TODDLERS

50 Best Preschool Books – Imagination Soup

Want to know kids’ favorite preschool books? Good books for 4- and 5-year-olds?

And don’t you love reading aloud picture books to your preschoolers? Because at this age and stage, children are loving the humor and learning ALL THE THINGS.

It’s such a blast, right?!

What makes a great book for preschoolers?

Children grow out of easy toddler books like Eric Carle’s Brown Bear. At preschool age, children want to read more complex picture books like fractured fairy tales, silly stories, thought-provoking tales, and nonfiction books.

Here are my favorite picture books to read aloud to your preschool-age kids and students…that they will LOVE!

And don’t worry, there are PLENTY more amazing preschool books than on this list. If you want more book ideas by topic, go to this comprehensive book list by topic.

Download the free pdf printable book list!

Favorite Preschool Books (for 4 and 5-year-olds!)

King Hugo’s Huge Ego by Chris Van Dusen
My preschoolers LOVED this funny rhyming book about a king who thinks VERY highly of himself and, as a result, is cursed by a witch. The curse means that whenever he utters self-important words, his head grows bigger. Surprisingly, the king doesn’t mind because that means there is more of him to love! Will the king ever learn his lesson? (We read this book EVERY night at bedtime for months.)

preschool books

Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Lucy yawns while her mother reads her a bedtime story and goes to sleep. Later, she wakes up, realizing she doesn’t have her special stuffed bear, Molasses. As she makes her way back to bed with Molasses and her friends, help count her yawns. Beautiful illustrations perfectly set the tone for this comforting bedtime story.

Hippos Are Huge! by Jonathan  London, illustrated by Matthew Trueman
Excellent writing and illustrations make this one of the best nonfiction animal picture books for preschool age kids. Bigger text pairs with smaller factual text to give younger readers tons of information.

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean
Preschoolers love to sing along with Pete’s song: “I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes . . . ” It will get stuck in your head. This story is about going with the flow …”cause it’s all good. One of the best preschool read alouds!

Looking for a Jumbie by Tracey Baptiste, illustrated by Amber Ren
One of my favorite preschool books, this is a story about mythological monsters, friendship, and bravery! Naya searches in the dark of night for a jumbie…even though her Mama says that jumbies are only in stories. “I’m looking for a jumbie. I’m going to find a scary one.” The refrain repeats as Naya meets a jumbie and other mythological monstrous creatures.

Everyone’s Awake by Colin Meloy, illustrated by Shawn Harris
It’s a crazy night because the entire family is awake and doing all sorts of imaginative, random things. Grandma’s at her needlework. Dad is baking bread. My brother’s making laundry lists of every book he’s read.” The rollicking, rhythmic verses plus neon-bright action-packed illustrations capture the exuberance and activity of this busy night.

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
Jabari is ready to jump off the diving board. Sort of. His dad tells Jabari that he feels scared too, and a deep breath and telling himself that he is ready helps him turn something scary into a fun surprise. Beautiful illustrations in a helpful, relatable story make this book a must-read preschool book for 4 and 5-year-olds

Good Night, Baddies by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Juli Kangas
The famous baddies head for home at the end of the day. They eat dinner together –politely! The troll takes a bath, the evil queen puts away the poisoned apple, and they all snuggle into their beds. Good night, sour dreams!

Alphabet Mystery by Audrey Wood
The lower case letters find the missing “x” and encounter the villainous capital letter “M” — this is a four- and five-year-old favorite to read repeatedly.

Hello, World! by Ethan Long
Welcome to Happy County where charming animal characters live. The characters are busy, busy living their lives, similar to Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy Town. Look at all the things happening on Farmer Dell’s farm! Can you help Mr. Grizzles and Ms. Green find the birds they’re searching for? A treasure trove preschool book with labeled objects and lovable characters.

preschool books

Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite by Nick Bromley, illustrated by Nicola O’Byne
What could be a very sweet story about the Ugly Duckling quickly turns very silly scary when a CROCODILE sneaks onto the pages. Gasp. Watch out! First, he eats the letters, then whole words, and finally, the sentences. It’s up to you, the preschool reader, to get rid of him. (You might even draw a tutu on him!)

A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India by Meera Sriram, illustrated by Mariona Cabassa
A little girl explores the market to find her Amma a gift. She notices the colors, tastes, smells, and sounds. Beautiful illustrations perfectly illuminate the celebration of the market’s colors and the girl’s excitement.

