If you want your child to enjoy many of the same books your generation enjoyed as children, you’re in good company. Classic children’s books never grow old. I’m using the Wikipedia definition here for children’s classic book: “children’s classic books published at least 20 years ago and still available in the English language.”
Most of the books in this post were published 40 years or more ago. I want to share books here that my now-adult children loved. Most of these I kept in our library for grandkids. My preschool-age granddaughter now loves these books.
If you’re looking for Montessori-style books for preschoolers, you won’t often find them in the classic children’s books. Some of the classic fiction books fit as Montessori-style stories that “could have happened.” But you’ll often find some fantasy or talking animals in the classic books. I don’t think that’s a good reason to avoid these amazing books unless your preschooler has a very difficult time understanding what’s real and what isn’t. For most preschoolers, these books are treasures you wouldn’t want your child to miss out on.
Disclosure: This book contains affiliate links (at no cost to you).
If you’re wondering which books to get, I recommend looking inside the books on Amazon and reading reviews there. If you live outside the U.S., be sure to check out Book Depository for great prices and free worldwide delivery.
Gift Guide with Some of the Best Classic Children’s Books for Preschoolers
If your young preschooler doesn’t already have Goodnight Moon (published in 1947) as a board book from baby or toddler years, be sure to check out the paperback version. If your child still needs work on taking care of books, check out my post with a Montessori lesson on how to take care of books for toddlers and preschoolers.
I have a roundup post with Goodnight Moon Resources and Activities.
Published in 1967, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle is loved by babies through young preschoolers with its repetitive verse and inviting illustrations. It’s available in a number of formats, including this early reader edition. Be sure to check out the other books by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle as well. You’ll find lots of classics there!
I have a post with Montessori-Inspired Brown Bear, Brown Bear Activities.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published by Beatrix Potter in 1901. I like getting an edition with the complete text and original illustrations. The above book includes the whole series of Peter Rabbit books, although the pictures are rather small on each page. Beatrix Potter the Complete Tales is also available in a similar format.
Preschoolers love the Berenstain Bears books! And it’s nice that the books often deal with difficulties children encounter, such as in The Berenstain Bears and the Truth (published in 1983). You’ll find lots of Berenstain Bears books here.
Published in 1930, The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper has both a classic story and a wonderful moral.
Published in 1974, Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go was my son’s favorite when he was a preschooler. For children who love Richard Scarry, you’ll find a number of Richard Scarry books on a variety of themes ranging from early words to community helpers to manners.
Your child might enjoy some preschooler stocking stuffers such as miniature cars and trucks to go with this book.
Published in 1939, the book Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton somehow never gets old despite modern technology. I love Virginia Lee Burton’s books in general for their sweetness and meaningful stories.
I have a post with Montessori-Inspired Activities for Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.
Make Way for Ducklings (published in 1941) is Robert McCloskey’s most popular picture book. But be sure to check Robert McCloskey’s other books as well. There are some awesome books here! Some of them were favorites of mine as a child.
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina is a favorite book of my granddaughter’s right now. We read it quite often and always love it.
Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág (published in 1938) is another of my granddaughter’s current favorites.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (published in 1963) was one of the most popular books when I taught preschool in 1974. It’s still a favorite of many.
Published in 1968, Corduroy by Don Freeman is very popular with teachers as well as children. It’s one of School Library Journal’s “Top 100 Picture Books” of all time and one of the National Education Association’s “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.”
Check out nature education gifts to create an activity to extend Frog and Toad books.
Dr. Seuss … where to begin? Horton Hatches the Egg (published in 1940) was one of my favorites as a child. But there are SO MANY amazing Dr. Seuss books, whether beginner books or ones with longer stories.
I have a number of posts with Montessori-inspired Dr. Seuss activities.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, published in 1964, is a sweet and sad story of love and loyalty for older preschoolers on up. If you want your child to have a love of poetry, be sure to check out Shel Silvertein’s other books. Some of his poems are pretty outrageous … and kids love them!
You might expand on your book by checking out learning toys for 5-6 year olds. (An art activity could be a perfect extension for The Giving Tree.)
Does your child have a favorite classic children’s book?
More Gift Guide Ideas
Looking for non-book gifts? You ‘ll find a list of gifts for kids ages 3-6 here.
Here are some more of my gift guides:
Favorite Montessori-Friendly Books for a 2 Year Old (also includes some classic books that are great for preschoolers!)
I’d love to hear about your favorites! 🙂
See more kidlit posts here.
Learn more about Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy!
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