Reading is extremely beneficial at any age, but even more so for preschool-age children. Children at this age are preparing for kindergarten, so this time is a great opportunity for them to start learning to read and write.
Reading is the single most important thing you can do to build their literacy skills. But they also learn valuable life lessons in an entertaining, creative way.
Just as no two snowflakes are the same, no two preschoolers’ books are the same. Each book approaches the way the world works in a different way. The characters are different, as are the storylines.
Storybooks teach children that we are all unique and that people’s viewpoints are different. But that’s the beauty of being an individual.
Children also learn about creativity, individuality, responsibility, and integrity on the pages of every book.
Here is our list of 20 preschool-age books that help foster the traits we all hope to instill in our children.
In no particular order, here are our favorites:
20. It’s Okay to Be Different
“It’s okay to be a different color. It’s okay to dance by yourself. It’s okay to wear glasses. It’s okay to have a pet worm. It’s okay to be different!”
This colorful tale by Todd Parr illustrates all of the ways we can be different—and how that’s okay. We may be a different color or do things that others don’t, but that’s just part of being who we are. This book enriches the idea that individuality is what we’re supposed to embrace.
Being who we truly are is the best choice that we can make. And once we learn this lesson for ourselves, we can help others do the same. The more individuality there is, the better the world will be to live in.
19. Little Blue and Little Yellow
“Little blue and little yellow share wonderful adventures. They hug until they become green. But where did little blue and little yellow go? Are they lost?”
This is the go-to book for children that’re apprehensive about staying still during preschool lessons. It’s an engaging book that children will love, and they won’t even realize they’re learning about colors.
After all, the best lessons are the ones that children don’t know they’re learning. This book also teaches children about diversity—that it’s okay to be friends with people that “are different colors.”
18. Ten Black Dots
“One dot can make a sun, two dots can make the eyes of a fox, and three dots can make a snow man’s face.”
This book is perfect for learning how to count. It uses an interactive approach to teaching its readers about counting, numbers, and graphing. It can spark the imagination and creativity in children. They learn that one dot can create an image of the sun, while ten dots can make the number ten.
Preschool-age children learn best visually, since they haven’t yet developed abstract-thinking skills. This book provides a basic, easy-to-understand visual representation of numbers and counting.
17. Only One You
“There’s only one you in this great big world. Make it a better place.”
Want to spark individuality in your child? This book can do exactly that.
Children can listen to the story of Adri, a young fish who’s beginning his own life in the wide-open sea. Adri’s parents teach him to be his own person and to know that he’s special.
This book teaches children that they should set out to find what they love doing and do it. You couldn’t ask for a more fun approach to teaching kids about being unique and being happy with what they do in life.
16. Growing Vegetable Soup
“Dad says we are going to grow vegetable soup. Then the real gardening happens… planting, weeding, harvesting, washing, chopping, and cooking!”
This books highlights the process of gardening and growing your own food, as well as making meals out of the crops that you harvest. It teaches children the process of growing from start to finish.
This book is great to pair with a hands-on lesson in cooking, math, or literacy. Children can learn how to make vegetable soup by listening to the story. Then they can recreate the story by making soup in the classroom.
15. Beautiful Oops!
“A mistake is an adventure in creativity, a portal of discovery. A spill doesn’t ruin a drawing, not when it becomes the shape of a goofy animal. And an accidental tear in your paper? Don’t be upset about it when you can turn it into the roaring mouth of an alligator.”
A delightful read for preschoolers, and to be honest, readers of any age! This artistic, creative format teaches children to discover new ideas from ‘mistakes’ they make. It fosters emotional growth in children, as they learn about accepting mistakes and not allowing them to bring down their spirit.
Our plans may not always go the way we want them to, but we can choose to create something new out of the mistakes we make.
14. How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?
“In the end, young dinosaurs behave a lot like people do: they give a big kiss, turn out the light, tuck in their tails, and whisper good night.”
This humor-filled bedtime story is a great example of modeling correct behavior at bedtime. More often than not, children fight going to bed, and they’ll do anything to avoid it.
Throughout the story, the dinosaurs misbehave at bedtime by stomping their feet, throwing their toys, or roaring at their parents. But as the story goes on, they start to behave, and they even show children how to listen to their parents.
13. The Little Engine That Could
“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I know I can.”
This classic has been loved by children and parents alike for decades. Its pages outline the lesson of perseverance—hanging on and using effort to get through difficult tasks.
Other trains tell the little engine that he won’t be able to make it up the mountain. However, this book teaches children that there will be people that will say you can’t do something. But it’s up to you to prove them wrong.
12. No, David!
“David’s teacher always said, ‘No, David, no yelling, no pushing, no running in the halls.’”
Little David is a mischievous boy, always doing things that he shouldn’t. He jumps on furniture, chews with his mouth open, runs with muddy shoes in the house, and even breaks his mother’s favorite vase. But no matter how angry David’s mom gets, she will always love him.
This story is entertaining for children, but it also teaches them about unconditional love. It highlights some of the everyday problems that preschool-age children have. But it also shows them that their parents will continue to love them, even when they misbehave.
11. Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
“It’s opener there in the wide open air. Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as rain and footsy as you. And then things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.”
