Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to first concepts. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about first concepts.
Our list includes board books and picture books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.
We hope this list of kids books about first concepts can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!
The essential resource for 20 years! Celebrate the essence of one way we are all special and different from one another–our skin color! This bilingual (English/Spanish) book offers children a simple, scientifically accurate explanation about how our skin color is determined by our ancestors, the sun, and melanin. It’s also filled with colorful photographs that capture the beautiful variety of skin tones. Reading this book frees children from the myths and stereotypes associated with skin color and helps them build positive identities as they accept, understand, and value our rich and diverse world. Unique activity ideas are included to help you extend the conversation with children. Katie Kissinger, MA, is an author, activist, educator for social justice, and an early childhood education college instructor. She is founder and a board member of Threads of Justice Collective, an informal group of educators who work together to promote social and cultural justice for all children and families. Katie lives near Portland, Oregon. Chris Bohnhoff earned a degree in English from Carleton College and then attended the Rocky Mountain School of Photography. Chris takes pictures in his hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and beyond.
When it comes to painting, there are so many possibilities! Mix colors, swish your brush around, and see what sorts of marks you can make with just your hand and a bit of paint in this adorable board book! Creative play meets self-expression in this board book perfect for budding-artist babies!
In this photographic concept book, babies and toddlers are introduced to the PRIDE flag and the meaning behind each color.
Introduce your little one to six of the most iconic musical pieces in the western classical music canon in I Love Classical Music!Readers of every age will be enchanted by this charming board book with exceptional quality musical sounds that bring every charming picture to life. I Love Classical Music has a button on every spread, which triggers one of six captivating sounds that introduces a memorable piece from some of the most beloved compositions of western classical music. An incredibly simple but utterly fascinating interactive book with sounds bound to enchant young readers and ignite an early love of classical music! A delightful and compelling book in the My First Sound Book series that everyone in the family will enjoy reading – and listening to – again and again. Includes pieces from: - Mozart- Vivaldi- Strauss- Schubert- Tchaikovsky- Paganini
A picture book with minimal text and maximum impact, as portrayed through both the well-chosen words and the fun-filled, evocative illustrations.
The End Is Just the Beginning - A timely message of hope and comfort, this stunning picture book is the perfect treasure to share with anyone trying to navigate these uncertain times–or any life transition! Starting a book at the end may seem confusing. But the end of one thing is just the beginning of something new in this innovative and heartfelt book from #1 New York Times bestselling author Mike Bender. Accompanied by beautiful and inspiring illustrations by Diana Mayo, this story is ideal for helping kids understand how to meet life’s challenges with optimism and hope. A wonderful gift for all ages.
Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! - From the creator of The Rabbit Listened comes a gentle story about the difficulty of change . . . and the wonder that new beginnings can bring. Change and transitions are hard, but Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! demonstrates how, when one experience ends, it opens the door for another to begin. It follows two best friends as they say goodbye to snowmen, and hello to stomping in puddles. They say goodbye to long walks, butterflies, and the sun…and hello to long evening talks, fireflies, and the stars. But the hardest goodbye of all comes when one of the friends has to move away. Feeling alone isn’t easy, and sometimes new beginnings take time. But even the hardest days come to an end, and you never know what tomorrow will bring.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Follows the progress of a hungry little caterpillar as he eats his way through a varied and very large quantity of food until, full at last, he forms a cocoon around himself and goes to sleep. Die-cut pages illustrate what the caterpillar ate on successive days.
Opposite Surprise - Everyone knows the sun is hot. But open the flaps in this book and you may find a chilly surprise instead! Each spread of this cleverly designed board book reveals a surprising opposite that makes for a truly original way for toddlers to learn about words and concepts. Whether it be hot or cold, clean or dirty, slow or fast, this book has you covered at least until you open the flaps.”
Discover new favorite critters while learning new words with this adorable and educational animal book for kids!From the #1 bestselling science author for kids comes a simple and colorful introduction to the first 100 animal words every baby should know. With 100 colorful illustrations to look at and talk about, this is the perfect learning tool for your little animal lover.Each spread in this adorable primer focuses on 8 to 12 animal words–from axolotl to armadillo, from cassowary to krill, from tardigrade to tadpole and more! This bright and engaging book is the perfect way to introduce the words every budding zoologist needs.
