Your toddler is quickly becoming a pre-schooler with a little mind that’s constantly at work. What books are good for 4-year-olds developing pre-reading skills? Storys need to keep their interest enough to be read over and over. So we’ve come up with a list of the best books for a 4-year-old.
Having raised 5 kids through this particular age, we are well-equipped to give suggestions for children with all kinds of book preferences. We’ve got suggestions for interactive picture books, books about starting school, and so many more suggestions to help you raise little readers.
Below, you’ll find lots of great stories divided by category. Many of the books for 4-year-olds have links to book lists with even more recommendations, so be sure to poke around.
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Counting Books for 4-year-olds
Pete the Cat is back with his cool coat and his 4 groovy buttons. That is until he loses one and only has 3. As the story progresses, your child will count in reverse and learn subtraction at the same time. It’s the perfect preschool book to introduce math concepts.
Because the words in this story are mostly sight words and kids are learning to recognize numbers up to 100, this makes a great first book for early readers.
There are so many things about this classic book that I love. Not only can you talk about days of the week, food, and counting, you can follow the caterpillar on his journey to becoming a butterfly. When it comes to books for 4-year-olds, this one is tops.
Good night books for a 4-year-old
I absolutely adore this bedtime story. This is the perfect book for a 4-year-old train lover! It’s all about a train, run by animals as they prepare to go to sleep for the night. The pictures are warm and dream-like and the story is just magical.
This hysterical tale is one for kids who struggle with going to bed. In the story, the dinosaurs showcase bad behaviors before showing the correct way to go to bed.
Little kids love construction vehicles. Is there a better way to start bedtime than a rhyming contraction book? I think not. This delightful goodnight book for 4-year-olds is the first in a series.
Alphabet Books for 4-year-olds
Oliver Jeffers is just the most brilliant writer and illustrator. This collection of short stories for each letter is a lovely item for any library.
This delightful book showcases each letter of the alphabet in a story about peas and all the jobs they can have. Told through rhyme, your little one will eagerly hunt for the peas matching the jobs being described.
There are so many clever illustrations in this story making it a book to explore over and over again.
This amazing book has everything- plants and animals that begin with each letter, moving parts, and textures. Each page is totally interactive with flaps and pull tabs. There is even a scratch and sniff.
For more books like these, check out our list of 22 Alphabet Books
Food Books for 4-year-olds
Mo Willems is a must-know author if you have preschoolers. He writes the best books for 4-year-olds! His pigeon series is particularly funny. In this story, the pigeon finds a hot dog but a clever bird outwits him into sharing!
Both the original story and the sequel feature taco-eating dragons who can’t stand spicy salsa! The whimsical illustrations are childlike and the stories are just plain silly! Your child will be giggling when they see the dragons burn down the house after eating spicy tacos.
If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk. And so the story continues in a big circle until the mouse is thirsty again. The adorable pictures and silly consequences will help your little one understand sequencing.
Books Set at Daycare for a 4-year-old
Using the letters of the alphabet, we meet each kid in the class as they get ready for school.
We see Miss Bindergarten get ready for school by cleaning, organizing, and decorating her classroom.
This clever tale is written about School as he witnesses children and teachers using his facilities for the very first time.
He is a little nervous as some say they don’t want to be there, but he starts to learn what the children learn and laugh at the jokes they tell.
It’s Llama Llama’s first day of preschool and he is overwhelmed with feelings. He is trying to get used to the new toys and new surroundings but he just misses his mama.
Soon he learns that it’s OK to love mama and have fun at school too.
Color Books for 4-year-olds
This is a lovely book that explores creativity as opposed to artistry. I love how the child in this book can express feelings and emotions with colors.
Often, it is so difficult for children to express themselves verbally and I love how this book gives another way to do this.
The classic color story that launched a series! The Day the Crayons Quit is about overworked crayons that decide to go on strike. Each color airs its grievances to Duncan, who just wants to color! Can Duncan find a solution to make his crayons happy?
I love the “How do dinosaurs” series for so many reasons. If your child loves dinosaurs, it will obviously be a hit, but the trouble these dinos get into will have any child giggling.
In this particular story, the dinosaurs learn their colors through routine objects found around their homes. Ask your toddler to find the colors in your home too!
For more books like these, check out our list of books about colors for preschoolers!
Season and Nature Books for a 4-year-old
This delightful story is about a mom and child who are canoeing over the pond. When the child asks about what is under the pond, the story explores the ecosystem and all its little miracles. It’s the perfect book for a 4-year-old nature lover.
The Snowy Day is a Caldecott Winner for a reason. This classic story depicts a boy exploring his city neighborhood after a snowstorm. It’s the perfect book for a 4-year-old when it’s snowing outside.
This is the perfect interactive board book for 4-year-olds who love nature. The story will prompt your child to tap, shake, and blow on the pages within as the tree goes through the seasons.
Rhyming Books for 4-Year-Olds
This book is another classic in our house. Mouse proves that a little bit of brain is all you need when faced with a whole lot of muscle. We adore this rhyming wonder.
I love Iggy Peck and all his friends. They are smart, funny, and independent thinkers. Not only does this book put a spotlight on being yourself but, the rhymes and vocabulary are nothing short of spectacular.
A friendly witch takes to the night on her broomstick, but as the wind blows away her hat, her bow, and her wand, she finds some cute friends to join her on her ride.
Will her friends be able to save her from a hungry dragon?
Animal Books for a 4-year-old
This is one of the cutest alphabet books in my collection. A little girl is afraid of something at the zoo, but can’t remember what. So her family dresses up as different animals in A-to-Z order to help her overcome her fear.
There is so much to look at throughout this story, this is a book for a 4-year-old to enjoy again and again.
I absolutely love this book about following your heart and being true to yourself. The added bonus of rhyming makes this book that much more special.
