Top 100 Books for Preschoolers: ParentDish Picks

Filed under: Books for Kids, Gear Guides: Toddlers & Preschoolers

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Who doesn't love Amelia Bedelia? Credit: Amazon


Even though children are preparing to go to school, parents are encouraged to keep reading to their kids during the preschool years. Letter recognition and other important reading skills start during this time and help lay the foundation for learning to read. Here are 100 books, in alphabetical order, that will keep your preschooler busy.

1. "10 Minutes Till Bedtime" by Peggy Rathmann (1998): Rathmann's book illustrates the boisterous adventures of a large family of hamsters during a family's bedtime ritual.

2. "101 Things to Do With a Baby" by Jan Ormerod (1984): Older siblings will enjoy this story about a family's active day with a baby.

3. "The Accident" by Carol Carrick, illustrated by Donald Carrick (1976): Part of a trio of books, this one deals with a grieving boy whose dog was struck by a truck and killed.

4. "The Balancing Girl" by Berniece Rabe, illustrated by Lillian Hoban (1981): Wheelchair-bound Margaret has a singular ability to balance, and, in the end, her talent helps her in school.

5."A Birthday for Frances" by Russell Hoban (1976): Follow a badger named Frances as she deals with an upcoming birthday, not hers. From a series of Frances books, this is an age-old struggle for youngsters dealing with jealousy.

6. "The Book of Pigericks: Pig Limericks" by Arnold Lobel (1983): Pigs are everywhere in this collection of original limericks celebrating all things porcine.

7. "A Chair for My Mother" by Vera B. Williams (1982): This is the first book in a series about Rosa, her mother and grandmother. Due to a fire, the family is relocated and starts saving for a comfortable chair.

8. "A Child's Garden of Verses" by Robert Louis Stevenson (1885): This classic reminds both parents and children what a joy childhood can be. First published in 1885, many versions are available with illustrators capturing the childlike fun.

9. "A Cow, a Bee, a Cookie and Me" by Meredith Hooper, illustrated by Alison Bartlett (1997): Where do cookies come from? A variety of elements from nature provide the ingredients for the cookies Ben bakes with his grandmother.

10. "A Fine, Fine School" by Sharon Creech, illustrated by Harry Bliss (2001): See what happens when a well-meaning principal decides his school should stay open for weekends, holidays and summers.

11. "A Firefly Named Torchy" by Bernard Waber (1999): A firefly, whose tail burns brightly, finds that the city might appreciate Little Torchy's bright light more than his forest friends.

12. "A Letter to the King" by Leong Va (1987): A Chinese folktale about a young girl who saves her father by writing to the king.

13. "A, My Name Is Alice" by Jane E. Bayer, illustrated by Steven Kellogg (1984): Rhymes and fun games are played by costumed animals.

14. "Aardvarks, Disembark!" By Ann Jonas (1990): The floods have finished, the animals are released from Noah's ark and the names of 125 animals are called, many of which are now extinct.

15. "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz (1972): Ever have one of those days when anything that could go wrong did? Well, welcome Alexander's day, which makes us all feel better in the end.

16. "Alfie and the Birthday Surprise" by Shirley Hughes (1998): A cat dies, which sets in motion Alfie's idea to throw a surprise party involving baking a cake and hiding a new kitty. Alfie appears in a series of books.

17. "Alphabet City" by Stephen T. Johnson (1995): The recipient of a Caldecott Honor award, the paintings of New York City become the canvas for 26 letters, which are hidden within the cityscape.

18. "Amelia Bedelia" by Peggy Parish, illustrated by Fritz Siebel (1993): If Amelia Bedelia wouldn't take words so literally, she'd probably do a better job as a housekeeper, but the series based on her wouldn't be nearly as humorous.

19. "Amelia's Fantastic Flight" by Rose Bursik (1992): Amelia builds her own plane and takes off, introducing young readers to countries around the world.

20. "Animal Crackers: A Delectable Collection of Pictures, Poems, Songs and Lullabies for the Very Young" by Jane Dyer (1996): For the child listener, these familiar and contemporary poems are sure to please, as are the lovely illustrations.

21. "Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing" by Judy and Ron Barrett (1970): This book that encourages some silly ideas of animals wearing clothing, along with its companion title, "Animals Should Definitely Not Act Like People," will have children giggling.

22. "Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner" by Amy Schwartz (1988): Lucy, Annabelle's big sister, gets her all ready for school -- unfortunately, not all the lessons she teaches are useful in the classroom.

