So as a bookseller I am completely biased, but I just don’t think there is a better gift you can get for a child than a book. A well loved story becomes loved like a dear friend or teddy bear and a great quality picture book can be enjoyed aloud for years.

Lots of research suggests you should be reading aloud to your child from birth, preferably every day to give them a head start on literacy, vocabulary and even success at school.

The question is though, just what books should you be reading them?

By  one years old, your child will generally be starting to engage with books, by reaching out, by wanting to turn the page, or lift a flap. You may even find that they want to put the book in their mouth for a chew. This is the reason publishers invented the durable board book – made from heavy (almost) indestructible cardboard, board books are a fantastic format for this age group.

Simple and short stories are best, as little attention spans are not very long. Infants also like seeing things they recognise and are familiar with like other babies, or household objects. There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing books for your child that you like and enjoy reading aloud, enthusiasm is completely infectious.

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Here are our picks for the Top 10 picture books for 1 year olds:

1. Baby Wombat’s Week, by Jackie French, Illustrated by Bruce Whatley

In this award winning sequel to diary of a wombat, the baby wombat sleeps, eats, gets bored and creates havoc wherever he goes. This is a very cute and naughty baby Wombat. We love the antics of this wombat who has some very human like characteristics. Especially cute is the wombat using his mother as a climbing frame which will be very familiar to most families.

2. Are You a Cow? By Sandra Boynton

Sandra Boynton books are a great choice for very young children as they are very simple, colourful and cartoon like. In this one a bossy chicken demands to know what type of animal the reader is. Little children starting to learn the word “No” will enjoy giving it a workout. There is a sweet lesson in this book about being your own special self.

3. Who Sank the Boat? By Pamela Allen

In this Pamela Allen classic a Cow, Pig, Donkey, Sheep and Mouse all leap one at a time into a boat until it sinks. Little kids will love guessing which animal sinks the boat…. Even when they have heard it a hundred times, it never gets old and will continue to surprise and delight. This is a fun picture book for little kids.

4. Goodnight Moon, By Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Clement Hurd

“Goodnight Stars, Goodnight Air, Goodnight Noises everywhere”…. In this story baby bunnies say goodnight to everything in the room. It may be that they are stalling bedtime, which may be familiar to parents. This book has been in print for more than 60 years and is a classic. We love that it has been read aloud to generations. It is a soothing, rhyming bedtime story, great to read aloud at the end of the day.

5. Time for Bed, By Mem Fox, Illustrated by Jane Dyer

In this bestselling story by Mem Fox it is getting dark outside and all of the baby animals are being put to bed. This book actually seems to have magical powers to calm an energetic child with its gentle and rhyming text. This is an absolute favourite at our place, it was received as a gift on a 1st birthday and still gets read often now our little boy is four.

6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle

We suspect you know this one and remember it from your own childhood. In this multi-international award winner baby Caterpillar eats his way through all sorts of fruit and unsuitable food until it is time to go into its cocoon. It was first published in 1969 and has been translated into 25 languages and has sold more than 12 million copies. Can you believe that the concept of the holes in the pages came to author Eric Carle when he was fooling around with a hole punch. We think this belongs on the “every kids should own” list, with bright and colourful illustrations of the iconic caterpillar and fabulous finger sized holes to interact with.

7. Where is the Green Sheep? By Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

Multi-coloured Sheep are up to all sorts of antics in this one, juggling, diving, surfing, playing in the park. Can you find the Green Sheep? This award winning picture book has captured the imagination of children and parents alike. We know way too many parents who can recite this book by heart! It is a little bit silly and full of sheep having random adventures. This is bound to become a family favourite in any household.

8. Where’s Spot? By Eric Hill

In this original Spot book a child is encouraged to lift the paper flaps to find Spot.
Spot was very much the first picture book character my child fell in love with and this is a book that was requested again and again. Spot has been in print for more than 30 years and toddlers just love finding the familiar puppy under the paper flaps. As a warning to parents, lift-the-flap books should be read under supervision or with the sticky tape handy. Little kids can be rough with their affection.

9. Peepo, By Janet & Allan Ahlberg

Set in the 1940’s, this book follows the busy day of a baby. A series of holes in the pages lets your little one peek into the next page at the goings on of his family.
We love the nostalgia in this one, with buckets of coal and hairnets giving the reader a little glimpse into the olden days. It is an excellent reminder of life before TV and the iPhone. Little kids will enjoy saying “Peepo!” along with the baby in the story.

10. Apple Pear Orange Bear by Emily Gravett

In this very simple award winning picture book there is An orange, a pear, an apple – and a bear.
This book is perfect to read aloud to babies and toddlers. It is beautifully illustrated by Emily Gravett in pencil and water colour. We have ulterior motives with this one, start your child recognizing fruit early!

So that is our Top 10 Picture Books for 1 Year Olds of All Time. We would love to know the books your 1 year old enjoys.

Share your favourites in the comments below.



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  • Good to see a couple if old favourites from when I was small. I love books, I buy them as gifts for everyone, from my 2 yo grandson to my 87 yo mum

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  • My kids have grown up with me reading mem fox to them. Such a great author and my kids can react to her books

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  • My daughter loves reading I buy lots of books for her she loved wombat stew ,the hungry caterpillar and her favourite is who sank the boat

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  • I think we have most of these. Where is the green sheep is still a favourite.

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  • Love this list. We have many of these gems at home and they are all well read!

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  • I love kids books. Luckily i work in publishing.
    My DS finds goodnight moon soothing. Also he loves hairy mclairy.

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  • Reading while you are pregnant is just as important, and continuing from the day they are born is a great way to foster a love of books. My favourite author is Mem Fox and children and the not so young all seem to love them.

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  • Any book that is solid, bright and colourful will be loved by a 1 year old. When my kids were one, they had an absolute ball with my old magazines! Not necessarily reading them, more like shredding them, but they loved it

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  • We have numbers 3,4 and 6. 4 is DS favourite. We also like be hairy mclairy in this house.

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  • I love looking at these lists and seeing books I read to my children over 15 years ago. It’s great these remain classics.

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  • Love this list, my son loves Spot and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we were wanting to buy some new books, now I have a list to give to Santa!

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  • We have a couple of Spot books.

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  • Who Sank the Boat, not a reading goes by without an older child yelling out It was the mouse!

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  • My 14 month old looks books. I love watching how intreged he gets when turning the pages :) My little man :)

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  • These are fantastic books. My bub loved an ABC book with lots of bright pictures she could relate to.

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