The 15 Best Books for 1-Year-Olds in 2020

The 15 Best Books for 1-Year-Olds in 2020

A one-year-old can’t read on their own yet, but that doesn’t mean they’re uninterested in books. In fact, it’s just the opposite! Babies love to have books read to them, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly they pick their favorite book and demand to read it over and over.

One-year-olds are going through lots of changes. Learning to crawl, talk, and walk are just some of the many ways babies learn to explore their world. Reading to your baby is another way to encourage healthy development. Books with lots of pictures, contrasting colors, and short words help babies expand their vocabulary.

Reading is ideal for learning, but it’s also an important way to spend quality time with your baby. Reading books together is a special time that babies quickly learn to recognize as just another sign that you love them!

You know books are important, but how do you choose a good book for a baby who can’t tell you what they’re interested in? That’s where we come in! We’ve created a list of our favorites that include books made to expand your baby’s vocabulary and others that are just fun to read.

What to Look for in Books for 1-Year-Olds

Before we get into the reviews, let’s look at the different aspects that make books great for one-year-olds. One-year-olds are pretty busy learning to walk and talk, so any book you choose needs to be engaging enough to hold their attention. We recommend books with bright colors, interactive flaps, or sensory aspects like different textures. Board books are perfect for this age because they can hold up to drooling and teething, and they have thick pages that babies can turn on their own.

Durability

One-year-olds are typically still teething and drooling, and while they might be a little better about putting everything in their mouth, there are still a lot of things that they chew. They’re also still working on fine and gross motor skills, so they can sometimes be rough on pages of books without even meaning to.

That’s why any book you give them needs to be durable. Cloth books, like the Baby Bibi Color Recognition Cloth Book Set, are the most durable. They can stand up to intense drooling and chewing, and it would take a baby with truly Hulk-like strength to tear the pages. Board books are also a good option because they’re resistant to tears. Their thick pages also make it easier for your little one to turn them.

Bright Colors

A rainbow of colors is a great way to hold a baby’s attention. Not only are they fun to look at, but, unsurprisingly, colorful books are also ideal for teaching colors. Contrasting colors are also engaging for babies because they are easier on their eyes.

Books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s ABC Book that have colorful letters and animals on a white background help them pop, and the ABCs on the page stick in your baby’s mind.

Pictures & Illustrations

Pictures and illustrations are essential in books for babies since they don’t understand all the words yet, and the images give them a frame of reference. Beautiful illustrations make a book more enjoyable to read but watch out for books with drawings that are too busy. Scenes with lots going on can become overwhelming for a baby.

The best books for teaching babies their first words are ones with realistic pictures or photos, like the My First Learning Library Box Set. Looking at photos helps babies learn to associate the word with the real thing.

Interactivity

One-year-olds are constantly exploring their world, so they love books that help them do that in interesting ways. Sensory books that have different colors, textures, and pictures are ideal for engaging your baby. Lift-the-flap books like Where’s Spot? spark your baby’s curiosity and teach them that reading is fun.

Short Words and Sentences

Most books for one-year-olds are made to help babies learn first words. Therefore, you’ll find short words and sentences in board books. One-year-olds can hear the simple word or phrase, look at the picture, and then understand what that word means. Keeping things simple may seem boring to you, but it helps babies learn faster.

We’ve also included the age ranges and length of each book, so you can find the important information you need quickly. Now, let’s dive right in!

Top 15 Best Books for 1-Year-Olds 2020

1. Best Overall Book: First 100 Words by Roger Priddy

First 100 Words by Roger Priddy

Why we like it: Pages filled with bright colors, illustrations, and photos give babies lots to look at as they learn.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Age Range: 1 – 3 years
  • Number of Pages: 24 pages

Babies are continually working on their vocabulary, and the First 100 Words is a fun way to help them learn about the world around them. It has colorful photographs that illustrate each word, and the real-world examples help babies better understand what each thing means. The categories are things that babies should learn about, like colors, animals, things that go, bath time, and food.

First 100 Words is a padded board book that’s easy for your baby to hold and look through. It doesn’t have flaps, but you can easily make this book interactive for your baby. You can relate each of the pictures to things around your house, and as your baby starts to learn the words, you can ask them to point out each item.

