July 29, 2020
Best Books for 4 Year Olds: Books Your Child Actually Wants to Read
Help your child prepare for pre-school by spending extra time together reading. Here is a list of the best books for 4 year olds.
Are you the parent(s) of a four-year-old?
If so, you may be seeking out the best books for 4-year-olds—ones that inspire creativity, help them with literacy, and eventually cause them to read on their own.
Reading with your children is a great way to teach them about language and the world. For this reason, it's essential to choose a variety of books—challenging books, simpler books with repetitive language, nursery rhymes, and even nonfiction books. Doing so exposes your child to bigger ideas and helps stretch and excite them in fascinating ways.
Something else to keep in mind as you navigate the following list is the power of traditional books, as opposed to ebooks. Ebooks mean you'll only spend 59% of the time talking about the book (the rest of the time is spent using phrases such as, "Push this button!"), whereas with a tangible book, 92% of the time gets spent discussing the story.
So, without further ado, we've compiled a list of the best books for your child. Keep reading—and renew that library card!
Table of Contents
1. Small in the City by Sydney Smith
This book is sure to resonate with your child. At their small size, the world can seem big, scary, and overwhelming.
This book by Sydney Smith works to qualm some of those fears, even introducing fun ideas throughout (such as introducing trees as hiding places). Follow the young, tiny narrator through the big city in this picture book, which will allow your child to feel not-so-alone about their small stature and big mind.
2. Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
This timeless collection of books, published throughout the 70s and 80s, still makes an impact today. Frog and Toad are two friends who love each other, help each other, and accept each other as individuals.
Each story provides insight into the power of doing good deeds, how to be a good friend, and the strength of teamwork. They're more than a series—they're life lessons.
3. The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak
Wait—a book with no pictures? Wouldn't that be a boring option on a list of the best books for 4-year-olds?
In fact, it's anything but. The Book With No Pictures inspires creativity in ingenious ways, prompting the reader to use silly voices and create their own mental visuals. Not only that, but it's endlessly funny, encouraging laughter and delight for your child (and you, too).
4. If Animals Kissed Goodnight by Ann Whitford Paul
This is a great rhyming picture book to read before bedtime. As any parent knows, children are full of whimsical questions, such as, "How do animals kiss?"
This book playfully answers those questions, highlighting interesting differences and behaviors of several species of animals.
5. Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Suess
Several books by Dr. Suess would be excellent choices for your four-year-old, but especially Horton Hears a Who!.
The story follows a courageous elephant, Horton, who goes to great lengths to save Whoville. Since he's the only one who can hear Whoville, the tiny planet's survival rests on his shoulders alone.
After you read the book, watch the film version that came out in the 2000s.
6. The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin
This book from 2015 is a beautiful display of the love a parent has for their child.
It talks about their big, wild hearts, their fresh outlook on life, and more. If you've ever looked at your child and felt awe-inspired, this book attempts to convey that feeling—to your child. It's a sure way to make them feel loved and appreciated by Mom and Dad!
7. How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
This book does more than teach your child how dinosaurs say goodnight (spoiler alert: it's very similar to us as humans!). It also educated your child about an astounding eleven different species of dinosaurs, all youngsters like your four-year-old.
Bonus: it's full of funny rhymes, so your child is sure to get a kick out of the humor, too.
8. The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
This adorable book is also quite timeless. The author won a medal for it in 1943!
The Little House is the lone home in a town that's getting built up all around it into a big city. The home is the narrator, and it has feelings—particularly not enjoying the loud sounds or dirty hustle and bustle of the city life. The home misses daisies, apple trees, and the countryside.
This book will instill your kid with an appreciation for nature and a slow-paced but fulfilling life.
9. What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry
This book honors another common question posed by young ones. What is it, exactly, that Mom and Dad and other adults do all day long as they're out and about?
The story takes place in the aptly-named Busytown, where people are busy fulfilling their jobs as doctors, sailors, train drivers, and more. It'll give your child an idea of the way adults and workers spend their days, offering tons of imagery on each page to answer the all-encompassing question.
10. A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein
Similar to Dr. Suess, there are several Shel Silverstein books fit for young ones. A Giraffe and a Half is no exception.
Follow along with the narrator, a giraffe, in this not-always-sensical story about a giraffe who accumulates a variety of items—and then loses them. It's funny, it's whimsical, and the pictures are lovely.
11. Kindergarten, Here I Come! by D.J. Steinberg
Of course, one of the main reasons for reading with your child at this young age is to prepare them for the future. Reading now—even if it's you reading to them—can inspire learning, imagination, education, and more.
