Books for preschool children aged 0-4

Books for preschool children – our experts in children’s literature have prepared a selection of 30+ book recommendations for preschoolers aged 0-4 years old. We chose these titles based on outstanding feedback from schools. Our preschool reading list includes a variety of titles that are ideal for reading at home, in nursery classrooms, at playgroups, or as part of a childcare provision programme. It encourages children to want to read and helps them develop the first steps towards reading for pleasure prior to formal education.  This list of board books and picture books features a diverse range of authors including Emma Yarlett, Joerg Muhle, Richard Scarry, Anke Kuhl, Sally Symes, Hannah Campbell, Eric Veille, Satoru Onishi, Stephanie Blake, David Elliot, Kelly Dipucchio and Susan Hayes.

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Books for preschoolers

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Books for Preschool- our recommendations

A Bird Day by Eva Lindstroem

A day in the family life of a bird is painted with a warm and light-hearted touch in this hardback picture book for preschool children. Emphasising daily routines and how we all get along with each other through the eyes of a bird, this book deftly highlights what makes family life tick.

A Bird Day by Eva Lindstroem

Nooo! Not the Dentist! by Stephanie Blake

Ferdinand frightens his friend Simon with darkly imaginative tales of dental horrors. But the reality is nothing like Simon’s worries. Funny, and relatable, this is an ideal text to read at home to help allay fears about visiting the dentist or to use in school with younger children to talk about ‘people who help us’ or teeth topics.

Nooo! Not the Dentist! by Stephanie Blake

Animal Homes: Rainforest and Ocean by Natasha Durley

Uniquely clever die-cut chunky board pages with cutaways and interesting shapes invite the youngest readers to explore the rainforest floor, trees and canopy spotting creepy crawlies and monkeys in the rainforest. And in the ocean, there are starfish, whales and pointy teeth to find! For small hands, this new series is literally gripping. A wonderfully realised concept – highly recommended for preschoolers.

Animal Homes: Rainforest by Natasha Durley

Baby on Board: Car by Seb Braun

There’s something that moves on every page as animal characters introduce toddlers to a highly engaging interactive car journey. Who can resist a story with spinnable wheels and big chunky tabs and sliders to move the car? With catchy rhyming text, it’s perfect to read, share and talk about. Also newly released in the series is Baby on Board: Train.

Baby on Board: Car by Seb Braun

Richard Scarry’s Busy Busy Town by Richard Scarry

Prepare for your preschooler to be utterly absorbed by this vivid picture book where every page bustles with energy and enthusiasm. Follow Lowly Worm and Huckle Cat’s adventures in the post office, the school, the farm and many other locations in the Busy, Busy Town.

Richard Scarry's Busy Busy Town by Richard Scarry

Bing: Ready to Play?: A Push, Pull and Spin Book by Harper Collins Children’s

This clever series of interactive board books use chunky card elements to help smaller children develop fine motor skills. With grippable and robust tabs for hands to pull, push and spin, every page has something to find, try, or work out. In this book, toddlers can help Sula paint a Rainybow, play hide and seek with Bing and Panda and find out who will wobble first in a game of musical statues. It’s all great fun.

Bing: Ready to Play?: A Push, Pull and Spin Book by Harper Collins Children's

Poppy Pickle by Emma Yarlett

In a world where seemingly everything is ordinary, Poppy isn’t. She’s extraordinary and has an imagination that literally comes alive. With flaps to lift and clever clues to find, can young readers help get Poppy out of a pickle? Perfect to read and share with preschool children, Poppy Pickle is a modern classic.

Poppy Pickle by Emma Yarlett

Let’s Play, Little Rabbitt by Jörg Mühle

Little Rabbit needs someone to play with, and he’s chosen you – the reader. This charming board book with ebullient illustrations is wonderful to read and share with toddlers who can predict what will happen next and talk about how they would join in with little Rabbit. There’s a cheeky twist ending to look forward to as well!

Let's Play, Little Rabbitt by Jörg Mühle

Perfect Presents by Anke Kuhl

Gecko is delighted – he thinks he’s found the perfect present for his hard-to-find a present for friend. But not everything goes to plan, and perhaps his friend has misunderstood the gift in this quirky and funny illustrated story for toddlers. With a delightful and satisfying ending, this is a book to read again and again, and a great text to help children understand the magic of giving.

Perfect Presents by Anke Kuhl

Britannica’s BABY Encyclopedia by Saly Symes

Packed with bright illustrations and lots to look at, Britannica’s Baby Encyclopedia is a substantial hardback that’s perfect to read to and share with babies and toddlers. Covering ‘our world’, animals, plants, the body, food, machines, art and music and shapes and numbers; there’s plenty to spark the youngest minds. With a massive amount of detail, short bursts of narrative, topic vocabulary and onomatopoeic sounds on every page, this encyclopedia will also prove to be a valuable resource for pre-schools and nursery educators.

