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The Best Books for 1-Year-Olds: Get Your Baby Reading!

Yes, babies need books too! The best books for 1-year-olds help babies explore and understand the world around them.

For the first year, focus on books about animals, colors, aspects of life, and shapes. Babies need to learn everything and books can help, which is why we found all the best baby book options to encourage learning.

Best Books for 1-Year-OldsWhy It's BestRating
Independently Published Unicorn JazzA Cute Story About A Unicorn With A Music Note As A Tail.♥♥♥♥♥
Chronicle Books Peek-A Who? A Lift the Flap Books Babies Love♥♥♥♥♥
DK Publishing Dorling Kindersley Baby Touch and Feel: AnimalsBabies Can Touch Fur and Other Textures♥♥♥♥♥
Chronicle Books Goodnight, Goodnight Construction SiteHelps Baby Learn A Bedtime Routine♥♥♥♥♥
Holtzbrinck Publishers Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?Teaches Babies About Animals and Colors♥♥♥♥♥

The Best Books for 1-Year-Olds

Unicorn Jazz

Unicorn Jazz

Even though your baby is only a year old, they already love colors, drawings, stories, and most importantly, the sound of your voice. Give your baby all three with Unicorn Jazz, a fun little hand-drawn story about a unicorn with purple hair, a golden horn, and shining hoofs. But the craziest feature of the unicorn is he has a musical note for a tail!

This little unicorn can sing beautifully, despite no self-confidence in her majestic ability. When she moves to a new place with her parents, she doesn’t quite fit in with the other animals at first, but soon finds new friends and her voice. The book comes with a song to share with your baby.

If your baby likes the song, you can even listen to it online. The story is so fun, children will make this their favorite book and you will end up reading for years to come, along with the song. It’s time to start your new bedtime routine with a unicorn.

Peek-A Who?

Peek-A Who? (Lift the Flap Books, Interactive Books for Kids, Interactive Read Aloud Books)

In the book Peek-A Who? your child gets to interact with the pages of the book with fun flaps, colorful pictures, and simple rhyming texts to help babies guess whats on the other side. Babies adore turning pages, lifting flaps and using their newfound fingers.

Curious babies can learn a lot when you read this bright little book to them. Though the pages aren’t quite as thick as a board book, the die-cut pages can handle pudgy little fingers turning the pages to find new animals. It’s a fun way to teach babies animal sounds and species.

At the end, the book introduces the baby to themselves with a little mirror. The book has ten pages and works for babies all the way up to preschool children. It’s also small enough to travel anywhere you go.

Baby Touch and Feel: Animals 

Sesame Street - Potty Time with Elmo - Potty Training Sound Book - PI Kids

Babies love to touch animals and squeeze their little fingers in the soft plush fur of any willing or unwilling animal. That’s why the DK Baby Touch and Feel: Animal book is perfect for them because they can feel animals fuzziness without getting bit or scratched. The thick pages can also take a little abuse too like constant page-turning, chewing, and rough handling.

The small book introduces babies to many animals along with the name and the sound. Though babies will mainly enjoy the feel of an exciting new world in under their fingers. Teach babies about penguins, kittens, puppies, butterflies, and more animals.

If your baby enjoys this book, the DK brand makes many others to encourage babies to explore the tactile world around them with foil, glitter, bold colors, and engaging pages.

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

Sesame Street - Potty Time with Elmo - Potty Training Sound Book - PI Kids

Babies love routine and going to bed is one of their most important routines because it’s soothing. With Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, your child can help solidify their routine as they say good night to everything at a construction site. As one-year-olds know almost nothing, this book can show them a whole new world. 

Babies can say good night to a crane truck, cement mixer, dump truck, bulldozer, and an excavator as they get ready to sleep themselves. The pages rhyme to help babies learn cadence and about the machines that help our world function. It’s meant for children two and up, but I read this to my baby at a year and she loved the book and for years after said good night to the trucks. 

The book has 32 pages to make this long enough for a bedtime story. You can buy a hardcover or e-book version to enjoy the soothing and adorable cartoons of construction. 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Welcome Little One

The Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is super easy to read and creates a pattern to help little minds learn. The artist Eric Carle uses tons of textures in his with his artwork to help kids to understand more than just colors, but also grain as well. 

