22 best books for 1-2-year-olds that are highly recommended by teachers and parents

Beautiful illustrations, hands-on activities, and meaningful stories - these books will get your toddlers started on reading at a young age.

Kids are learning to read at increasingly younger ages, and ages 1 to 2 are the best time to get them started on reading.

At 1-2 years old, your toddler will rely on you to do all the reading, but experts agree that what is most important is to have fun while reading to your child rather than having him or her be able to pronounce words or letters or numbers – if your child enjoys reading now, they’ll continue to do so in the future.

What kind of books is suitable for a 1-2-year-old?


Taking your child’s learning abilities and short attention span into consideration, these are what you should look out for in books that you purchase for your toddler:

  • Sturdy: Choose thick board books or those made of cloth, as they’ll be able to withstand abuse.
  • Large illustrations and colours: These will be more attractive to your 1-2-year-old.
  • Characters: Go for books with pictures of babies, animals, or your child’s favourite cartoon characters
  • Simple and repetitive: Opt for easy-to-remember rhymes.
  • Interactive: Get your kid to participate in the reading process with flaps or buttons that require them to press to make sounds.

Educational books for 1-2-year-olds

1. First Words: English


This travel-sized board book is perfect for introducing very young children to the English language.

It features 12 essential (and fun!) words to learn – from sun and shoes to beach and book. Each word is accompanied by a beautiful illustration and pronunciation guide to make it easy for your 1-2-year-old to follow along.

Get this at USD6.99 on Lonely Planet’s website.

2. First Words: Mandarin

For those who want to get their child started early on a second language, check out this board book that similarly features adorable illustrations and easy-to-follow pronunciation guides.

Get this at USD6.99 on Lonely Planet’s website.

If you are looking to teach other languages to your child, you may also consider the Japanese, Italian, French, and Spanish versions of the First Words board books.

3. Priddy Book First 100 Words Padded Cover Board Baby Book

If your child is slightly older or appears to have a good grasp of vocabulary, you can consider challenging their language limits with this book of 100 simple words with 100 colour photographs that your child will love.

The pages are made from tough board while the cover is softly padded, so you can let your child hold this without worrying about him or her damaging it in the long run.

Get this at SGD17.02 on Shopee.

4. Baby Touch and Feel: Fluffy Animals

Notice that your kids love animals? Indulge their love for nature with a book that allows them to tickle and touch fluffy animals!.

This book gets babies to learn early concepts such as colours, shapes, and patterns as they turn each page, all while engaging their senses as they touch and learn about different animals around them, including the squirrel with his bushy tail, two purring kittens and one very fluffy puppy.

Get this at SGD10.17 on Shopee.

5. My Very First Book of Numbers

Learning math early is important for a good foundation, and your child will definitely enjoy learning about the concept of numbers early with this beautifully-illustrated numbers book.

In the brilliantly colourful My Very First Book of Numbers, children can find the number of fruits in the bottom half of a page that matches the number of boxes and numerals in the top half. While younger kids may struggle a little to express the numbers in language, you can still encourage them to use their fingers to count and signal numbers with their fingers.

Get this at SGD3.99 on Shopee.

6. Before and After

For the curious kids who are always keenly observing things around them, this book will delight them with the fascinating and comical before-and-after frames, each progressed by a page turn.

It is also a good chance to teach your children some basic vocabulary and phenomenons, including pale skin changing to sunburned skin, dirty to clean, long hair to short hair (and then to long again).

Get this at SGD17.63 on Amazon.

7. What are Stars?

Before your child starts asking you about the stars in the sky, you can get them to find out the answers for themselves as they lift over 30 flaps to find the answers to all the questions they have about stars and the night sky.

Even if they don’t quite understand the simple explanations, the gorgeous illustrations alone will keep the little ones entertained for sure.

Get this at SGD20 on Shopee.

8. Touch Think Learn: Vehicles

Get your babies to explore their universe in a hands-on, multisensory way with a cute board book about the vehicles they see on the street.

By seeing images, tracing shapes, and even practise saying the names, these combine in a dynamic way to help your child see things in relation to one another and grasp concepts much faster.

There are also clusters of related words on each spread, so parents can slowly expand their children’s vocabulary over time as well.

Get this at SGD20.82 on Amazon.

9. Baby’s Very First Touchy-Feely Book

Reading a book can be particularly challenging for young ones with short attention spans, so one way you can get them to focus is with touchable patches and high-contrast illustrations.

Each word in the book also comes with a short description that you can read aloud to your kids – and then get them to practise reading aloud once they are slightly older.

Get this at SGD11.04 on Amazon or Kinokuniya.

