21 Best Books for 1-Year-Olds You Need on Your Bookshelf

by | Aug 6, 2021

Reading is one of the best things that you can do with your children throughout their lives. It’s never too early or too late to start reading, but you need to continue to find new books for them to read.

As your baby grows into a toddler, you’ll need to increase your home library. Finding the best books for 1-year-olds is simple enough and your toddler will thank you for adding to the fun and excitement of reading.

Toddlers are ready for some more exciting stories. They still like simple picture books, but a one-year-old follows along with simple stories.

You might find your toddler belly laughing at some of these best board books for 1-year-olds; we all love a silly book!

This post may contain affiliate links which I would receive a small commission should you make a purchase.

Why Should You Read to a 1-Year-Old?

Reading is more than bonding time, although it works well for that. Toddlers love to snuggle up with their parents and read a book, but evidence shows us that kids who were read to as a toddler do better in school.

Exposure to books is great for early literacy skills and offers several benefits, such as:

  • Increasing the size of your toddler’s vocabulary
  • Teaches children how to use words properly
  • Begins the process of phonemic awareness and understanding that words are made of smaller sounds
  • Teaches your toddler that the letters and marks on the page are words
  • Helps your child learn the alphabet

Flashcards and special reading games are great, but the true key for toddlers to learn the beginning literacy skills needed for reading comes down to being read to throughout their life.

What’s the Reading Level for a 1-Year-Old?

Are you trying to decide if a book is the perfect reading level for your one-year-old or too advanced?

By the time your child reaches one year old, you can read books that have complete sentences, and they might start to identify objects in books.

It’s the perfect time to start asking questions, such as “what does a cow say” or “where is the dog?” Between one and two years old, your child will start to name familiar pictures and point out objects they know.

Don’t be surprised when you find your toddler pretending to read books! That’s a great sign.

Between 18 months and two years old, your child will have longer patience and enjoy true stories with a plot. This is a great time to introduce rhyming books and nursery rhymes.

I notice that this is the time when my children start to have a favorite book that they request to read every day. This ritual makes kids happy, even if you’re ready to scream after reading it for the 50th time that week!

What Makes a Book Great for 1 Year Olds?

There are a variety of books for little ones out there, but the best ones depend on who’s reading them. If you want books to read to your child while they’re sitting on your lap or at bedtime, you can opt for a higher-level book with pages.

For independent reading from your one-year-old, board books are the best choice as they can turn the pages easily and are typically geared for younger toddlers.

Board books with fun features make it even more engaging for your 1-year-old. These include:

Books that rhyme and have repetition are always preferred by toddlers. Eventually, they learn the rhymes and repeat them with you.

If your toddler has favorite things, like tractors or unicorns, grab some books around these topics. Your child will love that!

21 Best Books for 1-Year-Olds

If you want to add more books to your collection, check out some of these books that you and your toddler are sure to love.

1. The Wonderful Things You’ll Be by Emily Martin

This adorable book is all about a parent’s love for their children forever. The Wonderful Things You Will Be celebrates the acceptance that parents have for their kids and talks about how a parent wonders about all the amazing things their child will do in their lives.

Without a doubt, The Wonderful Things You Will Be is a heartfelt book!

2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Reading is vital for the development of your one-year-old, so make sure you grab some of the best books for 1-year-olds to have in your home.

Every child needs to have Goodnight Moon in his collection; it’s been a classic for decades.

Goodnight Moon follows a little bunny as he says goodnight to different objects around his house, like his socks, the clocks, the moon, and mittens. Kids love the gentle flow of this book, and the rhyming makes it a great introduction to reading. It’s easy for kids to memorize and recite along with their parents.

3. I Love You to the Moon and Back by Amelia Hepworth

I Love You To The Moon and Back follows a bear and her cub as they go throughout their day. They splash in the water and climb a mountain, and they share their love by touching noses, hugging, and cuddling.

This is a sweet book to share with a toddler, and there are customization pages in the beginning, so this is a great book for a one-year-old as a gift.

4. The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

This is one of the best board books for 1-year-olds, but it’s also available as a paperback.

Pout-Pout Fish follows this glum fish as he goes about, and he discovers that being glum and sad isn’t the best way to live his life. Being sad isn’t his destiny! The book is full of bright colors and fun pictures for one-year-olds to enjoy with their parents.

5. If Animals Kissed Goodnight by Ann Whitford Paul

If animals said good-night as we do, what would that look like?

