Books Children Love – LePort 2013 Suggested Books for Toddlers, Preschoolers and Elementary Children


Colder, shorter days are upon us, and the outdoors are not quite as welcoming. But as the dark comes early, so does the opportunity to cuddle up with our children in a favorite spot and explore the timeless treasure of great books.

At LePort, we are big believers in the power of literature. Beautiful, inspiring literary works help children become voracious readers who look to books for enjoyment as well as education. Whether it’s a 3-year-old enraptured as a teacher reads to her, a 5-year-old reading to a younger child, or a group of 8-year-olds engaged in animated discussion about a read-aloud character, we love seeing our students discover the joys that await them in the pages of a good book.

As a parent, you can help your child discover the joys of reading. In looking for that perfect gift this holiday season, we offer up the list below of favorite books, from simple picture books for toddlers and younger preschool children, to more elaborate stories for older primary students, and beginning chapter books that elementary students can read by themselves, or that you can read to your five-year-old.

This is our fourth holiday book list, and we plan to make it a yearly tradition! You can help us by sharing your favorite books for this age group in the comments; maybe you’ll see them in next year’s list.

P.S. If you aren’t yet sold on reading out loud daily to your child, or want an even broader range of book recommendations, check out reading advocate Jim Trelease’s web site. He has free excerpts from his Read-Aloud Handbook with helpful advice, and lots of ammunition on why reading aloud is so important.

Click sections below to view books.

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[pl_accordioncontent name=”accordion” number=”1″ heading=”Books for babies and young toddlers (age birth to eighteen months)” open=”no”]

Baby Giggles — by Rachel Hale

Beautiful photographs of babies combined with gently rhyming text make Rachel Hale’s board books perfect for reading with your child from birth on. Baby Colors is also highly recommended.

Families (Babies Everywhere) — by Star Bright Books

Available in multiple languages, the Babies Everywhere series of board books features charming photographs of babies around the world. This title mixes pictures of animal and human families smiling, kissing, eating, and sleeping with rhyming text.

Baby Touch & Feel (Farm) — by DK Publishing

This un-cluttered book features a single animal picture per page, which allows your baby to focus on associating the name of the animal with its picture. Many pages feature a small fabric sample to ‘touch-and-feel’.

Hands Can — by Cheryl Willis Hudson

With singsong rhyme and photographs of children, this book helps young toddlers discover all the things their hands can do.

Bright Baby Collection — by Roger Priddy

This series of four board books with a slipcase contains the titles Colors, Trucks, First Words, and Animals. Each has clear photographs. Also available in Spanish.

Mangia Mangia! (World Snacks) — by Amy Wilson Sanger

Through whimsical rhyming text and collage-style pictures, this book introduces your young toddler to tasty Italian treats.

Bathtime Peekaboo — by DK Publishing

This book has large flaps that are easy for little hands to lift, and your baby will love playing ‘peekaboo’ with the hiding bath objects.


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All the Places to Love — by Patricia MacLachlan

This title in the Read and Wonder series follows a mother octopus on her journey to find a place to lay her eggs. Written in simple language and beautifully illustrated, this book will introduce a strange and different creature to a child’s life.

My Mama Had a Dancing Heart — by Libba Moore Gray

Here is a great story of shared values between a mother and her daughter. Throughout the seasons, this mother takes her daughter outside, making up dances to suit the mood of the day. Her love of dance is contagious; her passion shapes her daughter's life and becomes her legacy. A must-read!

Eloise Wilkin’s Poems to Read to the Very Young — by Eloise Wilkin

A board-book treasury of simple poetry! When our children were toddlers, this was one of the most often requested books. The quality of the poems selected, along with the very cute illustrations, makes this fun for adults to read, too.

Pots & Pans — by Patricia Hubbell

A very simple, rhyming story about the joys of letting your toddler explore the kitchen. One of the first books our children demanded to read over and over again. We gladly complied with this one!

Moonshot — by Brian Floca

A poetic, inspiring treatment of the first moon landing. With great pictures and short text, this book is accessible to young preschoolers--and still fascinating to older children and satisfying to read for adults.

I See Animals Hiding — by Jim Arnosky

Jim Arnosky is a wonderful illustrator, and his water-color pictures make this story about animal camouflage come to life.

Time to Say Goodnight — by Sally Lloyd-Jones

A sweet, rhyming book about how animals, too, go to sleep. The beautiful illustrations of adorable animals make this book a joy to look at over and over again, as toddlers request it repeatedly.

Mammoths on the Move — by Lisa Wheeler

A rhyming story about mammoths during the last ice age. Easily accessible even for two- or three-year-olds.

Wolf! — by Becky Bloom

What happens if an uncivilized, illiterate wolf meets a group of book loving farm animals? This is a great tale of the power of reading. While we generally don’t recommend books with anthropomorphized animals, this one is too good to pass up!

About Habitats: Mountains — by Cathryn Sill

A great series of books for travel to different areas! This book introduces the basic facts about mountains, using mountains from around the world as examples.

