Our oldest daughter LOVES books! We began reading them to her from infancy and as soon as she learned to “talk” she began to flip through them as if she was reading them herself. If books for one year olds sounds crazy, trust me it’s not at all! Books were one of her favorite activities from age 1-2. So if you’re looking for the best books for 1 year old toddlers, there is no better source than a recently one-year-old herself!
The below titles made the cut into our top 10 picks of the best books for 1 year old toddlers based on my daughter’s preferences. She just turned 2 and these are the titles that she enjoyed most over the last year of her life. She learned to identify many animals, household items, colors, and shapes from listening to and flipping through books from 1-2 years old. Some of these books even helped her learn to identify and speak all of the capital letters of the alphabet before she was 2 years old!
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Each book on our top 10 list of best books for 1 year old toddlers below is summarized in reference to its story, illustrations, and educational value.
If you are searching for books a 1 year old will love, I hope this list helps you hit the mark!
Note: All of these books are available on Amazon with a link included!
Our Top 10 Best Books For 1 Year Old Toddlers:
1. Goodnight Moon
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown takes the top spot on our list of best books for 1 year old toddlers because it was probably my daughter’s most consistent favorite over the last year. She still searches for her “moon book” to flip through and identify all of the objects on each page.
Story: Goodnight moon doesn’t feature much of a story like some books for one year olds do. Instead it focuses on saying goodnight to multiple objects in a room to help a young child prep for bedtime.
Illustrations: The illustrations in Goodnight Moon aren’t anything exceptionally notable, but the book does contain illustrations of many household objects that helped my daughter to learn to identify them.
Educational Value: Goodnight Moon’s primary educational value is in a child learning to identify the objects on the pages.
2. We’re Going On A Bear Hunt
Number two on our list of best books for 1 year old toddlers is We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. My daughter became completely obsessed with this book over a period of time, though it’s not one that I originally thought would be a favorite.
Story: We’re Going On A Bear Hunt tells the story of a family traveling across all different terrains to find a bear. It’s a cute and engaging story. My daughter loved that there was a dog on nearly every page!
Illustrations: The illustrations in We’re Going On A Bear Hunt alternate between colored and black and white. They are sketch and water-color like.
Educational Value: I wouldn’t rate this title with very high educational value, though it is definitely a riveting and entertaining story. My daughter enjoyed pointing out objects, people, and animals on each page but the book is not structured to necessarily promote that.
This title wouldn’t have been one that I thought to categorize with books for one year olds since it is not a board book, but it was so well loved by my daughter from 1-2 years old that several pages have fallen out and I’ve had to tape it together two times. NOTE: This book is not a board book, so the pages can be ripped! The pages are a little bit stronger than just regular paper, but if you are evaluating books for a child that is prone to rip, then this is probably not a title to go with!
Story: Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans tells the story of a young girl from a boarding school who gets appendicitis and needs surgery. The rhyming structure of the story makes it song-like and lighthearted despite the subject matter.
Illustrations: The illustrations in Madeline are very sketch-like and fluid. Pages alternate between pictures in just black, white, and yellow and pages in full color. The images are very detailed.
Educational Value: I do not ascribe significant educational value to Madeline even though it has very detailed illustrations and my daughter loves it to pieces. It is a fun sing-song story with engaging pictures, but I wouldn’t say my daughter has learned a whole lot from reading it.
4. 123 My First Lift-The-Flap Book
Among my daughter’s top favorite books for one year olds was 123 My First Lift-The-Flap Book, illustrated by Charlie Anne Turner. This is a board book though each page features thinner cardboard flaps as well. Again if you are evaluating books for a child prone to ripping, this may not be the best choice. One of the flaps in our copy is missing because my daughter yanked it out!
Story: This lift-the-flap book doesn’t really have a story to it. Instead it focuses on numbers and counting objects, asking things like “how many of this?” on each page with flaps to lift that reveal the answer.
Illustrations: The illustrations in this fourth rated of our best books for 1 year old toddlers are bright and cheerful. They feature a lot of cutsie animals, bugs, and plants that a one year old can identify.
Educational Value: This book has exceptional educational value! The whole book is built around numbers from 1-10 and learning to count each number. This is a great book for one year olds to become familiar with numbers and what it means to count.
5. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Number five on our list of best books for 1 year old toddlers is Eric Carle’s classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? This book can be purchased in regular board book style or in a bigger, thicker board book style with sliding flaps on each page to reveal the animal on the next page. We have both copies and my daughter loved them both!
