Every teacher has favorite books that they love to read to their classes year after year. The best picture books for kindergarten include engaging, large, colorful illustrations, rhyming or repeating prose, and relatable characters and challenges.
An experienced teacher can hush a whole room of children just by opening the pages of a favorite book. With a dramatic pause here, a character voice there, and a sound effect thrown in, she can transport children to new worlds. Her words and the beautiful illustrations that make iconic picture books so memorable can make kids curl up with giggles or gasp in shock as they follow along on a journey of discovery.
Here we present a collection of some of the best picture books for the kindergarten stage, old and new:
Some of these picks were childhood favorites a generation ago. But they have stood the test of time and still manage to delight children the world over.
1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This bestselling board book with bold collage illustrations tells the story of a caterpillar during a transformation. It can be the basis for beautiful artwork.
2. The Noon Balloon by Margaret Wise Brown
This classic by the author of Goodnight Moon has just been rereleased with modern engaging illustrations ready to delight a whole new generation of children.
3. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
This story has sold over 8 million copies and with its “lift and learn” flaps it is interactive storytelling at its very best.
4. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Max’s voyage to the place where the wild things are continues to delight early readers and can spark creative lessons on describing animals and monsters.
5. Gorilla by Anthony Browne
This story about a father too busy to spend time with his lonely daughter feels all too modern. Hannah loves Gorillas and ends up having an adventure with one in this story about friendship and family.
6. Chicka Chicka, Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
This rhyming colorful rhythmic book will have your class singing along as they learn their ABCs. It’s fun and silly and will undoubtedly become a classroom favorite.
7. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle
This classic from the author of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” helps children to learn animal names, colors and can be the inspiration for some beautiful collage work with tissue paper.
These books are all recently written but are fast becoming favorites among mini-critics.
8. The Way I Love You by Dawn Casey
This story can lead to discussions and class work on family and love. It contains lots of interesting metaphors for unconditional love, as well as super cute illustrations.
9. The Find it Book by Margaret Wise Brown
Combine kindergarten children’s love for nursery rhymes and hide and seek by having them find hidden characters in the pages of this beautifully illustrated collection. This story works well to encourage collaboration by asking children to find characters in pairs or small groups.
10. The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson
This story from the author of The Gruffalo has children wondering just what sort of animal could scare a rabbit, a cat, an elephant and a bear. The giant jumperee will keep your whole class guessing.
11. Dustrats: Or, The Adventures of Sir Muffin Muffinsson by Adria Regordosa
Join a vacuum toting cat on an adventure to collect dustrats. Your class can help to find the partially hidden dustrat in this fun book where you can discuss baby siblings, pets, chores, and more.
12. The Big Adventures of Tiny House by Susan Schaefer Bernardo
This story can introduce children to the idea of sustainable living and can open discussions into different types of dwellings and what makes a happy home.
13. Sleepy Toes by Kelli McNeil
This story which takes children through a body awareness meditation may seem like an ideal bedtime book, and it is, but it’s also great for using with children who need to calm down and to lead children through simple yoga exercises or during brain break sessions.
14. Oh So Quiet! by Lindsey Craig
This fun story has an engaging repetitive line “Until…” which kids just love to join in with as they wonder what will happen next. Issues of fear, animal noises and humor follow a family camping outdoors.
15. Good Night,Baby Animals You’ve Had a Busy Day by Karen B. Winnick
This is the perfect story to read at the end of the day before bedtime. Children can act out the baby animals movements and settle down with the repetitive phrase “You’ve had a busy day.”
There are so many amazing stories for this age group. What are your favorite picture books for kindergarten kids?