23. "Baby Beluga" by Raffi, illustrated by Ashley Wolff (1990): Baby Beluga introduces children to the undersea life and creatures living there in a fun, memorable song.

24. "Bat Jamboree" by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (1996): This book is filled with performing bats and a nod to counting.

25. "Born to Read" by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Marc Brown (2007): This is the rhyming story of Sam -- he's born to read, which allows him to conquer whatever he wishes. Sierra and Brown also collaborated on "Wild About Books."

26. "Brave Irene" by William Steig (1988): Irene, the dressmaker's daughter, helps her mom by delivering a dress through a major blizzard in time for a ball.

27. "Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain" retold by Verna Aardema (1981): An East African story of Ki-Pat bringing rain to the Kapiti Plain with repetition that insists on being read aloud.

28. "Caps for Sale" by Esphyr Slobodkina (1947): A classic tale that has entertained generations, this is the story of a hat seller who falls asleep and has his caps swiped by monkeys.

29. "Catch Me & Kiss Me & Say It Again" by Clyde Watson, illustrated by Wendy Watson (1978): These are short, fun verses children and parents will enjoy repeating.

30. "Chester's Way" by Kevin Henkes (1997): Chester and Wilson are best friends, but the arrival of Lilly into their neighborhood shakes things up.

31. "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Lois Ehlert (1991): Colorful, lively illustrations carry parents through the fun, read-aloud alphabet-laden text.

32. "Chrysanthemum" by Kevin Henkes (1991): It's the perfect name for a perfect baby, until Chrysanthemum arrives at school and is subjected to not-so-nice classmates, who soon learn to be more considerate.

33. "Coyote: A Trickster Tale From the American Southwest" by Gerald McDermott (1994): A Zuni folktale about Coyote, who wants to fly with the crows.

34. "Curious George" by H.A. Rey and Margaret Rey (2001): This classic, written in the early 1940s, is about a curious monkey captured by a man in a yellow hat who takes him to live in the city. Dozens of books have followed since this original title, including this 60th anniversary collection.

35. "Days with Frog and Toad" by Arnold Lobel (1984): A celebration of friendship, set up in small chapters, this heartwarming book contributes to the "I Can Read" series.

36. "The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins" by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Brian Selznick (2001): Although Waterhouse Hawkins is hardly a household name, this book recounts his life's story about his passion for dinosaurs.

37. "Each Orange Has 8 Slices" by Paul Giganti Jr., illustrated by Donald Crews (1992): A book that ingeniously introduces math concepts, such as addition or multiplication: An orange has eight slices with two seeds in each slice.

38. "Each Peach Pear Plum" by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (1979): An afternoon in the countryside is the setting for this book that places nursery rhyme characters throughout the illustrations.

39. "Fiddle-I-Fee: A Farmyard Song for the Very Young" by Melissa Sweet (1992): Follow a boy around a farm, meeting all the animals and joining in the parade!

40. "Frederick" by Leo Lionni (1967): In this classic 1967 Caldecott award-winning book, Frederick is a daydreaming mouse. A series of Frederick books follows.

41. "George and Martha" by James Marshall (1974): Read about two best friends, who happen to be hippos, and all the sticky situations they find themselves in. This is the beginning of a series celebrating the friends.

42. "Ginger" by Charlotte Voake (1997): A rivalry between a family's orange cat and the new little gray kitten, this story is illustrative of a young child dealing with a new baby coming home.

43. "Go, Dog. Go!" by P.D. Eastman (1961): Simple, rhyming sentences and a possible romance are part of this classic early-reader.

44. "Gobble, Quack, Moon" by Matthew Gollub, illustrated by Judy Love (2002): A cow dreams of becoming a dancer and wearing a tutu.

45. "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" by James Marshall (1988): Adorable illustrations are seen in this version of the childhood favorite.

46. "Goodbye House" by Frank Asch (1986): A perfect book for helping a child understand moving, a father and child say goodbye to their house after it's emptied.

47. "Grandpa's Corner Store" by Dyanne Disalvo-Ryan (2000): A young girl gets the neighborhood behind her in support of her grandfather's store, which is threatened by the opening of a supermarket.

48. "The Graphic Alphabet" by David Pelletier (1996): Not your standard ABC book, instead of A is for apple, Pelletier shows an avalanche. Parents will appreciate the clever graphics.

