When you’re in the market for great books for your 1-year-old, there’s nothing worse than rushing through the library grabbing random board books and hoping you’ve stumbled upon something worthwhile. The virtues of reading to kids of any age are well established — but how do you find the best books for 1-year-olds? You don’t want to have to depend on algorithms from Amazon or just hope that friends and family members will stock your shelves with great books as 1st birthday gifts.
This specially curated list of books for 1-year-olds includes classics that have entertained the littlest kids for decades as well as some new titles worth checking out. Because even the youngest kids have strong opinions about books, and finding a story that your baby loves and responds to is profound and gratifying — even if you do risk going slowly insane as your 1-year-old demands the book be read over and over and over again. But when you find a truly great book for your 1-year-old, even the 200th reading is worth it, considering the laughing and learning done along the way.
Dad Tip: Email yourself a link to this page and then pull it up next time you’re in the children’s section of the library or bookstore.
Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
Yes, a classic, and for good reason. Beautifully illustrated and total baby brain candy. It’s tough to get sick of this one and that's because it's it doesn't insult kids’ intelligence. Instead, it starts a conversation with your little one, where they have the power to answer back.
Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
Repetition is a powerful learning tool for babies. On each page, a little bird sees a potential mother in everyone. Don’t worry, it’s got a happy ending!
Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night? by Brianna Caplan Sayres
Great reading for going to bed. This book humanizes the heaviest machinery, as it lulls your little one into a construction zone dreamland.
Crayon’s Book of Colors by Drew Dewalt and Oliver Jeffers
Part of an immensely popular series, this is the best for kids under 2. The bright colors and charmingly crude illustrations draw your baby in. The sense of humor and strangely compelling social commentary won't make you hate reading this one over and over again.
Livre des Bruits by Soledad Bravi
This classically simple 'noisy book' uses the power of onomatopoeia to engage 1-year-olds in reading. While the book is available in English (as well as Spanish and German), it's never too early to introduce kids to other languages — and edifying and fun for adults too, from the 'ratata plan plan' of the French drum to the 'hihan' of the French donkey.
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry
I don’t know why, but babies love trucks, and this might be the cutest truck book out there. ‘Little Blue Truck’ enthralls your child while he helps out his friends. Also, it’s part of a series so you and yours can keep the adventure going!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Another classic with prose as beautiful as its visuals. If you didn't get this one at your baby shower, it's worth the investment.
Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill
Another flap lifting delight. Looking for Spot the Dog, your baby will be shocked every time they discover another hiding animal, and deeply gratified when they finally uncover him in the basket!
The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boyton
Before having a child, you might have wondered why the animals all jump up and decide to exercise before bed. But, now that you have an energetic 1-year-old, it all makes sense. A classic since the '80s for a reason.
Daddy Hugs by Karen Katz
There is, of course, the alternate universe version of this book — ‘Mommy Hugs,’ which is equally adorable. But this is Fatherly, and we're all about the daddy hugs.
Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee
Your baby can live vicariously through the naughty yet adorable character in Spike Lee and wife Tonya’s bestseller. Beautifully illustrated and super-relatable to both babies and their beleaguered parents.
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