“Bear,” my son said as he handed me the book.
“You want to read this one?” I verified.
He nodded emphatically before climbing into my lap.
Between 1-2 years is my favorite time to read with my kids. Toddlers at this age are absorbing so much information that books are fascinating to them. And they’re building their language skills, which makes it a great time to read.
When my boys were 1, they would sit still and listen to longer books than they would at 2. It’s a beautiful time for reading. I treasure those precious moments when my baby started grabbing books for himself and climbing into my lap to listen.
But not all books are created equal. Some may be too long or wordy for this age and others may be too simple. So I’ve created a list of the best books for this in-between stage. I hope your 1-year-old loves these books are much as mine have.
The 21 Best Books for 1-Year-Olds – Quick Shop
- Giraffes Can’t Dance Giles Andreae
- We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Helen Oxenbury
- There’s a Dragon in Your Book Tom Fletcher
- Dinosaur Dig! Penny Dale
- Roadwork Sally Sutton
- Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site Sherri Duskey Rinker
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Bill Martin Jr.
- That’s Not My Dinosaur Fiona Watt
- Dear Zoo Rod Campbell
- Dinosaur Dance! Sandra Boynton
- Moo Baa Fa La La La La! Sandra Boynton
- Where’s the Pumpkin? Fhiona Galloway
- Things that Go! Make Believe Ideas
- Love You Forever Robert Munsch
- Baby Shark Little Hippo Books
- There’s a Bear on My Chair Ross Collins
- Trains Coming Through! Stephanie Morgan
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle
- Little Blue Truck Alice Shertle
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Bill Martin Jr.
- Good Night Moon Margaret Wise Brown
The 21 Best Books to Read to 1-Year-Olds
1. Giraffes Can’t Dance Giles Andreae
Giraffes Can’t Dance is about a clumsy giraffe that is laughed at for being a terrible dancer until he finds his own music.
This is such a fun book for 1-year-olds. It has a calming and slow rhyme scheme that makes it easy to memorize, which children at this age excel at. It’s easy and fun for both adults and children. And, though it’s long, the rhyme scheme helps make it quick to read. Plus, the inclusion of many different types of wild animals helps familiarize your child with animals they may see at the zoo.
The message may be lost on your child at this age, but it’s still a beautiful book that you’ll both enjoy reading.
2. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Helen Oxenbury
The story follows a family who goes out looking for a bear. After quite a trek, they realize how bad of an idea this adventure actually is.
This classic book is perfect for 1-year-olds who love repetition and onomatopoeia (words that are written as they sound–“Squelch Squerch”). This is a literary effect that I’ve found kids this age love. I read We’re Going on a Bear Hunt to my 1 and 3 year old and it was a bigger hit with my 1-year-old.
3. There’s a Dragon in Your Book Tom Fletcher
There’s a Dragon in Your Book is one of Tom Flectcher’s interactive books (his most popular is There’s a Monster in Your Book). In this book, there’s an egg in your book. When you aren’t careful, it hatches into a baby dragon. You spend the rest of the book caring for the dragon by using your imagination.
I like this book for 1-year-olds because a monster in your book can be a little scary (it scared my son at 1), but a baby dragon isn’t scary at all. It’s cute. Plus, this book requires less movement with the book (twists, turns, shakes) and my son could participate earlier with it. It makes for an engaging and interactive read.
4. Dinosaur Dig! Penny Dale
Dinosaur Dig! tells the story of a group of dinosaurs as they complete a construction project. Each step of the way.
This is the perfect book for 1-year-old boys. Both of my boys loved construction and dinosaurs at an early age. Dinosaur Dig! combines them, along with some counting. On top of that, each page includes some construction sounds as part of the text. My 1-year-old loves all of this. Dinosaurs, trucks, and sounds make it a great book for a 1-year-old boy.
5. Roadwork Sally Sutton
This book uses rhythmic text as it describes roadwork in a fun, rhymic way that is sure to keep a child’s attention. Each page discusses a different machine and the work it’s doing to build the road.
Roadwork uses words to describe the sounds the roadwork makes (onomatopoeia) and has beautiful illustrations that include a large number of trucks.
This is sure to be one of your 1-year-old’s favorite books.
6. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site Sherri Duskey Rinker
This book examines the work that is done on a construction site and all of the hardworking machines that work hard to get the job done. Now that the site is closing down, we say good night to each truck.
Both of my boys became fascinated by trucks at around 18 months. I bought Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site for my firstborn when he was 2. He liked it, but it was always a little long to hold his attention. At 3, it didn’t hold his attention at all. I found with my 2nd born, that the magical age for this book is 18 months. At 18 months, he sat quietly captivated while I read. After a few reads, he started saying goodnight to each type of construction truck along with the book and it became one of our favorite reads for our bedtime routine.
7. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Bill Martin Jr.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? uses Eric Carle’s illustrations to include a different animal that the other sees on each page. Each animal is drawn in bright colors.
This is one of our baby favorites that continues to be a favorite for 1-year-olds. Color recognition is an important skill at this age and animals are always a hit. I like to add animal sounds to each animal once my child is familiar with the book. Eventually, my son responds with the animal sounds when he sees each animal. This has always made it a favorite for young children.
8. That’s Not My Dinosaur Fiona Watt
That’s Not My Dinosaur is a touch-and-feel book that uses touch to identify different textures that don’t belong to the mouse’s dinosaur. It’s a simple book and can seem uneventful, but toddlers love it.
