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Celebrating Children’s Book Week
This week we celebrate Children’s Book Week and I want to share our love for characters we got to know so well during preschool years. In our house we read and reread books featuring these characters when our daughter was from 2 to 4 years old. She was an early reader, and by the end of preschool she was able to read most of the stories on her own. I intentionally chose not to include fantastic early readers, such as Elephant and Piggie in this list and pick longer and more complex stories to savor together as a family. Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate and this post contains affiliate links. For full disclosure, please click here and thank you for supporting my blog!
12 Favorite Book Characters for Preschool
1. The Cat in the Hat
I want to start with classics. Dr Seuss’s stories were forever popular in our house. To be fair, my daughter didn’t care for The Cat in the Hat itself, since she is not a big fan of mayhem and rule breaking. She enjoyed many entertaining and educational rhymed stories from The Cat in the Hat Learning Library and has many other favorites in our Dr Seuss collection.
Another classic story made it to our list of favorites. Sadly, Don Freeman wrote only two Corduroy books, but they were both read many-many times in our house. You can consider Corduroy as the first “adventure” book that is a lot more appropriate for preschoolers than many fairy tales. It’s a warm gentle story with a beautiful happy end.
3. Pete the Cat
Pete the Cat by James Dean was not originally on my top 12 list, but it was enthusiastically recommended by my kidlit friends when I asked a question about favorite characters for preschoolers on my Facebook page. I remember Smarty being quite enchanted by Pete’s adventures when she encountered this series in kindergarten, but I didn’t read these books with her.
4. Curious George
Back to classic stories. I think every English speaking child knows Curious George, but it’s certainly worth it not to limit yourself to a TV version or to later books. Original Curious George stories by H.A. Rey are delightful and will probably lead to some interesting discussions about strange looking telephones and other relics of the 20th century. My daughter had mixed feelings about Curious George, because he ended up in trouble a little too often for her taste.
5. Lowly and Huckle
I cannot even tell you how much my daughter loved Richard Scarry books with their detailed illustrations and a simple text that, nevertheless, introduced a lot of new vocabulary words to her. Richard Scarry’s world is organized, peaceful, and purposeful – everything that Smarty was finding extremely appealing when she was a preschooler. Lowly Worm is a “disabled” character that can keep up quite well with his able-bodied friends and has extremely nice manners – someone every preschooler can learn from.
I admit that I didn’t care for Clifford’s stories by Norman Bridwell quite as much as my daughter did, but I read and reread my fair share of them. I can see that a big red dog is a fascinating companion to a small girl, and he is a great character to explore the ideas of loyalty, faith, and friendship.
7. D.W and Arthur
Marc Brown is a prolific author with many books set in “Arthur universe”. We read a lot of them when Smarty was in preschool, and she enjoyed them. She was fascinated with Arthur’s younger sister D.W. who is somewhat more “free-spirited” than studious Arthur. D.W. is a lot of fun and not as often in trouble as Curious George, so she was one of Smarty’s favorite girl book characters when she was in preschool.
8. Berenstain Bears
I always thought of Berenstain Bears as a perfect series to raise proper conservative Christians, as every possible virtue is taken on in a separate book. Since we are not religious, I found the books to be too “formula-driven” for my taste, but Smarty enjoyed this peek into a life of a tightly knit family that always plays by the rules, and she could certainly place herself in many situations described in the books.
9. Toot and Puddle
Toot and Puddle created by Holly Hobbie are friends who are very different. Toot is yearning to see the world while Puddle is quite content to enjoy charms of a quiet country life. These series open up so many wonderful conversations about choices, countries that our children would love to see and adventures that they might want to undertake. We love geography and world exploration in our house, so we certainly LOVE Toot and Puddle.
Here is another famous pig that should be known to preschoolers – Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. This is probably the most difficult book that I chose to include in the list of favorites, since it includes themes of sacrifice and death. Some children are not mature enough to handle such topics in preschool, but Smarty was interested and enjoyed this book. Another good classical choice for preschool by the same author is Stuart Little.
11. Rainbow Fish
I wanted to include one character who lives in the ocean. My daughter enjoyed all the books from The Rainbow Fish series by Marcus Pfister. I remember my husband and I having a lively discussion on the original book, because we felt that the author took a character from total self-absorption to equally dangerous disregard for his own well-being. To Marcus Pfister’s credit, the stories took different turns in subsequent books. My favorite book with a strong message of not being afraid of unknown is Rainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea.
12. Winnie the Pooh
I saved the best for the last. See, I didn’t meet all the other characters until I was an adult, since none of those books were translated into my native Russian when I was a child. Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne is the only character from this list that I met as a child, immersed myself into his adventures and quoted (in Russian, of course). I was very happy to share Winnie the Pooh and his friends with our daughter and hope that she will eventually carry on Winnie the Pooh and share him with her own children.
More Books for Kids?
Check out my book recommendations by age with extension activities for every month of the year!