It’s a silly topic wrapped into an adorable book for toddlers. This book follows a giraffe, a wolf, and a sloth as they say good-night to their babies. Each creature shows its love in a different way; I find this book endearing and the perfect book to read before bedtime.

Related Post: 14 Activities for 14-Month-Olds to Develop Skills and Senses

6. Dear Zoo: A Lift-The-Flap Book by Rod Campbell

Reading is vital for the development of your one-year-old, so make sure you grab some of the best books for 1-year-olds to have in your home.

Written in 1982, Dear Zoo is ones of the best books for 1-year-olds! Kids love the flaps that lift up to show a new animal that they’ll find at the zoo. They’ll find lions, a monkey, but will they find the perfect pet?

Read the book to find out! Every toddler needs this book on their bookshelf.

7. Peek-a-Who? by Nina Laden

Peek-a-Who is a book that is full of hidden animals that your toddler has to find. You lift flaps and turn to the next page to find the answer.

It’s full of phrases and rhyming words that allow your child to participate in the reading. Not to mention every kid loves the funny sounds!

8. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

Reading is vital for the development of your one-year-old, so make sure you grab some of the best books for 1-year-olds to have in your home.

Llama Llama Red Pajama is an iconic book for children. It’s a rhyming story about all the drama that a little llama causes before bedtime. It causes little kids to laugh hysterically, and the rhyming helps with early reading skills!

Your toddler will identify with some of the feelings that Baby Llama has, while you’ll appreciate the gentleness and reassurance that comes from the Mama Llama.

Related Post: 1 Year Old Milestones: Typical Development in Your New Toddler

9. Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill

Spot is iconic in the toddler book world; everyone knows who Spot is! This sweet book is a lift-a-flap book, and you search for Spot.

Where is Spot?

Your one-year-old will love to lift up the flaps to look for Spot, and when Spot finally is found, you can bet that your child will be so excited. It’s an adorable story that has been around for several decades and continues to be a best-seller.

10. Bright and Early Dr. Seuss Books

Reading is vital for the development of your one-year-old, so make sure you grab some of the best books for 1-year-olds to have in your home.

Dr. Seuss is one of the top authors of children’s books. but you can start your toddlers early and buy them this Little Blue Box of Bright and Early Board Books. If you’re looking for board books for 1-year-olds, you can’t go wrong with this collection.

In this set, you get four popular books that your toddler will love, like Hop on Pop and Tens Apples Up on Top. These books are shortened and made easier for toddlers to enjoy, and most focus on rhyming to help develop early reading skills. Rhyming is a necessary skill.

Best of all, these are board books, so one set will make it through all of your kids!

11. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom has been a classic for over thirty years, so you know that it’s one of the best books for 1-year-olds.

This book is an alphabet chant that kids love. In this alphabet rhyme, the letters race up the coconut tree, but will there be enough room for all of them? Oh no! You’ll find out that there isn’t room for them all.

For decades, kids and parents have enjoyed this silly book, memorizing their favorite parts of the story.

Related Post: 14 Simple Activities You Should Be Doing With Your 1 Year Old

12. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Reading is vital for the development of your one-year-old, so make sure you grab some of the best books for 1-year-olds to have in your home.

If you’re looking for another option for the best board books for 1-year-olds, you need Giraffes Can’t Dance.

This book follows Gerald the Giraffe who wants to do nothing more in life than dance, but giraffes don’t dance. His thin legs and crooked knees make dancing too hard for Gerald, but with the help of a friend, Gerald finds his tune and starts to dance.

What a great book to teach our kids from an early age that they can do anything they want to do!

13. Corduroy by Don Freeman

Corduroy is another one of the best books for 1-year-olds that I think all kids need to have on their bookshelf. Whether your child is one or five years old, Corduroy is an adorable story. It follows Corduroy who lost his button, and he has to go through the department store where he lives to find his button.

Every kid and adult loves Corduroy!

14. First 100 Words by Roger Priddy

Reading is vital for the development of your one-year-old, so make sure you grab some of the best books for 1-year-olds to have in your home.

Every toddler needs to have this in their collection of board books. This is the classic version, but they also sell a farm-themed book that toddlers love.

This book has pictures of the 100 most common first words for toddlers. Start by reading the words and pointing to the pictures for your toddler, but as he gets older, you can ask your child to point to the pictures when you say their name. It’s a great way to build your one-year-old’s speech and vocabulary.

Later, this book helps to teach sight words to your early readers.

15. Where is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz

This adorable book starts by asking where your baby’s eyes are, and it goes on to ask about other body parts. All of them can be found under the flap.

Use this book to help teach your one-year-old about all the different parts of their body. The flaps are easy for toddlers to lift and thick, so they won’t rip easily.

16. Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton

Reading is vital for the development of your one-year-old, so make sure you grab some of the best books for 1-year-olds to have in your home.

Ready to laugh? Moo, Baa, La, La, La is full of silliness! You get to mimic different animals sounds, and your child will undoubtedly laugh throughout the book. From horses to dogs and all kinds of animals in between, this book is a great way to introduce your child to different animal sounds.

17. Playtown: A Lift-The-Flap Book by Roger Priddy

Toddlers love flip-the-flap books! This book shows the details of a working town like the airport, grocery store, hospital, and other shops. It has over 35 flaps for your toddler to lift up and check out!

18. Do Cows Meow? by Salina Yoon

Do Cows Meow? is the perfect book to talk about the sounds that different animals make, and your toddler will love imitating all the sounds. This lift-a-flap book shows what sounds that animals like sheep, frogs, cows, and ducks make.

Your toddler will love and giggle so much while reading this book!

19. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? is a classic story for toddlers, and this version has buttons for your toddler to press to hear the sounds that animals make. When each animal appears on the page, your child can press the button; they’ll love this book!

20. Hear Bear Roar by Eric Carle

Does your child love animals? Eric Carle brings your toddler this amazing, colorful book with 30 animals and buttons for your toddler to press. Each page is colorful and inviting for todlers to enjoy. It’s a must-have for one-year-old kids!

21. Wild Animals: A Touch and Feel Book by Little Hippo Books

Toddlers love to feel different textures, and this books is the perfect way to explore that sensory! They feel different textures that five animals have like a koala’s fur and an elephant’s hide. Let your toddler explore their senses with this simple book.

How to Get My 1-Year-Old to Like Books

If you didn’t read to your child throughout infancy, don’t feel bad. Many parents wait to start reading to their child; it’s NEVER too late.

When your toddler is busy, it might feel like they’ll never like books, but they will. The first trick is to read to your one-year-old at least once per day or more.

Pick regular times to read to your one-year-old; naptime and bedtime are the two most common times to read because your child is relaxed and calm. Always give your child your full attention when reading and encourage participation from your toddler while reading.

Here are some other tips to get your one-year-old to like books.

  • Let your toddler pick out the book. Give your child an option of three books and read the one they want to hear.
  • Show your toddler how to turn the pages.
  • Talk about the pictures and ask your child to find things on the pages. Ask what they see and point our emotions in the pictures.
  • When your child is old enough to repeat familiar or repetitive phrases, let your child finish the sentence. This helps your child learn more about reading than you realize.

Tips for Reading to Toddlers

Not everyone feels comfortable reading aloud to their child; it’s sometimes a skill you have to work on as a parent, but the benefits make it worth it. Reading together should be fun, not a chore!

Here are some tips for reading to toddlers that make the experience better for you and your child!

  1. Read to your toddler when asked. Sometimes, that means you have to read the same book over and over again, but that encourages the love that your toddler has for books.
  2. Use different voices for different characters while reading. Not only does this making reading to your one-year-old more exciting, but it brings the story alive for your child.
  3. Always read slowly. Now isn’t the time to speed read, even if you have things you need to get finished for the day. Toddlers need a slow story to help understand what is happening.
  4. Talk about the pictures. Point out what is happening in the pictures, expressions on the characters’ faces, and name things they might spot. Later, ask your child to point out different things they see in the book.
  5. Ask open ended questions. As your child gets older, ask your child what they think will happen in the story. Ask what they think the characters might feel as the events unfold in the story.
  6. Sitting still isn’t required. Drop the expectation that reading to your child involves them sitting still; that’s not reality. Your child listens fine while coloring, building with blocks, or playing. Even if your child doesn’t look at you, it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested or listening.
  7. Always have fun. If your child thinks that you aren’t having fun while reading, they won’t have fun either. Your one-year-old needs to know that reading is fun.

Finding the best books for 1-year-olds isn’t hard; look for colorful books with funny stories or plots that your toddler will understand. You can find so many books that your toddler will love; there is a never-ending selection available for toddlers, so start filling up your bookshelf!

Reading is vital for the development of your one-year-old, so make sure you grab some of the best books for 1-year-olds to have in your home.