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Preschool: 50 Recommended Reads (2021)

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best books for preschoolers

Best Books for Preschoolers (Ages 3-5) in 2021

We’ve put together a list of 50 recommended books for 3- and 4-year-olds. Top up your preschool or nursery book collections with our hand-picked selection of classic stories, laugh-out-loud picture books, animal tales, poetry books, non-fiction for curious minds and more….

Scroll down to find more purchasing options and printable resources.

Caroline Crowe
 & Cally Johnson-Isaacs
Picturebook

A joyful picturebook tapping into the power of finding positivity in the world around us.

When a little girls wants to know whether rainbows are painted, Grandad explains that instead they are made with hope and kindness to others. The story visits each of the the rainbow’s colours, listing associated things that bring hope, joy or kindness. Red is tulips or jam on toast, orange is kicking autumn leaves or dressing up as tigers, yellow is feeling sand on your toes or tasting zingy lemons, and so on. Many of the activities mentioned are those shared between friends or family members, and others focus on giving or being a blessing to others. Others still are just personal pleasures (like dying your hair a punk-rock shade of purple!).

I love the emphasis on finding joy in everyday things, and it’s hard to read the story without thinking of your own rainbow of joyful activities that bring colour into life. After months of lockdown, this story could be an excellent springboard into conversations and activities with children about being mindful of small pleasures, about finding positivity and about drawing on the ways in which love, friendship and community can bring joy.

Cheerful in concept and also in its bright illustrations and bouncy rhyme, this is a happy read that is perfectly timed for readers aged 3-7 as they approach the ease of lockdown and beyond.

Julia Donaldson & Sharon King-Chai
Picturebook

Nominated for “Favourite Books of 2020” by: Bertie, age 5 (resident lift-the-flap expert at BooksForTopics HQ)

Bertie says, “This is my favourite bedtime book because it has flaps with baby creatures to count. My favourite part is finding the baby spiders, which you can search for all over the book.”

Suzy Senior
 & Claire Powell
Picturebook
The perfect pants are hard to find for someone shaped like me. Could Octopants be just the job? Why not dive in and see . . .? There are all-in-ones for urchins and slipper-socks for eels… but will Octopus ever find a pair of pants to fit? A hilarious rhyming romp, packed with underwater underwear!
Martin Waddell
 & Helen Oxenbury
Picturebook

An oldie but a goodie, Farmer Duck is one of my all time favourite books for so many reasons, not least because of the way it demonstrates the power of friendship and working together. A poor, overworked duck is made to slave away on the farm by the lazy old farmer, who spends all day in bed. Seeing their friend so sleepy and weepy and tired, the other animals decide to take a stand! They tiptoe up to the farmer’s bedroom, tumble him out of bed and chase him away! Then they all pitch in together to run their farm. For me, this book is a total classic!

Anna McQuinn
 & Rosalind Beardshaw
Picturebook

Lulu is going to pre-school for the first time. She has visited school before with Mummy, but this time she will go on her own. She’s excited, but a bit nervous. She gets dressed, packs her bag and makes sure she has her cat Dinah with her. When Lulu gets to school, she quickly settles and makes a friend with Mummy watching close by. When Mummy leaves, Lulu is nervous. Will she find the courage to head off to play again? And how will she feel when Mummy returns to pick her up?

Sharing books with preschoolers is as important as it is joyful. At this age, books can leave a lasting impression on young imaginations, form a key part of language and literacy development and provide young children with important insights into the experiences of others. Storytime is often a favourite part of the day – whether in the classroom or snuggled up at bedtime – and early positive experiences with books can be the foundations of a lifelong enjoyment of reading.

Many adults can remember their own favourite books from the preschool years – and sometimes off by heart! We’ve picked out 50 recommended books for today’s children in the nursery and preschool years (ages 3-4). From stories with repeated verses to join in with (like Nick Sharratt’s Shark In the Park or Michael Rosen’s Little Rabbit Foo Foo), to laugh-out-loud favourites (like Jelly Had a Wobble or Octopants) to sincere stories about animals trying to figure out the world around them (like Best Test or Little Bear’s Spring), we’ve got something for all tastes.

For books about being kind or managing emotions, try Find Out About FeelingsLayla’s Happiness or Kindness Makes us Strong. If stories to prepare children for starting school or making friends is what you’re looking for, try Lulu’s First Day or Caryl Hart’s Mini Monsters series. For a read-aloud with the extra wow factor, we recommend The Rabbit, The Dark and the Biscuit Tin, guaranteed to produce ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ at storytime.

Some of the stories on our list are classic books that have been entertaining children for generations, like The Giant Jam Sandwich or Jill Murphy’s Peace at Last. Others are inspired by very recent events, such as How Do You Make a Rainbow?, which reflects colourfully on the joy of finding positivity through community and kindness during difficult times.

We’ve also included a selection of non-fiction books suitable for this age group, from books about nature (like Peep Inside Bug Homes and the fantastically visual Creature Features), to the space-themed Cosmic Machines or the inspirational story of Amelia Earhart. If you are looking for books themed around a particular topic, be sure to check out our EYFS topic booklists.

Where to purchase:

Downloads

Preschool Books Check List (2021)

 

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