10 Best Books for 1-Year-Olds

Author Neil Gaiman once said, “A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.” What a wonderful gift then to give to a child!

mom reading to a 1 year old

Reading is one of the best things you can do with children if you want them to have a great start in life and grow up with active minds, boundless imaginations and large vocabularies.

Many studies show that students who love learning and do well in school are exposed to reading before preschool. It builds their attention span, listening skills, thinking skills (such as cause and effect) and their understanding of colors, shapes, numbers, letters, people, relationships and situations. It also sets a foundation for later in life as reading problems can be hard to fix the longer you leave them.

In this article, we’ll go over:

  • the best time to start reading to your child,
  • tips for how to read to them,
  • how to choose the right book
  • and our list of the best baby books for 1-year-olds.


When to start reading to your baby


It’s never too early to start reading. You can even begin when your child is in the womb! Reading is a wonderful relationship builder as it strengthens your bond with your child, calms them and promotes good communication between the two of you.

It’s really important for children to have positive attitudes towards reading throughout their lives and this starts at home. So to help you, we have put together some top reading tips as well as a list of the 10 best books for one-year-olds.


How to read to your child


It can be tricky to keep babies and toddlers focused and engaged while reading to them. Here are our tips to making sure you and your child have fun while reading:

  • Try to share at least one book each day and have a special reading space like a chair, lounge or beanbag that’s big and comfortable.
  • Make reading relaxed and fun so that your child looks forward to it. Choose a time when you are both not tired or rushed, and make sure to turn off the TV.
  • Hold your child close so they can see your face and the book.
  • Involve your child in reading by talking about the pictures, making funny sounds and pointing interesting things out.
  • Let your child choose their favorite book and be prepared to read it again and again. Repetition is how they learn.
  • Teach your child to treasure books and treat them with respect.
  • Fill your home with books so your child can easily reach them anytime.
  • Take books to places where you have to wait for a long time, like the doctor’s office.


What to look for when choosing a book


Choosing a good book for your baby or toddler is just as important as the environment in which you read to them. Here are our suggestions for finding the perfect children’s book:

  • Books with rhyme, rhythm and repetition are always winners.
  • Short books with thick pages that little fingers can easily turn will help hold their attention. For babies, board books are especially useful.
  • Books about a favorite topic, such as animals, cars, princesses, space, trains and families are great.
  • Stories that relate to your child’s current environment are a clever way of teaching them about their life or preparing them for change such as potty training, school, or moving to a new house.
  • Lift-the-flap, textured and pop-up books are wonderful for 1-year-olds, as it allows them to interact and engage with the book.
  • Look for books with only a little text on each page so as not to overwhelm your child.
  • Simple drawings and bright colors are also ideal.


Top 10 Books for 1-Year-Old Babies


Here is our list of the 10 best books for your 1-year-old:

  1. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  2. Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
  3. My first 100 Words  
  4. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox
  5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  6. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
  7. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
  8. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  9. Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? By Bill Martin and Eric Carle
  10. Waiting by Kevin Henkes

Read on to learn more about each of these baby books.


Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown


The quiet poetry of the words and the gentle, lulling illustrations combine to make a perfect book for the end of the day.


Hop on Pop by Dr Seuss


If it’s fun rhymes you are after, you can’t go past this Dr Seuss classic.


My first 100 Words


Your little one will soon learn some essential first words and pictures with this bright board book. There are 100 color photographs to look at and talk about, and 100 simple first words to read and learn, too.


Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox


Your little one will love looking at the other babies and counting along with you.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle


Consider this the little black dress of children’s books – everyone should own one!


Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney


This heartfelt tale with its gorgeous watercolor pictures will have you both beaming from ear to ear.


Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell


A classic lift-the-flap book and your child will love making all the animal noises with you.


Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak


In the forty years since Max first cried “Let the wild rumpus start,” Maurice Sendak’s classic picture book has become one of the most highly acclaimed and best-loved children’s books of all time.


Are You My Mother? By P.D. Eastmen


If repetition helps children learn then this tale about a lost little bird gets a gold star.


Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? By Bill Martin and Eric Carle


The bright colors and sweet animals make this a favorite with many 1-year-olds.


Waiting by Kevin Henkes


The award winner of our list, this irresistible picture book and bestseller is a lovely story about toys on a windowsill.



Helping Your Child Learn Through Reading


Books for Baby


Making reading part of your daily routine will set your child up for a lifetime of learning. While your baby will love reading the same books over and over again, it’s good to have an interesting selection of books at hand that include rhyme, rhythm and repetition. For more book ideas, see our selection of Kids Books.


Books for Toddlers


At this age and stage, reading with your toddler is all about having fun with books, spending time together and modeling a love of books and reading. For more book ideas, see our picks for the 10 best books for toddlers.