Must Have Books for 1 to 2 Year Olds

15 Must Read Books for 1 To 2 Year Olds

This list of must-read books for 1 to 2 year olds is early childhood educator approved and focuses on books for both one year olds and two year olds. However, these books can also be read and enjoyed by preschoolers, kindergarteners, and more.

Reading is crucial to a child’s development and education. According to statistics at, children’s academic successes at ages 9 and 10 can be attributed to the amount of talk they hear from birth through age 3.

Young children who are exposed to certain early language and literacy experiences also prove to be good readers later on in life. This is just one of many reasons why it is so important to start reading to your children early and often.

What Can Toddlers Learn From Reading?

Toddlers are one of the best age ranges to read to because their books are short, fun, and exciting. Toddlers love to make connections between their books and the real world and learn a lot from simple board books that contain photos and images.

Reading helps children and toddlers learn how to act in experiences, helps them understand their feelings further, and helps to learn their letters, numbers, colors, etc…That is why I’ve compiled a list of 15 of the best books for 1 to two year olds.

This post may contain affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate as well as a member of other affiliate programs, I may earn a small compensation from qualifying purchases. All opinions and recommendations are my own. 

15 Must-Have Books for 1 to 2 Year Olds

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Eric Carle’s books are all great for young children but this classic takes the cake. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is about a caterpillar who eats many different food items and eventually turns into a butterfly. It helps young children learn counting skills as well as learn about lifecycles. It’s a quick easy read and sure to be a favorite. Check out this fun literacy activity to go along with this book after reading it.

2. Old MacDonalds Farm

Books that are also songs are great for early literacy learning and skills. Toddlers can “read’ the books on their own and sing along as you read the words. This particular version is great because it teaches numbers and counting, animal sounds, and literacy skills with the pop-it buttons. The Melissa and Doug Pop-it books are all great for teaching these skills and are must-haves for toddlers who love interactive books.

3. Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See

This book is a great book for a one year old. It has animals, and lots of repetition as well as rhyming words. It is about a Bear that sees different animals looking at him throughout the book. Another great Eric Carle classic and a favorite book for all ages.

4. Goose Needs a Hug

This adorable book is about a goose that is sad and his friends are trying to cheer him up when all he really wants is a hug. The “Duck and Goose” books are short and sweet and many teach great lessons on feelings and the thought process. They have many different seasonal stories available but this one takes the cake as it is perfect for toddlers that love to give hugs.

5. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

This classic alphabet story is about the letters of the alphabet going up a tree and causing trouble. It is a great story as it not only teaches rhyming but it also teaches the alphabet letters and the order of the letters. It is a fun story and you can even find corresponding songs made on youtube.

6. Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?

This Dr. Seuss board book is about a man who makes all sorts of silly sounds. It encourages children to make the sounds with the reader and uses rhyming words to keep them engaged. Toddlers will love making the silly sounds and trying them along with the reader.

7. Never Touch A Dinosaur

This book is the perfect book for a dinosaur lover. It shares different silly dinosaur rhymes to go with different types of dinosaurs as well as silicone touch and feel dinosaur pages. Toddlers will love to touch and pull on the images while listening to the fun rhymes.

8. Little Blue Truck

Truck and animal lovers alike will enjoy this great book. The truck and animals pair up and work together to get the truck unstuck from the mud. Young children will love repeating animal sounds and can learn all about farm animals. For a fun activity to go along with this book check out this fun sensory tray that involves little Blue and his animal friends.

9. Bear Snores On

This must read book for 1 to 2 year olds is all about a bear sleeping through a party in his den is a great rhyming book about a bear and his friends. The Bear and friends books always have great messages and kids love the silly sounds and stories in the books. 

10. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

This classic kid’s story about a family going on a bear hunt is a great book to include some movement and pretend adventure while reading. Toddlers will love acting out the motions in the story and chanting the catchy phrases out loud. The perfect book for toddlers who have a tough time sitting still while reading because they don’t have to.

11. Little Monkey Calms Down

The Hello Genius books are awesome books to help children learn life skills. Little Monkey Calms Down is a great book to encourage children to listen to their feelings and bodies. It teaches them that it is okay to have strong feelings and gives them strategies to cope with them. It goes right along with positive parenting practices and is a must-have for a calm-down corner for 1 year olds.

12. Blue Hat, Green Hat

This classic Sandra Boynton book is about animals trying on different clothing and a silly turkey that always mixes things up. It teaches little ones that it is okay to make mistakes in a silly way and also helps little ones with color recognition and teaches them how to put on clothing correctly. It is a fun and silly book that will have your little one giggling non-stop.

13. Pop-Up Peek-a-boo

The pop-up peek-a-boo books are great books for little ones that like engaging lift-the-flap books. They will stay excited and engaged while reading as each page has a different flap to lift and a photo of a fun animal or object pop ups. This book is definitely one that will need parent engagement as little ones often can get rough with the pop-up pages but it is totally worth the excitement when toddlers read it.

14. My First Book of Things to Learn

This book is full of colorful photos and words that teach children colors, animals, shapes, counting, matching, and more. Children will love pointing out the different objects and naming them. It is a great book to work on vocabulary skills with 1 and two year olds and perfect for independent play as well.

15. Where is Baby’s Belly Button?

This book is about a baby that shows off and helps little ones learn different body parts. Toddlers will love lifting up the flaps to find the baby’s feet, hands, fingers, belly button, and more. 1 and 2 year olds are very interested in babies or children like them and will stay engaged trying to find and play with baby while reading.

What are some of the best books for 1 to 2 year olds?

Just to recap here is a list of the best books for toddlers:

  1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  2. Melissa and Doug Poke-a-Dot books
  3. Brown Bear WBrown Bear What Do You See
  4. Duck and Goose books
  5. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
  6. Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You?
  7. Never Touch A Dinosaur
  8. Little Blue Truck
  9. Bear Snores On
  10. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
  11. Little Monkey Calms Down
  12. Blue Hat, Green Hat
  13. Pop-Up Peek-A-Boo books
  14. My First Book of Things to Learn
  15. Where is Baby’s Belly Button?

2 Year Old Books Shelf

How Do You Read Books To a Toddler?

To read books with a toddler you can try some of the following strategies to get them and keep them engaged in the reading:

  1. Pair with a fun literacy activity or craft
  2. Find a cozy spot to read together
  3. Find a fun spot to read together like a tent, fun play couch build, outside on a blanket, in a reading nook, etc…
  4. Engage your child in reading by pointing out objects, words, etc…
  5. Pick books that go with your child’s interest, IE animal books if they love farm animals.
  6. Create a special daily time for books (always before bed, after lunch, etc…)
  7. Let children help read the story by seeing if they can name the animals on the photos, lift the flaps, push the buttons, etc…
  8. Start with shorter books and work your way up to books that are longer once their attention span grows
  9. Find books that are interactive for little ones. This may include books with textures, lift-the-flaps books, books that encourage movement, and more.

There are so many other awesome books for 1 to 2 year olds out there. Books are so important when it comes to supporting toddlers’ vocabulary, and helping them learn crucial skills. They help keep toddlers busy and give them some fun academic ways to learn. The above is a great start but I encourage you to go out and find some favorites for your toddlers. Share your favorite below in the comments!

15 Must-Read Books for Toddlers

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