The board book is a little smaller than an adult’s hand, and it forces the pictures to be crowded together, which is overwhelming for some babies—if you expect this to a problem, Baby Touch and Feel Animals by DK is another fun board book that isn’t quite as jam packed.

Pros

  • Padded board book
  • Lots of colorful pictures
  • Helps your baby learn words
  • Fun to read together
  • Fun for your baby to look through

Cons

  • Smaller than expected

2. Best Counting Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Why we like it: This classic story of a caterpillar that eats everything in sight is a favorite for toddlers and preschoolers alike.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Age Range: 3 months – 5 years
  • Number of Pages: 26 pages

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a classic story of a caterpillar who spends most of the book eating through various pieces of fruit and other foods until he finally makes a lovely cocoon. Your baby will love sticking their little finger into the holes the caterpillar makes in all of the food, counting along the way. The bright colors and Eric Carle’s iconic collage-style illustrations make this a story you and your baby will love to read together.

We love the board book version of this story because it’s the perfect size for your baby. It’s also much more durable than paper pages. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a fun way to teach counting if your baby puts their finger in each of the holes. Because of how the pages are cut for the pieces of fruit, toddlers can flip through them too quickly and miss the whole point of counting.

Pros

  • Bright colors
  • Interactive holes for counting
  • Fun to read together
  • Beautifully illustrated

Cons

  • Stacked pages make it easy to flip through the pages too quickly

3. Best Lift the Flap Book: Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill

Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill

Why we like it: Helping a mommy dog find her pup is lots of fun when other animals are hiding in unexpected places.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Age Range: 1 – 3 years
  • Number of Pages: 22 pages

With simple words and sentences, Where’s Spot? is a classic baby book. Spot’s mom, Sally, has lost track of her pup and looks through the whole house to find him. In each place she looks, animals that have no business being in a house (like a bear, hippo, and snake) are hiding instead. Where’s Spot? is a lift-the-flap book, so your little one will not only love seeing all the animals in silly places, but they’ll also delight in lifting the flaps to find them!

This version is a sturdy board book that’s the perfect size for little hands to hold. It’s also more durable than the hardcover or paperback, and your baby will like looking through the book by themselves nearly as much as reading it with you. You can use Where’s Spot? to teach your little one about different animals, and they’ll enjoy the peek-a-book fun. The only problem with flaps, though, is that toddlers to rip them off eventually. The flaps on this book are thick and glued well, but they’re not entirely toddler-proof.

Pros

  • Lift-the-flap fun
  • Helps teach kids about different types of animals
  • Simple words and phrases
  • Interactive book that’s fun to look at alone or together

Cons

  • Flaps in the book are easy to rip out

4. Best Cloth Book Set: Baby Bibi Color Recognition Set

Baby Bibi Color Recognition Set

Why we like it: This set of nine books has bright colors and crinkle paper that your baby will love.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Age Range: 3 months+
  • Number of Pages: 63 pages

The Baby Bibi Color Recognition cloth books are perfect for one-year-olds because they’re soft and chewable, but they’re also engaging. There are nine cloth books packaged in an easy-to-open (and wrap!) box, so they make the perfect gift. The books come in nine different colors: yellow, orange, red, brown, pink, purple, blue, green, and black and white. Each book features animals, food, or common things you’ll find in that color.

You can use these books to teach about colors, first words, animals, and food. Babies love the crinkle-paper texture found in the books’ front and back pages, and the paper helps to get your baby’s attention. The vibrant colors and cute characters make the books a lot of fun for babies to look through and play with.

Parents will appreciate that these books are washable, too—just rinse them in cold water. The size is small enough that babies can hold them easily, and they fit well in your diaper bag to keep your baby entertained away from home. Some of the colors are harder to distinguish, though. The yellows contain oranges, which can be confusing, and the brown book looks more reddish than brown, but overall, this is an excellent set.

Pros

  • Nine different cloth books in one set
  • Teaches colors, animals, first words, and food
  • Small, portable size
  • Crinkle paper helps get your baby’s attention

Cons

  • Some of the colors are hard to distinguish

5. Best Premium Book Set: My First Learning Library Box Set

My First Learning Library Box Set

Why we like it: This collection of twenty board books is perfect for teaching your baby first words.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Age Range: 1 – 3 years
  • Number of Pages: 440 pages

If you need books to fill your baby’s library, then this set makes an excellent educational addition. The My First Learning Library Box Set includes twenty books that teach your baby first words. The books are about babies, people at work, fruit, farm animals & pets, vegetables, flowers, toys, colors, alphabet, shapes, baby objects, sea animals, opposites, things at home, birds, numbers, food, transport, baby animals, and wild animals.

