Saturday, February 6, 2010

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Book for Your Preschooler

Choosing books for preschoolers can be a daunting task. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you search for books for young children. To read the entire article, read my guest blog on the Play Activities website! Below you will find some of my favorite examples of children's books. Feel free to comment and add your own favorites.

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman

Are the illustrations appropriate, engaging, and relevant? Remember that you want your little one to pick up that book even if you are not reading it to them. In order to encourage them to look at books independently, choose books that have pictures that will tell the story. One of my favorite books is Officer Buckle and Gloria. In this Caldecott winning book, Gloria's antics in the background engage children and adults alike!

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

Are the text and the illustrations bias-free? You want to be careful not to choose books that perpetuate stereotypes based on gender, religion, ability, race, or ethnicity. InTime has a great list of evaluation criteria for children's books. One of my favorites, Amazing Grace tells the story of a young African American girl who wants to be the lead in her classroom performance of Peter Pan. A bonus is that Grace grows older in the books Boundless Grace and Princess Grace!

It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles Shaw

Is the text appropriate for my child’s developmental level? Text with rhymes and repetition are often favorites for young children. Children are able to remember the text patterns and "read" the books independently. One example is, It Looked Like Spilt Milk. Because of the predictable pattern, most children can pick up this book and "read" it over and over again. Now, don't always go for books with the super-simple text. Choose books that also challenge your child's vocabulary to grow. Books such as Caps for Sale, Owl Moon, and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day are also great preschool choices.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka

Does the story inspire the imagination? Some of my favorite children's books have been turned into movies for their very ability to inspire the imagination: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Polar Express, Jumanji, and Where the Wild Things Are, have all topped my favorites lists at one time or another. The problem is, now that they've been adapted for movies, it's hard for children who've seen the movies to use their own imaginations when reading these books. Try The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. It tells the story of The Three Little Pigs from the wolf's point of view (poor wolf, just had a nasty cold). This story may encourage your preschooler to come up with their own versions of other stories!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffee Numeroff

Do you, as an adult, find the book interesting? Often, children pick up our adult vibes so choose books that you will enjoy reading aloud. Children will sense your excitement, but be forewarned, these may be the books that your child will want you to read over and over again! And THAT is a GOOD thing! One of my favorite read-alouds in Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! I know it by heart and my kindergarten students did too! I also love If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. When you get into reading it with expression, the children will love it too!

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Alan Ahlberg

The Jolly Postman by Alan Ahlberg

Does the book encourage interaction? Some of the books that children love are those that have a participation component. The I Spy series are fun for preschoolers. Another one of my favorite interactive books is Each Peach Pear Plumb by Janet and Alan Ahlberg! All of the Mother Goose characters are hiding in the illustrations. Another of my favorite interactive books is The Jolly Postman by Alan Ahlberg - the postman delivers letters to some familiar fairy tale characters - Baby Bear gets a party invitation from Goldilocks! Each page is shaped like an envelope and the mail is cleverly tucked inside! GREAT book.

Ocean Dorling Kindersly (DK) Eyewitness Book

Is this a non-fiction book, and if so, is it accurate? Preschoolers love to ask WHY so provide opportunities for them to learn new information. I enjoy the Eyewitness books for kids. Although they are written for slightly older children, the photographs and information is interesting enough to grasp the attention of curious preschooler and kindergarten aged children! Most young children will not want to read them from cover-to-cover but you can choose to read 1-2 pages each day or use them for reference books when those WHY questions pop up!

The Napping House by Audrey Wood

Will my child want to read this book more than once? The books that your child want to read over and over again will do more to inspire a love of literacy than you can imagine! There are many that come to mind: The Napping House by Audrey Wood, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, and Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? by by Bill Martin, Jr. are other preschool favorites... but the list is endless! What are YOUR favorites?


  1. I think my two favorites are "The Doorbell Rang" by Pat Hutchins and "The listening Walk" by Paul Showers!

  2. Oh I LOVE Officer Buckle and Gloria! I think it is best suited for Kindergarten and up. My son adored that book, and now his nephews love it, too!

  3. I love so many! You covered many favorites---I could make a list that would never be finished. One of my favorites is "I Love You Forever". My youngest (who has autism) fixated on it as a very small child. She insisted on sharing the "lullaby"--"I love you forever, I'll love you for always, as long as I live my mommy you'll be". She turned tweleve last week and we still have to say it every night. (I still can't read it to my class---I cry every time!)

  4. My favorites are "Olivia," "The Cinder-Eyed Cats," "Who Is the Beast?" "Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving," and "Horton Hears a Who!"

  5. My kindergarten class enjoys several of the books you mentioned. A couple of surefire winners are "The Gruffalo" and "The Gruffalo's Child". I've been teaching since '89 and whenever I come across really good children's books, I ask myself, "Why didn't I write this?"

    Love your blog. I'll be back.
    Diana Maria
    Visit me at Talkin' Kids

  6. I second The Gruffalo. You can talk about animal habitats and sounds with it as well. I love Bats at the Library and Bats at the Beach. I begin and end the school year with those two books with my Ks.

  7. gave you an award on my blog today! Thanks for all you share! :)

  8. @Deborah I love The Doorbell Rang and The Listening Walk! Thanks for reminding of those two! The toddlers in my school also love Jesse Bear What Will You Wear! I tweeted your comment so thanks again for sharing!

  9. @Ayn: I LOVE that book! Great selection. I like to give that book as a baby shower gift!
    And THANKS for the Beautiful Blogger Award! I love it :) and I'm sharing your post and my award on Twitter!!

  10. Jessica, I love Olivia and Who is the Beast! And classic Seuss books always win me over! I've never heard of the other two; I will have to check them out!
    P.S. Cool Vegbooks site :)

  11. Diana - I checked out your blog... NICE work! I too often wonder why I didn't write some of these cool books!!! I checked out the Gruffalo site - cool stuff there. I'll have to get that book for our school! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Anonymous - I hope you come back to the blog :) since you like the Bat books, maybe you will enjoy this post:

  13. Ayn - When "I Love You Forever" first came out, I handed it to my assistant to read to the class while I left to take care of other things. When I came back, my assistant was sitting in front of all the kids crying:) I felt so bad and all the kids were just staring at her with big eyes.

  14. Great article... I love any thing by Robert Munsch.

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  16. These are a few things I do in my classroom in Connecticut.
    Pairing books with a stuff animal character from the book sometimes keeps child interest. Also reading the story then providing feft pieces allows children to explore story on their own.



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