Choosing picture books that will entice your pre-readers is no easy task, but if you have the right books, reading with this age group is very rewarding. They can now understand more complex stories that you won’t mind repeating as many times as they will want to hear it. But what makes a good picture book for your pre-readers?
Here are some elements that we recommend looking for:
- Repetition – Get kids involved with the storytime by allowing them to predict what comes next.
- Language Play – Use these stories to develop early phonemic awareness.
- Rhythm and Rhyme – These stories read aloud well and invite listener participation.
Other aspects to think about are humor, surprising endings, unusual characters and child-friendly illustrations.
We especially liked the illustrations in Digby Takes Charge by Caroline Jayne Church, which depict the determination of Digby the sheep dog to make the sheep do what he wants them to do, and the satisfaction on both his and the sheep’s faces when they finally find a solution that makes them all happy. This is a cute animal story that teaches the importance of “please” without taking itself too seriously.
Add to your collection of Mother Goose rhymes with Mother Goose's Storytime Nursery Rhymes by Alison Green and illustrated by Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo), which puts the familiar rhymes into a narrative context that will catch kids’ interest and help them to see how the stories relate to their lives as Mother Goose tells the stories to her goslings to keep them from wandering off. Designed to be read aloud, this volume of familiar and forgotten favorites will bring to life these stories to a new generation.
And don’t forget to introduce your youngest readers to poetry. There are so many great children’s poetry collections out there, but even so, you will not want to be without Jane Yolen’s latest offering: Here's a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry. This collection of sixty poems by various writers is specifically designed with preschoolers and primary graders in mind. With starred reviews from both SLJ and Booklist to urge you on, this oversize volume should not be overlooked.
More great suggestions for your preschoolers to first graders: New Picture Books for PreK-1