The end of the school year usually brings some of the most exciting events for my junior kindergarten students. Normally, we put on a nursery rhyme play that features such characters as Humpty Dumpty, Little Bo Peep, Mother Goose, and her little known husband, Father Goose. Water Day, popsicles on the playground, ABC yoga, are all amazing activities usually saved for the warm days of May. Normally, there is so much learning, growing, and playing going on during the last three months of the school year that my classroom has more energy than a middle school drama club.
This year, my classroom is empty and eerily quiet. My students have not visited their cubbies, painted at our easels, or played in the sensory tub since March 15. Saint Patrick’s Day books are on display in my bookshelf and shamrock art work still adorns the bulletin board. My classroom feels like a time capsule of a year unexpectedly cut short.
I also miss reading the books that I save for the end of the school year. With three months still left, I had so many wonderful books set aside to read aloud to my 18 little students. Now, I read some of these books through Loom videos and classroom Zoom meetings, but it is not the same.
This is a list of 14 perfect preschool read-alouds that are truly the best and that is why I save them for last. Some are beautifully written with important messages, some go with holidays we couldn’t celebrate together, and others are just funny books that kids love to hear over and over.
14 Read-Aloud Books For Preschoolers
After the Fall by Dan Santat
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall…” But, what happened to Humpty Dumpty after the nursery rhyme ends? In After the Fall, Dan Santat answers this question and provides reasons why Humpty sat on that wall in the first place. This is a beautiful, uplifting book about getting back up again, facing fears, and flying into the future. Even as an adult, the ending both surprised and enlightened me.
This is a Ball by Beck and Matt Stanton
This is a book that drives teachers, parents, and kids bonkers. The title states “This is a ball,” but the cover clearly shows a cube. As the book continues, the narrator tries to convince the reader that elephants are dogs, princesses are monsters, and cars are bikes. Kids love the zaniness of this book! This is one they ask to read over and over.
Mixed by Arree Chung
At the beginning of the book, there are Reds, Yellows, and Blues. They live harmoniously together until a Red claims that he is the best. The other colors, upset by the Red’s proclamation, move into their own color coded neighborhoods. The colors live separately until a brave Blue and a youthful Yellow fall in love, get married, and have a child of their own. They name the baby Green. The other Reds, Yellows, and Blues become enamored with the adorable Green. They begin to create new, more colorful families in this book that champions love and tolerance.
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
Swimmy is a little black fish who lives with his school of little red fish. He is very happy until one day when a bigger fish eats all of his friends. Swimmy sadly explores the ocean waters alone until one day when he finds a new school of little red fish. Instead of swimming and exploring with him, the little red fish are too scared of being eaten. Can Swimmy and the school of little fish bravely work together? This is a classic preschool story about the power of teamwork!
10 Things I Can Do To Help My World by Melanie Walsh
How can kids help our planet? In her book, Melanie Walsh answers this question and presents kids with ten things they can do to care for our world. Turn the water off when brushing your teeth, use both sides of the paper when drawing, and turn the lights off when you leave a room are all suggestions found in this book. The simple sentences and engaging die-cut illustrations enhance this helpful book. This book provides great conversation starters about how kids can start helping out planet right now.
Thank You, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony
Concerning gifts, we all know the expression “It’s the thought that counts.” Apparently, Panda’s animal friends have not heard this expression. As Panda passes out gifts to Mouse, Octopus, and Elephant, he does not receive the thanks he expected. Perhaps it is because the gifts are not quite right. What will an octopus do with six socks or a mouse with a large sweater? Little Lemur is the only one who expresses his thanks and is rewarded with a nice surprise. After reading this book, children will understand how important it is to show gratitude.
The Little Country Bunny and the Golden Shoes by DuBose Heyward and Marjorie Flack
School closed before Easter and I was disappointed that I could not share this classic with my students. According to The Little Country Bunny and The Golden Shoes, there are five Easter Bunnies that deliver eggs the night before Easter. Little Cottontail dreams of being one of these special bunnies. When she grows up, she becomes a mother to 21 little bunnies. Just as she thinks that her dreams are out of reach, Cottontail visits the Palace of the Easter Eggs and proves that even mother rabbits can achieve greatness.
My Best Friend, Sometimes by Naomi Danis and Cinta Arribas
Two little girls are best friends. They share pizza together, play doctor together, and feed ducks together. They love being best friends—until they aren’t any more. Sometimes they don’t want to share secrets, sometimes they are jealous, and sometimes one gets to take the class guinea pig home while the other has to wait. The ins and outs of friendship are explored in this book that teaches a very valuable lesson.
Bus Stops by Taro Gomi
At first glance, Bus Stops is a very simple book about a bus dropping off passengers along its route, but there is so much more. I love reading this book with a small group of students at our library center or during our small group time. On each page there is so much to discuss, vibrant illustrations to explore, people to count, and questions to answer.
Octopus Alone by Divya Srinivasan
Octopus lives in her cozy cave and prefers to be alone. Instead of talking to the puffers, seahorses, and squid, Octopus does everything she can to be alone. She blends in with the ocean floor, squirts ink to block herself, and eventually moves beyond the reef to a secluded cave. While happy to be alone at first, Octopus soon wonders what the others are up to. This is a gorgeously illustrated book about the importance of both being alone and being around friends. It also features the cutest group of seahorses I have ever seen!
The Wizard, the Fairy, and the Magic Chicken by Helen Lester and Lynn Munsinger
This is a ridiculously funny story about a wizard, a fairy, and a magic chicken. Each one thinks that he or she is the greatest and always tries to outdo the others. One day, the wizard, fairy, and magic chicken make three different and very scary monsters. As the monsters attack, they quickly learn that sometimes it is better to work together, even when magic is involved! This is a great book to read when teaching the value of teamwork.
Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds
In Sky Color, Marisol is an artist. Her friends know her throughout the school for her posters, her artistic clothing, and her box of art supplies. When Marisol’s class is chosen to paint a mural for the library, she can barely contain her excitement! As the class chooses to paint the ocean, Marisol declares, “I’ll paint the sky!” Rummaging through the paints, she could not find any blue. Without blue paint, how will Marisol create the sky? Through rich water color illustrations, Peter Reynolds shows the reader that skies are not always blue.
Abracadabra, It’s Spring! by Anne Sibley O’Brien and Susan Gal
In bright and radiant illustrations, Abracadabra, It’s Spring shows the magic that takes place as winter gives way to spring. In rhyming text, Anne Sibley O’Brien describes how green shoots become crocuses, sticks and string become nests, and robins’ eggs hatch. In this book, say the magic words, flip the page flap, and spring appears!
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
Jabari visits the swimming pool with his dad and little sister. This summer, he completed his swim lessons and is ready for the high dive. He waits and waits in line, but decides to let the other children jump first. Goggles on and ready to go, but then Jabari realizes he forgot to do his stretches. Maybe tomorrow is a better day to attempt the high dive. Jabari and his dad look up at the diving board together. Somehow, Dad knows just what to say about taking that first big plunge.
Ready to share more books with your preschooler? Try some of these handpicked book lists for little readers: