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The Top 100 Board Books Poll Countdown: #10-6

*Sniff* And just like that it’s almost over. But what beauties we have to share before we go! Nearing the end, we’re seeing a sharp increase in the number of older titles. One thing that interested me, looking at today’s list, is that according to my sources, these books were all published in 1982 or 1996. I’m not sure if that’s an inaccuracy on the part of my distributor, or if you can actually track an increase in board book production in those two years. If it’s accurate, what was it about ’82 and ’96 that made board books so very profitable? Very interesting.


 #10 – Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton (1982)


How can I choose just one Boynton book? This is the one that I was introduced to when I was in library school and I still love sharing it with littles at work and at home. It’s also that rare board book that parents enjoy almost as much as their kids! – Danielle, Ames Public Library

I lied. I can’t pick just one. Love giving Carl a chance to chime in at the end. Plus, it’s fun to make animal noises.  – Cheryl Gladfelter

You may sense a theme here in the comments of the Boynton books. Repeatedly people kvetch and kvell (not a word) over the fact that they must choose only one Boynton book when they submit their top picks to this poll. And, in many cases, they simply couldn’t do it. Put plainly, she’s just too good an author.

I would like to tell you that my primary thought when I read the title of this book is not to sing it to same tune as the beginning of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”. I would like to tell you that, but it would be a lie. What I will tell you is that this book is a perfect example of what people love in Boynton books. It has a sense of humor that both kids and adults can enjoy. Grown-ups really appreciate it when they can take credit for being funny, and nowhere is this more true than in children’s readalouds. The proof is in the pudding (pudding = three singing pigs).


#9 – The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton (1982)


Boynton is the Comic Sans of authors but this gets requested every night, without fail. – Megan Kelly

Sandra Boynton is a master of the board book.  I could choose all of them.  She is so droll, the drawings are precious – Paula Guiler, Greentown Intermediate School

Gonna get me some hate mail for that Comic Sans comment, but it is what it is. In the case of this particular book, I recommend the app. It’s pretty basic and works better on a tablet than a phone, but I like the narrator and the simplicity of the whole thing. It won’t actually create any soporific yawns, of course, but neither did the board book. That was never its purpose. It is, instead, a remarkably comforting title. It’s closest equivalent, in my mind, is The Maggie B by Irene Haas. Quiet, companionable comfort.

 #8 – The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (1996)


The childhood experience of snow and its impermanence in beautiful collage.  The mother is unforgettably strong and reassuring. – Emily Schneider

Thank you, Emily. The mother character got some flack back in the day for how she looked, but I agree that she is just an awesome mom.

It’s interesting to see how the board book edition of this title made it to this list. Some stuff has been cut out of the original, but not, surprisingly, to the detriment of the story. Whoever did the editing on this edition was a skillful slicer, keeping the mood and tone without sacrificing what makes it special. A good example of the correct way to adapt a picture book to a smaller, thicker format.


#7 – Freight Train by Donald Crews (1996)


Such a perfect train book for little ones. I wish it had won the Caldecott Award, rather than an Honor. – Beverly, San Antonio Public Library

I agree with that sentiment completely. And what a perfect little book. How do you like to read it? I think we may all have our different techniques. When I do it I like to to a “chugga-chugga” noise once the train starts. Then, as it goes, the words aren’t read any faster but the chugga-chuggas definitely speed up. I top the whole thing off with a Keyser Söze-esque kiss to the air when I read the word “Gone!”.

The app for this book is also rather adorable. It was made when publishers were first trying out this new book-to-app idea (which ultimately didn’t take off, but led to some creative endeavors). In the case of this book, it was originally meant to be viewed on a phone, but then the iPad took off so they tried to adapt it. The result is a little pixelated, but I love the music they found. Lots of great public domain classic train songs. I’m just sad they never did the same thing for Mr. Crews’s wife Ann Jonas and her book Round Trip. I always pair those two books together in my mind.


#6 – Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann (1996)


Great visual jokes! – Gesse

Those color-coded keys!  The jolly zookeeper! – Paula Guiler, Greentown Intermediate School

Another case of someone taking a picture book and doing such a good job adapting it to the board book form that you ponder at the people who do it poorly. There was an extra level of challenge to this book too since it has a little seek-and-find element with a pink balloon that somehow, miraculously, works in the board book. The hidden details are part of what makes this book such a godsend for parents too. Ever noticed how the number of people looking out of an upper floor window in a nearby house increase as the animals traipse back and forth, to and from the zoo? Or where the mouse’s banana is at all times? And who can resist the natural tension that comes with that silent page that simply consists of the zookeeper’s wife’s eyes, wide open, after she realizes that wildlife has infested her sleeping space?

Top 100 Board Books Poll Results









#35 – 31






About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth 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.


  1. please, please, please tell me this amazing collection will be available in a downloadable format! I can’t wait to see what I’m missing on my shelves.

  2. Genevieve says:

    Love all five of these so much.
    Moo Baa La La La is one of the board books I can still recite from memory, some 18 years later. Recited it to a 4-month-old last week. It’s such fun.
    The Going to Bed Book was in very frequent rotation in our house, and yet it took me too long to realize why “You’ve got to have buttons if you’re a moose.”

    (Kvell is a word, but not similar to kvetch – it means to swell with pride, particularly in one’s offspring, and I use it to/about my son [who will be living blocks away from your library next year!] with some frequency.)