Quest by Aaron Becker
This enchanting and imaginative wordless picture book will transport preschoolers into a magical world. My kids and I poured over every beautiful detail in the pictures, and so will yours. Follow a boy and girl with a purple (magical) bird on their quest to save the king and his kingdom.

Real Cowboys by Kate Hoefler, illustrated by Jonathan Bean
The illustrations are so unique and gorgeous. The text shares what real cowboys are like — they are gentle, they share, they cry, they ask for help, and more. Love this!

Sleepy the Goodnight Buddy by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Scott Campbell
Roderick has impressive sleep-stalling strategies. So his parents get him a stuffed animal named Sleepy. But, Sleepy is even better at sleep stalling. In a hilarious role reversal, Roderick gets Sleepy a glass of water, reads him a bedtime story (The Day the Crayons Quit), checks the closet, and does all the things that Roderick’s parents used to do for him…until Roderick is exasperated and falls asleep.

The Whole Story by Vivian McInerny, illustrated by Ken Lamug
Zia falls through the hole in her pocket. She makes the hole into whatever she needs — a fishing hole, a swimming hole, a watering hole (for the cloud animals), and even an elephant trip. It’s a twisty-turny, creative adventure that your kids ages 4 and 5 will adore!

Old Tracks, New Tricks by Jessica Petersen
Snubbed by the trains, the new wooden train tracks decide they’ll show the other tracks fun ways to play — like hide-and-go track, tick-track-toe, tracks stack towers, dominoes, and so much more. These creative play ideas will get your kids thinking of their train tracks in many new, inventive ways. One of my kids’ favorite picture preschool books for 4- and 5- year olds!

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea
Goat is very irritated when Unicorn moves to town and seems to show up Goat. Goat made marshmallow squares but Unicorn makes it rain cupcakes. That makes Goat feel very jealous. But when Unicorn prances by, he’s amazed by Goat’s cheese, goat’s ability to eat garbage, his ability to head-butt the soccer ball, and his cloven hooves. And before you know it, the two are best friends. Goat says, “You know something, Unicorn? I had a feeling we’d be friends.” HA.

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
After a rough first day at school, where she eats her classmates, gets scolded by the teacher, spits them out, and doesn’t make any friends, Penelope’s dad explains that “children are the same as us on the inside. Just tastier.” HA. The next day, Penelope eats her classmates AGAIN! However, when the class goldfish chomps on Penelope’s finger, and it HURTS, she realizes that it’s no fun to be someone else’s snack.

So even when her classmates look delicious, Penelope tries to remember what it felt like…and she resists eating them. This means now she has friends and playmates at school. Talk about a great life lesson — do unto others!

The Leaf Thief by Alice Hemming, illustrated by Nicola Salter
A worried squirrel who thinks that SOMEONE is stealing his tree’s leaves. HIS leaves! Even though his friend Bird tries to help him, Squirrel doesn’t seem to understand the changes that the fall season brings like leaves changing color and wind blowing them off the trees. It’s funny and illuminating — and will spark helpful discussions about the characteristics of fall– with a hint of a winter surprise at the end.

More Preschool Books

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
This is a must-read-out loud book because, “Here’s how books work: Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say. For example, you might have to read that “I am a monkey who taught myself to read.” Or, “My only friend in the whole wide world is a hippo named BOO BOO BUTT.” Side-splitting for kids of any age, especially preschoolers.

Have You Seen Gordon? by Adam Jay Epstein & Ruth Chan
Goofy adventures and fun characters make this a hilarious seek-and-find book. A funny narrator battles the independent-thinking characters with their ideas about how the story should go. But first, can you find Gordon? When Gordon doesn’t hide very well, the narrator decides to find someone else to look for — but his new target, Jane, the construction worker, is shy, so she runs away. What will happen now?

The Piñata That the Farm Maiden Hung by Samantha R. Vamos, illustrated by Sebastia Serra
If you’re looking for cheerful, lyrical bilingual preschool books, this is a favorite. The farm maiden hangs the piñata. But who is it for? In this clever cumulative story, see how the farmer, his family, and the animals helped to prepare the piñata and the birthday party festivities. Spanish words are written in bold and supported with lively illustrations so readers can infer what each word means.

