I now have a second little one year old, and thankfully she’s mad about books too (read my previous ‘top ten’ posts here). She absolutely adores storytime, especially first thing in the morning in bed with me, or in the evening before dinner curled up on the lounge under a blanket.
This girl knows what she wants, and as I run through the list of book options she’ll shout, ‘No!’, ‘No!’, ‘No!’ until I get to the right one. Then with a smile and a ‘Yep!’ she’ll snuggle in close to me and hang off my every word.
1. Baby Touch Playbook by Ladybird
This book has everything to catch and keep a baby’s attention: Bright colours, different textures, holes, lift-the-flaps, and mirrors.
My 1-year-old chats away to the animals and laughs at the rabbit hiding behind the bush. She peers into the mirror and names all the people she can see – Mummy and ‘Bubby’ and if we’re lucky, ‘Brother’ is in there too.
2. Miffy’s 123 by Dick Bruna
Rabbits have quickly become her favourite animal, and Miffy the bunny is part of that obsession. Miffy’s 123 is a simple yet entertaining book of counting, that counts all the way to ten and back down again to one (for a parent who’s read about a hundred counting books, the ‘back to one’ is a welcome twist on the classic format).
We like to roar along with the three tigers, eat some of the six cakes, decide which of the ten pencils is ‘Brother’s’ and ‘Daddy’s’, and at the very end we both toot the one bugle.
3. There’s A House Inside my Mummy by Giles Andreae
My 1-year-old is particularly interested in babies – way more than her older brother ever was. She points out babies at the shops, plays with her dolls at home and happily tells anyone and everyone that she is the ‘bubby’.
I had bought this book for her older brother, while I was pregnant with said ‘bubby’, and although he took an interest in it, the book has quickly become hers. It’s a beautiful story that highlights the ups and downs of having a pregnant mother from the perspective of the child. The final page is my daughter’s favourite, where she loudly shouts ‘Bubby! Bubby!’.
She’s going to be so disappointed when she realises there will no longer be any ‘houses’ in her mummy, and that it’s purely a work of fiction.
4. The Wheels on the Bus by First Steps
This book plays music and drives me nuts, but she constantly asks for it. I bought it for her during a moment of weakness at Kmart when both children were being unruly and I hoped it would calm them down. It did calm them down, but it meant we had to listen to the tinny tune of ‘Wheels on the Bus’ for the entire twenty minute ride home.
Wheels on the Bus is her favourite song of all time. It’s the song we sing to her when she has Asthma and needs her puffer. It’s the song we sing when I’m trying to keep her awake in the car. It’s the song I sing in bed with her early in the morning when I’m not ready to turn on the light and I’m hoping, for the love of God, that maybe she’ll go back to sleep.
5. Clive and his Babies by Jessica Spanyol
I love this book. It’s about a boy called Clive (and his friend Asif) and goes through all the fun experiences they have with their dolls. They slide their dolls down the slide, they dress their dolls and they feed their dolls milk. My 1-year-old can relate to everything they do.
It is the only book I’ve found that shows boys playing with dolls. And it does it in such a gentle and matter-of-fact way. When my 4-year-old first listened to the story, I held my breath in hope that he wouldn’t point out that boys don’t play with dolls (he didn’t, and I finally exhaled, basking in my proud mum moment).
6. Spot’s fun week by Eric Hill
This one made it in the Top Ten Books Loved by my (first) 1 year old and now it’s a favourite of his little sister’s too. Both kids love listening to this one, and so far (touch wood) no lift-the-flaps have been torn during arguments of who gets to lift what flap.
If you can ignore the obvious plot holes (Spot’s a dog, with a hippo and a monkey for friends, but he has a pet cat that can’t talk and a mouse that hides in the cupboard and exclaims randomly ‘I need some cheese!’) it’s a very engaging book. It has two stories – baking a cake and going to a party – two very fun activities that my 1-year-old thinks are fantastic. We still love dancing along on the page when Betsy the Bear (who is dressed as a bee) suggests Spot has a dance instead of worrying about where his friends are.
We went on a family holiday to Japan last year, and I bought three little kids books – one about counting, one for the alphabet, and one about food. ‘Ka-Zu’ is the counting one, and I love seeing how my kids so easily pick up the basics of another language. Their brains are like little sponges!
My 1-year-old is particularly good at copying the actions and words of others. Her older brother counts to ten in English and she repeats every number. And now, with the help of ‘Ka-zu’ we’re doing it in Japanese.
8. The Longest Breakfast by Jenny Bornholdt
This book is a winner with both the 1-year-old and the 4-year-old, and I like it too. Children’s books need to be entertaining for both the child and the adult (see above ‘Wheels on the Bus’ for what not to do) and this one has all bases covered.
It’s about a father trying to serve up breakfast for his own four children, plus half the neighborhood’s kids, and the little reveal at the end is really sweet.
9. In my heart by Jo Witek
This is a beautiful book, with a cut out heart in the front that gets smaller and smaller as you turn the pages. Each page represents a different feeling – sad, angry, happy, scared, shy, brave – and tells a bit about what that means to the little girl.
There’s a big focus on feelings for little kids these days, and it makes me feel optimistic about the future. Pre-schoolers do yoga, meditate and practice daily about how to verbalise their feelings. That’s got to make for a better future for this world.
10. Listen to the Baby Animals by Marion Billet
Here is a book that makes sounds, but not in an annoying repetitive way. Each page has a different farm animal with their babies, and a circle to touch to make the baby animal’s sound (the circle is the perfect size for a 1-year-old’s finger).
The chicks have a worm nearby, and my 1-year-old turns her hand into a worm and ‘gets Mummy’. I say ‘oh no!’ and she squeals with delight. We do it five times more but I don’t mind… I would happily listen to that little squeal forever.