Book recommendations for preschoolers help parents and teachers weed through the vast selection of picture books to find the best ones for every situation. While best-selling and award-winning books are great, sometimes the best books for three-and-four-year-olds haven't gained mainstream attention yet.
Best Books for Preschoolers Learning to Read
Three-and-four-year-old children can each be at a very different level in terms of learning to read. Engage preschoolers of all ages in books that present letters, sentence structure, and simple sight words in fun ways. Learning to read books should entice kids to give reading a try to instill the confidence that they are capable of reading.
The Alphabet Book With No Pictures
New York Times best-selling Author B. J. Novak presents the alphabet and the concept of building words using lots of humor and a focus on the letters in The Alphabet Book With No Pictures. While the book contains some zany words and words that are more like sounds, it makes learning the alphabet and learning to read a lot of fun. This is a book that begs to be read out loud because of how silly it sounds, which will keep little kids interested. Since there are no pictures, kids learn about forming words and sentences without any distractions, beside laughter of course!
In Hello Hello, award-winning author/illustration Brenden Wenzel celebrates diversity using only a few simple words on each page. Young readers will be able to sound out words and use the pictures as clues to figure out words they don't know. The rhyming text also helps preschoolers read this book on their own. Wenzel's bright and exciting illustrations help keep kids engaged.
Alastair Heim's Hello Door is a fun circular story that ends just as it began after a series of quick actions. Preschoolers will love watching the thieving fox as he calls out each of the things he sees in the house broken into. Not only are the illustrations colorful and fun, but the rhyming text is too. It was named a Best Book of 2018 by the New York Public Library.
Although they've been around for 40 years, the Bob Books series by Bobby Lynn Maslen are still great for beginning readers. The books feature simple black line drawing illustrations, sometimes with a hint of one color, so your young reader won't get distracted by the pictures. Bob Books are designed to be read progressively and introduce new sounds and skills one-at-a-time. You can choose from the Stage 1 books for kids starting to read, Stage 2 books for emerging readers, and Stage 3 books for developing readers. Another option is to purchase the Bob Books Reading Magic apps, each sells for about $3, for IOS or Android devices.
My Very First I Can Read! Books
The I Can Read! Book series by Harper Collins Children's Books features six different levels of easy readers for kids learning to read. Dr. Julie M. Wood wrote all the books in the My Very First series based on current early literacy research. With over 30 books in this beginning series, preschoolers meet Tug the Pup and his friends as they learn Common Core reading standards such as sight words. Each book from the My Very First level features short sentences, simple and fun illustrations, and only a few pages so kids can gain reading confidence.
Awesome Spanish Books for Preschoolers
Whether Spanish is your first language or you want to explore books from another culture, there are many great Spanish books for preschoolers. You can look for books that originated in Spanish-speaking countries or Spanish translations of popular preschool picture books.
Juan Bobo Busca Trabajo
Kids who love clumsy characters will love Juan Bobo, a little boy from Puerto Rican folk tales. In Juan Bobo Busca Trabajo (Juan Bobo Goes to Work) by Marisa Montes, kids won't be able to stop laughing at the words or illustrations. Juan tries work at the farm and grocery store, but he has lots of trouble with the very easy tasks. This hilarious book is available in both English and Spanish versions and echoes the familiar picture book character Amelia Bedelia.
Alma y Cómo Obtuvo Su Nombre
There's a story behind every child's name and Juana Martinez- Neal presents a beautiful, yet simplistic story of family, individuality, and pride in Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre (Alma and How She Got Her Name). The cute and subtle images help kids focus on the family connections Alma makes in the story. This book is a great starting point for preschoolers learning to write their own names because it helps them see how special their name truly is. You can purchase the Spanish version or English version of this book that celebrates Hispanic heritage.
How Are You? / ¿Cómo Estás?
If you're looking for a fun dual language read aloud, How Are You? / ¿Cómo estás? by Angela Dominguez is a great choice. In the story one Spanish-speaking giraffe and one English-speaking giraffe meet a new friend. Kids will love the silly illustrations and sparse text that introduces the Spanish words for different feelings as the giraffes try to figure out how their new friend is feeling.
Elephant & Piggie Spanish Translations
Mo Willems' adorable and entertaining characters Gerald the elephant and Piggie the pig are featured in eight Spanish translations. Even though most of the books are around 64 pages long, there are only one or two sentences on each page. The simple drawings help kids see what's happening and are seriously silly. The simple sentence structure and vocabulary make these easy to read and understand even for those who don't speak Spanish fluently.
Excellent Educational Preschool Books
Most picture books have some educational component, but these nonfiction books for preschoolers are made to be learning resources. Preschool nonfiction books should contain fun images and short, simple facts to capture the attention of this age group.
How Much Does a Ladybug Weigh?
Preschoolers love to ask quirky questions and can start to learn math concepts using comparisons with familiar objects. How Much Does a Ladybug Weigh? by Alison Limentani captures this weird curiosity by describing and showing weights and measurements using animals and bugs. Although the topic of weights and measurements can be complex, the author breaks it down beautifully into relatable terms for little kids.
Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years
Introduce budding scientists to the planet they call home with Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years by Stacy McAnulty, a Junior Library Guild Selection. Told from Earth's point of view, the book presents quick and easy facts about the planet Earth. Silly anthropomorphic images of planets and the sun fill the pages with brightness and intrigue. Kids will be laughing and learning as they turn each page. McAnulty also has a similar book that focuses on facts about the sun called Sun! One in a Billion.
Rice from Heaven
Simple sentences and vibrant illustrations help little kids learn one true story of people helping others who don't have enough food. In Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans by Tina Cho, readers learn how a little girl and her family secretly helped get food from South Korea to the starving people in North Korea. While this might seem like a big topic for little kids, the text lays out age-appropriate explanations in concise sentences. The story helps kids learn more about the world and how one child can make a difference.
If Picasso Painted a Snowman
Introduce three-and-four-year-olds to some famous painters in the whimsical art history book featuring a hamster narrator, If Picasso Painted a Snowman. Amy & Greg Newbold show readers how kids usually draw a snowman then provide examples of how renowned artists created snowmen in very different ways. Kids will have fun searching each painting for the snowman. If you love this book, there is another in the series called If daVinci Painted a Dinosaur where dinosaurs replace popular painting characters.
Fun Read-Aloud Books for Preschoolers
Since most preschoolers aren't reading completely on their own, read-aloud books an adult can share are very important. A great read-aloud book features lots of wacky words, rhymes, and sounds so listeners have as much fun as the reader.
The Wonkey Donkey
For the ultimate book of wacky rhymes, preschoolers can't help but love The Wonkey Donkey by Craig Smith. This silly story features a really unusual donkey and all the funky rhyming words that describe his looks and personality. The book reached viral status in the media when a Scottish grandma was videotaped reading the book to her grandchild, but could barely keep a straight face as she read.
Monster's New Undies
Preschoolers are notoriously picky and love talking about all things that deal with their bottoms. Celebrate these two kiddie quirks with Monster's New Undies by award-winning author Samantha Berger. Little Monster is forced to pick out some new undies because his broke, but he just can't seem to find the right pair. Laugh and pose along with Monster in this rhyming book about shopping for new underwear.
Runny Babbit Returns
Explore poetry with a twist in celebrated children's author Shel Silverstein's book of poems called Runny Babbit Returns: Another Billy Sook. These short, whimsical poems use a mixed-up language invented by Runny Babbit and his forest friends where they switch the first letters of some words. Full of tongue twisters, imagination, and fun line drawings, this book of poems is a perfect read aloud for kids with short attention spans.
Free Online Books for Preschoolers
Books and early literacy are so important in child development you can find free, downloadable children's books all over the internet. Some of these are classic and popular books in audio book format, while others are self-published titles. Look for sites, apps, and books that pair great text with awesome illustrations or animations.
A Tale of Two Beasts
Kids who've watched movies like Wreck-It Ralph will love listening to Comedienne Sarah Silverman reading A Tale of Two Beasts by Fiona Roberton. The book illustrations are animated, and you get to see Sarah reading too. The story features two parts, one where a little girl finds a squirrel and takes it home, and the other where you get the squirrels's perspective on the whole ordeal. Kids will learn about different perspectives as they watch and listen to this hilarious story.
Fans of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and other interactive stories will love More Donuts by Daniel Errico on Freechildrenstories.com. Kids can watch and listen to the animated narrated book video for free online. In the story the main character, Walter the narwhal, spots your donuts and asks you to share. This simple, yet hilarious tale of sharing asks kids to respond to the character on each page making it fun and educational.
Totally Bored Boris
At some point, all kids fall into the trap of being bored just like Boris the bear in Totally Bored Boris by Hans Wilhelm. This free book can be read by an adult on the International Children's Digital Library. The classic illustration style is fun and engaging, but young readers will love this book because it's totally relatable.
Classic Books Preschoolers Will Love
You can probably name ten or more classic books you know preschoolers will love. These are the books from your childhood that stick in your memory. While the common classics are an awesome addition to any kid's library, there are plenty of classic stories you might not have thought to include.
Young readers embark on a journey of fortunes and misfortunes in the classic 1960s picture book by Remy Charlip called Fortunately. Fun and funny illustrations depict all kinds of crazy things that happen to Ned as he tries to make his way to a surprise party. Preschoolers will be on the edge of their seats from page to page wondering if Ned will make it alright or not.
The Carrot Seed
Join a little boy as he cares for a tiny carrot seed in hopes it will grow. Everyone around him fears the seed won't grow, but the little boy never gives up. This simple and endearing story about gardening, persistence, hope, and defying the odds gives preschoolers an example of what little kids are capable of. The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss was originally published in 1945 and makes a great companion for spring and gardening themes in preschool.
Discover Great Stories
There is no shortage of award-winning and popular children's picture books available in stores, libraries, and online each year. If you look just beyond the most talked about books, you'll find some amazing new reads to share with your preschooler.