It’s been years since I read the book but still, I can remember the cadence of reading the simple story that children will crave as they become an animal looking at another animal. Little boys and girls can learn about the circle of life, animals, colors, patterns, and rhymes from these fun little books. Most baby books lack dimensions unlike this set, which is why the series is so popular. 

If your baby likes this one, find more works by Eric Carle. The book has 28 pages focusing on one animal per set of pages. It’s a perfect story for babies and toddlers. 

Teeth Are Not for Biting

Welcome Little One

Many people think babies can’t learn to modify behavior but they can! Some times the lessons take a while to sink in which is why books like Teeth Are Not for Biting (Board Book) are so important. Most babies are teething and becoming aware of teeth in their mouths but don’t know what they are for and the book will tell them. 

Tots ages 1 to 4 can enjoy the 24-page book meant to encourage using teeth for eating but not for biting other people or animals. The sooner you teach children the proper use for their teeth, the better chance they will never bite other kids at the playground. All the while, the sweet story engages children with muted colors and soft words. 

Sesame Street – Potty Time with Elmo

Sesame Street - Potty Time with Elmo - Potty Training Sound Book - PI Kids

Most babies are in diapers and need to eventually learn to use the potty. Start laying the groundwork with Sesame Street – Potty Time with Elmo – Potty Training Sound Book. One obstacle for toddlers learning to use the toilet is information, they don’t know what the potty is or why people use the toilet. Books with fun characters share necessary information to make toilets not scary but helpful in their lives. 

The board book comes with a soundbar on the side with seven buttons babies will love to push. They can hear the sounds of the potty, flushing, and of course, their new furry friend Elmo as he trains his doll to go to the bathroom on the potty. Start reading the short eight-page book to your little one early and then start reading the book when they are on the potty like a little reward for big kid behavior. 

The Mitten 

The Mitten

Books may teach babies but often they are just fun stories to entice children to love reading like with the The Mitten Board book. You can buy this book on e-book format, hardcover, or the preferable board book for babies who tend to chew, rip, and gnaw on anything in their hands. 

The book introduces woodland animals who have dropped a mitten and spend the day searching for the glove. Along the way, they meet other animals before ending the story with a funny climax. Use this story to teach about humor, losing items, animals, and just to spend quality time with your baby. 

Though the book came out in the 1990s, it’s still a favorite with 32 pages of beautiful illustrations and engaging characters. Before long, this will be one of your child’s favorite books with its simple plot.

The Hiccupotamus

Where Is Baby's Belly Button? A Lift-the-Flap Book

Babies love funny noises as they learn to use their vocal cords and the The Hiccupotamus Hardcover book can help them to laugh with a funny little plot. As a cute hippo hiccups, the book adds the ‘mus’ to more than just a hippopotamus to engage kids and help them learn about patterns. 

The story brings other animals in as the main character hiccups his way through the jungle trying to live her life. Not only is the story off-the-wall funny, but it also makes for a fun read babies will want to re-read over and over again. Funny books allow kids to engage with books and encourage a desire to continue reading more and more books. 

Babies and tots will love reading all 32 short pages of the book with tons of interactive noises made by mom or dad. If they like this book by Aaron Zenz, you can find more to keep the laughter lasting in your home for several more years to come. 

Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? A Lift-the-Flap Book 

Where Is Baby's Belly Button? A Lift-the-Flap Book

Everyone has a belly button and babies need to know what and where they are as they learn about the entire body. TheWhere Is Baby’s Belly Button? A Lift-the-Flap Book Board book helps your baby learn about their body. This is the perfect book as it’s short but teaches babies where to find their eyes and other body parts with little interactions. 

The book asks where is baby’s…? and then provides a flap to find the babies the body part underneath bubbles, or a lamp or something else. Interactive books help engage babies with the story to help learn with a few surprises. Of course, we adults won’t find the simply worded book surprising, but babies will squeal with delight over and over as they flip the pages and begin to put the connect to their own body together. 

Finally, don’t worry about the book taking a long time to read as it’s very short and only 14 pages long. The drawings are colorful and perfect for babies, which is who the book was written for anyways! Each page uses backgrounds to introduce interesting patterns too. 

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book offers a fun way for babies to discover animals. The tiny book allows you to introduce animals and their sounds with fun flaps. It starts out with the author asking for an animal and the zoo sending her a different animal for your baby to discover.