Mrs. Peanuckle’s Vegetable Alphabet introduces babies and toddlers to a colorful variety of vegetables, from asparagus to zucchini. Perfect to read aloud, this vegetable buffet will delight children and parents alike with its yummy vegetable facts and vibrant illustrations. Learning the ABCs has never been so delicious! Mrs. Peanuckle’s Vegetable Alphabet is the first in a series of board books celebrating the joy of nature at home and in the backyard, from fresh fruits and vegetables to birds, bugs, flowers, and trees.
Big Words for Fearless Girls is a first-of-its-kind primer bursting with powerful first words girls will need to pursue their big dreams. The vibrant, oversized board book comes packed with 1,000 brightly illustrated words, all interwoven with 100 female heroes and inspiring messages. Readers will learn colors with Frida Kahlo, animals with Jane Goodall, things that go with Amelia Earhart, fruits and vegetables with Julia Child, and more–but the words don’t stop there. Girls will also find hundreds of powerful words on activism, government, science, engineering, and more to get them ready to blaze ahead and better the world!
Mrs. Peanuckle’s Fruit Alphabet introduces babies and toddlers to the colorful foods that will help them grow up to be healthy and strong. Children and parents alike will want to devour the fun facts and charming illustrations of fruits from the familiar banana to the not as familiar yumberry.
Mrs. Peanuckle’s Fruit Alphabet is the second in a series of board books celebrating the joy nature brings to young children at home and in the backyard, from fresh fruits and vegetables to birds, bugs, flowers, and trees.
What are you waiting for? An owl, a puppy, a bear, a rabbit, and a pig—all toys arranged on a child’s windowsill—wait for marvelous things to happen in this irresistible picture book by the New York Times–bestselling and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes.
Five friends sit happily on a windowsill, waiting for something amazing to happen. The owl is waiting for the moon. The pig is waiting for the rain. The bear is waiting for the wind. The puppy is waiting for the snow. And the rabbit is just looking out the window because he likes to wait! What will happen? Will patience win in the end? Or someday will the friends stop waiting and do something unexpected?
Waiting is a big part of childhood—waiting in line, waiting to grow up, waiting for something special to happen—but in this book, a child sets the stage and pulls the strings. Timeless, beautiful, and deeply heartfelt, this picture book about imaginative play, the seasons, friendship, and surprises marks a new pinnacle in Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes’s extraordinary career.
This Little Hamster - This Little Hamster is a spirited playful board book for babies and toddlers. Rhyming couplets and cheerful illustrations will capture the interest of both child and adult readers. This follow-up to Kass Reich’s bestselling debut, Hamsters Holding Hands, is a charming introduction to basic colors that will fascinate little ones.
Mrs. Peanuckle's Bug Alphabet - Mrs. Peanuckle’s Bug Alphabet introduces babies and toddlers to all sorts of interesting bugs. Perfect to read aloud, this creepy, crawly adventure will engage children and parents alike with its vibrant illustrations and fascinating facts about bugs. Learning the ABCs has never been so bitingly fun! Mrs. Peanuckle’s Bug Alphabet is the fourth title in a series of board books celebrating the joy of nature at home and in the backyard, from fresh fruits and vegetables to birds, flowers, and trees.
A Little Princess - Meet Sara’s friends with text from the original novel, A little princess, showing little ones that friends can be found in surprising places.
Pinwheel - Turn the wheel and watch each scene transform with spinning, eye-catching designs! Award-winning artist Salina Yoon’s spectacular display of kinetic art immerses readers in a colorful, poetic journey. From a balloon-filled sky to the deep blue sea, Pinwheel reminds readers of the beauty all around them. Let the fun begin with every spin!