It wasn’t much of a hit with my son until he was closer to 2 (about 20 months). He started asking to read it and I quickly realized he had the whole book memorized and understood the different textures.
9. Dear Zoo Rod Campbell
In this lift-the-flap book, the narrator writes to the zoo and they send him a number of unsuitable pets before finally sending him the perfect one.
Dear Zoo is a classic favorite in our family. My boys love lifting the flaps and reacting to the animals they find. As they get older, I have them call out the name of the animal under the flap before I continue reading. They love participating in this read.
10. Dinosaur Dance! Sandra Boynton
Sandra Boynton books are perfect for 1-year-olds. They’re clever and fun, but short and simple too.
Dinosaur Dance! is one of our favorites because it has such a catchy song. Each dinosaur is introduced by name and does a different dance. The dance words will stick in your and your toddlers’ head and you’ll both quickly have this one memorized.
11. Moo Baa Fa La La La La! Sandra Boynton
Moo Baa Fa La La La La! is my favorite Christmas book for 1-year-olds. It’s a Christmas take on Moo, Baa, La La La! and I personally think it’s better than the original. As with many of Sandra Boynton’s books, these are read in a song. And they also include animals and animal noises, which toddlers love.
Moo Baa Fa La La La La! is set to the tune of the song Deck the Halls, which makes it catchy and fun to read.
12. Where’s the Pumpkin? Fhiona Galloway
This Halloween book follows a cat named Spook as he searches for a pumpkin (which he’s never seen before). He mistakes a number of different items for a pumpkin, with other characters filling in additional descriptive features as he continues to look.
Where’s the Pumpkin? is such a basic book that I would have dismissed it as not interesting enough, but my toddlers love it. It taught them both what a pumpkin was and made them excited about them. And they love to repeat the last line, “I love pumpkins!”
13. Things that Go! Make Believe Ideas
Things that Go! is a simple, but well-designed touch-and-feel book about things that go. It has cute rhyming text on each page and a vehicle that includes a patch of silicone to feel. Boys especially seem to love planes, trucks, and anything that goes from a young age.
This interactive book is fun to read. It’s the perfect addition to your baby’s library.
14. Love You Forever Robert Munsch
This classic picture book is about a mom and her relationship with her son over the years. As he grows into an adult, we see the mom’s continued commitment to him as her baby.
Love You Forever is a sweet book that has a soft spot in most moms’ hearts. So I was thrilled when it also became a favorite of my 1-year-old. I rock him back and forth as described in the book and, though it’s long, he loves repeating the phrases and finding new items in the pictures.
15. Baby Shark Little Hippo Books
Even if your toddler never watches TV, they’re bound to love this song once they hear it. This book includes a finger puppet that you can use to dance around while you sing. My toddler loves these finger puppet books and he loves the baby shark song (I think he heard it at daycare).
This Baby Shark book isn’t a story. It just goes through the baby shark song with an image of each of the shark family and the finger puppet. But it’s fun and your toddler will love it.
16. There’s a Bear on My Chair Ross Collins
There’s a Bear on My Chair is a story about a mouse who can’t get a large polar bear out of his chair. This is a frustrating problem that he can’t seem to solve. Written in rhymes that will stick with your 1-year-old even though this is a longer book.
My 1-year-old loves animals and is fascinated by bears so he loves this book. Even if yours doesn’t, I think this is a great addition to any 1 year old’s reading schedule.
17. Trains Coming Through! Stephanie Morgan
This is a good book about trains. As simple as that. All different kinds of trains. Follow along as they do their jobs.
Trains Coming Through! uses action words and rhyme that will appeal to your toddler. If your toddler loves things that go, they’ll love learning about trains in this engaging book.
18. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle
This classic children’s book is about a caterpillar who eats through a week’s worth of food and then turns into a butterfly. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a great science book for young readers that’s perfect for toddlers and getting them to understand the transformations that happen in nature.
Your 1-year-old will love counting along with you as the caterpillar eats his way through a week’s worth of food.
19. Little Blue Truck Alice Shertle
Join Little Blue Truck as he greets different animals on the farm and goes about his friendly way. Only to be shoved aside by a busy dump truck that quickly learns a lesson about the importance of slowing down and being kind.
Little Blue Truck is quickly a favorite book of kids of all ages and adults alike. Soon you’ll have it memorized and still never get tired of reading it. My toddlers love the farm animals, their noises, and of course, the dump truck.
20. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Bill Martin Jr.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a fun spin on the ABCs and a great way to introduce them without being so serious about memorization. All of the letters climb the coconut tree but all is not well. It’s too crowded and things are bound to be a mess.
If you’re looking for a way to talk about letters without singing the alphabet song, this is a great new twist that will help your toddler recall the names. Besides that, it’s a book that they are sure to love reading.
21. Good Night Moon Margaret Wise Brown
This classic book also made it over from my list of baby books. I’ve found that both of my boys continued to love this book (much to my confusion) as they moved into their 2nd year. There’s something about the simple naming of items and the calming story that makes this a continued favorite.
Good Night Moon engages toddlers with its rhyming and shifts from color to black and white each time you turn the page.
Those are the best books for 1-year-olds. I hope you use this list of books to make reading time special for you both. And that your toddler will soon be bringing you books to read.
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