If you buy this tiny board book you can take it with you in your diaper bag, the car, or to grandma’s for a fun story even on the road. The 18 short pages work for even the shortest attention span for babies up to four years old. Make the sound for each animal and encourage your little one to make the sounds with you as they learn about the world around them. 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Board Book)

Start teaching your little love all about letters and the alphabet from birth with the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Board Book). The letters are personified and climb up to the top of a coconut tree to teach little ones as they race to the top of the tree before falling off. All of the colorful pictures encourage kids to continue looking at each page as they wait to find out what will happen to the letters. 

The rhythmic text has made this a favorite for a couple of decades and led to several more stories in the same genre. Watch your child delight over the alphabet as the story unfolds over 36 short pages. Do pick the board book as babies tend to be mean to anything with paper and the book will last much longer with thicker pages. 

Where’s Spot?

Where's Spot?

Most everyone remembers Eric Hill’s Spot the Dog books and now you can introduce your baby to his books too with Where’s Spot? Board book. The precocious pup is hiding from his parents. It’s up to you and your baby to find out where the pup is hiding with this colorful short story written with a young mind in mind! 

Babies can flip open flaps in the to help search for the wayward puppy. Each page comes with simple hand-drawn images to keep one-year-olds focused on the task at hand. Take the time to teach baby not to hide from you as it’s scary when we don’t know where our children are hiding. The short book offers just 12 pages to find the puppy for short attention spans.  

Welcome Little One

Welcome Little One

The Welcome Little One Board book may become your child’s favorite, as its a story about them and you. Fill in the details of your baby’s birth and the rest of the story tells your little one how much they fill your heart with love. Keep this book as a memory book for your little one with your handwriting inside not just words on pages. 

Fill in the book with your baby’s birthday, time of birth, hair color, eye color, weight, and length. The page leaves a little space to add in a little unscripted text about your little lovebug. Next, the book goes on to help you share your emotions with your baby. 

Lastly, with patchwork pictures and contrasting colors, babies can enjoy an elephant mom giving hearts to her baby as you share your heart with yours. Some of the letters come in patchwork letters to stand out and you can use those letters to introduce the alphabet too. 

La Catrina: Emotions – Emociones (English and Spanish Edition)

La Catrina: Emotions - Emociones (English and Spanish Edition)

If you want to teach your child both Spanish and emotions, get him or her the book La Catrina: Emotions – Emociones (English and Spanish Edition). The book focuses on emotions first in English and second in Spanish to help babies understand how they feel. Teaching a second language at birth helps children recognize excitement, sadness, confidence, along with other feelings. 

Last of all, Patty Rodriguez designed this book based on the Spanish Day of the Dead with several other books in her series to help little minds find a love for the Spanish culture. Help your children increase their vocabulary in two languages with 22 pages of emotions. The incredible pictures will help babies to learn to read faces and themselves too. 

M is for Malware

M is for Malware

Most baby books teach little minds the alphabet with animals, foods, or toys, but with the board book M is for Malware, you can start helping your little one learn about technology from day one. Let’s face it, the newer generations are so much better at learning technology, so you may as well give them a boost up. Also, if your husband loves computers and works with cybersecurity at work, you may convince him to read this book to your son or daughter. 

Finally, daddy can then move on to teaching the baby about other computer concepts like hard drives, motherboards, and other computer concepts with fun little monster drawings. Us experienced mommies can read the sweet books and daddy can stick with scary monsters like ransomware. 

Bear Snores On

Minions: Sleepy Kittens (Despicable Me)

The Bear Snores On was so loved by all three of my children that I know the first several pages by heart. Even years later, I can still read the pages verbatim without looking at the thick board book. Your kids will love the sweet rhyming story, too, because it features animals who snore. The animals work together to help their friend bear as he hibernates through the cold winter. 

Next, the story comes with several other books in the series to keep your baby engaged with sweet animals helping each other. This short story sprawls across 34 pages to make it the right size to read before bed or naptime. Furthermore, some of the pages have four lines of text while the others only have a few words which makes it a great option to help kids read when they are a little older too. 

