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Best Books for Preschoolers
From beloved classics to new favorites, here are the best stories to get your little kid hooked on reading
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Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
By Judi Barrett
You may have watched it in 3-D at the movies, but this zany story is definitely worth reading with your little bookworm. First published in 1978, the book tells the story of a town called Chewandswallow where the daily forecast includes downpours of soup, mashed potatoes and of course, meatballs. With detailed illustrations and clever writing, this deliciously fun tale will leave your kiddo laughing—and hungry!
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Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Very Bad Day
By Judith Viorst
One day Alexander wakes up with gum in his hair. Later, he falls in mud, gets soap in his eyes, and finds out he has a cavity. The loveable grump hilariously recounts how his day goes from bad to worse in a series of unfortunate events any kid (and parent!) can relate to—who hasn't had one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days?
Harold and the Purple Crayon
By Crockett Johnson
This timeless tale has been encouraging children to let their imaginations run free since 1955. It tells the story of pint-sized dreamer Harold, who one day decides to go for a walk and creates a whole world of adventures using nothing but his creativity and a purple crayon.
The Giving Tree
By Shel Silverstein
Using simple black-and-white drawings and few words, poet Shel Silverstein illustrates the lifelong friendship between a boy and a tree. It's a touching story (and warning: a tearjerker!) that teaches a wonderful lesson in selflessness, lifelong friendship and unconditional love.
The Tale of Rabbit and Coyote
By Tony Johnston
In this Mexican folklore-inspired tale, sly Rabbit gets caught stealing chili peppers from the farmer and is set to be boiled and eaten until he cleverly tricks the coyote into taking his place. Hilarity ensues as Rabbit manages to outwit the gullible coyote time and time again. The book includes a translation and pronunciation guide for Spanish words used throughout the story.
Fox in Socks
By Dr. Seuss
"Take it slowly. This book is dangerous!" the first page cautions. As with all Dr. Seuss books, you can expect bright, playful drawings and wonderful rhymes, but don't take the book's warning lightly—this one is jam-packed with tongue-twisters! Can you get through it without getting tongue-tied?
- Little Brown Books
I Love My Hair!
By Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
In this heartwarming book, a mother teaches her daughter an important lesson in self-acceptance. Illustrated in beautiful watercolor, the girl imagines her braids are like plant rows in a garden, her ponytails are like wings and eventually learns to embrace her lovely, unique hair.
By Victoria Kann
Is there such a thing as too much pink? Pinkalicious learns the hard way after she disobeys her parents and eats too many pink cupcakes and turns—you guessed it—pink. The cure for Pinkititis? Eating lots of greens! This fuchsia-filled book is tons of fun, and will be a big hit with your girly girl.
The Hello Goodbye Window
By Norton Juster
This sweet story depicts the loving bond one little girl has with her grandparents, and the special memories they make every time she visits. Kids will love the bright, dreamy pictures and the main character's vividly imaginative point of view.
Frog and Toad Are Friends
By Arnold Lobel
Your beginner reader will love to follow buddies upbeat Frog and morose Toad throughout this book's five delightful tales. The amphibian duo turns even the most mundane tasks (looking for lost buttons, waiting for the mail) into amusing adventures, teaching the importance of true friendship along the way.
By Mo Willems
Trixie happily tags along on Daddy's trip to the laundromat when—gasp—she realizes her beloved stuffed rabbit Knuffle Bunny is missing. The wide-eyed tot struggles as she frantically tries to alert her parents of bunny's disappearance in baby babble (aggle flaggle klabble!). The illustrations are a great combination of cute cartoon drawings set against black-and-white photographs of a Brooklyn neighborhood.
By Tomie De Paola
This charming fairytale is set in a medieval village in Calabria, Italy, where Strega Nona (a friendly "Grandma Witch") spends her days conjuring spells to help townsfolk. One day brutish Big Anthony disobeys the old woman and uses her magical pasta pot without her permission, resulting in a (delicious!) disaster as pasta floods the house and threatens the town.
By Faith Ringgold
Fascinating, detailed illustrations capture one African-American little girl's dreams of flying over New York City, past the rooftop of the Harlem apartment building she calls "tar beach." Cassie's fantasy flight allows her to escape the hardships of living in 1939—her family often struggles with money and discrimination. With a hopeful message and pictures that are wonderful works of art, this book is a gem.
Where the Wild Things Are
By Maurice Sendak
This classic has enchanted children and adults alike since 1963, selling more than 10 million copies. Kids will love Max, adorably clad in a wolf costume and his adventures with the Wild Things, the oafish creatures who make Max king of their mystical forest. Max learns that the "wild rumpus" is not all it's cracked up to be, and like Dorothy, realizes there's no place like home.
Please Baby, Please
By Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee
This gorgeous picture book follows a curly-headed tot whose naughty antics (eating sand, dumping cereal, splashing in the tub) leave her parents repeatedly pleading, "Please, baby, please!" Filmmaker Spike Lee and wife Tonya Lewis's words create a melodic rhythmic flow, making this book a real treat to read aloud.
By Ludwig Bemelmans
Madeline is the smallest—but boldest—of twelve little girls living in an old house in Paris. In the first book of the beloved series, the adorable redhead is rushed to the hospital to get her appendix taken out. Your kiddo will love getting lost in Madeline's world, depicted in charming drawings of Parisian landmarks.
By Pat Mora
When Pablo was first adopted as a baby, his Abuelito (grandfather) planted a tree in his honor. Every year for Pablo's birthday, his grandfather decorates the tree with a different theme (one year, it was streamers; the next, it was balloons.) Bright, collage cut-paper pictures illustrate the boy's excitement—how will Abuelito decorate his tree this year?