When you’re in the market for great books for your 1-year-old, there’s nothing worse than rushing through the library with your little one, 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 that babies love. That’s where we come in, covering both the classics that have entertained the littlest kids for decades and some new titles worth checking out.
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 go slowly insane as your 1-year-old demands the book be read over and over and over again. But the 200th reading of a truly great book is, in the balance, a great outcome. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the very best books for your 1-year-old, with special attention paid to stuff that won’t drive you nuts.
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 your kids’ intelligence. Instead, it starts a conversation with your little one, where they have the power to answer back.
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. You probably got this one at the baby shower. Your 1-year-old will be hungry for multiple readings. Best of all: that surprise ending works every time!
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!
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 those under two. 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.
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.