Sometime between three and five, preschoolers begin to recognize characters in a story, and books now begin to be appreciated for the story as well as the pictures.

Younger preschoolers need sturdy books, board and cloth, that can take rigorous and repeated usage. There is usually no plot or story to these books, but they should be colorful. This is a good time to teach them how books work——from the left to the right side, from the front to the back, and how to turn pages without damaging them. Encourage preschoolers to look at and identify pictures.

Older preschoolers often enjoy information books. They seem to love labeling and identifying their world. They are more sociable and enjoy stories involving other children or animals impersonating children. Involve them more in the story, and ask them to predict what may happen next. This will stimulate their thinking and observation skills.

Take preschoolers to the public library. Most have wonderful programs for preschoolers. If possible, begin a small collection of books for them.

This is an exciting age for preschoolers, and listening to stories is where reading begins.

Current Notable

Wash-A-Bye Bear
Steam Train, Dream Train
The Story of Fish and Snail
The Very Big Carrot

Three Year Olds

There is a growing sense of independence and accomplishment at this age. Children love to participate in the telling of the story. They are curious about the world around them and love to hear about their pets, toys, and experiences. The language is just as important as the pictures at this age. Children also want to know the difference between real and make-believe, and they work hard at distinguishing between these concepts.

Choose folktales that lack violence, have simple language, an uncomplicated plot, and easy refrains. The characters may be in peril, but children will learn that they emerge unharmed in the end because they are courageous and wise. The rules are strict. In the Thee Little Pigs, because of their foolishness, two are eaten. In The Gingerbread Man, running away is fun, but he is a biscuit which are made to be eaten.

At bedtime books help children to settle down if they are soothing and can slide them into sleep. Threes love lullaby rhythms.

Four Year Olds

Imagination is on the move for four year olds. They are beginning to see the world from other viewpoints. Some children will listen endlessly, so involved I the story that the real world ceases to exist. Others will listen if the subject is a favorite one. Old favorites will continue to be enjoyed, while longer and more complex stories are interesting.

Nursery rhymes will continue to be favored, but stories can now be read in rhyme. Fours will develop their own taste in books now, often favoring information books that label and identify their world. Children are also interested in how mechanical things work.

Children delight in silly and absurd situations; they enjoy pretending, and love adventure. They love to hear exaggeration, but are impatient with long descriptions and overly involved dialogue.

This is a wonderful, but exhausting age for children, so enjoy it, savor it, and try to keep up with it.


Kindergartners should have the opportunity to hear as many of the classics as possible that are appropriate to their age level. We recommend the following stories that have endured over the years:

Chica Chica Boom Boom
The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter
The Eensy-Weensy Spider
Good Night Gorilla
Goodnight Moon
Harold and the Purple Crayon
Harry and the Dirty Dog
The Little Engine That Could
The Mitten
My Friend Bear
The Napping House
Peter's Chair
The Runaway Bunny
The Three Little Kittens
The Three Little Pigs
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod