Looking for the best books for toddlers ages 1-2 years old? We are a book loving family and I list out our top 5 MUST have BEST books for boys and girls that will encourage a love for reading at this young ad tender age. I truly believe that a love for reading begins when a child is born. Reading books with your child is also my favorite time to cuddle, hug and just feel their warmth. I have been through hundreds of books but these 5 books are the ones that I will hold on to and never let go. Within these pages our cuddles can be found. Those short lived special smiles and giggles live there within my memory each time I open a page. Plus, most of these books are under five dollars each!
Best Books for Toddlers Ages 1 – 2
When looking for books for children ages 1 and 2 we need to consider their attention span. At this age they aren’t ready to sit down for long periods of time while you read aloud a story. They need books with thick pages, a few words that flow well, are easily memorized and something that resonates with something they might be feeling. I always recommend that you buy board books for this age range because 1 year olds are trying to become more independent. They want to help you turn the page. There is nothing worse and demotivating than for a child to try to turn a page and then the whole page rips. Board books last longer and they are more durable for those small fingers. Encourage the love for reading by choosing age appropriate books.
The books below have stood the test of time with my three kids and were equally loved by little boys and little girls. These are the books that planted that seed of loving to read for my kids. The stories below are still loved by my three year old as well.
Check out my Facebook Video here to see how much my daughter (13 months old) really loves the books here.
5 Must have books for 1 year olds and 2 year olds
Please note that affiliate links are used in this post.
- Bathtime Peekaboo by DK Publishing – is a fun interactive book that all of my kids ate age 1, 2 and 3 read over and over. DK Learning books are at the top of our list for the toddler age. I also read her Playtime Peekabo which is equally as cute. These books have stood the test of time between two kids and passed with flying colors. Each page has something related to the theme of the book hiding under an item. The child is then supposed to lift the flap in order to find if the item is hidden under the flap.
Why I love it: These flaps are extremely easy for a young child to get to since it is a large board book type of flap. Some lift the flap books have flaps that are made of a thin paper which is hard for little fingers and rips really easily. DK Publishing Peekaboo books are as durable as possible. That is not to say that a child cannot tear it. I do have a few torn books, but for the price point and enjoyment these are must have books. I think the lift the flap part as well as having something to touch on each page (a fluffy ear or a bath sponge type of stomach) adds to a child’s interest and keeps their interest in the book. Last night we purchased Hoppity Hop Peekaboo!
- Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton is associated with amazing memories for me of my reading relationship with my son. D at the age of 13 months could already recite the words to this book.
I would read to him and say, “A cow says…”
and he’d say “moo…”
a sheep says
“three singing pigs say….”
la la la
then he would point and in his adorable baby voice and say “no no noo nooo” thats not right… the pig says “oink” all day and night.
Although he couldn’t pronounce everything completely it was even more adorable and I don’t know if I will ever be able to give this book up. I wish I had recorded it with my video camera like I had planned to do on so many instances but they grow up so quickly and somehow time passes you by.
- Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann – The book is about a zookeeper who checks in on all the animals at night before he goes to bed. A cheeky gorilla steals the zookeepers cage keys and the gorilla sneakily lets out all the animals that the zookeeper says goodnight to. This book is made up of very few words but the pictures seem to captivate toddlers. D’s favorite part in this book was when the lights went off and the only thing showing on the page was the zookeepers wife’s big eyes. He would giggle every single time. The copy we own is the extra large board book, I’m not sure if that made the difference in why he loved it but its worth checking out.
Why I love it: I am not completely sure what it was about this book that held my son’s interest for months. For a few months this was honestly his favorite book ever. At 16 months this was his must read bedtime book. Maybe because children relate to not being ready to go to sleep yet so it represents feelings for them. Maybe its the beautiful illustrations. Or maybe it is the surprise “Goodnight” by all the animals that they find so hilarious.
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown – I do not think any home library should be without this book. This calming tale is so relaxing and the last picture of the room with the night sky showing trough the window is one of the most beautiful pictures I have seen in any board book. The book starts off in the great green room and states all the interesting items in the room and then we say goodnight to all of them. This book not only winds your child down but it also winds you (the parent) down.
Why I love it: I personally love this book and believe this is a must have book that belongs in every child’s bookshelf. Goodnight Moon is a peaceful, calming, lulling book that will surely have you and your child yawning and ready to go to bed. It is just perfect.
- Mama Mama – This book is really special for each of my kids and it is one that held their interest for many years.. I think it is because kids are so used to calling their Mama. Hearing it in a book seems to give them comfort. the words flow so well that the kids can easily memorize each page. After reading it a few times the kids LOVE to read this one back to me. We loved it so much that we bought the Daddy version and it is well loved too! It is called Papa Papa.
Why I love it: I think because all three of my kids loved it independently and individually at different ages. It obviously spoke to each child. The sweet words, calming pictures and the representation of a child and mothers love make this one of my favorites!
Trust me, when I say that we have a lot of books at home (especially for the 1-2 year age group).The 5 books above were our personal must have best books for 1-2 year olds. Other popular books that we own for this age range are:
- From Head to Toe by Eric Carle – My kids loved re-enacting every part of the book. Each page shows an animal doing something. For example: One of the pages has a picture of a giraffe. The words say, “I can bend my head… can you do it?” and my child giggles and copies it. They feel so proud of themselves that they are able to listen to instructions and copy it.
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar is also a captivating story. What I like about this one is you are working on vocabulary words of different fruits, learning about counting and seeing the caterpillar to butterfly life cycle.
- Guess How Much I Love You – This is really a sweet story that many read to their 1 and 2 year old but I found that D only started loving this book now at age 3. I think that is the age where they become more playful but this could be different for your child.
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? – With rythmic verses and simple watercolor pictures this book is perfect for a child’s attention span and they can “read” it back to you through picture clues.
“I see a blue horse looking at me.”
- Dear Zoo A lift the flap book by Rod Campbell – This interactive book about animals is sure to hold your child’s interest.We could just stop there and say the above are the top ten books for 2 year olds.
- Big Red Barn (This is such a popular book amongst kids at this age and I always see it mentioned on various forums. I personally thought it was okay but the 5 star reviews speak volumes too.
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom – I love the catchy song that you sing when you read this book. There are also some wonderful video’s of this one on Youtube. You can check one out below:
Does your toddler (1 year old or 2 year old) have a favorite book that is not listed here? Please include it in the comments below.
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