We have been reading with my daughter, now 3, since she was born. Her small room has bins packed with favorite books that she can reach, sort, and choose herself. Stories, often as many as six or seven, are a central part of her bedtime and nap time ritual.

This “top 10” list consists of the books that have stood the test of time. Through flights of toddler fancy, they are the books she comes back to again and again. With clever text, engaging illustrations, and a variety of characters and themes, these titles include both classics from my own childhood and contemporary picks. From trucks to trains and animals on adventure, I hope you and your child might enjoy some new favorites from this list!

“Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site” by Sheri Duskey Rinker

As the day ends, the cheerful, colorful trucks finish their work and get settled down to sleep. Wonderful rhyming text and sweet illustrations.

“Rosie Revere, Engineer” by Andrea Beaty

This is a marvelous story about a little girl who loves to invent and create — and who learns a valuable lesson about the virtue of mistakes and trying again from her dear Aunt Rose. Brilliant illustrations. One of few stories with a little girl who dreams to be an engineer.

“The Day the Crayons Quit” by Drew Daywalt

This charming and witty story (some clever humor the adult set will enjoy) is about the life and times of the crayons in the crayon box. Poor Beige and Pink are underused while Red and Blue are exhausted from so much drawing. The illustrations by Oliver Jeffers are outstanding and so realistic they look as though little hands drew them.

“Madeline in London” by Ludwig Bemelmans

This is a classic tale from my own childhood handed down to my daughter. We love the clever rhyming text, simple illustrations, and gaggle of girls with many adventures. The whole series is terrific, but this title in particular features a lost puppy that my daughter finds irresistible.

“Dog Loves Drawing” by Louise Yates

A book-loving dog finds adventure with pens, crayons, and paper. He doodles, draws, and writes his own story.

“Corduroy” by Don Freeman

In this timeless children’s classic, an adorable bear finds a home and a friend.

“Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats

We have read this one a lot over the winter — a simple and endearing book about the joy and wonder found in snow.

“There’s No Place Like Space” by Tish Rabe

From the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library series, the Cat in the Hat with friends Thing One and Thing Two explore space and learn about the solar system. My girl loves her space pajamas and reading this book; she learned the words “constellation” and “Saturn” just from this book. Great for all the budding astronauts.

“Zen Shorts” by John J. Muth

This collection of short tales features Stillwater the giant panda who befriends a family of children. The stories have wonderful life lessons, and the illustrations are simply beautiful. While toddlers won’t necessarily grasp the deeper meaning, the wonder of bears and children being friends transcends age. There are other books by this author that feature Stillwater, and those are also lovely.

“The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper

Originally published in 1930, this tale of a kind and helpful little train is endearing. My daughter loves the train (and all trains, in fact) and the beautiful illustrations of all the dolls and toys.

favorite preschooler books


  1. Katrina,

    Such a wonderful connection between you and your daughter. And such a wonderful way to share the stories that mean so much to you both with others so that they can also create their own memories from these stories and others that will mean much to them.

    For our family the story “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch and published in 1986. It tells the story of the evolving relationship between a boy and his mother. (Yup, the story and message still touches me to this day.)

    Thank you again for sharing.


  2. Thank you Tom. It is amazing how stories hold meaning, memories and more. I’m glad you shared a favorite from your family — I will add it to our library list. This makes me think a follow up could be a list of my favorite stories from Nina’s library — sentimental favorites new and old.

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