New York Times–bestselling and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes follows five joyful elephants as they march from dawn to dusk. Where are they going? Read and find out! This engaging picture book is just right for the youngest reader and is a perfect choice for story time and bedtime sharing. Up and down, over and under, through and around . . . five big and brightly colored elephants are on a mission in this picture book for young children by Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes. Where are they going? What will they do when they get there? It’s a surprise! With a text shimmering with repetition and rhythm, bright pastel illustrations, large and readable type, and an adorable parade of elephants, Kevin Henkes introduces basic concepts such as numbers, shapes, adjectives, adverbs, and daytime and nighttime. A Parade of Elephants is an excellent choice for story time as well as bedtime sharing.
Discover what these animals do in this playful board book by award-winning author Douglas Florian. Flamingos fly. Sailfish swim. Monkeys swing on a jungle gym! Discover what different animals do in this fun, rhyming story by award-winning author Douglas Florian! Animals include flying flamingos, swimming sailfish, swinging monkeys, diving dolphins, soaring swallows, creeping starfish, digging prairie dogs, lunging lizards, plunging pelicans, jumping jaguars, leaping llamas, and sleeping sloths.
From the albatross to the zebra finch, Mrs. Peanuckle pulls out her binoculars and introduces toddlers to 26 species of birds from all around the world. Described by a single interesting fact or defining characteristic, each bird proves to be as unique and surprising as the one before. Ever wonder why flamingoes are pink? It’s all those shrimp they eat. Are there birds that can fly backward? Yes, but hummingbirds are the only ones! With colorful, dynamic art, and attention-grabbing text, Mrs. Peanuckle’s birds fly off the page, and in some cases, into the parks and backyards of the children and adults reading this book. Mrs. Peanuckle’s Bird Alphabet is the fifth title in a series of board books celebrating the joy of nature at home and in the backyard, from fresh fruits and vegetables to birds, bugs, and trees.
Discover the best of London from A to Z with award-winning illustrator Paul Thurlby! From A for Abbey Road, K for Kew Gardens, L for London Eye, T for Tower Bridge, to Z for London Zoo and more, this striking book is bursting with the sights, sounds, and energy of London! See familiar landmarks and discover the lesser known charms of the city. London has never been more spectacular!
The humorous adventures of an irresistible little rock who finds herself in constantly changing circumstances, Petra is a picture book that celebrates the power of perspective and believing in yourself. Petra is a little rock who believes she is a mighty mountain . . . until a dog fetches her for its owner, and she is tossed into a bird’s nest. A mountain? No, Petra is now an egg! An egg of the world in a world of possibility. Until she’s flung into a pond, and becomes an amazing island . . . and, eventually, a little girl’s pet rock. What will she be tomorrow? Who knows? But she’s a rock, and this is how she rolls!
3-2-1 Blast Off! - Adventure into space with this playful oversized board book, from the creators of Gotta Go, Buffalo and the All Aboard series. Haily and Kevin Meyers are the husband and wife team behind the dazzling baby product line, Lucy Darling (lucydarling.com). Haily’s design work can be seen on their unique monthly sticker designs, nursery art prints, baby memory books, and multiple baby products. Their work has been featured in Pregnancy and Newborn magazine, Red Tricycle, Babiekins Magazine, Cool Mom Picks, KIWI magazine, Mollie Makes magazine, Fresh Style magazine, Mom Trends, HGTV Canada, and specialty baby shops worldwide. They live in Arizona.
Brian Wildsmith's Animal Gallery - Discover a troop of kangaroos, an ambush of tigers, a rafter of turkeys, and a flotilla of swordfish in this glorious introduction to the animal kingdom from internationally acclaimed artist Brian Wildsmith. A lion yawns lazily in the grass. Curious giraffes crane their long necks. Step into this rich world of animals from an extraordinary illustrator whose work influenced generations of younger artists. Each animal’s essence is strikingly captured, from the playfulness of otters to a noisy gathering of parrots, while panoramic pictures give a real sense of the animals’ habitats. Collective nouns – some familiar, others wonderfully surprising – are used to describe each group of animals. Brian Wildsmith’s stunning illustrations will inspire a love of nature and a respect for animals from the earliest age.
Jane Foster's ABC - Introduce little ones to letters in this bold and graphic style board book by illustrator and textile designer Jane Foster. In this ABC board book, children will be introduced to letters by associating them with animals, such as D for duck, L for lion, and Z for zebra.
