Reading is a powerful tool. It can take us to faraway worlds and teach us the importance of being individuals. So, it’s important to expose children to books at an early age, building upon their natural curiosity about the world. Books are a great way to get children ready for school, as they get in the groove of learning and creating their own opinions about a variety of topics. That being said, there are many texts specifically aimed at children in preschool. Here are several books that are great for starting the discussion about reading.
1. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
What child hasn’t felt like an outsider at one point or another? This is the tale of a boy who leaves home and is forced to mature without losing the traditions of his youth. It can be a metaphor for many experiences that your child will encounter, but one of the more obvious is the transition to school. The surrealist themes of The Little Prince make it an entertaining and accessible book.
2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Speaking about leaving home, this extraordinary tale shares lessons about embracing the differences of others and setting off on an adventure as a means of appreciating where you came from. Because of its age and popularity, it’s likely that you also read this as a kid. In this sense, you can use it as a bridge between generations, sharing something from your past with your children.
3. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Everyone has bad days, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As a series of catastrophes teaches Alexander, sometimes life throws unexpected curve balls your way. This book isn’t about avoiding disasters, it’s about how to deal with them as they come along. This is a great opportunity to talk with your children about expressing feelings in a way that is considerate to those around you.
4. Corduroy by Don Freeman
Just as relevant today as when it was published in 1968, Corduroy is a sweet tale that has gotten many children interested in reading. Existentially, it’s about a quest for identity, but on a surface level that will appeal to your kids, it’s a fun adventure about a living teddy bear who explores an empty department store. The new button Corduroy is searching for could be a stand-in for many things in your child’s life.
5. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
How could any list of children’s books be complete without at least one publication by Shel Silverstein? Once you’re done crying, you can talk to your child about the importance of working to build healthy relationships. Or, if your child is more mature, you can explore a more ecologically centered discussion, contemplating what Anthony Fredericks describes as an "allegory about the responsibilities a human being has for living organisms in the environment." Either way, your child is sure to find this book to be a great story.