Britannica's BABY Encyclopedia by Saly Symes

Britannica’s Ready-for-School Words by Hannah Campbell

A fascinating and challenging series of illustrated themed spreads depict a diverse collection of families going about their lives, and the keywords children will want to learn to describe their experiences. In this hardback pre-school word bank, there’s a wealth of useful vocabulary to describe an inclusive range of familiar places – such as a street, the playground, and the park. There are also life situations including getting ready to go to school, a trip to the doctor and an emergency. ‘Ready-for-School Words’ is a valuable text to read with children to build confidence before starting in .

Britannica's Ready-for-School Words by Hannah Campbell

Lionel Poops by Éric Veillé

Lionel poops in all sorts of places that he shouldn’t, all told through a fun call-and-response format for shared reading. There’s a reassuring and confidence-building twist at the end of the story. Also in the series is Lionel Eats by Himself, a laugh-out-loud examination of Lionel’s mealtime adventures in a high chair. With bright colours, bold illustrations and a sturdy board book format, this is a funny and practical series to read and share with toddlers.

Lionel Poops by Éric Veillé

Who’s Hiding by Satoru Onishi

In this exquisitely illustrated wordless picture board book, there’s a collection of 18 vibrant animals that repeats on each double page. On even page spreads children are asked to spot which animals are hiding, and on odd page spread, children have to work out which animals are crying, angry, sleeping and more. It’s a highly engaging text that is great fun to discuss with toddlers. It’s also a useful visual comprehension resource for pre-school and nursery teachers, particularly for children who struggle to discern emotions, expressions or fine details. Highly recommended.

Who's Hiding by Satoru Onishi

Wooolf! by Stephanie Blake

Simon is a naughty rabbit who only does what he wants to. Faced with anything else, he cries “Wolf!”. Until a real wolf appears in a cupboard shouting “Awwoooo!” With a clever twist, Wooolf! is a hilariously funny modern interpretation of the traditional fable. Perfect to read to a class, children will quickly join in with the repeating “Wolf” and the outstanding bold narrative illustrations that will be seen at the back of the room. A surefire hit for reading to pre-school and nursery children, teachers and parents!

Wooolf! by Stephanie Blake

Bumblebee Grumblebee by David Elliot

This board book for 1-3-year-olds brims with hilariously funny animal wordplay. With fabulous and characterful illustrations, children will enjoy trying to predict the animals and actions and adults will love to read and share the clever rhyming moments. We particularly liked the Hippopotamus Hippospotamous and the memorable and … atmospheric … Pelican Smellican.

Bumblebee Grumblebee by David Elliot

Britannica’s 150 First Words by Claire Laties Davis

This strikingly bright and chunky board book presents familiar situations throughout a typical day through double-page spreads with vibrant illustrations. Waking up, getting dressed, eating, playtime, going outside, the park and bedtime are all covered – with each section explaining the keywords using pictures and context. We liked the choice of words, which encompass everyday objects and activities, and the phrases, that cleverly use repetition to help build memory and understanding. Highly recommended for emerging talkers.

Britannica's 150 First Words by Claire Laties Davis

Oona and the Shark by Kelly DiPucchio and Raissa Figueroa

When Oona, a mermaid, wants to be friends with a shark called Stanley, she faces a big challenge! Whatever she does, he just doesn’t seem to like her. But, like a true mermaid, Oona never gives up in this charming story of resilience and perseverance. A diverse and vibrant picture book with sparkling text – perfect for preschool children.

Oona and the Shark by Kelly DiPucchio and Raissa Figueroa

Richard Scarry’s Storybook Dictionary

This visual ABC vocabulary book for beginners contains thousands of new words, explanations, and illustrations to capture your child’s attention. It’s a classic and unforgettable book for children aged 3 to 5 and one to revisit and return to. There’s so much to look at on every page. It’s a great book to read to and share with inquisitive preschoolers and there’s an infectious sense of humour throughout. Richard Scarry’s 250 books have sold more than 150 million copies worldwide, and it is not hard to see why.

Richard Scarry's Storybook Dictionary

Zoom Rainforest Adventure by Susan Hayes and Susanna Rumiz

In this bright and exciting title from What On Earth Books’ growing non-fiction book series for nursery and preschool children, young explorer Lin takes us into the rainforest. Taking her toy monkey along for the ride, we meet snakes, hummingbirds, macaws and more in a vibrant boardbook landscape. Complete with cut-out windows, pop-ups and pink dolphins, this fact book is a delight to read and share.

Zoom Rainforest Adventure by Susan Hayes and Susanna Rumiz

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For more picture books, see our list of 50 picture books to read before you are five.

About Tom Tolkien

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Tom Tolkien is a highly qualified (BA Hons, PGCE, QTS) children's literature expert and teacher with over 25 years of experience. He has led inset courses, developed curriculum materials, spoken at conferences, advised on longlisting for several international children's literature literature awards and written for educational publishers including contributing to a BETT award-nominated app. Social profiles: Twitter | Linkedin

This booklist was last updated on March 27th, 2024 and first published in 2022.