I’ve always loved to read and have enjoyed reading to my kids. My younger daughter has been learning to read on her own, so we moved on to chapter books a few months ago. We’ve been reading the Magic Tree House series, which are fascinating and educational reads that teach children about various times in history.
I love the Magic Tree House premise, that books have a magic all their own in that they transport us to other places and times. I hope my kids will always love to read as much as my husband and I do. Here’s my list of favorite books for kids of preschool age, books which both of my girls enjoyed when they were younger.
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“The Fat Cat Sat on a Mat” by Nurit Karlin
I was shocked to see negative Amazon.com reviews of my favorite among our large collection of books for kids, The Fat Cat Sat on the Mat. I’ve read it so many times that I practically have it memorized. Reviewers criticize its “hateful language.”
Okay, it’s true – “The rat hates the cat. The cat does not care. The cat, who is fat, just lies in the vat, and stares at the rat. The cat hates that.”
In real life, far worse things are likely to happen between a cat and a rat, who are natural born enemies. Preschoolers already know that cats eat rats, so they’re not likely to be friends, even in books. Nobody gets hurt or eaten in this book. The cat just won’t move from the mat, no matter what.
The rhyming is catchy, the storyline comical and the illustrations adorable. If you’re offended by cats and rodents who don’t get along, then you’ll want to skip “Kat Kong” from later in my list, too.
“Dance to the Rescue” (Dora the Explorer)
Dance to the Rescue (Dora the Explorer) is a book that kids can interact with. With almost every turn of the page, they can dance along with Dora and her friends – twisting, waving arms and so forth.
It’s a whole lot of fun to read and for kids to play with. It’s a great book for high energy kids who want to move around a lot.
“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” by Judi Barrett
The movie with the same name didn’t do justice to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The classic children’s book from 1978 tells the story of a city where all of the townspeople’s food falls from the sky three times a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Changes to the weather, however, cause terrible things to happen. Food that’s too large and in huge quantities puts the citizens in grave danger, and they have to make a decision whether to stay or move away to parts unknown.
“Corduroy” by Don Freeman
Dan Freeman’s Corduroy books are as popular now as they were more than 30 years ago when he first wrote the original Corduroy book. Freeman passed away in 1978, having written several Corduroy books. Others have since written stories featuring the character, too.
“Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss
“You’ll be on your way up! / You’ll be seeing great sights! / You’ll join the high fliers / who soar to high heights.”
“Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin Jr.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a very popular alphabet learning book that combines an engaging, rhyming story with learning letters. Its cute illustrations add to the catchy language.
“Are You a” Backyard Books Series by Judy Allen
Judy Allen’s Backyard Books series of books teaches kids all about the various creepy crawly things they might otherwise fear. Titles include Are You a Bee?, Are You a Ladybug?, Are You a Butterfly, Are You a Dragonfly, Are You an Ant, Are You a Snail, Are You a Spider and Are You a Grasshopper. These books are highly educational while remaining entertaining enough to hold a kid’s interest.
“Kat Kong” by Dav Pilkey
If I’m going to get picky, the only thing I don’t like about Kat Kong is its treatment of poor Kat Kong, who is taken from his native island by three “intrepid mouse explorers” and tied up for exhibition. It won’t matter to your kids that they don’t get the take-off on “King Kong.”
As noted previously, “The Fat Cat Sat on a Mat” garnered some negative reviews on Amazon for its “hateful language.” I’m not sure why “Kat Kong” doesn’t seem to generate the same feelings, given that mice tie up a poor cat who never did anything to them, then he breaks out of captivity, climbs up a tall building and eventually falls to his demise.
As a cat lover, I’m not even sure why I like this book. I do admire creativity and parodies, so I probably enjoy it for the same reasons I liked the movie “Spaceballs.”
“Dragon’s Fat Cat” by Dav Pilkey
You won’t mind the dozens of times you have to read Dragon’s Fat Cat to your kids. It tells the charming story of a sweet, if somewhat dimwitted, dragon who rescues a cold kitty from a snowstorm and decides to keep her.
Dragon has no idea how to take care of a cat or what to feed a cat, with hilarious results. He’s also clueless as to why his cat, whom he names Cat, is fat.
“What Cried Granny” by Katie Lum
Your kids will want to have What! Cried Granny read to them over and over again. A little boy is having a sleepover for the first time at Grandma’s house, and he doesn’t have anything he needs.
So, Grandma has to make him a bed, mattress, pillow, teddy bear and so forth. This involves chopping down trees, sheering sheep, gathering feathers from a hen house, tearing down curtains and a multitude of other tasks before the boy can sail off to dreamland.
How About You?
What books for kids do you recommend? What are your favorites among the books for kids around your house?