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Recommended Preschool Books: All Through the Day

nana-in-the-city-300x300Castillo, Lauren Nana in the City
40 pp. Clarion 2014. ISBN 978-0-544-10443-3

Visiting Nana in the city, the unnamed child narrator is initially unreceptive to the appeal. “The city is busy…loud…[and] filled with scary things.” Nana promises to show her young visitor that “the city is wonderful — bustling, booming, and extraordinary,” and their tour the following day does just that. The simple, meaningful text is well served by richly detailed watercolors conveying a bustling city.
Subjects: Preschool; City and town life; Family—Grandmothers; Emotions—Courage

depaola_look and be gratefuldePaola, Tomie Look and Be Grateful
32 pp. Holiday 2015. ISBN 978-0-8234-3443-5

DePaola’s rouse from sleep is a gentle one, asking readers to “open your eyes, and look.” The text remains quiet, moving from its opening imploration to a suggested response: “Be grateful, for everything you see.” The brief handwritten text on peachy-beige paper is accompanied by the simplest of images: a child, a flower or two, one of the artist’s signature doves.
Subjects: Preschool; Emotions—Gratitude

fleming_bulldozer's big dayFleming, Candace Bulldozer’s Big Day
32 pp. Atheneum 2015. ISBN 978-1-4814-0097-8
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-0098-5

Illustrated by Eric Rohmann. On his “big day,” Bulldozer can’t wait to invite his friends to his party: “Guess what today is!” The other construction vehicles appear too preoccupied with work to guess. “No friends. No party,” sniffs Bulldozer. Of course, there is a party; everyone’s secretly been constructing a giant birthday cake. Engaging text will keep story-hour audiences invested; block-print illustrations feature trucks with loads of personality.
Subjects: Preschool; Birthdays; Parties; Vehicles—Trucks; Construction

golan_little naomi, little chickGolan, Avirama Little Naomi, Little Chick
40 pp. Eerdmans 2013. ISBN 978-0-8028-5427-8

Illustrated by Raaya Karas. This clever book tells two stories, one about a preschooler named Naomi, the other about a little chick. Left-hand pages describe Naomi’s day, with tidy spot art at the bottom of the pages illustrating the activities. Meanwhile, on right-hand pages, Little Chick’s day on the farm unfolds in expansive, comical illustrations. Several visual elements gracefully unite these two worlds of play.
Subjects: Preschool; Animal babies; Schools—Preschools; Animals—Chickens; Animals—Domestic animals; Books in translation

henkes_waitingHenkes, Kevin Waiting
32 pp. Greenwillow 2015. ISBN 978-0-06-236843-0
Library binding ISBN 978-0-06-236844-7

Waiting is a huge part of every child’s life, and Henkes uses a light touch to address the topic. Five toys, outlined in brown and filled in with muted colors, wait on a windowsill. Time passes slowly through seasons; small changes in body positions and eyes show a range of emotions. A straightforward text sets up predictable patterns with small surprises, while the design is varied to create momentum.
Subjects: Preschool; Toys; Behavior—Patience

day_kanevsky_here-is-the-babyKanevsky, Polly Here Is the Baby
40 pp. Random/Schwartz & Wade 2014. ISBN 978-0-375-86731-6
Library binding ISBN 978-0-375-96731-3
Ebook ISBN 978-0-375-98785-4

Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. Readers follow a baby’s full day in a city neighborhood from wake-up (“Here is the baby. And a bright morning sun”) to bedtime, complete with a library outing (“Here is the lady. She reads to the children”), stroller nap, and playground time, all supervised by a low-key dad. The text’s “here is” pattern is reassuring and concrete. The mixed-media illustrations are steeped in cozy imagery.
Subjects: Preschool; Babies; Family

portis_waitPortis, Antoinette Wait
32 pp. Roaring Brook/Porter 2015. ISBN 978-1-59643-921-4

A mother rushes her toddler through busy city streets. He stalls to look at everything they encounter. This tension plays out over several spreads illustrating the same refrain: “Hurry!” / “Wait.” As their train’s doors begin closing, he insists on one last pause — for a brilliant rainbow. “Yes. / Wait.” Predictive details in the accessible illustrations add richness to this story about appreciating simple pleasures.
Subjects: Preschool; City and town life; Family—Mother and child

From the December 2015 issue of What Makes a Good…?: “What Makes a Good Preschool Book?”



  1. My son just started preschool a couple of weeks ago. He is very excited to learn how to read and even shouts out the letter ‘M’ whenever we pass McDonalds. His excitement about learning has really inspired me to start reading to him more and so I am going to start reading two books to him every day. I really think that he would love to read the books on this list, especially Bulldozer’s Big Day.

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