What are Board Books – Understanding Books for our Earliest Readers

What are board books? Board Books are those colorful, playful, short, heavy-duty books that are perfect for kids zero to five. Parents love them because they are sturdy and withstand sticky hands and teething babies. Board books are made of various materials such as thick cardboard, plush fabrics, and textured, thick paper to name a few. They rarely, if ever, use the thin paper that we associate with novels and picture books for kids. Traditionally board books have been hard back, with twelve or fewer pages. Today they come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and materials, from soft and squishy to wood or multi-material based.

Who Writes Board Books

While some authors find their picture books converted to board book format, work-for hire or in-house writing staff often author board books. In-house means the publisher of the book employees a writing staff to create and draft the books. Since board books are fairly simple in plot, or more likely are concept based, they don’t require the complex planning and authoring that traditional picture books need. They are generally commissioned and packaged in a multi-book deal. This means more than one book with similar themes, formats, or characters will be slated to come out at once or one right after the next by the publisher.

Famous Picture Books converted to Board Books


A great example of a picture book that was converted to a board book is the well-known story, GOODNIGHT MOON. Written by Margaret Wise Brown in 1947, it has sense sold over fourteen million copies. It’s no surprise that this classic was converted to board book form.

Favorite picture books converted to board books:




Character or Concept Based

It’s impossible to explore what are board books without talking about character based and concept based books. Board Books are generally character based or concept based. Character-based board books follow the point of view of one main character as they learn or discover something, as seen in A BIG DAY FOR DUMP TRUCK. Concept-based books explore a concept like seasons, colors, shapes, food, to name a few. For examples, check out

What are Board Book materials? – Hard or Soft Back

Sometimes Board Books are made out of thick cardboard, and multi-textured, as seen in FARM DAYS WITH COW.

This sensory book promotes learning through touch and feel activities centered around the lives of farm animals. It is told from the point of view of an adorable cow. The book employs four four of the five senses, challenging children to touch, smell, see, and hear different textures, scents, colors, shapes and sounds. Board books use multiple textures: soft, fuzzy, crinkly, and shiny to name a few. The pages of the book itself is made from thick, heavy duty board

Despite the word ‘board’ however, board books can be soft back too, as seen with THE BUSY LITTLE TRACTOR.

THE BUSY LITTLE TRACTOR is a soft, padded picture book perfect for tiny hands just learning to take hold. Readers experience the busy day-in-the-life of Tractor through rhyming text and a story that inspires friendship. Pictures are playful and colorful. Because of the books padded material, it is perfectly safe babies and very young children.

What are Board Books and Who Reads Them

Board Books are an important part of the children’s literature canon. They are a necessity when it comes to getting books into the hands of some of our tiniest, newest readers. Board book materials pay an important roll in their success. Sturdy, toddler-safe and baby-safe materials must be utilized to ensure these books withstand some of the roughest reading! They are books and toys all in one. And they are some of the earliest stories some parents will share with their children.

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