Now that my daughter is becoming a toddler, I’m on a hunt for the best board books for one year olds. We’ve had story time for months but it’s so much more fun for both of us now.
It’s wonderful to see her pick one of her board books and have a look inside – and perhaps a feel because many of these are sensory books. Recently I saw her pick up her ‘Babies’ book and say ‘Baba!’ – well! That was a proud moment!
One year olds learn and develop so fast – and board books are a perfect resource to feed their little imaginations!
This is the exact type of gift I love to give too.
This post contains affiliate links, which means that I receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. You can find our full disclosure policy here.
Toddlers and books – what to expect and what to do
As a mum and a teacher, I spend a lot of time looking for ways to engage children with books!
From the earliest days, books are a wonderful way to develop children’s language. If you do it right, you can build a love of reading that will be a joy and an academic benefit for their whole lives.
So what to expect when you give a baby a book?
A few things might happen when you give your baby a book. They might ignore it and do something else entirely. They might put it in their mouth – which is normal – what doesn’t go in there at this stage? They might throw it or put it somewhere of their own choosing.
All these things are fine.
Young toddlers don’t yet know what books are for or what to do with them so they experiment. It might look like they are ‘doing it wrong’ but don’t worry. They are just figuring it out and it will take time.
One day you will notice that your baby is looking at a book a little more like we do. Pointing to the pictures or babbling. That’s a great time to invest in a few more books!
What can you do to help a baby enjoy books?
To encourage your baby to associate books with story time and language, have some parent led book time and some play that is baby led.
Let your baby pick up books and play with them whenever they like. Also, at least a couple of times a day, choose a book yourself or accept the one your baby gives you. Open the book and read it, pointing out what you can see in the pictures and touching if it’s sensory.
Your baby will learn how to hold a book and move through from front to back by watching you. It will probably take a long time before they do that themselves though. Young babies typically turn back and forward in books, looking at whatever interests them and it’s fine to allow them to do that.
Best board books for one year olds
This is my little girl’s favourite book at the moment. She looks at it every day and says, “Baba,” when she sees the pictures of babies.
The illustrations are very clear and it’s mostly black and white because that is easier for babies’ eyes to focus on. It’s also a teeny-tiny book that’s easy for little hands to lift and open. You can get it in this set:
Black and white board books are becoming very popular with parents of babies now that it’s well-known that contrast is good. Babies are born with limited vision that develops over time. In the early days, the high contrast of black and white images and patterns are interesting and helpful for tiny babies.
Here is a wider selection.
That’s Not My books
One year olds (and even younger) are also the perfect audience for the popular That’s Not My series of touch-feely board books.
We have 9 so far and I expect there will be more come Christmas.
My little one loves grabbing one of these from the shelf and finding the sensory elements on each page – there are many materials to touch from fuzzy felt to soft fur fabric. The bumpy cardboard and scratchy velcro bits are our favourites. Big brother still likes to revisit them regularly too, so you will get good use out of a set of these.
Lions, trains, monkeys, dinosaurs, monsters, princesses, ponies, penguins – whatever your little one likes, they will find a That’s Not My book to suit them!
Here’s a peek inside That’s Not My Piglet.
A true classic of the genre! I remember my mum reading this to me and now I read it to my kids. It’s so much fun, opening each door and seeing which dangerous wild animal is hiding there.
I suggest supervising this book and others with flaps to lift because I left it lying out and my girly has ripped out just about every door! I like her to explore but I don’t want her stuff wrecked.
Spot does have a few other adventures to collect if your kids love him too.
This classic tale of insect gluttony and metamorphosis is a beautiful board book. It’s perfect for toddlers with it’s finger sized holes in the pages and Eric Carle’s stand-out illustrations.
This book is a collaboration between Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr.
Rhyming text and beautiful, quirky illustrations of North American wildlife combine to make this a must buy.
This is a very short story for the youngest readers. Each page only has a few words but it’s bright, engaging and great fun – my kids love the funny ending.
One year olds love looking at pictures and figuring out what is happening. Both my little ones have really enjoyed the bright, clear illustrations in this book. As my son got older, our talk turned more and more to naming the vehicles or whatever was on the page, extending his vocabulary. There’s a peek inside at the bottom of the tall image below.
Either of these two lovely board books is a great choice. Both bright with lovely pictures, they will encourage your baby’s natural fascination with all living things.
My 1 year old is my third child and only daughter. I never know what to buy her because we have a ton of toys already and she’s happy with a cardboard box! This year, I’m buying her this – look at the description to see why! (Click image to view)
What do you think?
Comment your own favourite board books or early readers if you think I’ve missed something great!
More parenting tips: