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Classic Picture Books Your Preschooler Will Love

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Updated on Apr 2, 2014

Picture books are a dime a dozen, with thousands of new titles published each year. But what makes a children's book a classic?

“Certainly the great writing and illustrations,” says librarian Barbara Durland. “The nostalgia also brings both young and old readers together. Stories and characters that touch our hearts and remind us that we are not alone in what we go through. Stories that we want to read over and over.”

Want to pick the very best for your child and maximize your reading time together? Start with a few of these classic children’s books, which have stood the test of time.

Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel (Square Fish, March 29, 2007) Follow this story of a Chinese boy with a very long name and let your child chime in as the rhythmic story is repeated!

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (HarperCollins, September 4, 1987) This book has been in print for over fifty years, delighting kids with a cap peddler’s encounter with mischievous monkeys.

Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss (Beginner Books; First Edition edition, February 12, 1963) No book collection is complete without a few titles from Dr. Seuss. The rhyming text and imaginary words are sure to make this a favorite of your child.

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (HarperCollins; 1st edition, May 15, 1998) This story of a boy who uses his purple crayons to draw everything in his world is sure to ignite your child’s imagination and perhaps pique his interest in art.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Scholastic, March 1994) Imagine eating anything your heart desires! This fabulous feast is followed by a stomach ache and an amazing transformation as it teaches about of the life cycle of a butterfly. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Second Aladdin Books Edition edition , July 15, 1987) Even children have bad days, and Alexander’s is one where everything goes wrong. Children and parents alike will relate to this story on those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days!

Alligator Baby by Robert Munsch (Cartwheel, April 1, 2002) This is the perfect book for any child who is expecting a new sibling. Kristen’s mother went to the zoo instead of the hospital to have her baby brother and accidentally brings home a baby alligator instead!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault (Beach Lane Books; Anv edition, September 22, 2009) Arguably the best alphabet book ever written, this rhythmic, rhyming story will have your child begging to read it again and again.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn (Tanglewood Press, June 1, 2006) A must-read for every child before his first day of school, this heart-warming book will remind your child that you always love him.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith (Puffin, March 1, 1996) This clever book tells the wolf’s side of the story of the three little pigs. Maybe he’s not such a bad guy after all!

My Teacher Sleeps in School by Leatie Weiss (Puffin, November 6, 1985) Young children are often shocked to see a teacher outside the classroom, and this fun book provides all the evidence needed to prove that teachers really do live at school.

Corduroy by Don Freeman (Viking Juvenile; 40th anniversary edition (March 13, 2008) This is heartwarming story of the bear that nobody wants and a girl who couldn’t wait to love you’re your child will be reminded of his favorite stuffed animal!

If you’re looking for more great books, check with your librarian for recommendations. Classic children’s literature bridges the gap between generations and you’ll probably share with your grandchildren one day!

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