, because my mom requested them. (If you purchase books through these links, I make a small commission. Thanks, mom!)

Share this post with all your friends who are in the market for board books. They'll thank you.

*Count! by Denise Fleming, Where's Spot? by Eric Hill and Pat the Bunny, by Dorothy Kunhardt for instance. Great books.

**My favorite place to buy board books is at Home Goods. At least in my town, they've always got a good sized collection of them over with the toys. And the prices are just unbeatable, for a new book! The photo above was taken today, at Home Goods, because once I thought of going there I couldn't help myself. :D (Unfortunately had to leave a cute flower arrangement, several awesome toys, and all the rest of the merchandise in the store, le sigh.)

More board books I recommend, here!


  1. This was very helpful! I feel much more confident in making my purchases for the church nursery. I am really excited to read them with the kids, too!

    1. Yay! I'm so glad this gives you a starting place. I think you'll have a blast reading these with the kiddos. <3

  2. The board books my kids have loved most are Freight Train (the old Donald Crews classic) and another random one the pediatrician gave us after a visit that had big photos of real babies/toddlers. My daughter especially LOVED looking at pictures of real babies.


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