How to choose the best books for your toddler

Learning and literacy

Around the time your baby turns one, he may be hitting some pretty major developmental milestones: first steps, first words. Once he starts to speak words that you actually recognise, your toddler will likely start adding new words to his repertoire quickly, and will soon begin to cobble together whole phrases. His imagination and sense of independence are also rapidly developing – and pretend play and an insistence on doing things himself define this exciting time of change and growth.

You’ll want to choose books that stimulate your child’s imagination and new sense of independence as well as help your child take the next steps in exploring linguistics and literacy. Books with interactive elements – flaps to lift, puzzles to do, tabs to pull, buttons to push, snaps and ties to master – are a great way to engage your toddler. And your child is ready for books that introduce some fundamental concepts. For instance:

The A-B-Cs

The letters of the alphabet are the building blocks for further reading, after all. And though your child probably won’t be reading or writing for quite some time, introducing him to the alphabet at this stage will help him begin to recognise the letters and begin to make the connection between letters and sounds.

The 1-2-3s

Books that help your toddler begin to recognise numbers and count will appeal to your child’s growing interest in understanding and ordering his world. It will also give him a good start on the math skills when he enters school in a few years. Look for books that approach numbers and counting with rhyme and a sense of fun to encourage a love of numbers as he grows.

Shapes and colours

Red, yellow, blue. Circle, square, triangle. Shapes and colours are everywhere. To teach your child the colours of the rainbow and the shapes of the things that surround him is to give him the power to describe his world, to communicate what he sees – and how he sees things – to others.


Your child is just learning what it means to feel happy, sad, angry, confused. Books that help him understand his own emotions and begin to figure out how to deal with them are important at this developmental stage, and beyond.

Other popular themes

Transportation, music, dancing, sports, friendship, foods. Even at the age of one, your child may start to express preferences and interests. Let your child select the books that appeal to him. That way he’ll know that, whatever his interest is, there’s a book on the topic that’s just right for him.