Thank you to SuperMom Kat for sharing her “must read” preschool book list with the SuperMommy readers.
As my little girl’s little toddler legs, arms and feet stretch from a one year old size to an almost 3 year old, so does our quest for more awe-inspiring books that stretch the imagination, vocabulary, and our love of reading together. These top 20 books take you and your preschooler on discovery reading adventures that range from valuable life lessons to funny tummy ticklers.
If you liked my Top 20 “Must Read” Toddler Board Books, you and your little tyke will probably love the following memorable page turners in this article, my “Top 20 “Must Read” Picture Books for Preschoolers” as much as we did.
#1 – Someday
Written and Illustrated by: Alison Mcghee and Peter H. Reynolds (2007)
This is a literary treasure, loving keepsake, and tribute of what every parent wishes for the child in their lives. Sweet language and pictures portray the intricate layers of parental love in a way that will bring joy to your heart. Each page is a reminder of the first time a parent counts each finger and toe of their little one; feels a child’s little hand clutches theirs to first cross the street; watches a child dream sweet dreams. Witnessing a child go from tricycle training wheels to bicycle wheels , seeing a child run and swing in the wind for the first time. Mcghee and Reynolds take a parent through moments to remember, from childhood to adulthood. It unwinds a like a beautiful poem, and shows how a child goes from giving her own child a piggyback ride, brushes her own child’s hair, and looks fondly at a picture of a grandparent, which in the end you realize is you. This book that will warm your heart in every way, and make you feel so lucky to be the parent in your own child‘s life journey. Mcghee writes her own wonderful books, such as Countdown to Kindergarten and Mrs. Watson Wants Your Teeth. Reynolds has also created his own beautiful reads, such as The Best Kid in the World and My Very Big Little World.
#2 – Colors for Zena
Written and Illustrated by: Monica Wellington (2013)
Fun-loving, inquisitive, and excitable little Zena is a little girl, curiously searching for where all colors go. Zena’s house starts off in black and white, but the world of vibrant colors illustrates her world as she explores outside of her home. Zena spots yellow school buses and taxis. She discovers red fire trucks, polka dots, and flowers. Zena finds an orange lion, and blue skies, streams, and birds. She sees green frogs and purple dragons. Each color Zena learns about is also highlighted as a word in its correct color on each page. Your child can associate the color with the picture and the word highlighted in the appropriate color as a 3 dimensional learning tool. Every color Zena sees brightens her world, and she even learns what primary colors mix together to form new colors. There is even a Color Wheel in the back of the book and suggestions for Activities with Color. Zena falls in love with each color, just like your child will fall in love with this book. This book depicts how a child’s mind and love of life expands by exploring the exciting world that awaits them outdoors. Wellington writes other wonderful noteworthy reads, such as Gabby and Grandma Go Green, Riki’s Birdhouse, Pizza at Sally’s, and Crepes by Suzette. Anyone who dedicates a book as charming as Colors for Zena to her mother, sister, and daughter, as her three primary colors, I am instantly a fan of.
#3 – How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?
Written by: Jane Yolen, Illustrated by: Mark Teague (2005)
Immaculate table manners and some very cool dinosaurs – of course this makes perfect sense! What better creatures to show children how to behave at the table than an awesome Deinonychus, Protoceratops, Gorgosaurus, Quetzalcoatlus, Lambeosaurus, Spinosaurus, Cryolophosaurus, Polacanthus, Amargasaurus, and Supersaurus Dinosaur? These enormous dinosaurs say “Please” and “Thank you“, sit very still in their seats, and eat all their food. Good dinosaurs try at least a bite of new food items. They don’t drop things on the floor, and even cover their mouths when they accidentally burp. Good dinosaurs don’t make loud noises, or throw or spit out their food or utensils. They don’t blow bubbles in their beverages, or stick food up their nose and in between their toes. This book is hilarious fun, and even comes with a read along cd. This book will tame the little dinosaur in your home to act like a “good little dinosaur” at the table. If your child likes this book, they will love other Jane Yolen and Mark Teague’s dinosaur inspired books, such as How Do Dinosaurs Go To School, How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends, How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms, How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon, and How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Birthday.
#4 – Can You Say Peace?
Written and Illustrated by: Karen Katz (2006)
This page turner delights your senses, like the Small World ride at Disneyland. Learn about the United Nations Peace Day, declared as September 21st, and how children say “Peace” throughout the world. An international theme of peace weaves its way through readers’ hearts and minds, as Katz introduces us to wonderful children and their environments across the globe. Learn to phonetically say “Shanti” like Meena does in India. Kanji teaches us to say “Heiwa” in Japan. Lynette teaches us “Kurtuku” from Australia. Stefan says “Mir” from Russia. Learn how to say peace in Spanish, Chinese, and French. Explore what peace looks like in Ghana, Mexico, Bolivia, and the United States. The back page expands our language knowledge with even more ways to say peace from Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Tibet, and Vietnam, to name only a few. These children want to be able to play, go to school, and have family meals in their homelands, feeling safe and loved. This book teaches children that peace, goodwill, and opening our eyes to the wonders throughout the world, can collectively create a beautiful world.