10. My First Busy Book

As the name implies, this book is jam-packed with interactive activities to keep your children’s hands busy.

With a variety of touch-and-feels, lift-the-flaps, and even mirrors that your children will love playing with, it’s easy for them to pick up the different concepts featured on each page, be it numbers, shapes, colours, animals, or sounds.

Get this at SGD32.70 on Shopee.

Storybooks for 1-2 year olds

11. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Kids love the sing-song nature of words in this adorable storybook that introduces colours, animals, repetition, and rhyming, and you too will enjoy singing the rhymes to your children!

You can encourage your kid to hum or clap along as you read, and over time, your child will be able to read and even sing along as he or she becomes more familiar with the words.

Get this at SGD6.99 on Shopee.

12. Circus Ship

A classic favourite among parents, Circus Ship is sure to keep animal-loving babies entertained.

The lyrical story is fun to read aloud to, and the charming illustrations offer lots of details for your kids to discover – there’s even a page of hide-and-seek animals that you can get your babies to try and spot!

Get this at SGD10.16 on Amazon.

13. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

This is a gorgeous book written in such a beautiful and poetic language that even the most energetic babies will fall asleep after you read this sweet story to them.

The vibrant illustrations of trucks will first grab their attention, and then the gentle rhyming text becomes the perfect bedtime lullaby to lull your toddler to sleep.

Get this at SGD15.52 on Shopee.

14. I Love You Because You’re You

If your 2-year-old is ready to learn how to express emotions, this is a good book to start with.

In this story, a mama fox tells her little fox of her unconditional love for him as she describes his many moods. Not only does it help young children to identify and understand emotions, but also helps to remind your child that you love him or her.

Even if your kids don’t quite appreciate the nuances of the story, that’s okay – they will still be enthralled by the amazing watercolor illustrations and pleasing rhyming text.

Get this at SGD18.50 on Shopee.

15. Potty

Tickle your toddler, figuratively AND literally, with a cute book on the process of going potty and all the feelings that come with it.

The text in this book are easy and light, but the key is for you to act out all the faces that the boy makes as he sits on the potty for the first time.

It is also a good way to introduce your child to potty training if he or she is around two years old.

Get this at SGD21 on Shopee.

16. Where The Wild Things Are

First published in 1963, Where The Wild Things Are is a children’s book that has accompanied many children throughout the decades.

The Caldecott Medal-winning picture book tells the tale of a boy named Max who was sent to bed after making mischief, and his subsequent adventures as the king of the wild things. Your toddler will love the exciting descriptions and pictures, and the fantastical story is sure to keep your child reading this again and again even as he or she grows older.

Get this at SGD3.99 on Shopee.

17. Each Peach Pear Plum

Rhymes are easy for your child to follow along, and this book has the perfect rhyme scheme that your child can bop along to.

The cute illustrations also give you the chance to play ‘I spy’ while you read the book – a little advanced for your toddler, but it’s definitely fun for the grown-up!

Get this at SGD3.99 on Shopee.

18. Please, Mr. Panda

This story features a grumpy panda using doughnuts to teach animals a lesson about manners.

While the concept may be a little difficult for the younger ones to grasp, you’ll still enjoy doing the different character voices and getting your toddler engrossed in the storytelling.

Tip: When your toddler is a little older, you can encourage him or her to think deeper and discuss the importance of manners!

Get this at SGD15.95 on Shopee.

19. The House in the Night

Inspired by a traditional poem from The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book, this story welcomes the young readers to explore a house with breathtaking scratchboard illustrations and soothing, lyrical text that will help you put your little ones to sleep.

Get this at SGD27.20 on Shopee.

20. Little Blue Truck

A wonderful story about a friendly little blue farm truck who helps his friends, Little Blue Truck teaches children a lesson on kindness and helps young toddlers identify animals and their sounds.

The story manages to make real-life problems and observations easily digested by kids, but even if your 1-year-old struggles to fully comprehend the story, he or she can still delight in the beautiful illustrations and pick up some vocabulary from the engaging rhymes.

Get this at SGD23.36 on Shopee.

21. Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too

For the dads who want to strengthen their bond with toddlers, try reading this popular book for kids. The story talks about a doting father building a playhouse out of a cardboard box for his daughter, takes her to the store, gives her a ride on his shoulders, and makes dinner.

Tip: If you are a mum, you can encourage the dad to read this story to help him spend more quality time with the kids! 

Get this at SGD18.14 on Shopee.

22. The Crayons’ Book of Colors

The Crayons’ Book of Colors is an endearing story on the power of teamwork, and is a fun way to help your children identify colours and their corresponding items.

Get this at SGD16 on Shopee.