The 15 Best Books for 1-Year-Olds (All Under $7)

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Inside: Are you looking for perfect books for a 1-year-old birthday? Read on for the 15 best books for 1-year-olds.


Disclaimer: All of these thoughts are my own. However, as an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission if you purchase from one of the links below.

Is your favorite little charmer turning one soon and you’re looking for the perfect gift? How about a book? It’s never too soon to start instilling a love of books into your child. Reading time is one of the best bonding activities for moms with a chronic illness!

My husband and I are avid readers (we got married at The Strand in NYC). So with my son’s first birthday soon approaching, I’ve been looking for the best books for 1-year-olds.

One-year-olds love to explore, but, with adventure, also comes destruction! To a one-year-old, a book is an invitation to discover the sound of ripping paper or the taste of ink on paper. These activities are normal but tend to make reading time less than pleasurable for Mom. Because of this, all the books on my list are durable board books.

Of course, we’ll want more advanced subjects as Asher grows, so I don’t want to spend a lot of money on books for a one-year-old. Here, then, is my list of the 15 perfect books for a 1-year-old birthday, all under $7.

At what age should I start reading to my baby?

It’s never too soon to start. When you first hold them on your lap and read, they enjoy looking at the pictures and hearing the sound of your voice. They’ll soon associate these positive feelings with reading.

Reading books for one-year-olds helps with their development. In fact, a recent brain scan study found that “reading at home with children from an early age was strongly correlated with brain activation in areas connected with visual imagery and understanding the meaning of language.” Kids who read at home are well prepared for kindergarten, and it can set them up for success later in life.

What should I look for when choosing a book for a one-year-old?

  • Durability. As we’ve established, one-year-olds can be destructive, so board books are a great way to avoid stress during reading time.
  • Sensory experiences. One-year-olds learn about the world with all their senses. Interesting textures and interactive features like lift-a-flap engage their sense of touch.
  • Basic words and concepts. Pointing to a picture and saying the word helps kids learn basic vocabulary. It’s one of the best ways for them to learn about the world beyond their home.
  • Interesting sounds. Interesting sounds like animal noises make everything much more fun. They’ll soon start to imitate the sounds you make.
  • Budget-friendly. This is up to your individual preference and budget, but I didn’t want to worry about Asher ruining a book with sticky fingers or crayons. My list includes only books that are $7 or less.
  • Repetition, rhyming, and fun words. Interesting text with words that repeat and build on one another encourages kids to repeat what they hear. Repetition, rhyming, and fun word rhythms keep kids engaged and learning.

So now, on to my list of Best Books for 1-Year-Olds. I’ve included a brief description of each book to help you decide which one is right for your little one.

1. Go, Dog. Go!: P.D. Eastman’s Book of Things That Go

The colorful illustrations of dogs going and doing along with the Dr. Seuss style words and rhythms in P.D. Eastman’s classic are captivating.

2. If Animals Kissed Good Night

This book takes something one-year-olds are familiar with, kissing good night, and imagines what it would be like with animals. The sweet illustrations of animals kissing will make kids giggle and warm your heart. This book introduces different animals, animal sounds, numbers, and body parts.

3. Giraffes Can’t Dance

Gerald the giraffe wants to dance but his knees are too crooked and his legs are too thin. He’s finally able to achieve his goal when he gets some encouragement from a friend. This is a fun book to read aloud because of the rhyming and energetic rhythm of the words.

4. I Love You to the Moon and Back

You’re probably familiar with this one, in which a parent and child try to top each other in how much they love one another. It’s sweet and satisfying and perfect for a bedtime reading session.

5. The Pout-Pout Fish

The illustrations in this book show sea creatures with lots of personality, and the repeating words will have kids reading along.

6. Peek-A Who?

One-year-olds adore playing peek-a-boo, and this flap book combines that familiar ritual with fun facts about animals. Little ones enjoy practicing their fine motor skills with these easy-to-lift flaps.

7. Where’s Spot?

Spot is the lovable dog everyone remembers from childhood books, and this lift-a-flap book teaches important spatial concepts in a fun way.

8. Good Night, Gorilla

This is a great book for bedtime as all the animals at the zoo say goodnight. The illustrations tell a story all their own as the tricky gorilla follows the zookeeper around.

9. Doggies

You may need a soothing throat lozenge after reading this book aloud, but the giggles and happy faces make it all worthwhile. Doggies is a counting book using different barks, and your child will want you to bow-wow and arf and woof over and over again.

10. I Love You, Stinky Face

This book has great messaging in a goofy, silly way–perfect for one-year-olds. It affirms that moms love their children no matter what, even if they stink. Children will love the illustrations of different monsters.

11. Corduroy

Corduroy is a heart-warming story about a teddy bear waiting for someone to purchase him and take him home. He’s missing a button, and he explores the department store to find a new one. In spite of not finding a new button, he finds love and a forever home.

12. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Kids love the silly tale of letters racing up a coconut tree, and parents love that it’s a fun way to teach the alphabet.

13. My First 101 WORDS Padded Board Book

This book uses full-color photographs to teach word recognition and groups words together into concepts. The padded covers are nice for little hands to touch and hold.

14. Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? A Lift-the-Flap Book

One-year-olds love to help lift flaps, and this book’s question and answer text teaches body parts and spatial concepts.

15. Little Blue Truck

This is the first of eight Little Blue Truck board books. It has lots of animal sounds and truck sounds and teaches kids about the power of friendship.

Final Thoughts on the 15 Best Books for 1-Year-Olds


I hope you found a book on this list of books for 1-year-olds all under $7 that works for you. Any of the books aboe are a great choice for a 1-year-old’s birthday.

I can’t wait to read with Asher on his birthday!

Are you looking for a book for a one-year-old? Did you find one on this list or do you have another one you would recommend? Tell me in the comments below.

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Allie Schmidt
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Allie Schmidt is a rare disease advocate and disabled mom living with motor neuron disease. She founded Disability Dame in 2020 to provide tips to other moms living with disabilities and chronic illnesses.

In her spare time, you can find her traveling with her husband (she's been to 38 states and 16 countries!), watching reruns of Survivor, or tending to her near-constant sunburn from spending too much time outside. You can follow her adventures here.

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