The Top 100 Board Books Poll Countdown: #100-91
Did you think I had forgotten? Fear not, lovely readers! The time has come to start the newest countdown! What books did you all vote on in our online poll? The results begin today.
To recap, in the past I’ve conducted polls of Top 100 Picture Books and Top 100 Children’s Novels. This year SLJ asked if I’d be interested in trying to reveal the Top 100 Board Books. To determine this list, I asked you to send in your Top 10 board books of all time, ranked from #1 (which would get 10 points) to #10. You responded, the votes were calculated, and today we begin the countdown. I figure I’ll count from 100-51 by tens and then from 50-21 by fives. After that, each book will get a post a day. Sound good? Then here we go!
Note: Publication dates listed for each title reflect the date that the book was published in a board book format and do not their picture book antecedents
#100 – This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer by Joan Holub, illustrated by Daniel Roode (2017)
“I don’t love the illustration style of tiny bodies with giant heads, but I do really like that almost all the women profiled in this book are non-white (we start with 3 white women, then 7 women of color). Each spread has a brief rhyme and then a couple of prose sentences explaining in more detail about the woman, which I think works well. The women selected felt to me like a good mix of more familiar and less familiar names. It’s fairly US-centric, though it starts with Ada Lovelace and Florence Nightingale and ends with Malala Yousafazai.” – Elizabeth Sweeny
It seems fitting that we start things off with this book. I don’t mind the giant heads myself, and I liked the selections (Lucille Ball made the cut when another book might have forgotten about funny women entirely). It’s a recent book but a popular one, selling mighty well since its appearance on the market. What age is it for? Older kids will pick it up and read it when you’re not looking. Smaller kids will like the pictures and faces inside.
#99 – Always by Emma Dodd (2018)
“Her books are perfect for quiet snuggle-times, full of gentleness and love.” – Jennife Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library
Originally published in board book form, this book comes from Dodd, a British author/illustrator with a massive career. It would be a mighty odd board book list that didn’t include her, that’s for sure.
#98 – Grandpa and Me by Karen Katz (2004)
“What would a board book list be without Karen Katz? I chose this title (even though I love all her various board book ‘series’ – seasons, holidays, feelings, everyday experiences, etc.) because it’s so great to use for family-themed storytimes. There are many books about siblings and parents but so few good ones about grandparents – plus it works for pizza storytimes, too!” – Cara Frank, Clermont County Public Library
I can attest that grandparent storytimes are desperately needed in this era of aging baby boomers. They’re coming to our storytimes en masse, and the least we can do is occasionally read a book to a group that pertains to them.
And don’t worry, folks. This isn’t the last you’ve heard of Karen Katz on this list. Not by a long shot.
#97 – Gobble, Growl Grunt by Peter Spier (1988)
“This is my personal favorite. I’m sentimental about it because my children loved it. It is the ultimate animal sounds book. I has a nice, large format. It isn’t my #1 because the line drawings/watercolors are a bit detailed for the age group, but the sounds are awesome-real animal sounds. My son would throw his little head back and howl like a wolf.” – Paula Guiler, Greentown Intermediate School
With this Spier classic we approach two questions at the same time. First, if a board book is no longer in print, should it be allowed on this list? I hemmed and hawed over this for a while and then ultimately decided that if it was available through used sellers online, it should be fine. That was my first question. The second was whether or not to include board book adaptations of picture book originals. For example, in the case of this book the original edition came out in 1971. Remember though that sometimes a board book improves upon its original. Plus, if a book has managed to kick around for this long, if only in the hearts and minds of some readers, there’s much be something to it. Coming in at 1988, I don’t know if this will be the oldest board book on our list, but it’s certainly up there.
#96 – A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara (2012)
“Wonderful alphabet book that also stresses important social issues.” – Cheryl Gladfelter
And to think that when this book came out a mere six years ago it was considered novel. Now it vies for attention amongst the multitude of activism inspired titles out there. It has the distinction of being one of the first, however. Even the cover verges on the iconic.
#95 – Animal Talk: Mexican Folk Art Animal Sounds in English and Spanish by Cynthia Weill (2017)
“Pictures of beautiful sculptures and interesting for a wide variety of ages to learn about different animal sounds in English and Spanish.” – Gesse
And I was happy we managed to get a bilingual English/Spanish book on the list already. If you are unfamiliar with Weill’s series, you’re in for a treat. And lest you get confused (because the original edition was small format too) the board book version was released just last year.
#94 – Baby 123 by Deborah Donenfeld (2013)
“Diverse and black & white; pairs with Tick Tock Cuckoo Clock.” – Mary, Parkway Central Children’s Department
Some folks included book readalike suggestions along with their votes. And I, a huge fan of the readalike in general, wholly approve.
One problem with doing this list from least to most votes is that I don’t get to separate the board books into categories by age. Were I to do so, this would certainly fall on the lower end of the scale. It’s high contrast, simple, and filled with faces. Babies dig faces.
#93 – My First Mother Goose by Tomie de Paola (2009)
“Great design. Plenty of white space. Beautiful, simple, elegant TdP illustrations.” – Paula Guiler, Greentown Intermediate School
When I was reading board books to my kids, this little number proved to be the gateway drug to nursery rhyme collections. You get them hooked on the board book version, then you pull out the full Tomie dePaola Mother Goose collection (a staple of any home) and the kids will love seeing the same poem in a different book. From there you’re home free.
#92 – Edible Colors by Jennifer Vogel Bass (2016)
“Who knew carrots came in so many colors? Or potatoes? Or pumpkins? Expands everyone’s horizons!” – Beverly, San Antonio Public Library
Such a fan was I of the original picture book of this title, that I was completely flummoxed when it became a board book. But then, looking at it, I realized it made perfect sense. The fruits and veggies in this book are completely gorgeous.
#91 – Jump Frog Jump by Robert Kalan, ill. Byron Barton (2003)
“a.k.a. My First Little Book of Compassion.” – Carol
And we end today with a true board book classic. It’s interesting to read it in this format. So many things about this book make me happy, but nothing happier than knowing kids could get a kick out of it. A word of warning to the wise, though. The type is a bit tiny in the board book version and may require pre-reading so you get the stressed syllables entirely correct when you read it aloud.
Top 100 Board Books Poll Results
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
SLJ Blog Network