10 Best Picture Books for Boys

February 4, 2012 |  by  |  book review, featured, fun links, parenting
best books for boys

I don’t care what your nap or bedtime routine is like as long as a) it exists b) you like it and c) it involves books. Reading with your kids is a fun and wonderful way to connect with your kids. It’s the most powerful tool you have to create a strong foundation for literacy. Even little babies love books (especially those that feature pictures of babies).

I won’t waste your time with common book recommendations as I’m sure you’ve already discovered the gentle joys of Goodnight Moon and Sandra Boynton. Instead I’ve pulled together some of the lesser-known but well-loved books as determined by my family! (Click on pictures for links to Amazon! 🙂

10 Best Picture Books for Boys

10. Orange Pear Apple Bear

A small and simple delight, this book contains only four words: orange pear apple bear. It’s a small book (you can read it out loud in under 30 seconds) but it’s sweet. For people who like small sweet books a la The Quiet Book.

9.Each Peach Pear Plum

For babies this is a cute book with pithy rhymes, stories based on familiar nursery rhymes, and cute pictures. For older kids this is a clever yet simple I Spy. For older kids The Jolly Postman (also by Ahlberg) is fun too.

8. 100 Word Book

There are lots of good word books and these are a must for very young babies up through preschoolers. Babies will enjoy just looking at the colorful pictures but you’ll be surprised at how quickly they respond to words. As them to point at things (“Where is the blue ball?”), you’ll be amazed at how many words they really know!

7. A Frog in a Bog

You are probably familiar with Karma Wilson because of her popular Bear Snores On books. But this little gem about a hungry “frog in a bog on a half sunk log” is a favorite in our house. It’s a counting book based on what the frog eats, or doesn’t as the case may be.

6. ABC

While the world is full of ABC books there is only one as beautiful and clever as this one. Each picture is detailed with many images starting with the letter in a way that magically creates a visual narrative throughout. The author’s 1-2-3 Counting book (which is far more exciting than the banal title would suggest) is a treat too.

5. The Day the Babies Crawled Away

We love everything that Peggy Rathmann has done. If my kids had to choose they would probably pick 10 Minutes to Bedtime as their favorite. But since they can’t type I’m going with my personal favorite.

Remember the day the babies crawled away? We Moms and Dads were eating pies and what do you know, surprise surprise! The babies crawled away.

4. King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub

King Bidgood’s in the bathtub and he won’t get out! Well I should think not, who would if they were having this sort of party IN the bathtub? A Caldecot Award Honor book with some of the most impressive illustrations ever. Even more fun to read if you like to do character voices.

3. Albert’s Alphabet

This is a relatively unknown book (only 2 reviews on Amazon? seriously?) but it’s a huge favorite with kids. Albert the duck has to build an alphabet on the walking path of the school playground by 3:00pm. Does Albert have enough time? Does Albert have enough materials? Those are pretty much the only words in the entire book. Its a fun, clever alphabet book that I promise you’ll all enjoy.

2. Snowmen at Night

Ever wonder what those snowmen are doing when you aren’t around to see? Well if you thought they were sticking around waiting for you to bring them that new hat you promised, you are sadly mistaken! I love the great illustrations and fun rhyming story. My kids love hunting for all the hidden pictures.

1. Cars and Trucks and Things that Go

This is, bar none, the absolute most favorite book in our house and has been for years. It works on every level. It’s a story book telling of the adventures of the pig family as they travel to have a picnic. It’s a word book where all the words are types of vehicles (who wouldn’t want a bananamobile?). And it’s an I Spy book. All of Richard Scarry’s earlier books are great but this one is far and away the BEST!

(Note: Later Richard Scarry books are actually written/illustrated by his son and aren’t nearly as good, however it’s almost impossible to tell (unless you check the publication date) because they’re still labeled as Richard Scarry books.)

Honorable Mention

My kids like this book. I LOVE it. All of Wiesner’s books are a stunning achievement but Flotsam stands out like a rare gem in a box of marbles. A boy finds a very old waterproof camera washed up on the beach and get’s the film developed. What surprises are hidden within those pictures? I think my kids struggle with the narrative concept of the book (I had to explain what camera film was and they’re still a little fuzzy on the idea). Personally I’m desperately wishing that I can find that camera on the beach someday.

Best Books for Girls?

Since the selection jury was comprised exclusively of boys I felt constrained by that category although frankly almost all of these books are simply excellent books for anybody. Also I’m not quite as familiar with some of the books which I see spanning the shelves of some of our feminine friends (Pinkalicious, Angelina Ballerina, etc.). If anybody wants to guest post with their selection list for girls drop me a line!

Anybody else have any house favorites they care to share?


  1. Great list! I love King Bidgood and Flotsam but several others are new to me. Thanks for posting!

  2. awesome collection of books for kids!!!! I think pictures of cars are most important.
    good post…….

  3. Nice list and nice website. The First 100 Words is a favorite in our house.

    • Glad you like it! Picture books are so much fun, I’ll be sad when my kids are older and everybody’s off reading Harry Potter and such. Cuz it’s so fun to go to the bookstore and browse picture books 😉

  4. Thank you for your list of the 10 best picture books for boys. A number of these are also on my “favorites” list, and there are a few titles that I was not familiar with. If you are interested, here are nine additional picture books that are perfect for boys:

    • All good ones! Although I’m not personally a huge fan of Skippy Jon Jones. Seriously why is it so important for this cat to think Siamese? What’s wrong with Chihuahua! 😉

  5. If you are still looking for a guest post with recommendations for the best books for girls, I would love a go at it. Thanks!

    • Laura (above) just volunteered so I want to give her a crack at it. But she’s also super busy these days so if she can’t carve out the time I’ll definitely take you up on your kind offer 🙂

  6. This is such a great post. Just on seeing it my kid pounced on the laptop screen, and I think I should have all these books in my collection.

    Thanks for sharing.


  7. Wouldn’t girls like most (if not all) of these books — similarly, shouldn’t boys like most of the girls’ top 10 books? Presumably most of the generic differences in taste are learned rather than inherent?

    • I would have thought so before having kids but now I’m not so sure. I was totally one of those “my boys can have baby dolls!” types. But they never touched them. When my son was ~2 he was just MAD about trucks. For no reason that I can determine he just only wanted books about trucks. Firetrucks mostly.

      I’ll occasionally sneak a “girl” book at the library (Pinkalicious, etc.) and my guys will totally not care about it as they ask me to read Small Saul (awesome pirate book) for the 300th time.

      • Not scientific enough. You have to be REALLY committed if you want to use your kids as experiments in the nature vs. nurture debate: randomly dress them in boys and girls clothing (plus consider how you decorate their rooms, color choices, etc.), randomly give them traditionally boys and girls toys, carefully consider what traditionally male and female behaviors, activities you encourage and discourage, etc. (e.g. smack-talk at the foosball table vs. excessive propriety).

        It’s too late now, of course. Alas.

        • Oh Matt,
          I can’t wait to come visit you in 2 years to see you and your little guy happily playing with his American Girl doll collection. Also clearly you are suggesting “smack-talk at the foosball table” as traditionally female behavior because you KNOW that nobody talks more foosball smack than I do!

          • Indeed – excessive propriety is how I play foos.

            Oliver probably won’t get dolls to play with but, even if he wanted them, I would hope I draw the line somewhere well before American Girl dolls – I hate that store.

            I can’t even get Oliver to lie still on the changing table – I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have the discipline to do controlled experiments. He pretty much rules the roost.

  8. awesome collection of books for kids!!!! I think pictures of cars are most important. Can you give me some download link/
    good post…….

    • I’m so sorry it’s not more obvious but if you click on the book pictures it’ll take you to amazon 😛

      Cars are key which is why the Cars and Trucks and Things that Go is such a HUGE hit!

  9. awesome collection of books for kids!!!! I think pictures of cars are most important. Can you give me some download link?
    good post…….

  10. Wow never really knew there were so much options at our hand… I am going to bring the entire set out to home…

  11. Hi Alexis! I jut came across your website and LOVE all the helpful information. We have a 6 week old and I’m larning a lot about ways to help him sleep better thanks to this site. My question about books is this:

    I try to read to my son and hold books in front of him, but he doesn’t seem to have any interest in them whatsoever, even when I change up the tone and pitch of my reading. He will just get fussy when I have him on my lap and try to read to him. I can sometimes hold his attention better when I read to him when he’s on the changing table. So, at what age do babies really get value and enjoyment from reading time? What books are good for newborns-3 months? How often should I be reading to him? As a side note, he does LOVE his mobiles and ceiling fans. So I know that he can see well and can hold his interest in some things other than my face.


    • Newborns are mostly blind (literally) so it’s no surprise he isn’t into them at 6 weeks. If he doesn’t enjoy it I would pass for the next 4-6 weeks. If you want books that are likely to be a hit for the newborn phase you want them to feature pictures of babies. Like this:

      Seriously just big color pictures of babies will be the first books your baby loves. Doesn’t matter if there is a story or lift the flaps or anything. Babies love to look at babies! Books with mirrors in them are fun too.

      Once he outgrows the simple joys of staring at cute babies THEN the Sandra Boynton books, Goodnight Moon, and the things I’ve listed here will get fun 🙂

  12. Tickle Monster by Josie Bissett is an amazing book!! My son LOVES it! (and so do we!!)

  13. These are the best gifts I can give to my three year old niece.
    Thanks for sharing this.


  14. Have you read any of the pigeon books by Mo Willems? My 2 1/2 year old daughter loves “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus”. He begs, pleads, even has a full blown tantrum, and she gets to tell him no all the way through. Plus we get to chat about how sometimes the answer is no even if it’s to something you really want… And that throwing a fit doesn’t change that!

    • Yes, awesome books!

    • Those are one of those great books that for mysterious reasons my kids never dug. Same goes for the Knuffle Bunny books.

      Now my children are 5 and 3 and are totally enamored with this French comic book series (Grandma sends) called Oom Pah Pah. The main character is an Indian Warrior and his French army buddy in early America. I’m only vaguely sure of what is going on (don’t read French) but am pretty sure that the whole series in horribly racially inappropriate.

      So the lesson I’m taking away from this is enjoy the time when your kids are small and you can fully control the books they are reading 🙂

  15. This is a very boy-specific book: Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site. The title says it all. It’s like they looked into my three year old’s soul and wrote a bedtime book for him.

  16. We love Little Blue Truck. It’s a fun book with trucks and animal sounds and a great message to boot! I wish the second book in the series, Little Blue Truck in the Big City were better. I’ve just added all of these to the wish list for my son’s 3rd birthday next month!

  17. Listen, Listen! is a major hit around here. Thanks for all the great suggestions

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