Choosing Great Books for 4s and 5s Print E-mail

This booklist has been designed to help you learn more about choosing books for preschoolers aged 4-5 years. Look at the books in each short section for examples of the types of books or of characteristics that appeal to this age group. Don’t hesitate, though, to try these titles with younger toddlers, especially if they are experienced listeners.

Look for these features in books for preschoolers:

Beautiful Artwork

Preschoolers are ready for more visually sophisticated illustrations. Look for pictures in watercolor, pen and ink, collage, photographs, fabric, or colored pencil.

  • Little Red Hen, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
  • The Hello, Goodbye Window, by Norton Juster, illustrated by Chris Raschka
  • My People, by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr.
  • Red Sings from Treetops, by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
  • House in the Night, Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated by Beth Krommes

Rhyming Stories

Rhymes are an excellent way to foster good phonological awareness. Preschoolers are ready for longer stories with more complex rhythms.

  • The Caboose Who Got Loose, by Bill Peet
  • Bubble Trouble, by Margaret Mahy
  • The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, by Dr. Seuss
  • The Juggling Pug, by Sean Bryan
  • Bear Snores On, by Karma Wilson

Real-Life Situations

Siblings, friends, school, travel—preschoolers are very busy! Read them books that reflect their new experiences and all the feelings that go along with.

  • When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry…, by Molly Bang
  • Julius, the Baby of the World, by Kevin Henkes
  • Bedtime for Frances, by Russell Hoban
  • Yo, Jo! by Rachel Isadora
  • I Am Too Absolutely Small for School, by Lauren Child

More Words

Toddlers’ books often have one sentence per page. Books for preschoolers can have up to a paragraph on each page. Read a variety of titles to experiment to find the right length for your listeners.

  • Oscar’s Half Birthday, by Bob Graham
  • Martha Speaks, by Susan Meddaugh
  • Emma’s Rug, by Allen Say
  • Big Bushy Mustache, by Gary Soto
  • Brave Irene, by William Steig

Repetitive Text

Children can memorize these stories and “read” them on their own. As they listen to the same words over and over, they can start to recognize them on the page.

  • Mr. Gumpy’s Outing, by John Burningham
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, by Eileen Christelow
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,by Michael Rosen
  • Duck on a Bike, by David Shannon
  • The Napping House, by Don and Audrey Wood

Multicultural Stories

Preschoolers are ready to start exploring the world beyond their familiar day to day routines. Introduce them to stories and books about different people and places!

  • Daisy Comes Home, by Jan Brett
  • What’s Cooking, Jamela? by Nikki Daly
  • It Could Always Be Worse, by Margot Zemach
  • Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book, by Yuyi Morales

Not to Be Missed

Here are a few old classics and new favorites for you to try with preschoolers.

  • Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans
  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton
  • Olivia, by Ian Falconer
  • Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag
  • Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
  • I Stink! by Kate McMullan
  • The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, by John Scieska & Lane Smith
  • Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak