Reading to preschoolers plays a crucial part in developing their language and literacy skills. But with so many books on the market, finding something that will be a hit with your children can prove a bewildering and frustrating experience.
To help first-time parents navigate the aisles of bookshops and libraries, we have compiled this “classic ten” list of books for the 3-5 year age category.
Bear in mind that individual children develop at varying rates and also, of course, differ in their interests. However, the books below – some classics that have survived generations and some more recent titles – have all got a special quality that should give pleasure to children and parents alike. Enjoy!
The top 10 best books for kids aged 3 – 5 years
The books in this list are in no particular order.
What Do People Do All Day?
by Richard Scarry
Inquisitive readers who are constantly asking “why?” will revel in the opportunities posed by this book, which is packed full of busy “people” engaged in all manner of activities. Even adults will find their curiosity sparked by the detailed drawings of industrious characters.
I Will Not Ever, Never Eat a Tomato
by Lauren Child
Lola is a fussy eater. She won’t eat peas, carrots, or fish fingers, and absolutely not tomatoes. But her brother Charlie has a solution. Don’t be surprised if your little reader develops their own passion for “cloud fluff from Mount Fuji”. This book deals with a problem familiar to children and parents and, with the help of bright and fresh illustrations, shows how much fun eating can be!
by Mem Fox and illustrated by Julie Vivas
Grandma Poss has magic for all occasions, but her best trick of all is to make little Hush invisible. Undoing her magic proves more difficult, and there follows a culinary tour of Australia as the possums search for a cure. Joyful, delightful, and a wonderful taste of Oz for children overseas.
by Marcia K Vaughan illustrated by Pamela Lofts
The wily Dingo is intent on making gooey, brewy, yummy, chewy Wombat Stew. The other animals offer their suggestions on how to improve the dish, but it is not the greedy dingo they are trying to help. A very Australian tale, with a chant full of fun.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
by Beatrix Potter
Despite somewhat dated language, this age-old classic about the naughty but loveable Peter Rabbit retains its appeal, as do the charming illustrations. Many children will enjoy the story from a younger age, but the pocket-sized books are suited to the older age category and, once hooked on Peter Rabbit, these children may show interest in progressing to some of the wordier Beatrix Potter stories.
by Alison Lester
This book is also attractive to a broad age range, with younger children enjoying the beat and rhyme of the verses and the colourful pictures, but older children scanning the detail of the pictures to learn the difference between a tyrannosaurus and a triceratops, a pigmy possum and a brushtail possum.
Green Eggs and Ham
by Dr Seuss
The distinctive, sketchy illustrations of Dr Seuss and the catchy rhymes have enthralled young readers for decades, and most parents will have their own fond memories of a Dr Seuss classic. Sam-I-Am tries his hardest to make green eggs and ham appealing, but the grouch just isn’t interested. Eventually, however, to get rid of the persistent Sam-I-Am, he agrees to try them. “I do so like green eggs and ham. Thank you, thank you, Sam-I-Am!”.
by Martin Handford
This book provides the kind of eyesight test children enjoy. Finding Wally hidden in the dense and detailed illustrations will reveal previously unknown powers of concentration. A good car trip choice.
The Terrible Plop
by Ursula Dobosarsky pictures by Andrew Joyner
Six little rabbits are picnicing by the lake, when suddenly they hear a terrible PLOP. The rabbits run away in fear, gathering other animals as they go. Only the big brown bear is unafraid, although in the end it is the brave little rabbit who is wisest. Short listed for the Children’s Book Council award, this modern day take on Chicken Licken is humorous and written with a charming rhythm. And the PLOP sound is a complete winner.
There Once was a Boy Called Tashi
by Anna Fienberg and Barbara Fienberg pictures by Kim Gamble
There once was a boy called Tashi, who had a way with witches and warlords, and an amazing capacity for magical adventures. Gorgeous illustrations and curious and cryptic names – like Gloomin the ogre and Luk Ahed the fortune teller – will captivate older preschoolers, as will the clever story. With luck, they will then be keen to try the rest of the series in the early-reader paperback format.