What’s in Your Pocket? Collecting Nature’s Treasures by Heather L. Montgomery, illustrated by Maribel Lechuga 
Learn about famous scientists who were curious children. Gorgeous illustrations and clear text will captivate readers as they learn about kids like Diego, who collected snails as a child and later became a herpetologist, or Mary, who collected caterpillars and eventually wrote a book on metamorphosis. Young readers will be inspired to start their own collections and see where their curiosities take them!

Hooray For Amanda & Her Alligator by Mo Willems
Reminiscent of the George and Martha books, this preschool book is about a girl named Amanda and her stuffed alligator. Told in 6 1/2 vignettes, the stories are all about surprises — a surprising surprise, an un-surprising surprise, a surprising tickle, a surprising value, a surprising . . . you get the idea. Both funny and poignant, this is one of our favorite preschool books.

You Will Be My Friend by Peter Brown
I love how hilarious this book is! Really seriously funny. Lucy is very enthusiastic about making friends with any forest critter. Her good intentions go awry, and soon Lucy is yelling at animals — “Come back here and have fun with me” and “You WILL be my friend.” As it turns out, that isn’t such a great way to make friends, either. Will Lucy ever make a friend?

I Can Only Draw Worms by Will Mabbitt
This zany preschool counting book with all the worms is a laugh-out-loud adventure in neon pink, yellow, white, and black. The narrator explains that he can only draw worms, so that’s exactly what he does –draws lots of worms. Ten worms, actually with super funny commentary.

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Curious Ada Twist loves questions and thinking just as much as she loves science experiments. Even when in time out, Ada is thinking and wondering . . . all over the wall. I love this spunky science-loving character of color and know you will, too.

El Cucuy Is Scared, Too! by Donna Barba Higuera, illustrated by Juliana Perdomo
Ramón isn’t scared of El Cucuy anymore (the boogieman) because he’s more worried about his first day of school. And El Cucuy feels the same — he misses their old home and the desert. Ramon reassures El Cucuy that they’ll both get used to it and make new friends and that El Cucuy is strong and brave; they both are. It’s a sweet story of friendship with colorful, vibrant illustrations.

Supermoms! by Heather Lang and Jamie Harper, illustrated by Jamie Harper
Did you know animals are moms, too? And they make safe, comfy homes like the groundhogs and red-knobbed hornbill. They’re creative with transportation — just look at a wolf spider mom carrying her spiderlings on her back. Fascinating facts about animal supermoms are paired with engaging comic-style illustrations.

Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman
The good thing for this farming family is that their chickens will help with EVERYTHING! Except on Sunday. A delightful adventure that reminds kids of the days of the week, too.

You Don’t Want a Unicorn! by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Liz Climo
Get the inside scoop as our narrator breaks down the perils of unicorns as pets. They can’t be house-trained, they have really big unicorn parties, the horn is very destructive, especially after jumping, . . . it’s just not as awesome as you might think. What a helpful cautionary tale! (added to: 22 Magical Children’s Books About Unicorns)

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems
Don’t miss this unpredictable and side-splitting story, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. In this remix, we have Dinosaurs instead of bears; Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur, and some other Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway. And “one day, for no particular reason, the three Dinosaurs made up their beds, positioned their chairs just so, and cooked three bowls of delicious chocolate pudding at varying temperatures.” Also, in this story, the dinosaurs eat little succulent children.

Greatest Animal Stories chosen by Michael Morpurgo 
The stories are about all animals, some from different cultural traditions; most of the stories contain a valuable lesson like “The Fox and the Crow” or explain a natural phenomena like “How the Bear Lost His Tail”. All stories are delightfully entertaining.

Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
A little girl sits sadly on her porch steps, thinking about the colors of the rainbow and how black isn’t in the rainbow. Poignant, lyrical metaphors and luminous illustrations tell readers what black is in the girl’s world — a crayon, a feather, braids, rhythm, blues, trains, dreams, and so much more. Her narration celebrates black culture, showing pride, context, and history. Every single part of this incredible book is meaningful, beautiful, and memorable.

Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins
Rupert tells his two exuberant and talkative friends that the book is supposed to be wordless but the friends just can not stop “helping” with ideas for the book, infuriating Rupert and cracking up the reader. Cartoon conversation bubbles, hilarious dialogue, and a funny storyline will keep you entertained from the first page. I predict this will be a new classroom and home preschool read-aloud favorite.

