Must-Have Books for 1 Year Olds

As a teacher and a mom I’ve collected quite a few books over the years, for a variety of age ranges. I’ve read A LOT of children’s books, and while all of my Prek books are not necessarily age-appropriate for MJ, I’ve found that she enjoys many of the same books and characters my four and five year olds do. 

These are my favorites for babies/toddlers:
1. Llama Llama series

Anna Dewdney has so many great books in this series with lots of short, board books for babies and toddlers, and books like “Llama Time to Share” and “Llama Llama and the Bullygoat” for older toddlers and young children. MJ was immediately drawn to little Llama, and “llama” was actually one of her first words. She even had a “Llama Llama Red Pajama” themed 1st birthday party. 
2. Karen Katz baby books

We have a collection that includes several books that focus on body parts, and a few that focus on emotions. These are flip-books (I know, flip-books tend to get ripped) but they’re so enjoyable. 

3. If You Give a Mouse series by Laura Numeroff
A great series of board books for toddlers, and other great books in the series for young children. MJ’s favorite of the board books is “Happy Valentine’s Day Mouse!” which includes the characters from each of the books. The series includes so many amazing books, such as “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” “If You Give a Moose a Muffin,” and “If You Give a Cat a Cupcake.” The series also includes many holiday books. 

4. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin and illustrated by Eric Carle

This is a fun and engaging book that is great for color recognition and learning about animals. Find the book and history on the book at
5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, written and illustrated by Eric Carle

Little ones love to poke their fingers through the tiny holes on the pages. Great for counting, colors, teaching about fruits, veggies and life cycles (for older children). Find it at 

We read a lot of number books, and MJ now (at almost 19 months) counts and recognizes numbers, but I don’t have any particular favorites. She likes “123 Peas” by Keith Baker, “Clifford Counts Bubbles” by Norman Bridwell, and “123 Beach” by Puck. 

At this point, the only books on MJ’s bookshelves are board books. Even some of my Prek kiddos don’t do well with paper pages and board pages are easier to turn for tiny hands.