This book, Kindergarten, Here I Come!, teaches four-year-olds what to expect as they prepare to enter their first schooling experience. What milestones await your child? What moments and memories can they expect?
This picture book is also told in poetry format, introducing your child to a fresh way of reading and learning.
12. Petventures by P.J. Paws
Kids love reading books about animals—but what if the story featured their very own pet?
Imagine how exciting this scenario could be.
You suggest reading a book to your child before bed. You cuddle up in the sheets, and you bring Petventures along. They have no idea what to expect, but the cover photo looks vaguely like their pet.
Could it be?
You begin reading, and your child realizes it's true. That is their pet! And it's going on an adventure—in your neighborhood!
With our custom-made Petventures book, you can choose up to three pets, cats or dogs, and have their names written throughout the story. Fully immerse yourself in their adventure, rooting for your own furry family friend the entire way. Your child will surely get a kick out of a book like this, further encouraging a love of reading.
This book is suitable for all ages, too, and it's sure to stay in the family as a keepsake.
13. Corduroy by Don Freeman
Corduroy, this story's main character, is a stuffed teddy bear that lives in a store. He's also missing one of the buttons on his overalls. What's a bear to do but sit on the shelf?
The answer is a lot. Once the shoppers and storekeepers have turned away for the night, Corduroy springs into action. He climbs down from his shelf and is immediately introduced into a brand-new world. He eventually gets bought by a sweet little girl, and the adventure continues.
Your child will love this book about a stuffed animal coming alive in the nighttime!
14. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
This story is another fascinating tale that anthropomorphizes something and brings it to life on the page. In this case, it's a collection of crayons.
The narrator, Duncan, is a kid who just wants to color. What he discovers instead is that his crayons are on strike. Some are fighting, some are jealous of those that get used the most, and some are content, but don't have a choice in this crayon strike.
What's Duncan to do? Close the crayon box? Nope—instead, read this book for his imaginative solutions that may also inspire your children to 'color outside the lines' (figuratively, of course) the next time they go to use crayons.
15. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López
The premise of this book is a beautiful, inclusive one:
- There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.
It's an especially important read in today's political climate. How can you teach your child to be more inclusive? Or, how can you teach them to love and accept themselves for the beautiful, unique beings they are?
This book attempts to help your child tackle these more significant ideas in a manageable way. Everyone feels like an outsider sometimes—and this book strives to bring people together by recognizing that fact.
16. Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
This beautiful tale is framed after Yuyi Morales' own immigration story, in which she left Xalapa, Mexico for the US in '94 with little more than her infant son—and a lot of stories.
This book is one of passion, strength, perseverance, and hope, inspiring readers, whether immigrants or not. It sheds light on the ways that love can bond and guide us, and so much more.
17. The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds
This book is perfect for young readers who are learning to not only find their voice, but how to share it, too. The narrator, Jerome, doesn't collect stamps or cards or stuffed animals. Instead, he collects words—all kinds of words!
This story offers an exciting way to teach your child about multi-syllabic words, short and sweet words, and so much more. See how Jerome finds and shares his voice, which can inspire your child to do the same.
18. I Can Handle It by Laurie Wright
While it's never exactly fun to think about anxiety or depression, even as an adult, it can be even harder to manage or comprehend as a child. It's also worth noting that complicated feelings like that aren't limited to adulthood, but can affect children, too.
This book by Laurie Wright attempts to introduce mindfulness into a child's life through the form of positive, mindful mantras.
Encouraging, uplifting self-talk is an important skill to teach your child, one that can outlast their childhood and follow them into their own adulthood. I Can Handle It teaches your child to deal with and process a variety of complicated emotions, equipping them with the strength and knowledge to carry on in the face of uncertainty.
19. Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin
Pete the Cat isn't just one book, but an entire series of books following the adventures of one Pete the cat.
It's fun, it's lighthearted, and it covers a wide range of topics, from pizza parties and trips to the library, to marching like ants and celebrating Valentine's Day.
These Are Some of the Best Books for 4-Year-Olds: Check Them Out!
Read one, or read them all. Your child will love learning about school, what adults do all day, animals (especially their own pet!), dinosaurs, and so much more. Encourage them to read along with you and see if you can draw connections between the books and their lives.
Click here for a book preview of your personalized pet book. Got two pets? No worries—our books can accommodate up to three different pets. Your child is sure to be engaged in a story about their beloved four-legged friend, right in their own hometown.
Enjoy your reading journey by investing in some of the best books for 4-year-olds!
Written by Petventures
Petventures was created by a group of dog and cat lovers in New York and San Francisco, inspired by our amazing pets. While we occasionally growl and hiss at each other over the respective merits of our feline and canine companions, we are united by our love of art, storytelling and goofy critters.