#5 – Seashells by the Seashore
Written by: Marianne Berkes, Illustrated by: Robert Noreika (2014)
Collecting seashells by the seashore is an explorative way to incorporate a love for nature‘s beauty, imagination, and learning. These board book rhymes, with beautiful beachside observations that help a child become familiar with numbers and counting. The children in the story learn names of a variety of gorgeous seashells, count them, and place them with love in their beach bucket pails. The seashells become a birthday surprise for Grandma. The illustrations are special in their own right. This picture book is a perfect gift for the Grandma in your child’s life to read to her grandchild. Check out other Simple Nature Board Books, such as A Walk in the Rainforest, My First Hike, Forest Bright, Forest Night, Jo Macdonald Had a Garden, All Around Me, I See, If you Were My Baby, and Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef.
#6 – I Am A Dancer
Written by: Pat Lowery Collins, Illustrated by: Mark Graham (2008)
Even without dance lessons, a child dances throughout the day to a unique tune all his or her own from the moment they wake up. Whether children are home sweet home, enjoying the great outdoors, in school, or in dance class, a child dances to life’s heartbeat without choreography. The beautiful illustrations and language used in this book will make you want to leap, stretch, hop, and skip around with your child to your own dance routine… even if you are a little rusty from your own dancing days and recitals. Strap on your dancing shoes, and get ready to enjoy the melodious rhythm that pulses throughout this book.
#7 – Come Back, Ben
Written and Illustrated by: Ann Hassett and John Hassett (2013)
Children LOVE balloons, and many want to sneak away from their siblings sometimes too. Little Ben clutches a red balloon and floats up, up, and away from his sister. The red balloon takes Ben above his house, past the trees, a high flying kite, a big hill, a colorful rainbow, and all the way up to the full, crescent, and half crescent moon. Ben’s sister, his house window, the bees, a tree, the kite, the big hill, and even the rainbow, call for Ben to come back home. Ben touches back down from the moon by putting moon rocks in his pocket. When Ben gets home, his sister takes off on her own adventure trip with the red balloon. Ann and John Hassett write several other engaging reads, including Can’t Catch Me, Cat Up a Tree, Charles of the Wild, Too Many Frogs, and The Three Silly Girls Grub.
#8 – Oh, the Things My Mom Will Do
Written and Illustrated by: Marianne Richmond (2013)
Any mom will appreciate Richmond’s witty and honest representation of a mom on the go. The moms in this book rush with their child to get to school with a packed lunch and zooming like a rocket to take their child to the potty. These super-moms take care of their child and pet hamsters all night when sick. They stay up late at night to complete costumes for the school play, and rush to school meetings in rush hour traffic. These moms may have speeding tickets, frazzled hair, lack of sleep, and hide squeals when worms are presented on favorite rugs in the house…but boy oh boy, do these moms love their kids. I have reviewed Marianne Richmond’s books as a fan, and encourage all parents to check out her other sweet books, like Hooray For You, I Love You So Much, I Believe in You, I’m Not Tired Yet, I Love You So, and If I Could Keep You Little.
#9 – Everybody Bonjours!
Written by: Leslie Kimmelman, Illustrated by: Sarah McMenemy (2008)
Get ready for a smooth takeoff and landing as you and your child fly abroad through these storybook pages. You will not forget to say “Bonjour“with the book’s engaging Parisian travel itinerary. In this fun read, Kimmelman and McMenemy take readers sightseeing on a boat ride down the Seine River and give us a glimpse of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre Museum. See a snapshot of the monumental Eiffel Tower and the Metro station, and then zoom past the Arc de Triomphe on a Vespa scooter. From an exciting soccer stadium game to shopping and devouring delicious petit fours and crepes at a café, this book can inspire the “travel bug” in your child too.
#10 – In the Rain with Baby Duck
Written by: Amy Hest, Illustrated by: Jill Barton (1995)
Meet a pouting, dallying, unhappy Baby Duck who hates venturing out when it is raining and pouring outside. She drags behind her parents as they walk to the other side of town to meet her “Grampa” on Pancake Sunday. Halfway through the walk, Baby Duck begins to experience the rain rolling off her back and begins to sing in the rain. When Baby Duck reaches her Grampa’s home across town, Grampa greets her with love, and shows her the beautiful red umbrella with matching boots that belonged to her mom at her age. Grampa had saved them in his attic over all these years, and they now fit Baby Duck perfectly. After pancakes, Baby Duck and Grampa bond in silliness and puddles with Mom‘s red boots and umbrella. Now Baby Duck LOVES to sing and splash in the rain. Wander through other Baby Duck’s fun quests, with Barton and Hest’s other Baby Duck themed books, such as Baby Duck and the Bad Eyeglasses; You’re the Boss, Baby Duck; Baby Duck and the Cozy Blanket; Guess who, Baby Duck!; and Baby and Off To School.
Hope you and your child enjoyed reading all the books in Part 1, still want more to read? Click here to check out Part 2 of Top 20 “Must Read” Picture Books for Preschoolers.