This set of books has photographs of real things to help your baby learn how to identify everything from food to wild animals. We like that the pictures are on a simple white background with the word written below them, so they stand out nicely. The board books are durable, and they’re the perfect size for your baby’s little hands. Some of the words might be unfamiliar to Americans, such as “capsicum” instead of “bell pepper.”

Pros

  • Twenty board books in a set
  • Pictures of real-life things
  • Helps your baby learn first words
  • Perfect size for your baby’s small hands

Cons

  • Some unfamiliar words

6. Best Lift the Flap Book: Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz

Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz

Why we like it: Babies will learn the names for their body parts in this fun, interactive book.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Age Range: 1 – 4 years
  • Number of Pages: 14 pages

This lift-the-flap book has Karen Katz’s characteristic folk-art inspired illustrations that are beautiful and engaging. Your baby will love the peek-a-boo game of lifting the flaps in this interactive book. You can use the book to teach your baby how to find their eyes, mouth, feet, hands, and of course, their belly button.

The book asks simple questions and answers with short phrases to help your baby understand. The bright colors are lots of fun to look at, and the board book is sturdy and can stand up to a toddler’s enthusiastic reading. The flaps are on the thinner side, though, so they get bent easily and can get torn, so if you’ve got a particularly destructive baby you should probably choose something more durable like Lamaze Peek-A-Boo Forest.

Pros

  • Adorable illustrations
  • Interactive flaps
  • Teaches your baby some body parts
  • Peek-a-boo fun

Cons

  • Flimsy, thin flaps

7. Best Touch and Feel Book: See, Touch, Feel by Roger Priddy

See, Touch, Feel by Roger Priddy

Why we like it: This sensory book has colorful illustrations and photographs that are perfect for reading with your baby.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Age Range: 3 months – 2 years
  • Number of Pages: 16 pages

Babies love to explore the world around them, and See, Touch, Feel by Roger Priddy helps them do that as they read along with you. The book is full of sensory activities like a mirror to look at, a drum to tap, a swirly snail shell to trace, and a fluffy teddy bear tummy to feel.

This large board book has thick pages, so it’s easy for babies to turn them independently. The book uses bright colors and a mix of baby-friendly illustrations and real-life photographs to hold your baby’s attention. Though See, Feel, Touch has lots to look at, it doesn’t have many different textures for your baby to feel. Except for the teddy bear and the mirror, all the other textures are just variations of raised paper.

Pros

  • Bright colors
  • Large board book with thick pages
  • Engaging illustrations and photos
  • Lots of interactive activities for your baby

Cons

  • Not much texture

8. Best Cloth Book: Lamaze Peek-A-Boo Forest

Lamaze Peek-A-Boo Forest

Why we like it: Crinkly flaps your baby can lift, cute animals, and bright colors make this soft, cloth book lots of fun for your baby.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Age Range: 6 months +
  • Number of Pages: 5 pages

The Lamaze Peek-A-Boo Forest is the perfect, soft book to read to your baby with engaging flaps and cute animals. Unlike most cloth books that typically just have one or two words per page, Peek-A-Boo Forest tells a story with fun rhymes. You can play a game of peek-a-boo with your baby as you read about different animal habitats.

Peek-A-Boo Forest is lightweight and comfortable for your baby to hold and play with on their own. The flaps are crinkly, which is always engaging for babies. Cloth books do get dirty quickly, especially if your baby tends to drool and spit up—if that sounds likely, you may want to consider an interactive board book like this four-book set by Ginger Swift instead.

