Preparing your child for kindergarten can be exciting, nerve-racking and overwhelming – all at the same time. Luckily, there is a wealth of children’s literature to help with soothing those first day jitters, introducing your child to essential early learning skills, and guiding them towards a lifelong love of reading.
Here are ten great books to read with your child before Kindergarten, from stories that yield practical lessons to the ones that have become a rite of passage for children around the world.
1. Countdown to Kindergarten, Alison McGhee and Harry Bliss
A five-year-old girl struggles with her fears in the ten days leading up to her first day of kindergarten. The young heroine channels her fears through the anxiety caused by her inability to tie her shoe laces, a requirement for kindergarten. This light-hearted take on pre-kindergarten anxiety is sure to help you bring some gentle laughter and ease of mind to your worrying youngster.
2. Froggy Gets Dressed, Jonathan London and Frank Remkiewicz
Rambunctious Froggy hops out into the cold snow but is called back by his mother to put on some appropriate clothing. The boisterous young frog returns to the house repeatedly to put on essential articles of clothing to keep him warm, such as socks, boots, a scarf, pants, and a coat. The playful sound effects for each item of clothing he puts on makes this book perfect for reading aloud.
3. Ten Apples Up On Top!, Theodore Lesieg and Roy McKie
This hilarious Dr. Seuss book about a dog, a lion and a tiger showing off how many apples they can balance on their heads makes learning to count a delight. The three competitive characters try balancing the apples as they skip, walk the tightrope, and rollerskate their way through the book.
4. Are You My Mother?, P.D. Eastman
This simple, amusing and endearing story is perfect for children who have just started to read, combining large print, easy vocabulary and bright illustrations. The story follows a baby bird’s quest as he asks everyone and everything he meets, “Are You My Mother?”.
5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
This classic story follows the transformation of a hungry little caterpillar, as he eats his way through the days of the week before becoming a butterfly. Early readers will enjoy the clever die-cut pages that show what the caterpillar ate on successive days, graphically introducing sets of up to 10 objects and also the days of the week in rotation.
6. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
“We’re going on a bear hunt. / We’re going to catch a big one. / What a beautiful day! / We’re not scared.” So begins the award-winning children’s book, perfect for reading aloud as a family or in a group. The suspenseful and rhythmic structure of the story will give your child an opportunity to predict what is going to happen next.
7. Wemberly Worried, Kevin Henkes
Wemberly the mouse has a habit of worrying about things, like spilling her juice, shrinking in the bathtub or finding snakes in the radiator. But most of all, Wemberly is worried about her first day of school. The fretful little mouse worries her way through her first day, until she learns how easily fears can be overcome, especially with the help of a friend.
8. The Kissing Hand, Audrey Penn
School is about to start in the forest, but Chester Raccoon doesn’t want to go. To help ease Chester’s fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the “Kissing Hand”, which gives young Chester the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary. This heartwarming and reassuring book deals with separation anxiety in a way that will resonate with many parents and young children who are preparing to start school for the first time.
9. First the Egg, Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Which came first – the chicken or the egg? The simple die-cuts featured in this book magically present the concept of transformation and explore the stages of development in the natural world – from seed to flower, tadpole to frog, and caterpillar to butterfly. Finally, the book turns away from nature to look at the transformation of a story (“First the WORD … then the STORY”) and a picture (“First the PAINT … then the PICTURE”).
10. Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
This widely beloved and well-known story follows the adventures of a young boy named Max, who puts on his wolf suit in pursuit of some mischief and gets sent to bed without supper. When a forest grows in his room, Max takes a boat to the place where the wild things are. This classic story is fun to read aloud, widely imaginative, and reaffirms the notion that there’s no place like home.
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