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10 Great Books for Preschoolers

Your baby is not such a baby anymore. She’s speaking in clear sentences (though the syntax is often an endearing mess); she’s stopped eating books or throwing them off your shelves, but will instead sit still for stories longer than that of Pajama Time! What then? If you’re looking to bulk up that part of your library dedicated to good reads for the over two set, here are a few of my favorite books for preschoolers:

10 Great Books to Read With Your Preschooler | Little Book, Big Story

The Story of Creationby Norman Messenger

The Creation Story | Little Book, Big Story

The detailed (and animal heavy) illustrations are fun to study with small zoologists, and the story is a great one for those little readers to learn. (Read the full review.)

The Maggie B., by Irene Haas

The Maggie B. | Little Book, Big Story

I want there to be more books like this in the world. (Read the full review.)

Winnie-the-Pooh, by A. A. Milne

While there are families who prefer to save this book until the children are older, we’re a family of re-readers who wanted to get an early start on the wit and rollicking prose of A. A. Milne. Our girls enjoyed this book at four and again at six, and will no doubt get a little more out of it every time we re-read it as a family. (Read the full review.)

The Jesus Storybook Bibleby Sally Lloyd-Jones

The Jesus Storybook Bible | Little Book, Big Story

For a while there, we dropped this one out of the rotation. I brought it back as a lunch-time read and, forgetting how moving this book is, found myself weeping awkwardly into my quesadilla while my children waited patiently for me to regain my composure and turn the page. Lloyd-Jones’s powerful rendering of the gospel in simple (but not shallow) language makes this the best of the children’s Bibles. (Read the full review.)

The Golden Featherby David & JJ Heller

The Golden Feather | David and JJ Heller

The story is sweet; the illustrations, lovely. The hidden bunnies on each page take Dave and JJ Heller’s first picture book up the level of “Perennial Favorite.”  (Read the full review.)

We Are in a Book!, by Mo Willems

We Are in a Book! | Little Book, Big Story

How to describe this book? I can’t do it. But your little reader will love it (you will, too). (Read the full review.)

Let the Whole Earth Sing Praiseby Tomie dePaola

Tomie dePaola illustrates a beautiful hymn of praise in watercolors. Sized for little hands and short attention spans, it’s just right for reading over and over and over and over . . . (Read the full review.)

How to Be a Baby, by Me, the Big Sisterby Sally Lloyd-Jones

How to Be a Baby (By Me, the Big Sister) | Little Book, Big Story

What is the life of a baby like? You’ll know by the end of this book.  (Read the full review.)

Does God Know How to Tie Shoes?by Nancy Carlstrom

Does God Know How to Tie Shoes? | Little Book, Big Story

A young girl asks questions about God, but not catechism-style, “Who are the three persons of God?”-type questions. No, she wants to know if God has to clean his room and if he gets letters. Her parents answer her well and inspire me to step up my game. (Read the full review.)

Or you could write your own stories . . .

On Writing for Your Children | Little Book, Big Story

Sound like a crazy idea? It isn’t. (Read more.)

 Bonus List

Here are our favorite Christmas books to read with our preschooler:

The Stable Where Jesus Was Bornby Rhonda Growler Greene

The Stable Where Jesus Was Born | Little Book, Big Story

A gorgeous rhymed poem paired with rich yet cozy illustrations tell the story of Christ’s birth with beauty and grace. Also, there are kittens. (Read the full review.)

The Friendly Beastsby Tomie dePaola

The Friendly Beasts | Little Book, Big Story

This lovely book tells the story of Jesus’ birth through the lyrics of an old Christmas carol, and rounds it out with his own distinct illustrations. Tomie dePaola fans, you’ll love this one. (Read the full review.)

The Golden Feather

This time last year, I was nearly thirty, newly pregnant, and too queasy to eat my own birthday cake. We went to my favorite bakery, where the cakes have names like “Chocolate Bliss” and “Lemon Cloud,” but my stomach protested against anything more complex than a cup of vanilla gelato.

When we went to dinner with my mom to celebrate our almost-shared birthdays, my mom apologized to the chef for returning my plate, scarcely touched, and assured him that it was nothing personal—“She’s pregnant,” she said, nodding knowingly. The restaurant was small and situated in a garden; jewel-like pies lined the counters of the kitchen. I had looked forward to eating there for months.

“What I could eat was so good!” I called after him. It really was. I think it was about half of a chicken, roasted and golden. There may have been poached eggs and asparagus involved, but I can’t be sure.

This year, my friends, I want a do-over.

The Golden Feather | Little Book, Big Story

I spent weeks dreaming up my own birthday cake, sketching schematics of the four-layer beauty and baking rough draft batches of batter—just to make sure, you know, that dark chocolate stout cake is a good idea (it is), and that it tastes okay with caramel and ganache-topped frosting (it does). I would like to go to that restaurant again and send an empty plate back to the kitchen, with my compliments to the chef.

And I would like to tell you about a sweet-as-caramel-cake book just released by two of my favorite artists, David and JJ Heller.

The Golden Feather | Little Book, Big Story

I know, that was a terrible transition. But sometimes, you do what you have to do, and when it’s (the day before) your birthday, you demand a little extra grace.

JJ Heller is known for her music, really—this is her first children’s book—so we’ll talk about that first. I tend to be a little wary of Christian music, because so much of what I have heard sounds written to sell what shouldn’t be sold, but David and JJ Heller have a wonderful dynamic: sincere, personal, well-written songs, sung simply and released on albums that the Hellers fund themselves, typically from the earnings of the previous album.* I have a lot of respect for artists who work that way, because you know they’re producing music that they are passionate about, not stuff that is designed to reach a certain market.

Oh, and they make music videos in their dining room:

That same passion and integrity shows up in their new book, The Golden Feather. They funded it with a Kickstarter campaign and oversaw the process of publication themselves, so the finished product is very much theirs: creative, beautifully illustrated by  Luke Flowers and an absolute joy to read. The Hellers released it as a companion to their upcoming album of lullabies, I Dream of You, which you can pre-order through their website.

The story line of The Golden Feather is simple but imaginative, and Sarah was immediately caught up in this bedtime tale of a little girl just her size. When we discovered that there are bunnies hidden in the illustrations (one on every page!), it was hard to peel her away from the book when her bedtime rolled around. Now she “reads” it to us, asking at the end of each page, “Where’s the bunny? Do you see it?”

The Golden Feather | Little Book, Big Story

It has also proven effective in boosting morale after bicycle-related incidents:


The Golden Feather is a lovely book, yes—sweet in all the right ways (like caramel!)—but it’s also a project by people whose work is worth supporting. To learn more, you can visit their website and watch the adorable video of their daughter, Lucy, narrating The Golden Feather, or you can order a copy of the book or their new album of lullabies for little ones, I Dream of You. And if you find yourself having the sort of day where you should be eating cake but are instead stuck with good old vanilla gelato, then I suggest that you listen to JJ Heller’s album, Deeper. That one always makes me feel better.

*I remember reading about this in a post that David Heller wrote for their blog. When I went back to find that post so I could link to it, I couldn’t find their blog at all. But, for the record, that’s where I got my information.

The Golden Feather
David and JJ Heller, Luke Flowers (2014)

Have You Heard?

I got to interview JJ Heller for the Fall 2014 issue of Deeply Rooted magazine! You can learn more about that here or order a copy of that issue here.