Sleepy Kittens (Despicable Me)

Minions: Sleepy Kittens (Despicable Me)

The Sleepy Kittens (Despicable Me) Board book follows around three little kittens not ready to go to bed. Babies love animals and kittens are quite accessible and often adorably funny. Now you can use three little finger puppets to make your one-year-old laugh and laugh as you read the story based on Despicable Me over and over again. Moreover, the story helps children to understand that everyone, even kittens, needs to go to bed. 

Next, a clever kitty mom helps her kittens prepare for bed without them knowing what she is doing. They brush their fur, get a drink, and more as they get sleepy enough to give up the fight and sleep like good little kittens. Add this book to your daily routine while enjoying 10 pages of enjoyable pastel drawings. 

My First 100 Food We Eat

My First 100 Food We Eat

The last book, My First 100 Food We Eat Board book teaches your one-year-old tons of food items they will see regularly. Not only does the book teach about fruits and veggies, but it also teaches sight words. Moreover, the book uses actual pictures instead of drawings to help kids recognize real food items. 

From oranges to onions, babies can learn the names of food and learn colors, too. The book comes with primary colors so they can learn about food, words, letters, fruits, vegetables, drinks, and more all from one book. Furthermore, the book has a soft padded cover to make it comfortable to carry as they build their vocabulary and skills. 

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FAQs About the Best Books for 1-Year-Olds

How often should I read to my baby?

You should read to your baby as often as you have time and you can get them to sit still.

Read to them when they wake up, when they go down for a nap, when they are eating, when they are going to bed, and as many more times as you can squeeze into a day. If nothing else, for the first four years of a child’s life, try and read to them three times a day if possible. Not everyone can squeeze in three books a day, but the more you read, the more your child benefits. 

Maybe you could read a book to the baby in the morning and grandma or daddy can read one later in the day and another at night. No matter who is in your family, someone should read to your one-year-old as often as possible. If you have older children, they can read to their younger siblings, too.

Try your best, but don’t stress if you can’t read to your baby all day long or even three times a day… life often gets in the way of optimal living. 

What are the benefits of reading to a baby?

Reading to a baby has more benefits than you can imagine.

The best books for 1-year-olds teach about the world around them and babies can learn about everything from books. They can learn words, letters, numbers, animals, faces, colors, clothes, concepts, the list goes on and on. Everything a person can learn, they can learn from a book.

Pictures help with spatial reasoning and depth perception while reading to babies out loud. 

The more effort you put into the book, the more your baby can learn. Take the time to talk about what you see on the front cover, read every word and point it out thing in the pictures you can. One-year-olds have a lot to learn and the more you show them, the more they will gain from each book, even the simplest book. 

Should I ask my baby questions while I read?

Yes! Questions are the best way to engage babies in the book.

The best baby books open up new doors to help children learn more if dad and mom add in a few questions. Ask your baby everything you can think of while they are interested. 

Once your baby has lost interest, you can stop but while they are on your lap, ask away.

Ask questions like:

  • What do you see?
  • Is that an ear?
  • Can you find an eye?
  • Where’s the elephant?
  • Which animal is your favorite?
  • Do you see the color red?
  • How about blue?
  • Is that a bird?
  • What sound does a cat make?
  • Do you like that kitty?
  • Do you see a circle? 

The options are endless. 

The more questions you ask, the more opportunity you have to not just help your baby learn, but also to help you learn more about your baby. Not all babies will respond to questions, but whether they respond or not, questions help to encourage thought and they will still learn from questions. Before long, they will be asking questions non-stop!!!!

Final Thoughts About 1-Year-Old Books

If you only pick one book for your one-year-0ld from this list, pick the La Catrina: Emotions – Emociones (English and Spanish Edition). Not only does this book teach emotions that babies don’t know yet, but it’s also bilingual. Babies can learn both English and Spanish from the colorful book. The book comes from a series called Lil’ Libros by Patty Rodriguez and babies can learn so much from these adorable books and actually increase their brain strength!

Adrina Palmer
Adrina Palmer

Adrina Palmer is a stay-at-home-mom to three wonderful children and a wife to an amazing husband. She has a bachelors degree in Religion from Liberty University and works as a blogger, copywriter, and reviewer. Adrina is a Christian hoping to help other stay-at-home moms find the joy and simplicity as a mother and wife. In her free time she enjoys many crafts, writing, spending time with family, and reading. She would love to hear from you!

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