What Is A Board Book: Ignite Children’s Love For Books

Posted on Jan 9, 2024

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Written by Sarah Rexford

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Are you a children’s book writer or adult novelist wondering, what is a board book? There are several key factors you should know about this sub-genre. 

For starters, the number of board books dramatically increased over the last 13 years. From 17 million in 2010, to 31 million in 2015, the jump is astronomical. Today, books continue to be released as board books.

What is a board book doing with this many sales? In this article, I provide answers for what is a board book, what are the differences between board books and other types of books. At the end, I list several famous examples of board books. 

You may want to consider writing in this genre after reading this article. Let’s dive in!

What Is A Board Book: What’s Covered 

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What Is The Difference Between A Board Book And A Hardcover?

A board book and a hardcover book differ in many ways, primarily in the physicality of the book. Board books are a sub-genre of children’s books and therefore target to a very young audience (babies and toddlers). 

Are you wondering how to write a children’s book that’s actually child-friendly? Because young readers don’t yet have the dexterity of older readers, board books are entirely created with cardboard.

The answer to, what is a board book, lies in the name: a book of cardboard. 

While the pages of hardcover books are regular paper (with variations in paper weight), each page of a board book is a piece of cardboard.

Rather than present a toddler with a book full of fun illustrations on literally paper thin pages, board books provide substance to the book.  

Cardboard pages create interest for toddlers who are able to turn the pages on their own, unlike paper back books. 

Hardcover books can target younger readers, but oftentimes, readers associate this type of book with adult readers or special editions. 

For example, consider the Jim Kay illustrated editions of Harry Potter. While J.K. Rowling wrote this series for children, these special edition books released in hardcover. 

Similarly, titles often launch as paperback books. If they sell well, sometimes the publisher releases a special edition hardcover. 

Board books and hardcover books both have hard covers. However, each page of a board book is also “hardcover,” while the pages of a hardcover book are paper. 

If you visit your local bookstore or browse online, you will quickly find that board books and hardcover books belong in entirely different categories. 

Why Are Board Books Good?

Board books are an age-appropriate way to introduce children to the world of books. It’s unlikely adults will hand a young child their coffee table book to play with. The pages are fragile, easily torn, and have sharp edges. 

The risk of paper cuts, tearing the pages, or the child growing bored are too high. The average paperback book, or even hardcover book, are too fragile for toddlers. 

But what is a board book? It’s the answer to many needs. Board books:

  • Provide a safe way for children to play with books
  • Create a positive relationship between books and fun
  • Enable children to interact with the book more easily
  • They can be fiction or nonfiction.

When you present a child with a board book, their world opens up. While supervision is always necessary for young ones, board books don’t demand the attention a paperback book does. 

Children can use a book board to entertain themselves. They are capable of turning pages on their own and in their own time, allowing them a sense of autonomy. 

For young readers, what is a board book as far as what it accomplishes? This type of book uses only a handful of words, allowing new readers to test their reading skills.

Board books include many characteristics of other children’s books:

In addition, board books often repeat verbiage. Repetition is a fantastic teaching technique. 

What Is The Difference Between A Board Book And A Novelty Book?

While board books are made from cardboard and intended for young children, novelty books include pop-ups that can be fragile. 

Because children often need a bit of help with novelty books, they are a great way for an adult to spend time reading to a child. The pop-ups can be difficult to play with without an adult present.

In comparison to a novelty book, what is a board book’s strength? A board book is intended for children to be able to play with/read on their own or with an older child or adult. 

This genre of children’s books is great for:

  • Road trips
  • Quiet time at home
  • Piquing children’s interest in books 

While the various types of children’s books aim to accomplish different tasks, board books are a great bridge between the standard toy and chapter book. 

Transitioning from playing with blocks to reading books is quite a jump, to say the least. Board books connect the two. They are accessible, fun to play with, but also lead into paper books (and chapter books) in the future. 

What Is A Board Book: Examples 

You now know the answer to the question, what is a board book? With the above details in mind, it’s time to discuss some beloved board books for children. 

Whether you want to write a board book of your own or purchase one for a little one in your life, these examples can help you. 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar first entered the world in 1969. Made available as a board book in the mid nineties, the story follows a caterpillar chomping its way to becoming a butterfly. This board book introduces children to various foods as the caterpillar eats them. This book is a great, guided read for ages two to seven years of age. 


Don Freeman introduced a little bear, Corduroy, to readers in 1968. This beloved classic is now available as a board book. Children not yet old enough to sound out words can enjoy turning the cardboard pages and looking at the pictures. 

Little Corduroy’s green overalls and one white button are an iconic memory for adults today. Flip through this adventure for inspiration on how to write your own board book for children.    

The Little Engine That Could  

First published in 1930, The Little Engine That Could teaches the importance of a positive spirit and persistence. The abridged edition is now available as a board book, allowing children of all ages to enjoy the story. 

This story has been through many interactions, but no matter the edition, the little blue engine maintains an optimistic attitude. Its repetitive four words stick with readers: I think I can! I think I can! 

Your Next Step 

Wondering how to publish a children’s book? No matter what age you write for, creating a basic outline for your kids’ book is a great first step to your author dreams. While younger audiences benefit from a single point-of-view character and a short plot, older children enjoy a multiplicity of characters.

To learn the whole process of outlining, writing, publishing, and marketing a children’s book, check out the free training below. Enjoy!

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