Bears Are Big - Discover animal opposites in this playful board book by award-winning author Douglas Florian. Bears are big. Bees are small. Shrews are short. Giraffes are tall. In this fun, rhyming story by award-winning author Douglas Florian, little ones can meet pairs of animals and discover how they’re different! The pairs include bears/bees, shrews/giraffes, rhinos/tigers, turtles/snails, sloths/cheetahs, eels/tree frogs, hippos/butterflies, and ravens/doves.
Explore the world of color with Baby Bear in this clever and adorable story now available as a Classic Board Book!
Baby Bear has so much to learn about the world! From the moment he wakes until it’s time to curl up and go to sleep, he explores outside with his mama. They see green leaves, blue jays, brown trout, and—best of all—a patch of yummy red strawberries.
From bestselling author-illustrator Ashley Wolff, here is a clever concept book that combines engaging and intricate linocut illustrations with a story that enthusiastically encourages children to identify a variety of vibrant colors. Young readers will delight in this chance to join Baby Bear as he discovers the colorful wonders of his lively, leafy forest home.
Chameleon can turn himself into anything and appear to fit in anywhere, but it seems that neither the swirly snail, the green grasshopper nor the striped sock want to be friends. Will he ever find someone to talk to? Someone just like him?
With a subtle and witty interplay between words and illustrations this introduction to colors and shapes (and chameleons!) is sure to delight kids of all ages.
Lines are all around us. They create squares. They form circles. They make up buildings within towns, and towns on Earth, and the Earth within the universe.
Prepare to be amazed by this fabulously clever lift-the-flap, pop-up, pull-out book about numbers. Sarah Goodreau’s magic-themed illustrations add a touch of nostalgia and vintage glamour to this fun and elegant counting book. With spectacular sorcery and sensational illusions, there’s something here for magic lovers of all ages.
A stylish lift-the-flap, pop-up, pull-out book about numbers with a magic theme
Day turns into night and some animals drift to sleep while others spring to life in this beautiful high-contrast board book.
Sun rises. Bird sings.
And so the day begins in this beautifully simple board book with bold artwork and lyrical text that shows us the passing of time in the day. Fish swim under a blue sky, squirrels dream as the sun sets, the moon rises as stars blink, and an owl hoots when night falls. With word repetition and a single tree that houses both the bird who sings as the sun rises and the owl who hoots after the moon rises, little ones can begin to understand that the day begins and ends in the same way.
Square - The beguiling second entry in the innovative shape trilogy by multi-award-winning, New York Times best-selling duo Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. This book is about Square. Square spends every day taking blocks from a pile below the ground to a pile above the ground. This book is also about Square’s friend Circle. Circle thinks Square is an artistic genius. But is he really? With the second story in a trilogy of tales about Triangle, Square, and Circle, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen nudge readers toward a more well-rounded way of looking at things. Understated and striking in its simplicity, this funny, thoughtful offering from two of today’s most talented picture-book creators emphasizes the importance of keeping your eyes – and your mind – open to wonder where others see only rubble and rocks.
The Sea Knows - Dive in and explore the wonders of the ocean and its inhabitants in this lyrical, fact-filled ode to the sea! This beautifully illustrated picture book features extensive nonfiction backmatter for further exploration. We are young. The sea is old. The sea has secrets to unfold. The sea knows. In this playful, rhyming celebration of the marine world, readers can explore all of the wondrous things the sea knows. It knows huge whales and small krill; it knows short crabs and tall giant kelp; it knows brightly colored starfish in shallow pools; and in the inky depths it knows the alluring jewel of an anglerfish’s glowing lure. Discover all of the strange and magnificent underwater creatures in this accessible tribute to the power and mystery of the ocean.
Hello, World! - This charming board book takes children on a world tour by teaching them to say “Hello” in 10 different languages. It has sturdy board pages and it includes all-new artwork that’s colorful, modern, and inspired by Mary Blair’s designs for the famous Disney theme park attraction, “It’s a Small World”!
