My 4-year-old daughter loves stories. She wants me to tell her stories for every car ride, every quiet moment, and of course any time I sit down to have a cup of coffee or make a phone call. She’s fascinated and we’re having so much fun teaching her that books contain stories.
Reading is a beautiful thing that often becomes overshadowed by iPads, Netflix, and just the general hustle and bustle of a busy life. Reading with toddlers and preschoolers is tricky, too. Not only is it tough to find the time and patience to find a meaningful and engaging book for them, but we should be teaching our children the value of a great book and an exciting story.
If you’ve found yourself reading books with your preschooler and it feels like a chore, consider these exciting books and tips to make reading fun and meaningful.
My favorite books for preschoolers:
The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak (3-8 years)
This book is my daughter’s favorite. The author is a writer from The Office, so of course it’s clever and hilarious.
This Book Just Ate My Dog! By Richard Byrne (3-8 Years)
This book is interactive and a lot of fun! The reader has to shake the book during the story to get the characters out.
Don’t Push the Button! By Bill Cotter (3-8 Years)
Get ready for bedtime giggles! Here’s a clever play on how tempting it is to push buttons — almost anyone can relate to this!
Press Here By Herve Tullett (2-5 Years)
Watch your child follow directions in this interactive book. Kids will be asking to read this one over and over.
The Day the Crayons Quit by Oliver Jeffers (2-8 Years)
Who doesn’t love talking crayons? This book is a must-have for a preschool collection.
Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein (4-8 years)
Here’s a book adults will love, too! It’s also a great opportunity to have a discussion about manners.
Pete The Cat “I Can Read!” Collection
These books are fantastic for early readers because they are full of sight words, repetition, and great illustrations! I found them as a set on Amazon and my daughter loves them.
Looking for more books that promote sight words and other skills for kindergarten readiness? Check out the I Can Read website and the Step into Reading website to browse the different books — there’s bound to be something your child will love and each book is leveled to make transitions easier as your child begins to read.
Make reading meaningful! Try these tips while reading with your preschooler:
1. Let your child turn the page. I know. I know. This is hard, especially if your child is like mine and wants to grab three pages at once. Be patient. Model the behavior for them. “Alright, I’m going to turn the page very gently to see what happens next.” It’s important for them to learn that pages turn right to left, and that each new page is adding to the sequence of the story.
2. As you read together, use your finger to show where words begin and end on the page. Modeling where to begin reading on a page is important for early learners. In developing those skills, they will soon learn that readers don’t begin in the middle of the page, on the third letter in a word.
3. Sound out words with your child. Again, this one takes patience and some knowledge of beginning sounds. My daughter is four years old and had zero interest in sounding out letters to form words UNTIL we introduced The Book with No Pictures. She will sound out the words, “Boo Boo Butt” until she’s blue in the face and love every minute of it.
4. Let them “read” the story back to you. It’s so encouraging and adorable when early learners memorize their favorite book and want to “read” it. Even though it’s just memorization, they are learning, practicing, and processing three things: They are turning the pages correctly, they are “reading” a book they love, and they are seeing that letters form words, words form sentences, and sentences form stories.
5. They want to read the same book over and over and over? Let them. This one is hard, I know. Mama can only read Goodnight Moon so many times before all sanity is lost. It might seem ridiculous, but it’s actually a good thing. In 2011, a study of children’s language acquisition found that when children were read a book multiple times, the repetition helped them significantly to grasp vocabulary and process and learn the information in the text. Read more about that here.
6. Choose books that are developmentally appropriate. It might be tempting to start your kindergartener on the Harry Potter series, but it’s better to start with something on their reading level that is age appropriate. Likewise, when you find your preschooler becoming bored with board books, head to the book store and find something that will engage them. Even better, let them pick the book! We like to take a trip to McKay’s book store in Knoxville when we see our preschooler is getting tired of her books.
7. Read with expression. If you are reading the story like a bored robot, your child will probably pick up the habit. Get excited and give the characters a goofy voice. Check out B.J. Novak reading The Book With No Pictures to an audience of children. His expression adds a great deal of excitement and silliness to the story.
If you’re on a budget or just love free books, check out Dolly’s Imagination Library. The program will send your child a free new book every month, at no charge, until age five. My daughter gets excited to get her monthly book in the mail!