Beginning Books for Preschool Readers

Girl reading a book

Beginning books for preschool readers have few words, yet the can spark a lifelong love of reading while encouraging kids to process information in new, challenging ways. Preschool books provide a unique opportunity for parents, relatives, and caregivers to strengthen their bond with children. As kids get older and learn to sound out words and choose books on their own, they become less and less likely to read with adults.

Most kids who are learning to read are already at an age when they are fascinated by the world around them. The best pre-reader books take advantage of those circumstances by fostering continued curiosity and providing an additional dose of wonderment.

Beginning Books for Preschool Readers

With literally hundreds of beginning books for preschool readers available, one of the biggest challenges can be deciding where to start. When seeking book recommendations, try asking kindergarten teachers, children's librarians, or local bookstore employees about what they have found to be successful. Librarians in particular may be a useful resource because they work with children to help them find books they enjoy rather than always choosing books to put in kids' hands.

Even though some kids might get bored with longer books or books that have more than a few words on each page, don't be afraid to share picture books or other stories meant for older readers with the very young. Kids may develop their capacity for language and pick up new vocabulary words more quickly if they're challenged with the material they see, and it's would be a shame to keep some fantastic stories from young children just because they contain a few unfamiliar words or concepts.

Alphabet Books

Alphabet books are perenially popular because of their excellent pairing of entertainment and education. Though most books for young children toe the same line, alphabet books are almost never didactic and they frequently provide interesting and creative illustrations that comparable volumes don't offer. The books can introduce new words and encourage research and exploration about especially interesting content for kids who already know the alphabet.

Picture Books

Many picture books are written for children who already have basic reading skills, so it's possible that some may be beyond the grasp of pre-readers. However, very visual books such as the I Spy series and wordless picture books might appeal to many young children. Even if a book has an intimidating number of words, it can still be appropriate to share with a pre-reader.

If he or she seems to enjoy the story, try asking questions about the characters and what happened to them. You can quickly paraphrase what's on the page or make up other stories that relate to the illustrations you see, if necessary. Reading through the story several times and stressing the repetition in doing so can help kids become more familiar with the narrative elements.


Pat the Bunny

Poems are popular among kids of all ages because they're fun to read aloud and they are fun to hear. Most are also chock full of humor and short enough to memorize. Additionally, the repetition present in many poems for young children facilitates language learning and enhances accessibility of text that might otherwise be too puzzling to comprehend.

Classic Pre-reader Books

Most of the titles below never fail to delight preschoolers.

  • Dorothy Kunhardt's Pat the Bunny remains a classic book for pre-readers and, due to its innovative appeal to the sense of touch, makes it easy for very young kids to pay attention to what's happening on the page.
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein has an underlying theme that will cruise right over the heads of almost all kids, but that makes no difference in its popularity. Toddlers, preschoolers, elementary kids, and even older readers all seem to love Silverstein's simple line drawings and sparse, captivating text.
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown has captured kids' interests for decades and continues to do so with its simple story and easy-to-follow plot.
  • Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar is another classic that features vivid, enticing illustrations and a story that will never go out of style.
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Beginning Books for Preschool Readers