Story: The story in Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is very repetitive. Each page asks what the current animal sees before revealing the answer. It’s a simple story but therefore easy for a one year old to engage with.
Illustrations: The illustrations in this book are BEAUTIFUL and very unique! Each page features a brightly colored animal that is depicted vibrantly and with very distinct style that I would describe as almost block-like.
Educational Value: I wouldn’t describe the educational value of this book as extremely high. However, it is very good for teaching one year olds to identify several animals.
6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Another Eric Carle book slides into number 6 on our list of best books for 1 year old toddlers. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a board book with unique holes in some of the pages and pages of different widths.
Story: The Very Hungry Caterpillar tells the story of a new little caterpillar eating his way through all kinds of different foods until he becomes full and transforms into a butterfly.
Illustrations: The illustrations in this book are also BEAUTIFUL! Eric Carle has a very unique illustrative style that features vibrant colors in block-like form that looks like the objects on each page could have been cut out of a magazine and taped on.
Educational Value: There is not a strong educational value to The Very Hungry Caterpillar. However, it does help to describe to a one year old how caterpillars turn into butterflies and contains several food items for one year olds to begin to identify.
7. Good Night, Gorilla
Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann is a board book so often read by my daughter that it is now in multiple pieces.
Story: Good Night, Gorilla tells a story about animals escaping a zoo in a very unique manner. The book does not have any narrative text but just a few dialog bubbles. The story is very easy to follow despite the lack of narration.
Illustrations: The illustrations in Good Night, Gorilla are bright and colorful. They feature a lot of detailed objects and the illustrations essentially tell the story of the book. By paying attention to what is happening in each illustration the story of the book is played out – perfect for one year olds who are paying primary attention to the illustrations!
Educational Value: Good Night, Gorilla doesn’t feature much direct educational content. However, it is a story about several different animals and contains many different objects in each illustration. In this way, it is a helpful book for one year olds to learn to identify various animals and objects.
8. Little Blue Truck
Number eight on our list of best books for 1 year old toddlers is Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle. This book appears as though it is targeted toward young boys, but it was definitely a favorite for my daughter from 1-2 years as well!
Story: Little Blue Truck tells the story of a friendly little pickup truck who helps a dump truck out near a farm. The rhyming phrases and rhythmic nature of the narrative is fun and engaging. It’s a bit of a sing-song story with a good lesson about being friendly and helpful.
Illustrations: The illustrations in Little Blue Truck are detailed, boldly colored, and feature a lot of fun unique perspectives.
Educational Value: Little Blue Truck is a great story for teaching big lessons in being friendly and helpful. These lessons are ones that I would not expect a one year old to pick up on from the story. However, my one year old loved identifying all of the animals and distinguishing between a BIG truck and a LITTLE truck with this book.
9. My First Words
My First Words by Sarah Davis and Dawn Sirett takes spot number nine on our list of best books for 1 year old toddlers. My daughter loved to sit and practice identifying all of the objects it contains!
Story: There isn’t really a story to this book as it’s sole focus is on object identification. Each page features a category of objects that are each named and illustrated.
Illustrations: This book features photo-quality pictures of all kinds of objects, food, animals, furniture, vehicles, and body parts.
Educational Value: This book has extremely high educational value! When my daughter was just starting to identify some household objects she used to flip through this book and get all excited to shout out the name of the ones she knew. It was really a helpful tool for her to practice identifying and repeating every day objects that she encountered.
10. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Last on our list of best books for 1 year old toddlers is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. This is a book that I loved as a kid and my daughter has now enjoyed as well!
Story: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tells an engaging story of alphabet letters and their interaction with a coconut tree. The narrative is lyrical, rhyming and rhythmic in a way that is really fun to read and listen to.
Illustrations: The illustrations in this book are really fun! They feature bold solid colors and very geometric looking designs.
Educational Value: This books has VERY HIGH educational value! The whole book centers around letters of the alphabet, primarily in lower case form. At the end of the book is a page that just lists all of the upper and lower case letters of the alphabet in bright bold colors. This book was really helpful as my daughter began to learn her ABCs before turning two. We would use the last page of the book where all of the letters were featured to point to letters and have her practice identifying them.
If you are seeking books for one year olds, then I hope this list was helpful to you! Based on my daughter’s interest level from 1-2 years old these are our top 10 best books for 1 year old toddlers, My daughter has learned a lot from many of these books and has thoroughly enjoyed pretending to read through them herself and listening to them each being read to her. If you are looking for a good book for a one year old then you probably can’t go wrong with any board book, but these are 10 that I specifically recommend!
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