Pros

  • Interactive peek-a-boo pages
  • Durable, washable fabric for the pages
  • Lightweight
  • Easy for your baby to hold

Cons

  • Cloth books get dirty easily

9. Best Bedtime Book: Kiss Good Night by Amy Hest

Kiss Good Night by Amy Hest

Why we like it: This soothing bedtime story will have your baby to sleep in no time.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Age Range: 1 – 5 years
  • Number of Pages: 30 pages

Kiss Good Night is all about the bedtime routine. Baby bear Sam is tucked in with his favorite blanket and his stuffed animals. He’s read a book and drunk his milk, but there’s just one thing his mother is forgetting to do before Sam can finally go to sleep. The title says it all, and your little toddler will delight in reading this story again and again. Everything about this book is soothing, from the cozy color palette to the repetition and familiar word choices.

The durable board book version of this sweet story ensures that it’ll hold up to the nightly readings, even if your little one demands you read it five times in a row. Every baby needs a good bedtime story, and this is one that’s sure to become a favorite. Though we love the repetitive sentences that are typical of a bedtime routine, some of them are awkwardly worded. When you’re reading the story out loud, it’s easy to trip over some of the words because of the way the sentences are arranged.

Pros

  • Cozy color palette
  • Soothing bedtime story
  • Sweet and fun to read with your little one
  • Available as a durable board book

Cons

  • Some awkwardly-worded sentences

10. Best Lift the Flap Book Set: Four Chunky Lift a Flap Books by Ginger Swift

Four Chunky Lift a Flap Books by Ginger Swift

Why we like it: These beautiful books teach colors and animals as your baby has fun lifting all the flaps.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Age Range: 3 months – 5 years
  • Number of Pages: 48 pages

If your baby can’t get enough of lift-the-flap books, then this set of four is perfect. It includes Little Green Frog, Little Yellow Bee, Little Red Barn, and Little Blue Boat. All four books teach colors and first words with cute, engaging characters. The books show animals in their natural environments, and your baby will love to find each animal hiding under the flaps! The books are beautifully illustrated with bright colors, and the prose is short and engaging.

These books are chunky board books with thick flaps that are not only easy for baby’s hands to open, but they’re also durable. The flaps are the same type of material as the board book, so unless you have a miniature bodybuilder for a baby, they’re not going to tear them! The illustrations, while beautiful, are a bit busy for babies. Sometimes busier scenes with lots of images can be overwhelming for babies and lose their interest.

Pros

  • Four chunky board books in a set
  • Teaches colors and animals
  • Pages are thick enough that babies can turn them on their own
  • Flaps are made of board book material and super durable

Cons

  • Busy scenes with lots of illustrations

11. Best Padded Board Book: Baby Touch and Feel Animals by DK

Baby Touch and Feel Animals by DK

Why we like it: A variety of textures, colors, and animals provides lots of sensory fun for your baby.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Age Range: 3 months – 2 years
  • Number of Pages: 14 pages

Baby Touch and Feel: Animals is the best baby book for teaching your baby about animals. It has a good mix of familiar and more exotic animals. Your baby can touch the puppy’s soft fur, the kitten’s ball of yarn, or the rabbit’s belly. They can also feel smooth water drops from an elephant’s trunk, the bumpy leg of a starfish, or the soft hair on a chimp.

Pictures of real animals, bright colors, and simple words hold your baby’s attention. We love that it’s a chunky board book with pages thick enough for your baby to turn on their own. The cover is also padded, so it’s comfy for little hands to hold. The textures are fun, but there isn’t much variety. Other than faux fur or bumpy surfaces, there are only shiny areas on the page to feel.

Pros

  • Chunky board book
  • Bright colors
  • Interesting animals
  • Thick, durable pages

Cons

  • Not much variety in texture

12. Best Animal Sounds Book: Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton

Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton

Why we like it: This book will delight babies and toddlers with its silly animal sounds and quirky illustrations.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Age Range: 3 months – 3 years
  • Number of Pages: 14 pages

Moo, Baa, La La La! teaches babies about animal sounds in such a fun way. The illustrations are cartoon-style and will definitely bring a smile to their faces. You can use this book to teach your little one what cows, sheep, pigs, dogs, horses, and ducks say. Singing pigs, though, say, “La, la, la.”

The simple sentences and drawings are perfect for engaging your baby and helping them understand animal sounds. Rhyming words help your baby remember the words, so don’t be surprised if they start reading it back to you! The board book is a comfortable size for baby hands, and the pages are sturdy enough for baby teeth. After the first joke with the singing pigs, the book only has animal sounds, so it might not hold the attention of older toddlers.

