Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Great Books for PreSchoolers - Guest Blog

Hello everyone!  Heather here.  Some of you may know I’m Erica’s daughter, so I bet you can guess the love of books that comes with having such an amazing author in the family!  But even as we share a love of books, my mom and I actually have quite different selections on our bookshelves.  Why?  Because I’m a preschool teacher!

When I try to explain preschool to grown-ups, I often get remarks of amazement that so much life could happen on a scale so small and so young.  Yes, we do our letters and numbers, but we also do astronomy and drama and physics and dance!  Children’s books are that way too: they’re just as rich and delightful as a lengthy novel, but by necessity much shorter and more colorful.  It’s beautiful the way some authors can convey their meaning so simply and clearly through so very few pages.  These books are gems!  

My goal every year is to instill in my students a love of reading and learning, because with those tools they can become anything they want to be when they grow up.  When I grow up, I want to be an author.  (Erica Here: My mama-heart is so full right now!) So in honor of the first day of school, I’ve brought a show-and-tell of some of my favorite children’s books and authors.  I hope you get the chance to peruse these great reads yourself sometime, and share them with the preschoolers in your life! (Erica Here: Click on the Titles below the books to be taken to the page to learn more!)

Gerald is careful.  Piggie is not.
Piggie can’t help smiling.  Gerald can.
Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.
Gerald and Piggie are best friends.

Not only is Mo Willems one of my favorite authors, but this is my favorite series of his.  Elephant and Piggie are characters everyone can relate to!  They tackle some of life’s biggest problems, like what to do if a big guy takes your ball, or when waiting is not easy, or when another friend wants to join the game, or whether you should share your ice cream.  Tough stuff, huh?  All wrapped up with a heaping helping of humor that’s sure to have your child giggling, these books will delight time and time again.  And guess what!  They’re perfect for beginning readers too!  All 25 books from Elephant and Piggie are written at a first or second grade reading level.  My only wish is that he was still writing more! 

P.S. Did you notice there’s a round sticker on the cover of this book?  That’s an award!  If you’re ever in doubt and looking for a good children’s book, look for ones with awards like the Theodore Seuss Geisel Award or the Caldecott Medal!  You may see more award-winners in this list!

Did Pete cry?  Goodness no!

Pete the Cat is one cool character.  Not only does he love his white (or many colored) shoes, he also rocks groovy buttons and catchy tunes!  My class loves singing along with Pete as he keeps walking along and singing his song, no matter what happens!  These stories are best read aloud, or even on free audio download from Pete the Cat’s website.  And did you know music helps young children be more successful readers and mathematicians later?  Music through books is just one more way to weave a little more music into their lives.  Rock on!

This is not my hat.  I just stole it.

This book shocked me the first time I read it.  The whole premise is that this little fish STOLE the big fish’s hat!!  I thought no way was I going to read this book to my class, or they’d just think of new ways to misbehave!  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized children need books like this.  Even though the little fish spends the whole book justifying his actions and evading discovery, the wordless ending really delivers.  Children are forced to fill in the blanks themselves about what happened to the little fish, and we ALWAYS have good discussion!  This one is worth the read! 
P.S. Award-winner!

 Press Here

Are you ready?  Press here!

This book never fails to capture the attention of my entire class.  They’re fascinated at the cause and effect game!  This unassuming book of colored dots has simple instructions: Press here.  The results will delight you with every page turn!  My class clamors to read “the dot book” again and again, and it’s simple enough that they can read it to themselves after a few times through.  What a treasure!
Be sure to check out Herve Tullet’s other books.  Mix It Up is another favorite of mine, all about color mixing with action!

 Press Here

Snuggle puppy, I love you!

Another song book!  I love turning the tables on my older students who think “board books are for babies!” with this little delight.  The words of this book are a song of love from a mother dog to her Snuggle Puppy.  I sing it to my students when they need a little love, sometimes with or without the book to accompany.  This would be a delightful bedtime story or special gift!

Robert loves roses.  But roses make him sneeze!

My classroom is incredibly diverse, and we talk about it often.  But it’s more than just skin deep!  Children are diverse in their abilities, learning styles, words, thoughts, appearances, and needs!  I use this book to help my students understand allergies and how we can help classmates stay safe from things that make them sick, even if THEY aren’t the one with the allergy.  It’s just another way we come together as a class and support our friends!  This book belongs to a line called Beginner Books, so check them out for more great reads! (Erica Here: I remember reading this book to my kids...with much laughter!)

It’s not a box!

The sky is the limit for this little bunny and his box.  This book sparks children’s imaginations as they try to guess what the protagonist is doing with the box this time.  Is it a race car?  A rocket?  A mountain?  A firetruck?  A submarine?  An elephant?  Naturally, the best part is experimenting with our own boxes after we read!  I love watching my students dream big after reading this book.  Because really, the sky’s the limit for these little ones! 

I see a tail!  What do you do with a tail like this?

Alright, so I gave you tons of fiction suggestions and this is my only non-fiction that made the list!  In actuality, young children seem to enjoy non-fiction as much or even more than fiction.  And rightfully so: the world is still so new and unexplored to them that it might as well be fiction!  So make sure you find good non-fiction for the preschoolers in your life when you go book-hunting, and teach them how to read non-fiction.  Here are a few tips:

-        Large pictures, fewer words, larger print: these are made for young readers
-        Pick photos over illustrations: the more realistic the better!
-        Find topics your child is interested in, from animals to orchestras
-        Show them how to read insets and captions instead of always top to bottom, left to right

The honest truth is that there’s so much good non-fiction out there, I ran out of space to do it justice.  So swing by your local library!  Explore the world from the safety of your reading chair!

Oh the other books I could speak of!  I didn’t even touch the wonder that is Dr. Seuss, nor mention favorites like Skippyjon Jones and There’s a Monster at the End of This Book! and The Book With No Pictures!  I hope you enjoy these titles, and any book you read with the children in your life. 

  I could go on forever praising good children’s books, but I want to hear from YOU!  Would you please tell me a book that you and the children in your life have enjoyed?  Or respond to one of the titles I’ve suggested!  Or even all of them!

1)      Elephant and Piggie are best friends.  Who’s your best friend?
2)      Pete loves his white shoes!  What’s your favorite pair of shoes?
3)      This is not my hat!  What was the last book you read that really surprised you?
4)      Press here! What’s your favorite game?  Board, card, or other!
5)      Snuggle puppy is loved.  Who do you love?
6)      Robert the Rose Horse is allergic to roses.  What are you allergic to?
7)      It’s not a box!  It’s a ___________?

8)      What DO you do with a tail like this?  If I had a tail, I would ______ with it!

Heather Vetsch, the BEST Pre-School Teacher EVER!
(An opinion offered by her totally unbiased mother.) 


  1. I LOVE the "Press Here" book! I read it more than my kids LOL! And the Elephant and Piggy books! Ok, now I want to go home and have reading time :)

    1. Me too! I say these are for the kids, but sometimes they're just as much for myself, lol!


  2. Oh my goodness, Piggy and Gerald are family favorites here!! Have you read the pigeon ones? Hilarious. The Press Here needs an award for pure genius. We LOVE it. :D Another favorite here is the Usborne book There's a Mouse About the House and the Squirrel one (can't remember the name!).

  3. The Pigeon is also a favorite of my class, and There's a Mouse About the House! is a personal favorite of mine! So many giggles, every time!



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