Below are TotScoop’s picks for best one-year-old books by subcategory:
- Best general board books
- Best interactive/activity books
- Best early learning books: first words, colors, numbers, and shapes
- Best good night books
FYI: Our editors develop these lists by summarizing favorites from the TotScoop community, synthesizing expert reviews, and researching the latest industry news and releases. Our picks are 100% unbiased — we never accept compensation in exchange for coverage. This page may contain affiliate links, however, meaning that we may receive a small proportion of any purchases you make after clicking on them (at no cost to you); thanks for your support! See our full Editorial Policy & Affiliate Disclosure here.
You may also be interested in the following related guides:
- Buying guide: Baby toys & books
- Editor’s picks: Newborn toys & books (0-6mo.)
- Editor’s picks: Infant toys (6-12mo.)
- Editor’s picks: Infant books (6-12mo.)
- Editor’s picks: Toys for one year olds
- Editor’s picks: Toys for two year olds
- Editor’s picks: Books for two year olds
Best general board books
Top pick: Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino
A must-have in any toddler’s collection, Is Your Mama a Llama? ($5 at Amazon) follows a young llama as he learns to identify a number of different animals — including his own kind. It features clever rhyming riddles that adults as well as kids will adore.
Top pick: Llama Llama’s Little Library by Anna Dewdney
Following up on the immense success of her wonderful Llama Llama series for toddlers, author Anna Dewdney has since introduced a number of simpler board books for babies. Llama Llama’s Little Library ($17 at Amazon) includes four titles featuring much simpler rhyming text: Llama Llama Nighty-Night, Llama Llama Zippity-Zoom, Llama Llama Hoppity-Hop, and Llama Llama Wakey-Wake. Once your little one is ready to graduate to the main series, start with Llama Llama Red Pajama.
Top pick: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This board book version of the classic book The Very Hungry Caterpillar ($7 at Amazon), which has been a favorite for more than 40 years, features the same wonderful text and stunning illustrations, but is smaller and more durable. Baby will delight in exploring the multiple page sizes and holes throughout (reflecting the caterpillar’s eating rampage). It’s a feast for the senses!
Top pick: I Am a Bunny by Ole Risom and Richard Scarry
Featuring breathtaking illustrations by Richard Scarry, I Am a Bunny ($5 at Amazon) follows Nicholas the rabbit through the seasons, as he picks flowers, chases butterflies, lies in the sun, prepares for winter, and finally settles down to hibernate until the following spring. It’s a calming, serene read that is perfect for quiet time or bedtime.
Top pick: The Little Red Box of Bright and Early Board Books by P.D. Eastman and Michael Frith
The Little Red Box ($14 for 4-pack at Amazon) includes abridged board book versions of four classic Beginner Books from P.D. Eastman and Michael Frist. Big Dog… Little Dog provides a great introduction to adjectives, opposites, … and best friends! Go, Dog. Go! introduces more opposites (e.g. up and down, small and big). The Alphabet Book features a single phrase and picture to illustrate each letter (e.g. “American ants” for “A”). I’ll Teach My Dog a Lot of Words teaches opposites, colors, and actions.
Top pick: Boynton’s Greatest Hits: Volume II
We love Sandra Boynton — she’s one of the few authors we can think of that adults enjoy as much as babies. This Boynton’s Greatest Hits: Volume II set is particularly well suited for one year olds: Opposites introduces word opposites, and Horns to Toes introduces body parts. Also includes But Not the Hippopotamus as well as top good night book pick The Going to Bed Book. If you like these, Boynton’s Greatest Hits: Volume 1 is also great.
Top pick: Choo Choo by Petr Horacek
Budding engineers will love Choo Choo ($5 at Amazon), which follows a train on its voyage from the city to the seaside. Die-cut pages, wonderful graphical illustrations, and sound effect prompts (you provide the vocal power) provide endless entertainment for little ones.
Top pick: Baby Beluga by Raffi
The board book Baby Beluga ($6 at Amazon) is a wonderful companion to the beloved Raffi song. Its stunning illustrations allow it to stand alone as a wonderful board book all on its own, but when you start singing the matching lyrics along with the text, your child will be in heaven. If you have yet to discover Raffi, well then, you’re in for a treat; here’s the album with the accompanying song.
Best interactive/activity books
Top pick: The Wheels on the Bus by Paul O. Zelinsky
The Wheels on the Bus ($15 at Amazon) illustrates the ever-popular song by the same name — and incorporates ingenious feats of paper engineering with moving parts to mesmerize your baby. Push and pull tabs cause the bus doors to open and close, the windshield wipers to swish back and forth, etc. It’s a bit too fragile for a one-year-old to read solo, but you’ll love reading it along with him to start anyway. This book is a no-brainer — just get it!
Top pick: Fisher-Price Little People Let’s Go to the Zoo! (Lift-the-Flap)
Fisher Price’s Little People book series accompanies their namesake toy line. This Zoo edition ($9 at Amazon) features Little People discovering all the fun to be had at, you guessed it, the zoo. With tons of flaps for little hands to open and explore, it covers a number of themes including animal sounds, colors, numbers, actions/verbs, and animal babies. Other books in the series explore school, vehicles, people’s occupations, holidays, and more; see the whole series here.
This lift-the-flap book ($8 at Amazon) will delight young truck lovers. Each of eight different tabs explore a different type of truck (e.g. dump truck, tractor, big rig, mail truck, etc.). If your truck aficionado hungers for more, also check out Priddy’s oversize My Big Truck Book.
Top pick: Tails by Matthew Van Fleet
Matthew Fleet has created a wonderful series of sturdy interactive flap books, each revolving around a different concept. This favorite, Tails ($10 at Amazon) features not only wonderful animal illustrations, but also tons of interactive elements, from feathers and textures to flaps and moving parts. If you like this style of interactive books, also check out Matthew Van Fleet’s other books.
Best early learning books: First words, opposites, colors, numbers, and shapes
My First Words ($9 at Amazon) is a top choice in this category, and will grow with your child from first words through more advanced vocabulary. It contains an excellent cross-section of words across 13 themed two-page spreads: “All about me!” (body parts and positions), “Clothes and shoes,” “Around the house,” “Food and drink,” “Pets,” “Playtime,” “Things that go,” “At the park,” “At the beach,” “On the farm,” “In the wild” (animals), “Colors and shapes,” and “Numbers.” This is a larger book, best suited for home use. Once your baby graduates from the basics, the other books in the series are also highly recommended.
Top pick: Numbers Colors Shapes by Roger Priddy
This great three-in-one book ($5 at Amazon) provides a great basic introduction to numbers, colors, and shapes, all in a pint-sized package that is easy for little hands to hold and to take on-the-go.
This bundle ($16 at Amazon) includes three of Leslie Patricelli’s opposite books: Yummy Yucky, No No Yes Yes, and Big Little. They all feature her beloved and expressive baby character; a simple, bright graphical style; and a simple repetitive format that is great for stimulating speech and cognitive development. See more recommended Patricelli books here.
Top pick: First 100 Animals by Roger Priddy
This compact little book ($4 at Amazon) provides the perfect introduction to the animal world. It’s the perfect size for little hands and to take on-the-go. Parents with real animal aficionados can also check out Priddy’s oversize My Big Animal Book.
Best good night books
In addition to the following picks, also check out our recommended good night books for six to 12 months, which continue to be great for one year olds: The Going-To-Bed Book by Sandra Boynton, Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman, and A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na.
Top pick: Time for Bed by Mem Fox
This wonderful bedtime book (board book $4, hardcover $13) at Amazon features stunning illustrations of parent-child animal pairs and simple soothing rhymes. The large hardcover version is gorgeous and is worth the extra cost.
This sweet bedtime story ($6 at Amazon) features a relaxed tone and reassuring words that encourage your child to go to sleep without any fear of the darkness: “the night is just a blanket that helps the earth to sleep”; “I’ll be here if you need me — I’m only steps away.”
Top pick: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
And of course we can’t neglect to mention this eternal classic (board book $8, hardcover $10 at Amazon). It’s perfect for soothing your baby and slowing down the mind as bedtime approaches, and is a steadfast component of many families’ bedtime routines!