Books to read with your preschooler

If your little one is reaching preschool age, it is the perfect time to keep fostering the love of books and reading, which will make everything easier – from bedtime battles to 4+ assessments :-). Many of the following the books are all-time classics that children can enjoy from the age of 3 till much later, when they build up the skills to read them independently. Many of these come recommended as books to read for Reception aged children.

1. Where the Wild Things Are

You might even remember this classic by Maurice Sendak from your own childhood! It is the story of Max whose mother calls him “wild thing” and sends him to bed without supper when he makes mischief. Alone in his room, Max enters a magical world and sets sail across the sea to the place where the wild things are.

2. A Bear Called Paddington

Another famous classic and the perfect book for any young child growing up in Central London! The Browns first met Paddington at Paddington station. He had travelled all the way from Peru with only a jar of marmalade, a suitcase and his hat. The Browns soon find that Paddington is a very unusual bear. Ordinary things – like having a bath, travelling underground or going to the seaside become quite extraordinary!

3. Don’t Forget the Bacon!

This book is great for your little one to practice memorisation and building up a longer attention span. “Six farm eggs, a cake for tea, a pound of pears and don’t forget the bacon!” A young boy sets out to do the shopping, determined to remember his simple list but as the sights and sounds of town distract him he finds himself in a terrible muddle. Your little one will need to chant to remind the boy of his list!

4. My Cat likes to Hide in Boxes

A lovely story of a curious cats who does things differently from cats around the world. It’s a rhyming story easy to recite and chant, and as such can become one of the first little poems your preschooler can learn.

5. Aesop’s Fables

There are hundreds of editions of Aesop’s Fables, but I particularly like this one for 3-4-year olds. The illustrations are beautiful, it gives a wide selection of famous fables, and the language is just right for this age group. I actually bought it slightly ahead of time for my two-year-old, but she doesn’t yet have the attention span to follow the stories. So far we are mainly looking at the beautiful pictures together and I think in a year or two she will be ready for more.

6. The Elephant and the Bad Baby

Another book with strong repetitive language and rhythm that is great for young children learning to speak and read. The Elephant takes the Bad Baby for a ride and they go ‘rumpeta, rumpeta, rumpeta down the road.’ They help themselves to ice creams, pies, buns, crisps, biscuits, lollipops and apples, and the shopkeepers follow them down the road shouting and waving.

7. Starting School

Starting School by Janet and Allan Ahlberg is an enchanting picture book for reassuring children who are about to start school for the very first time. The colourful pictures and large, simple text make it the perfect book to be read to and read by children learning to read.

8. Lost and Found

Even your two-year-old would love this award-winning book by Oliver Jeffers  – while at the same time this is also a great book for a beginning reader. It is a story about a boy who finds a penguin at his door… so begins the magical adventure of the boy and the penguin as they travel all the way to the South Pole, looking for home and discovering friendship. But when they get there, the boy discovers that maybe home wasn’t what the penguin was looking for after all…

9. Can’t you sleep, Little Bear

Around the age of three or four, children often get afraid of the dark during nighttime, and this reassuring bedtime story addresses these fears in a sweet way. While Big Bear tries to read his Bear Book, Little Bear tries to sleep, but can’t. He’s scared of the dark. So Big Bear keeps bringing him progressively bigger lanterns. But nothing seems to work, until he leads Little Bear out of the Bear Cave into the dark nights.

10. I Don’t Want to Go to Bed!

Another classic bedtime story that can be read every night. Little Tiger does not want to go to bed. Eventually his Mummy is fed up with him and decides to let him stay up all night. Little Tiger is delighted and goes off into the jungle to play with his friends. But they are all asleep, and he is all alone.

Is your little one younger? Then check out:
– top books to read with your baby
 top books to read with your toddler


What are your preschool child’s favourite books? Please share in the comments below so we can expand the list!

1 comment… add one
  • Kate Ainger March 25, 2013, 5:04 AM

    Lovely list – we will be filling in the blanks on our bookshelves shortly!

    I would also like to suggest adding:

    Naughty Bus by Jan and Jerry Oke – this is particularly good for boys aged 3-4. The pictures are fabulous and the words are large and easy for early readers, plus many are adapted to convey the sense eg ‘GO’ has a green light in the middle of the ‘O’ and ‘SLEEP’ has closing eyes in the ‘E’s’. Brilliant – highly recommended for child and parent. It has been my 4 year old son’s favourite book for at least a year.

    Also, Big Red Bath by Julia Jarman and Adrian Reynolds – lovely rhyming and fun story about a bath full of children and animals, which flies off around the world.

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