Smoke, Steam and Steel: Back in Time With Trains — by Patrick O'Brien

A wonderfully engaging history of trains, told as a family history going back several generations. A combination of a very simple family tale to engage a toddler, and enough technical detail to get a train-enthusiastic child going, this book offers a great historical perspective on a key transportation technology.


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Seeker of Knowledge — by James Rumford

A great story of perseverance in research, this is the biography of Jean-Francois Champollion, the man who deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey — by Libba Moore Gray

A lonely woodcarver agrees to make a nativity scene for a widow and her son. As the son becomes interested in his craft, the woodcarver, whose heart was broken by a tragic loss many years ago, rediscovers joy in living. A warm, beautifully illustrated holiday story that can be enjoyed by religious and non-religious families alike.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers — by Mordicai Gerstein

A story of derring-do, this book retells the 1974 wire walk of Philippe Petit between the Twin Towers in New York City. It has a sad part to it, as it mentions the destruction of the towers, but is still worth reading for its uplifting message.

Spinky Sulks — by William Steig

A fun story about hurt feelings and how to handle them within the family. A great read for preschoolers who can be on the moody side!

Bridges Are to Cross — by Philemon Sturges

A wonderful picture book about all the fascinating types of bridges we see around us. Great for aspiring engineers!

Ira Sleeps Over — by Bernard Waber

Has your child had his or her first sleepover yet? This book is a great preparation, the story of a young boy and the tough decision whether to bring his teddy bear with an embarrassing name to his very first sleepover.

Boxes for Katje — by Candace Fleming

It is winter in post-war Europe, and children and adults in Holland are starving. What a joy to receive a care package from America—and how wonderful a relationship that develops between two little girls two continents apart.

Urban Roost: Where Birds Nest in the City — by Barbera Bash

An excellent book for city children, "Urban Roosts" guides us to look for, find, and understand how birds have adapted to urban environments. From pigeons nesting under train tracks, to falcons making their homes on roof tops, this book is a treasure-trove for urbanites looking to discover nature around them.

The Wishing of Biddy Malone — by Joe Cowley

Would wishing for things and getting them without effort really be a good thing? In this story, a young girl discovers that fairy magic isn’t all that great, and that real happiness comes from making one’s own luck through hard work and persistence.

My Visit to the Aquarium — by Aliki

A nice introduction to the marine life children may encounter when they visit the aquarium. Great to read before you visit the Long Beach aquarium, or just to introduce your child to the wondrous worlds below the ocean waves.

How a House is Built — by Gail Gibbons

How do we go from an empty plot of land to a house? This book provides an accessible overview of the many people who contribute to building a house. Even adults may learn something new!

Find the Constellations — by H. A. Rey

After reviewing and trying many books about stars for my preschool-age children, this one was a keeper! It's a rare book that shows views of the seasonal skies, both with the lines connecting the constellations, and without. This makes it easy for children from about age five and up to learn what to look for in the night sky. A must-have!


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The Boxcar Children — by Gertrude Chandler Warner

This first book is a great introduction to this series of mysteries written for new chapter book readers. While the language is very accessible, these are longer books (120+ pages) with engaging mystery stories. The four Alden children have run away after their parents’ death, trying to escape living with a grandfather they don’t know. What happens when they unknowingly meet this grandfather and find him likable?

The Penderwicks — by Jeanne Birdsall

A great family tale of summer adventures, this is a book suitable for strong third grade readers to tackle on their own, and it’s a good, longer read-aloud for third year primary children and new elementary students.

The Chalkbox Kid — by Clyde Robert Bulla

One of Clyde Robert Bulla’s easiest book, this is a good full chapter book for fluent elementary readers to tackle on their own. What happens when a young boy needs to move—and finds himself in a little home without a garden, but next to an empty, burned-out building? Let his ingenuity and creativity amaze you!

Abel’s Island — by William Steig

A mouse gets swept away from his sweetheart by a storm. Stranded on an island, he persists through a frigid winter and after many struggles finds his way home to his love. Beautifully told by William Steig, this is a great read-aloud for 5 – 9 year olds.

Owls in the Family — by Farley Mowat

What happens when an elementary-aged boy brings home an owl as a pet, and this pet terrorizes the neighborhood? Read aloud to younger children; good for 3rd grade and up as independent reading.

Poetry for Young People: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow — by Frances Schoonmaker

An illustrated anthology of poems, this is a good introduction to one of America’s preeminent poets. This series also has books by many other poets, from Rudyard Kipling to Robert Luis Stevenson, from Shakespeare to Emily Dickinson.

In Aunt Lucy’s Kitchen — by Cynthia Rylant

A sweet story of four nine-year-old girls and their summer adventures. An easy chapter book of just 60 or so pages for young readers, by the ever-wonderful Cynthia Rylant.



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For more book ideas from our 2012 holiday book list, click here.