49. "Harriet and the Promised Land" by Jacob Lawrence (1968): Using rhyming text and colorful paintings, Lawrence tells the story of Harriet Tubman, who lead slaves to freedom.

50. "Honey, I Love" by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist (1995): Poetry just begging to be read and celebrates what a child loves.

51. "I Like Me!" by Nancy Carlson (1988): A pig with a healthy self-image and her enthusiasm will have young readers excited about themselves, too.

52. "I Want to Be an Astronaut" by Byron Barton (1988): Bright colors and chunky illustrations, along with a very simple text, make this a great book for kids getting interested in space.

53. "I'd Really Like to Eat a Child" by Sylviane Donnio, illustrated by Dorothee de Monfreid (2007): Achilles, a young alligator, decides that instead of eating bananas (or delicious chocolate cake) he wants to eat a child -- until he actually meets a child.

54. "If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World's People" by David J. Smith, illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong (2002): This book will get kids thinking about people in the rest of the world and includes facts and figures about the world's people.

55. "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura J. Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond (1985): As everyone knows, if you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to want a glass of milk ... And so starts this book that builds on actions and consequences. Several books have spun off from this original.

56. "I'll See You When the Moon Is Full" by Susi Gregg Fowler, illustrated by Jim Fowler (1994): A family's life and love, along with a father's business trip, intersect with the cycles of the moon.

57. "Imogene's Antler's" by David Small (1985): Imogene wakes up and faces the world after growing antlers.

58. "In the Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak (1970): An award-winning book, Mickey finds himself in a busy night kitchen filled with bakers.

59. "Is Your Mama a Llama?" by Deborah Guarino, illustrated by Steven Kellogg (1989): Read delightful rhyming riddles about animals and their mamas.

60. "Jamaica Tag-Along" by Juanita Havill, illustrated by Anne Sibley O'Brien (1990): Jamaica's brother won't let her come along with him while he plays with his friends. This is the second book in a series and follows "Jamaica's Find."

61. "January Rides the Wind: A Book of Months" by Charlotte F. Otten, illustrated by Todd L.D. Doney (1997): Twelve poems accompanied by lush watercolors help guide young children to learn about the months and seasons.

62. "Jumanji" by Chris Van Allsburg (1981): Life just became a little more interesting for two children who find a board game and unleash the jungle in their home.

63. "Lazy Jack" by Tony Ross (1986): The familiar tale of Jack, who is lazy, gets modern twists that include a hot dog factory.

64. "Leo the Late Bloomer" by Robert Kraus, illustrated by Jose Aruego (1971): This book reassures later bloomers when Leo catches up with his friends in reading and writing.

65. "Little Folk: Stories from Around the World" by Robert Paul Walker, illustrated by James Bernardin (1997): Lush illustrations for eight stories convey the lives of little people, both familiar and unfamiliar, from around the world.

66. "M is for Majestic: A National Parks Alphabet" by David Domeniconi, illustrated by Pam Carrol (2007): Although presented with rhyming couplets, this book has information about the national parks, which makes it a great introduction for kids.

67. "Madeline" by Ludwig Bemelmans (1939): This wonderful rhyming story is about Madeline, one of 12 little girls, and their headmistress Miss Clavel. The winner of a Caldecott Medal, it's the first in a series.

68. "The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks" by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Bruce Degen (1986): Students take a trip to explore the reservoir system with their unique teacher Mrs. Frizzle. This is one of a series of scientific-based adventures that start on a magic school bus.

69. "Martha Speaks" by Susan Meddaugh (1992): In the first of a series, Martha the dog eats some alphabet soup and, instead of hitting her stomach, the letters go to her head. Now she can speak.

70. "Millions of Cats" by Wanda Gag (1928): In this ageless Newbery Honor award-winning book, a little old man sets off to bring home a cat to please the little old woman and he finds millions. Gradually the couple are left with one kitten.

71. "Minerva Louise at School" by Janet Morgan Stoeke (1988): This story of a curious chicken who thinks a school is a barn, is not lost on the young. Several variations of her environment-confusion follow in successive books.

72. "Mr. Lunch Takes a Plane Ride" by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh, illustrated by J. Otto Siebold (1993): Mr. Lunch, a computer-generated dog, takes a ride in an airplane's luggage compartment to appear on late-night television.

73. "Mommy Exchange" by Amy Hest, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan (1988): Preschoolers are convinced their friends have it better, so they swap places for the weekend.

74. "My Mom Travels a Lot" by Caroline Feller Bauer, illustrated by Nancy Winslow Parker (1981): This book handles the idea of Mom's work travel in a light manner.

75. "Nothing Ever Happens on My Block" by Ellen Raskin (1966): Chester Filbert complains his block lacks excitement. Meanwhile, he is surrounded by mayhem. Bringing a child into the discussion of what's happening around Chester is half the fun.

76. "Nursery Tales Around the World" by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Stefano Vitale (1996): Sierra has grouped these read-aloud folk tales by theme, which makes it interesting to all to see similarities of the 18 stories from a variety of countries.

77. "Old Turtle and the Broken Truth" by Douglas Wood, illustrated by Jon J. Muth (2003): This is an allegorical fable about what happens when a truth falls from the sky and humans find it.

78. "Owl Babies" by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Patrick Benson (1992): Find graceful illustrations and a simple story of baby owls awaiting their mother's return.

79. "Pelle's New Suit" by Elsa Beskow (1929): This gentle story is about Pelle, whose sheep's wool grows longer while he grows out of his clothes.

80. "Pig Pig Grows Up" by David McPhail, illustrated by Peter Fernandez (2001): A pig insists on behaving like a child, until forced to exhibit some maturity.

81. "The Quiltmaker's Gift" by Jeff Brumbeau, illustrated by Gail de Marcken (2005): A wealthy woman finds a world beyond her town's walls and opens her eyes to other's needs.

82. "Rain Talk" by Mary Serfozo, illustrated by Keiko Narahashi (1990): Read rainy day adventures of a girl and her dog exploring the lush world of rain.

83. "The Real Mother Goose" illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright (1993): Find familiar best-loved Mother Goose rhymes with classic illustrations.

84. "The Red Balloon" by Albert Lamorisse (1957): The Parisian adventures of a little boy and his red balloon are illustrated with photos from the film of the same name.

85. "Rootabaga Stories: Part One" by Carl Sandburg (1936): Nonsense stories are written for the author's children by the famous poet. The stories appear in different editions and some stories may be found in a standalone format.

86. "Seven Blind Mice" by Ed Young (1992): Illustrated using bright paper collages, in this variation of an old fable, seven mice try to figure out what large animal is among them.

87. "Shrinking Mouse" by Pat Hutchins (1997): A mouse goes on a journey to warn animal friends, such as the owl, who appears to shrink as he flies away.

88. "The Story of Babar" by Jean De Brunhoff (1933): An orphaned baby elephant becomes civilized in the city and then returns to the jungle to become king.

89. "The Story of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson (1936): The bull, Ferdinand, does not want to go into the bullring and fight.

90. "Stories to Solve: Fifteen Folktales from Around the World" by George Shannon, illustrated by Peter Sis (1985): These read-aloud folktales make children ponder.

91. "Sunshine" by Jan Ormerod (1981): Follow along on a wordless trip through the daily routine of a young girl.

92. "Swimmy" by Leo Lionni (1963): Little Swimmy finds himself alone in the sea, but figures out a way to survive.

93. "Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs" by Alan Katz, illustrated by David Catrow (2001): Silly lyrics replace the real ones in this zany collection of more than a dozen songs.

94. "Tambourine Moon" by Joy Jones, illustrated by Terry Widener (1999): Granddaddy shares his story of an Alabama night long ago, when he first met Grandma.

95. "Three Cool Kids" by Rebecca Emberley (1995): Paper collage illustrations are seen in this updated version of the "Billy Goats Gruff."

96. "Tikki Tikki Tembo" by Arlene Mosel, illustrated by Blair Lent (1968): This Chinese folktale recounts the way the culture started to give children shorter names.

97. "Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day" by Jamie Lee Curtis, illustrated by Laura Cornell (1998): A whirlwind of emotions illustrate in this book, which tackles 13 moods and includes a wheel at the back for youngsters to discuss their own moods.

98. "Wake Up, Sun!" by David L. Harrison, illustrated by Hans Wilhelm (1986): A dog can't find the sun when he wakes up during the night, so he goes out to find it, waking others along the way.

99. "The Water Hole" by Graeme Base (2001): The illustrations in this book draw in the reader, who will linger to find more in each picture, and, at the same time, count from one to 10.

100. "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak (1963): A classic with only 338 words and amazing illustrations, Max manages to will a forest into his room after he's sent to bed without dinner. The Wild Things inhabit his forest and he enjoys a romp, until he becomes homesick.

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