Best Board Books: 16 Books for Baby’s First Year

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Building your baby’s first library can be a struggle sometimes. Here’s my top picks of books for baby’s first year.

Want to know a little secret? What you read in your baby’s first year makes a huge difference.

In the first year, we teach them about reading and the wonders of it. We set the expectation that reading is fun and magical.

If we did our job… in the next few years, we will have to pry books out of their hands just to get them to go to bed.

But what are the best books for baby’s first year? Where do you begin creating baby’s first library?

This is where we gloss over because we have no idea where to start. I was there once and with so many amazing books available, it can be hard to decide what to get first.

My goal for you is to provide you a full list of the best books for baby’s first year so you can start building your baby’s first library.

But before we get to that, I thought I’d go over a few things to help you before you even buy the first book. (If you really don’t care about that, feel free to click the applicable links in the navigation menu below to get to the good stuff!)

benefits of reading to your baby

Reading to your baby when all they can do is grab the book out of your hands or try to smash it closed over your fingers sounds pointless and annoying, but there’s actually lots of proven benefits to reading to your baby!

helps develop language

When you read to your baby, you’re using language and talking to them. The more you read, the more they hear, and the more they can develop their language skills.

When you read to them, they:

  • Learn new vocabulary from the words used in their books
  • Hear language patterns and different sounds
  • Recognize different rhythms as you read the story

In fact, there are a variety of ways to support language through reading.

encourages them to explore

As you read to them, you’ll notice your baby starting to explore reading as they get older. They’ll explore reading in a number of ways, including:

  • Grabbing and chewing on the book
  • Looking at the book as you read
  • Touching the book by trying to open and close it

This is also why touch and feel books are so popular for babies! They will love to feel the different textures in their favorite stories.

discover a love for reading

The more of a routine reading becomes, the more they will learn to love books. If you read to them in the morning, at bedtime, before naps, and in the middle of playtime, they will learn to expect and love books.

Naturally, this allows them to discover a love for reading.

promotes close bonding

As long as you are setting your child in your lap while you read, you will also bond closer. This especially comes in handy for dads who might not feel close to their baby due to a variety of factors.

When you read to your baby, you are forming a bond by:

  • Sharing an experience you both enjoy
  • Cuddling closely while you read

helps with emotion control

Lastly, reading also can help with emotion control. This sounds kind of silly, but it’s true! Reading can easily become their go-to when they’re older to help with emotions.

Reading helps control emotions by:

  • Being their preferred activity when emotions are strong
  • Calming them down as reading is a very mellow activity
  • Identifying with stories about emotions

So how do you best read to a baby anyway? This all sounds nice, but reading to babies can be a struggle.

tips for reading to your baby

These tips will help you read to your baby from a young age, starting as soon as infancy. Adjust as needed and always follow your baby’s lead.

read often in short periods

As your sweet little infant gets older, they will become distracted or bored easily. Do not expect them to sit still for an entire story.

Instead, read several times a day in short spurts throughout the day. Find as many pockets of time as you can to read to them!

Great times to read to your baby might be:

  • Before naps or bedtime
  • After a big meal
  • In between playtimes
  • First thing in the morning

cuddle your baby in your lap

When you do read to your baby, cuddle them in your lap! This helps promote bonding as you feel close to one another and they are more likely to pay close attention.

If they start to appear bored or restless, let them down to go play. Always follow your baby’s lead and don’t try and force a story.

engage with the story

When your baby starts to get older in age, you’ll be able to engage in the story with them. Start doing things like:

  • Point to pictures and identify it and see if they respond
  • Ask questions like “Do you see the big tree?” and see if they point to it
  • Make noises as you point to animals and see if they will join in
  • Create different voices for stories with different characters

This makes reading so much more fun for both you and your baby! You’ll be amazed at what they respond to, the older the get.

read favorites frequently

Once you start to notice them prefer certain stories over others, read their favorites to them! Repetition does wonders for brain development.

You might even start to notice them bring some favorite books to you to read.

best board books for baby’s first year

Without further adeau, here are my picks for the best books for baby’s first year! These are hands down our all time favorite best board books in our home.


Corduroy by Don Freeman is a classic that babies and toddlers will love! When a girl comes in and spots corduroy, she is turned away by her mother when she notices a missing button. That night, corduroy goes on a special adventure to find his button – only to find out he is wanted no matter what his imperfections are.

guess how much I love you

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney is the perfect bedtime story! In this story, a mama and baby bunny go back and forth about how much they love each other. This is a favorite in our home as my 3yo will wrap her arm around me as we read this story. It’s such a sweet story for kids!

the very hungry caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is the perfect story about a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly. It’s a true classic that your toddler will quickly become obsessed with. My 3yo has this one memorized and I always catch her sitting on the couch “reading” it!

rainbow fish

Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister is one of my favorites from when I was a small child. It’s all about a selfish fish who doesn’t want to share his scales – but quickly realizes he will be much happier if he shows kindness and gains some friends.

pout pout fish

Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen is a newer story that kids will love. In this story, the pout pout fish is convinced he is destined to be a glub. Only to discover he was misreading is pout! Kids will love this story as it has a fun little jingle between each page.

goodnight moon

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is a great bedtime story classic. We read this one frequently as well and I’m pretty sure it will be a forever favorite for us.

brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle is another favorite of mine I remember reading in kindergarten. My kids love this story as we point out all the animals throughout the story and the fun colors they are illustrated!

chicka chicka boom boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and
John Archambault
is the perfect story for those learning the alphabet. Watch what happens when each letter gathers up the coconut tree!

where’s spot?

Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill is such a cute story of looking behind flaps to try and find spot. Where could he be? Find out in this story so he can eat his dinner!

baby touch & feel animals

Baby Touch & Feel Animals by DK is such a fun book to read with babies. They can touch the different textures of different animals as they read a long with you! I love to make the different sounds to add to the fun.

five little monkeys

Five Little Monkeys by Eileen Christelow is a classic we all know and love. Will the monkeys learn their lesson when they fall off the bed? We all know the answer is no – they’re babies afterall LOL!!

bear snores on

Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson is such a fun book in this series. While we have the Christmas version, I chose to include the more timeless version. Follow along with bear and his friends in this adorable story!


Opposites by Sandra Boynton is a great introductory book for babies. Flip through the pages and learn all kind of fun opposites!

where’s baby’s belly button?

Where’s Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz is easily one of my favorites to read to my littles! You can get really animated and get lots of giggles out of this one. PERFECT for storytime!

there’s a wocket in my pocket

There’s a Wocket in My Pocket by Dr. Seuss is one of our favorite Dr. Seuss stories and it is full of silly creatures! This is sure to get lots of giggles by kids of all ages.

elmo says

Elmo Says by Sarah Albee is a fun book perfect for little Elmo fans! Follow along in this story of Elmo says and get your body moving.


What I love most about reading is that it helps with language development, encourages them to explore, and really sets the stage for them to love reading.

When reading to them, make sure you follow their lead and make reading fun! It will truly last a lifetime as they become avid readers for years to come.

To this day, my all time favorite book is forever Corduroy. We read this book almost every night even still as my kids are no longer babies. It’s a true favorite in our home.

What are some of your favorite books for baby’s first year? Share them in the comments below!

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