10 Picture Books You Need for Early Education
Get your little one learning in a fun in interactive way with these 10 picture books perfect for pre-school, kindergarten or even first grade!
*Amazon affiliate links are included. Book choices are entirely my own, but I can make a small commission on any books you purchase through these links.
I am a picky writer and artist (with a focus in illustration), so I don’t take book selections lightly. My favorite books read easily, keep kids entertained, teach something valuable and have great illustrations. While I have hundreds (maybe thousands) of books, not all are equally good. Here are 10 picture books that meet all the qualifications and are perfect for getting your child started in school. I believe they are a must-have for every home–especially if you are home schooling.
Alphabet Picture Books for Pre-K and Kindergarten
Dr. Seuss’s ABC
This book is one I grew up with. The fun rhyming scheme changes up so it doesn’t get overly repetitive. Dr. Seuss is a master at making learning fun during a time when Dick and Jane books were the most common early readers. This book will help children recognize letters and start catching the way they start the words (even made up words!).
After reading it a few times, I made my kids say every letter when I pointed at it, “Big ____ [point to F and wait for them to say it], little [point to f and wait for them to say it].” Over time, this really helped them recognize the letters and it kept them involved in the book.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Bring the ABC characters to life for your little one with the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom book. The full book is longer than the board book, so it is my preferred choice (though, we have both because my kids aren’t allowed free access to our paper books yet). The letters climb up the tree, only to come crashing back down. Will there be enough room?
This book creatively introduces your littles to to the lower case letters and then brings out the upper case as the mamas, papas, aunts and uncles. Point out each letter as you say it’s name so your choice can get used to the lower case.
Charley Harper’s ABCs
It’s a great idea to also have one or two alphabet books that are a bit more simplified. ABC books are some of the easiest learning books to find, so don’t feel bad if you see one more that you just have to have.
The stunning art of Charley Harper are realistic forms simplified down to their most basic shapes and colors. These beautiful illustrations are paired with the letter and one word to go with it. As simple as this book is, it helps keep your child focused on the alphabet and nature.
As simple as the page illustrations are, the inner cover of the book is filled with Charley Harper illustrations. This provides an additional opportunity to learn about new animals. You can also discuss what letter begins each animal’s name. on this page.
Counting Books for Pre-K and Kindergarten
10 Apples Up On Top!
The fun story of three strangers and their apple skills will keep your preschooler or kindergartner laughing and learning at the same time. Dr. Seuss, writing under his secondary pen name of Theo. LeSieg, provides a ridiculous rhyming story filled with simple math problems and counting.
The crocodile-filled Sillabobble sea stands between a monkey and a tempting bandanna tree. But that clever monkey knows just what to do–count the crocodiles!
This book rhymes crocs with 10 creative descriptors as the monkey counts his way to the island. The cool crocs are so busy being counted, they don’t even realize the monkey has been successful. I love that this book shows counting 10 groups of crocs and not just adding one on each time. Sometimes kids get confused and think the number is assigned to a specific item. This shows them a visual picture of each number group as a whole band of 55 towards the end.
There are so many fun details in this book. My kids love to see how the fox and snail follow along. But the clever little monkey even thinks ahead enough to bring back a banana tree start if you catch the sneaky illustrations.
One Hundred Hungry Ants
Another great book that breaks up counting and teaches math themes in a fun way. One Hundred Hungry Ants are 100 strong and marching to feed their hungry bellies.
Unfortunately, the littlest ant keeps having great ideas about changing the formation in the hopes that it will speed things up. All those ants scrambling into new groups only slows them down. But, it does provide for great math visualizations (and laughter as the other animals make off with the picnic food).
Other Learning Picture Books for Early Education
Blue Hat, Green Hat
Sandra Boynton books are some of our absolute favorite. Her fun rhyming stories are often easy to read and her silly illustrations keep all of us entertained. This book teaches colors, dressing and “normal” behavior. Silly turkey!
For really young readers, I like to point out why we say oops. So I’ll read it, “Red shirt, blue shirt, yellow shirt, OOPS! Silly Turkey! The shirt doesn’t go on your legs!!!” This always gets giggling out of the one who is on the verge of getting the joke, but might need it taken a step further.
The Shape of Me and Other Stuff
As an art teacher, I absolutely love this book. It teaches shapes (outside of the typical circle, square, triangle) and creative perspective.
It’s fun to talk about what other shapes we might be. Or what our favorite shapes are in the book. I love that there are no details, focusing entirely on shape.
Zoo Zen: A Yoga Story for Kids
I love yoga and have been doing it frequently starting around the time I was pregnant with Kam. Kniya was only two at the time and Kaleb one, but they both joined right in and learned yoga with me. So, this book is such a fun new addition to my early learning picture book collection!
The illustrations are amazing, the girl has brown skin and curly hair (a huge plus for our household), and the creative poses get the kids moving.
Of course, as you read each page, you have to try the pose!
My kids have some crazy terror of bugs. I highly encourage finding a book about plants or animals that helps your kids discover something unknown to them. This brand new book was just released and I’m loving it. The illustrations are SO fun and the descriptions are creative, though very simple.
After reading through, we talked about what bugs they had seen in our own back yard. I think every page had at least one bug they had seen in real life before.
Sorry this one doesn’t have a link, but there isn’t really a right or wrong book for this (or maybe I just haven’t found my absolute favorite yet). Make sure your little preschooler or kindergartner is learning nursery rhymes, fables, classic tales and poems. These nursery stories are one of those things everyone is expected to know later in life. An early exposure will give those memories to your kids that they can share with others. I have several, but this is an old one with pretty vintage illustrations and straightforward stories.
Reading with Your Preschooler and Kindergartner
You can’t really start reading too early. Even reading to your baby in the womb has shown spiked brain activity. Choosing the right books will only help those reading times be even more effective.
I’m always on the hunt for great books. Do you have any favorite picture books for early learners that I’m missing from the list?
I’ve teamed up with other bloggers to write about our favorite picture books! Check out yesterday’s post on Quick and Fun Rhyming Books by Mother in the Mountains.