Saturday by Oge Mora
Everything on their special day goes wrong, but the mom and child acknowledge it’s all okay still because they’re together. What an important message about spending time with someone you love. Also, the ART — I can’t get enough of Mora’s collage artwork, it’s vibrant and beautiful.

The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Don’t miss this delightful book showing a sequential day filled with the many happy possibilities at school, including storytime, recess, playing with new friends, and a kind teacher. Because today you’re going to be the King of Kindergarten! Rich imagery filled with hyperbole and metaphors harmoniously complements the lush illustrations, creating a festive atmosphere filled with exuberance and bravery.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. & John Archambault
A classic favorite of childhood, this picture book is a rhyming story of alphabet letters having fun.

Are You Scared, Darth Vader? by Adam Rex
If you like funny preschool books, read this next! The narrator wants to know if Darth Vader is scared of anything. Maybe when this wolfman pops out? Or bites him? Or a vampire? “I AM NOT SCARED. I WILL NEVER BE SCARED. WHO COULD POSSIBLY SCARE LORD VADER?” Then a surprise ending shows what displeases, not scares, Darth Vader. What do you think it is?

preschool books

Another by Christian Robinson
In this exuberant celebration of the imagination, a little girl is in bed when an oval door opens into the wall. She follows the cats into what seems to be another world of colorful topsy-turvy dots and rectangles, more oval doors, many diverse kids, and another girl and her cat that look exactly like them. The white space and repetition of shapes feel playful and fresh. You might also like: Meaningful Activities with Wordless Picture Books.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Preschool readers immediately “get” the humor in the illustrations. As Sam and Dave dig their hole and dig and dig, they find nothing. But their dog, he’s sniffed out the world’s biggest diamond. Dogs know what’s up. Your kids will giggle their way through this favorite story!

Claymates by Dev Petty, illustrated by Lauren Edlridge
After reading this picture book, will your preschoolers want to make their own clay story? Two clay blobs, a gray and a brown blob, meet in an art room. A girl arrives to make the gray clay into a wolf and the brown clay into an owl. When she leaves, the two clays play around. They transform into many other creatures and objects until they hear the artist return. Can they fix each other?

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho
I have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” In this sensory, lyrical celebration of Asian eyes, a little girl shares her thoughts on who she is and who the women in her family are, including her little sister and Amah.

Beware of the Crocodile by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura
Introduce preschool kids to the crocodile in this picture book that could double as an easy nonfiction reader. Informative and awe-inspiring.

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim, illustrated by Grace Zong
My daughter says this is SO MUCH better than the original Goldilocks and the Three Bears because in this story of a young Chinese girl named Goldy. Goldy returns to the scene of her crime to apologize and help fix things. This is a better ending. I agree!

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk by Josh Funk, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor
The narrator of this hilarious story tries to boss Jack around, which Jack doesn’t like. In fact, he doesn’t want to be a thief and murderer. So at the giant’s house in the sky, Jack stops following the story. He befriends the giant, makes him a taco salad, and goes to Cinderella’s house for a party. It’s the perfect updated preschool version of Jack and the Beanstalk with a take-charge hero and curmudgeonly narrator.

Festival of Colors by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Siblings gather flowers for the upcoming festival of color, Holi. Each two-page spread is a different flower and color. “They gather irises because irises make BLUE.” When the flowers are gathered, they’re dried and pressed into fine powders of color.  Then, the family and friends come together and they throw the brilliant colored powders into the air and onto each other.

Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Bear discovers that observation of small moments can turn into big adventures with friends. He isn’t aware that he’s on an adventure until he’s floating down the river on a log with Froggy on his head soon to be joined by Turtles, Beaver, and Racoons, who don’t know they need to be careful until they run into Duck. With a wonderful circular ending and after a fun-filled fall of the waterfall, the friends realize they’re sharing life together…because the river came along.

Want to know kids' favorite preschool books? Good books for 4- and 5-year-olds?

And don't you love reading aloud picture books to your preschoolers? Because at this age and stage, children are loving the humor, and learning ALL THE THINGS.

KEEP READING

What Should Be the Goal of Preschool?

Good Nonfiction Books for Ages 2 – 5

Bookclub for Preschoolers

Activity Books for Preschoolers

Picture Book Scavenger Hunt

Good Books About Colors

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