Pros

  • Simple sentences
  • Helps teach animals sounds
  • Sturdy board book
  • Rhyming structure

Cons

  • Basically just a book with animal sounds

13. Best Peek-a-Book Book: Peek-a WHO?

Peek-a WHO?

Why we like it: Babies and toddlers love the guessing game in this interactive book.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Age Range: 3 months – 5 years
  • Number of Pages: 10 pages

Peek-a-WHO? invites babies and toddlers to guess who’s hiding behind the die-cut hole. The pages show a hint of what’s hiding, like the black and white of a cow, the spooky green of a ghost, or the many different colors and stripes of zoo animals. The colorful illustrations will draw your baby in, and they’ll love the guessing game. What will really delight your baby, though, is when the book ends with the question, “Peek-a-who?” and a mirror. Even your baby is part of the book!

This story’s board book version is more durable than the hardcover, but the pages are still thinner than some of the chunkier books. It also doesn’t have flaps, which can be disappointing for toddlers who are going through a flap phase. Still, this book is lots of fun to read together.

Pros

  • Fun way to enjoy reading together
  • Interactive guessing game
  • Bright, engaging colors
  • Features a mirror to draw your baby into the story

Cons

  • Thin pages and no flaps

14. Best Eric Carle Book for Babies: The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s ABC Book

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s ABC Book

Why we like it: Colorful, iconic Eric Carle illustrations help teach your baby the alphabet.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Age Range: 1 – 3 years
  • Number of Pages: 30 pages

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s ABC Book is the perfect way to teach your baby the alphabet and to recognize animals. The animals and letters are printed in bright colors on a white background, which are easy for babies to see. Along with the twenty-six letters of the alphabet, you’ll find some unusual animals alongside more common ones, such as the vulture for “v” and the Xolo for “X.”

The board book is capable of standing up to lots of page-turning and drooling. It’s a good size, too. Another version of Eric Carle’s alphabet book features uppercase letters, but it’s harder to find as a board book. We wished the ABC Book contained both uppercase and lowercase letters, but unfortunately, they only have the lowercase.

Pros

  • Colorful pictures
  • Interesting animals
  • Teaches the alphabet
  • Durable board book

Cons

  • Doesn’t include uppercase letters

15. Best Truck Book: Pop-Up Peekaboo! Things That Go by DK

Pop-Up Peekaboo! Things That Go by DK

Why we like it: A variety of trucks and different textures are perfect for truck-enthusiast babies.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Age Range: Up to 4 years
  • Number of Pages: 12 pages

If your baby or toddler is drawn to anything truck, then they’ll love this simple sensory book. Baby Touch and Feel Trucks has different types of trucks like cement mixers, fire trucks, and a dump truck. Like the Baby Touch and Feel Animals, the trucks are photos on colorful backgrounds to help your baby learn to identify them the next time you’re on the road. Simple words and phrases make this book easy for your baby to understand, though it’s not the most fun to read aloud.

This padded board book has thick pages that are easy for your baby to turn so they can look through the book on their own. Some of the textures in the book are bumpy or have grooves, but the vast majority are simply shiny and sparkly. It’s still a fun book for babies or toddlers who love trucks, but it’s not particularly exciting from a touch-and-feel aspect, so if that’s the sole reason you’re considering the book you may want to look at See, Touch, Feel by Roger Priddy instead.

Pros

  • Perfect for babies who love trucks
  • Real-life photos of trucks
  • Bright colors
  • Padded, sturdy board book

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a wide variety of textures

Final Thoughts on Books for 1-Year-Olds

Finding the perfect book for your one-year-old might seem hard—after all, most babies aren’t reading on their own yet—but just remember that they’ll enjoy any book if it means getting to read with you! So, choose one with cutesy animals or fun peek-a-boo flaps, snuggle up, and spend some time reading with your little one.

About the Author

Jessica Leake

With five kids from the age of still-in-diapers to tween, Jessica Leake should have a degree in kid stuff, parenting, and diapers by now. Sadly, her only official degree is as a psychotherapist (Master of Social Work/licensed clinical social worker) which she puts to good use homeschooling all those kids. She’s also the author of four traditionally published novels, the two most recent by HarperTeen. She lives in Greenville, SC with her pharmacist husband, their five young children, two dogs, and a whole lot of chickens.

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