Color Our World - From lavender fields in France, to the blue waters of the Philippines, colors are all around. This adorable board book features sturdy pull-out pages that extend the image with extra, colorful content. Plus with all-new artwork, the vibrant images are an eye-catching delight for young readers.
Tails are irresistible to toddlers, and in Matthew Van Fleet’s sturdy touch-and-feel board book, preschool-age pokers and prodders can finally tug to their heart’s content. Engaging, cartoonish animals from tigers to pangolins romp across the pages as the rhyming text bounces along: “Tails fluffy, / Tails stringy, / Scaled tails strong and—clingy!” Pull tabs, lift-able flaps, tufts of fur, and even a scratch-and-sniff skunk tail provide plenty of tactile surprises. Along the way, youngsters will learn about counting, opposites, and how animals use their tails. A tried and true tail-wagger!
It’s Cement Mixer’s first day on the job and he doesn’t want to make any mistakes. How can he help the other trucks on the construction site? By mixing some powdery white cement, of course!
He mixes it up, adds a little water, and presto . . . a cake?! He must have mixed flour instead of cement.
Not to worry, he’ll try again . . . and presto! Frosting?! He’ll keep trying until he gets it just right and it’s time for one more mixing: a bubble bath!
With original and spot-on perceptions, Joyce Sidman’s poetry brings the colors of the seasons to life in a fresh light, combining the senses of sight, sound, smell and taste. In this Caldecott Honor book, illustrator Pam Zagarenski’s interpretations go beyond the concrete, allowing us to not just see color, but feel it.
Celebrate the bright colors of spring with this hands-on color-play novelty board book! Wake up ladybug, look what’s here? Spring brings red, march and cheer. Join award-winning artist Chiêu Anh Urban in this inventively visual experience that allows readers to mix and match the colors of vibrant flowers right before their eyes. Turn the wheels to create and change the bold colors of spring in this deceptively simple and thoughtfully layered novelty book that teaches the joy and wonder of color.
One Hundred Things to Spot - See and say your first words as you learn basic concepts. Then turn the page to spot them in 17 busy scenes. Find patterns at the zoo and shapes at the toyshop, and look for the cat and mouse in every scene! From the team behind One Thousand Things.
We are Better Together - You can’t paint a picture without paint, or make a milkshake without milk. This charming book of teamwork and friendship shows how individual things are so much better, when they all work together! Flour, eggs, butter, and sugar all join together to make a cake; paper, scissors, and tape wrap a beautiful present. Designed with a mixture of photographs and fun illustrations to engage little ones and make them smile, there are cute rhymes to read and share in this celebration of teamwork in its many forms.
Jane Foster's London - Introduce little ones to London in this bold and graphic board book by illustrator and textile designer Jane Foster. In this beautiful and sophisticated board book, children will be introduced to bold images of London, such as Big Ben, Tower Bridge, fish and chips, and more!
Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag - Presents objects from the collections of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum that reveal a great variety of approaches to design using the form of an alphabet book–from a medieval Egyptian cap for A to a twentieth-century chair for Z.
Whether they’re big, small, fast, slow, striped, spotted, or anything in between, dinosaurs are just so lovable! With rhyming text and bright watercolor illustrations, this joyful read is perfect for little ones who love dinosaurs.
Applying the tactile features of Montessori teaching, this innovative board book uses lightly grained sandpaper tracks to encourage children to trace various shapes as they enjoy whimsical illustrations of each. Shapes introduced include; squares, diamonds, ovals, rectangles, hearts, hexagons, diamonds, trapezoids, octagons and stars. Sturdy board pages and no moveable parts make this a unique addition to an early learning collection.
Invites young readers to match the sentences on each page with similar sentences featuring opposing terms that appear in a corner of the book that has pages that move independently.
I am me, you are you.
We’re the same, but different too.
There’s something about each of us that makes us special. But while everyone is unique, we all have many things in common as well. Explore the ways that we are all the same but different, too, in this joyful and simple celebration of individuality and camaraderie. Filled with children and their animal friends, this rhyming text illuminates the wonderfully different and similar things that make us who we are.
Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun.
What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best?
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