Growing Into Books

Section 5: Choosing Books for Your Preschooler

Helping Your Child's Language Grow Reading Aloud How to Read to
Your Child
Playing With Stories

When you choose books to read to your child, choose enjoyable ones. First, look for books your child will like. Of course, it will be easier to read books that you like, too. But sometimes your child will just love a book that you don't like. When this happens, it is best to keep your own feeling to yourself, and instead be glad that your child has found a favorite book.

In this section you will find lists of good books that preschool children enjoy. You can look for these books in your local library, on your child's book order forms, and in stores. Most of these books are available at your public library. When you see the mark (p) after a book, the book is also available in paperback. Paperback books cost less and are sold at school book fairs and on school book order forms. You might want to clip these lists to take along to the library or store. If your library or bookstore does not have the book you want, you can ask to order it.

Books About Children's Daily Lives

Many picture books have interesting stories based on the everyday lives of young children. There are stories about imaginary friends, lost blankets, moving, birthday parties, and the death of a pet. Your child will like to hear how other children solve problems and have fun. Go to booklist.

Books About Families

Many of our children go to daycare, babysitters, and preschools every day. But preschool children still depend on their families for most of what they learn. This is especially true when it comes to learning how to get along with other people and how to work together. At home with the family, your child feels comfortable enough to talk about her real feelings—love, pride, disappointment, jealousy, anger, etc. The books in this list show how some children and their families handle a range of family events and feelings. Go to booklist.

Books About Animals

Most preschoolers love their pets and stuffed animals. They almost think of them as being like people. If your child is an animal lover, you can be sure that he or she will enjoy the books on this list. These stories bring human feelings and adventures to animals. Go to booklist.


Simple folktales have story lines that are easy to pay attention to. They also have words that are easy to remember. Many of us remember storybook words: "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!" or "Who's been sleeping on my bed?" or "Run, run as fast as you can." When your child starts to remember story lines well enough to look at the pictures and retell the story, your child has taken an important step in learning how to read. When you read your child folktales, you help your child take this important step. In this list of books, you will find some old favorites, some new tales, and some variations on the old ones. Go to booklist.

Songs, Rhymes, And Join-In Books

Preschoolers love to hear the sounds of poetry and music. Song and rhyming books are perfect for helping children learning to read, too. In fact, when you read or sing these books to your child many times, you will notice your child start to:

  • remember when to turn the page
  • finish sentences as you read
  • learn parts of the book "by heart"
  • and maybe even recognize one or two of the words or letters!

Reading To Learn

The books in this list are not storybooks; they are called non-fiction. Instead of telling stories, these books teach children about all kinds of things—such as animals, shapes, cars and trucks, numbers. You can find a children's book about anything that your child is interested in. Just go to your school or public library and ask. When your young child enjoys looking at and hearing about these interesting books, you can be sure that your child's book learning will continue throughout life. Go to booklist.

Learning To Read

When your child is interested in pointing to letters and words while you read together, you will want some books to help make this easier. It is easier for children to find words, point to letters, and try to read words when the books we read to them have print that:

is written in large, clear letters
has just a few words or sentences on each page
has some words written in extra big print
has words that are easy to remember
has words that are repeated many times
has easy words in the illustrations, for example in bubbles.

When you read these books with your child, be sure to tell your child, "You might be able to learn to read some of the words in this book." Point to the words as you read them, at least on some of the pages. After you have read the book one or two times, see if your child can read a word before you say it. Praise your child, when you see him or her trying to read (e.g., "You are doing such a good job looking for that word!"). Go to booklist.

gardening gloves with a book
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last updated 4/25/05
©2004 The Pennsylvania State University
U.Ed. LIB 03-64