Can you believe we’re halfway through the year already? Goodness. Time really does fly even when the days feel like they go forever. We’ve read a lot of really fantastic books this year: board books, picture books, grown-up books. Books that were released this year as brand new books, and books that were released this year for the first time as board books. And of course, books that were published earlier than this year but were new to us. Because we’ve both had difficulty finding lists of new release books that are specifically targeted at babies and toddlers, we thought we would compile our own. This isn’t a comprehensive list of all books for babies and toddlers that were released in the first half of 2019 — just our very favorites. I’m a little sad that by restricting it to this age group we’re leaving out some other amazing children’s books that were published this year, but maybe that will be a different list.
And behold! A list of our favourite books for the 0–3 crowd that have been released in 2019 so far. Most of these are board books and are loved by both the baby librarians and their mums.
Jen And Tilly’s Favorite 2019 Books For Babies And Toddlers
Touchwords: Food by Rilla Alexander
This is a book I love for its simplicity and minimalist design. The colours are vibrant, the cut-outs make it a really fun book for touching and holding, and the words and illustrations for each food are perfect. Oh, and did I mention that this is a book from one of my favourite board book series and it’s about my favourite topic ever? No wonder this book makes it onto this list.
Seek and Count by Yusuke Yonezu
One of Tilly’s favourites! There are two aspects I like about this book. First, the flaps. The hidden reveal makes this an enjoyable and interactive board book to read. Second, I like that the objects being counted are somewhat surprising, and doesn’t always match what you would expect when you first see the page. A clever and cute counting book with good flaps for little hands that aren’t so gentle (I have learnt that not all flappy books are made equal; some flaps hold up better to toddler hands than others).
Can You Eat? by Joshua David Stein
Another board book about food! I absolutely adore the illustrations in this book and would have bought it just for the art. The book is whimsical and silly and a lot of fun. It isn’t one that Tilly has read a lot but I’m hoping that she will see the humour and fun in this as she gets a little older. This book is probably better suited for older toddlers but the grown-ups would appreciate it now. It’s a sophisticated board book that it’s interesting and fun for the adult reader too.
Press Here by Herve Tullet
The picture book of this has been out for a while but I’m including it on this list because it came out in a board book edition earlier this year. It’s a lot of fun, and Tilly seems to quite enjoy it. At 20 months old, she’s still a little young to understand all of the directions, but she likes pressing the yellow dots.
Mighty Mighty Construction Site soundbook by Sherri Duskey Rinker
Like Press Here, this book has been out for a while as a picture book. Earlier this year, a sound book board book version was released. It’s fantastic! Both Tilly and I love it and we read it a fair bit. We don’t always press the sound buttons when we are supposed to, but that’s part of the fun. A great book for reading aloud, the sounds are charming rather than annoying (as some sound-making children’s books and toys can be), and the illustrations are gorgeous.
Hide and Sleep by Lizi Boyd
A delightful book with flaps that takes us through a day and night in the forest. It’s fun to spot where the animals are, and especially on the last two spreads where ALL the animals appear. Tilly went through a phase where this was her favourite book and we read it goodness-knows-how-many-times a day. I love the colours and pictures, and text is used sparingly but effectively.
My Art Book of Sleep by Shana Gozansky
The second installment in the ‘My Art Book…’ series and both Tilly and I love this as much as the first one, My Art Book of Love. Reproductions of works of fine art are paired with beautiful and lyrical prose about sleep. I’m not actually sure why Tilly likes this book because she hates going to sleep, but she brings me this book to read a lot, especially at bedtime. There was one night recently when we were up at 3:30 AM because she had a fever. We snuggled up with Cuddle Bear and read this book four times in a row.
Up, Up, Up, Down! by Kimberly Gee
This is my only picture book on this list (everything else so far has been a board book), but since this book is about the day in the life of a toddler and his stay-at-home dad, I figured this still works! I love this book because there aren’t many picture books about toddlers, and there also aren’t many about stay-at-home dads. This is a funny and charming book that perfectly captures the frustrations and pleasures of everyday life with a toddler. I’m pretty sure I appreciate this book more than Tilly does.
Margaret And Marian’s Favorite 2019 Books For Babies And Toddlers
Hello Honeybees: Read and play in the hive! by Hannah Rogge, illustrated by Emily Dove
This interactive board book about bees is a lot of fun. It’s got little bees that pop out of the cover that babies and toddlers can play with. It’s sturdy too, so no worries about the bees becoming permanently removed from the book, unless your toddler gets a hold of some scissors, and let’s just hope that never ever happens for a lot of reasons! I like reading this one because I learn something new about bees too. I also appreciate the clever design. Both Marian and Tilly enjoyed it enough to book club it.
Rainbow: A First Book of Pride Michael Genhart, illustrated by Anne Passchier
This is my only picture book on the list because, as we all know, babies and toddlers with a picture book can lead to a lot of, um, paper crafting. But with its bright colors and friendly faces, Rainbow is a great book for careful toddlers. I’m lucky because, for the most part, Marian is excellent at turning paper pages. This is an LGBTQ+ friendly book that defines each of the colors on the rainbow flag. Check out my interview with author Michael Genhart!
Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
I first read the picture book version of this, released in 2018, and it was perfect. This year, they released a board book version shaped like a purse! I soo appreciate some good board book design. This book is about a little girl who riffles through her grandmother’s purse every time she comes over. As she goes through her grandmother’s things, she learns more about her grandmother too. As all of us with toddlers knows, they love emptying bags. Thankfully, mine has yet to figure out how zippers work exactly (I don’t have long). We own the picture book and not the board book, but I definitely plan on nabbing it when I see it at a bookstore.
Dragons Are Real! (Mythical Creatures Are Real!) by Holly Hatam
They are! I swear! I am a BIG fantasy nerd. We decorated Marian’s nursery with a fantasy forest theme. Thus, I’m collecting a lot of dragon and fantasy themed books. I’ll be honest, I seem to enjoy these more than she does. Right now, her favorite animals are cats and dogs, understandably so. But I have a good collection of fantasy board books in case she ever does show an interest!
Feminist Baby! He’s a Feminist Too! by Loryn Brantz
The Feminist Baby series may be my favorite board book series. They are so much fun — clever rhyming, perceptive about baby and toddler behavior, and with an excellent social message. This is the third book in the series, and though focused on boys, is a great read for any gender baby!
A Is for Awesome!: 23 Iconic Women Who Changed the World by Eva Chen, illustrated by Derek Desierto
I’ve recommended this one a lot, but we do enjoy it. Each letter of the alphabet corresponds to a famous woman. I love the quotes that go along with some of the women, and Marian loves the mirror on the last page. She’s a vain toddler. 😉
Little Poet Emily Dickinson: In Emily’s Garden by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Carme Lemniscates
Emily Dickinson is one of my favorite poets, and I so enjoy reading children’s poetry. This is the perfect introduction to her poetry for the youngest readers. It pairs an excerpt from one of her poems with illustrations of a flower. Emily Dickinson was an avid gardener, so she has many poems about flowers.