This timeless classic is a staple in any child’s life. Its witty word-pairings take you through the whimsical world of growing up. Seuss warns of setbacks in life, but promises happy times that will come in between them.
This book is a splendid read for preschool children that are starting to learn what life is all about, including its ups and downs.
10. Green Eggs and Ham
“I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I am.”
This book may be one of the most recommended on the market, and it is rightfully so. It uses a funny, entertaining storyline to convey the message that some people may like green eggs and ham, while other people don’t.
It teaches how important it is to respect people’s preferences. Not everyone will like what you do, but in the end, things will turn out for the best.
“’You must be a friend,’ said Corduroy. I’ve always wanted a friend. ‘Me too,’ said Lisa, and gave him a big hug.”
Children learn about Corduroy, a stuffed teddy bear in a department store that longs to be bought by a little boy or girl and taken to a home. This heart-warming story teaches children about friendship, meaningful relationships, and companionship.
8. Are You My Mother?
“”I have a mother,’ said the baby bird. ‘I know I do. I will find her. I will. I WILL!’”
This book is a great read-aloud for preschoolers, as they can identify with the baby bird’s fear of being separated from his mother. It helps reassure children that they may have to spend time away from their parents, but they will always be reunited with them when they return. And it highlights the special bond between parents and children.
7. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
“A told b, and b told c, ‘I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree.’”
Through witty phrases and fun words, children get to learn all about the letters of the alphabet as they journey up and down the coconut tree. The colorful pages and simple graphics keep children engaged as they learn the alphabet.
They can even get up and dance, sing, or clap their way through the book. This book is perfect for active, on-the-go children that’ll be able to learn and move at the same time!
6. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
“If a hungry little traveler shows up at your house, you might want to give him a cookie. If you give him a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.”
This engaging, silly tale of a mouse teaches children about kindness and hospitality. Through the pages, readers can tag along on the constant, ever-changing adventures of a young boy and his tiny mouse visitor. The illustrations are colorful and animated, keeping youngsters engaged and attentive about what will happen on the next page.
“’Good night, little girls! Thank the lord you are well! And now go to sleep,’ said Miss Clavel. And she turned out the light and closed the door. And that’s all there is. There isn’t any more.”
This timeless classic is set in picturesque Paris. It’s a tale of bravery and cheerful humor. It paints the life of Madeline, a young girl who falls ill and has to have surgery. Despite her fears and worries, readers see her persevere by using strength and bravery.
The other girls from Madeline’s home come to visit her. Their demonstration of true friendship teaches children the meaning of being there for others throughout times of hardship.
4. Where the Wild Things Are
“One night Max puts on his wolf suit and makes mischief of one kind and another, so his mother calls him ‘Wild Thing’ and sends him to bed without his supper. That night a forest begins to grow in Max’s room and an ocean rushes by with a boa to take Max to the place where the wild things are.”
Max is a boy who was sent to bed without supper. Through a journey of imagination, he goes into a new world, where many monsters reside.
On his trek through their strange land, he learns a few things along the way. Sometimes we have to listen to our parents and respect what they say. Or even if we misbehave, our parents will always be there to listen and care once we’ve calmed down.
The messages throughout this book are plentiful, and children can truly benefit from the life lessons painted on each page of this popular book.
3. The Giving Tree
“Once there was a tree… and she loved a little boy. Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk… and the tree was happy.”
The powerful, rich message of this timeless classic is one that can resonate with people of all ages. The boy starts to want more and more from the tree, but the tree can only give so much. In order for her to give him something in return, the boy needs to give back to the tree.
The message of helping others (and not only ourselves) is a valuable lesson that preschoolers can begin to understand by reading this tale. Its illustrations provide a simplistic way of explaining giving and receiving, selfishness and selflessness.
2. Harold & the Purple Crayon
“One night, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight.”
A boy armed with one big purple crayon and an empty canvas begins this tale. Harold gets the chance to draw and create his own world as he sees it to be. He draws a map so he can’t get lost, a boat when he needs to cross the deep waters, and food when he finds that he’s hungry.
This story teaches children about using their imagination to create their own, unique world. They are the ones that hold the crayon, and they get to dictate what’s drawn. The pages of this book teach children to be in the driver’s seat of their own lives. It’s a good read for imaginative children.
1. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
“If food dropped like rain from the sky, wouldn’t it be marvelous! Or would it? It could, after all, be messy. And you’d have no choice. What if you didn’t like what fell? Or what if too much came? Have you ever thought of what it might be like to be squashed flat by a pancake?"
This book is sure to grab the attention of any child. It is jam-packed with excitement and creativity on every page.
Food falls from the sky and covers every sidewalk. The citizens of chewandswallow don’t have to shop at the grocery store. All they have to do is look at the forecast on TV, and they’ll see what they’ll be able to enjoy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sometimes it’s good food. Other times, it’s not.
But this is one book that is sure to be a page-turner for adults and children alike.
From Harold and the Purple Crayon to Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, these 20 book options for preschoolers are sure to excite and spark imagination and creativity in children. Whether it be for the purposes of literacy, math, or language, reading is one of the most beneficial learning-development activities adults can do for their children.
Their minds will be stimulated and excited with the turning of every page. The tales and life lessons learned from the stories and characters are sure to stick with them throughout their lifetimes.