This modern classic kids’ book about fish was one Kirsten learned about in school!
It’s all about a gorgeous fish with shiny scales who is so conceited he doesn’t have any friends. After he decides to share a lovely scale with each fish in his neighborhood, he gains friends in spades! A wonderful lesson for young kids.
For more books like these, check out our list of Zoo Books, Shark Books, and Octopus Books for kids.
Classic Books for 4-year-olds
Mother Bruce is the first in a fantastic series about a grumpy bear who becomes the adoptive mom of 4 young geese. He tries to get rid of them but soon realizes they are part of his family.
The rest of the series continues the story of Bruce, his geese children, and the inhabitants of the forest. Just wait until your children read about the meddlesome mice in future books!
The illustrations and repetition in this book make it one of my favorite books with prepositions for toddlers.
Everyone in the napping house piles onto the one bed to sleep. The rhythm and repetition make it easy for your toddler to “read” the book with you.
Maurice Sendek explores the amazing power of imagination in this classic kids’ book about monsters. When Max gets upset with his parents, he imagines traveling to a world to be the kids of the monsters.
I love this book, the illustrations, and the message within the pages. When Max finally decides to come home, his dinner is waiting for him and it’s still hot. This act of love always touched me. Really this is a book for 4-year-olds that shows a parent’s unconditional love for their child.
Books for a 4-year-old’s Motor Development
While this might not be a motor skill book for 4-year-olds exactly, it might be the book you need to get your kiddo working on an important motor skill – swimming!
Both Jackie and I made sure our kids were in swim lessons by the time they were in preschool. This story shows Jabari, who just passed his swim test, working up the courage to jump from the diving board. A perfect story for beginning swimmers.
This book has Eric Carle’s classic pictures while giving your child the chance to clap, stomp and move around while imitating the animals in this book. Not only can your toddler learn about the animals, but they can move around as well.
This book was a favorite in my house and it is now available as a board book. Hooray. I love the illustrations in this book along with the rhymes and silly directions. “Clap your hands, stomp your feet. Shake your arms, then take a seat”. This is the perfect book to get your toddler dancing and moving to a book.
Books About Love for 4-year-olds
This sweet, gorgeously illustrated tale showcases the different kinds of love. It highlights how love stays with you and makes you stronger.
I also loved that it pointed out the different actions people take to show their love without saying words. I get teary-eyed every time I read this story.
Everyone needs love and everyone should be loved for exactly who they are. Monster goes out on a mission to find just that in this book.
Love Monster is a great book for a 4-year-old monster fan.
This grossly-cute board book is a lovely bedtime story for the little monster in your life. This story is all about a mother’s love.
Whether the baby is an alligator, a swamp creature, a one-eyed monster, or an alien, the mother in this tale shows a way to love her child!
Interactive Books for a 4-year-old
When it comes to interactive books for kids, Hervé Tullet is the king! In Press Here and his other books, kids push, tap, shake, and interact with the pages. This is a book for a 4-year-old to read again and again.
This baby monster book is wonderfully interactive. As you read it, it instructs you where to tickle your child!
When you read this book to your little one, you get to tickle and they get to laugh. After all, laughter and books should go together.
This adorable book is the perfect way to keep your little one engaged while reading. They can stir and mix while learning how to follow directions. When you are done, why not make a pizza to eat for dinner? You can have your child help put on all the toppings! Or you can engage in pretend play with this adorable Melissa and Doug set.
Family Books for 4-year-olds
At some point in any parent’s life, their child will try to convince them that they NEED to sleep in mom & dad’s bed. This hysterical story takes it a step further as the child attempts to kick daddy out of bed…permanently. Everyone in my family loved this story and it’s a frequent bedtime request. Bunmi Laditan is the author behind the famed Honest Toddler account.
The border wall has been in the news for a long time now for political reasons. But this book is not political. It’s about an American family making its way to the border wall to see their Abuela on the other side. A heartwarming story about how nothing comes between family, this is a book to be read at every age level.
An amazing story about two male penguins adopting a penguin. Adorable text and photos will expose your child to this unique and true story while also teaching a lesson that there are many different kinds of families.
What a cuddly way to teach a child that love is love.
Creativity Books for a 4-year-old
The bunny in this book can find amazing things to do with a box. When you read this book with your child, not only will inspire creativity but you will allow them to think “outside the box” literally and figuratively.
After you finish reading it, try setting up a creation station with boxes, paper towel rolls, scraps of paper, tinfoil, googly eyes, and more. This educational book for 4-year-olds is a winner!
A good imagination book inspires creativity but also teaches a lesson. The lesson in this book? It’s OK to make mistakes.
Beautiful Oops is a 3-D book that shows a mistake, and then how the artist turns it into a masterpiece.
It’s a great book to reference when talking to your children about mistakes and how to fix them.
This book is amazing. Although you can use this book with older kids, the fun of this book is not only learning the colors but beginning to learn how to colors mix together to make new colors. Let your baby try some finger painting to try this for themselves.
Feelings Books for 4-year-olds
This is one of my favorite books for 4-year-olds. I gift it all the time. When Taylor is sad, every animal tries to help by offering different advice from shouting to crying but they don’t make the sadness go away. But the rabbit sits there and listens. What a lesson for kindness, empathy, and dealing with emotions!
There are so many wonderful things about this book. Nico loves to draw but he doesn’t draw like other kids do. He draws what he feels inside. If only we could all express ourselves this way. My kindergartener loved it so much that he asked me to read it to his class.
Kids need to learn all about their feelings in a way that is safe and comfortable. The tactile pages in this board book will please little hands as the hearts cut in the center get smaller and smaller.
Children will learn to identify feelings with simple words that explain what each feeling actually feels like in their bodies and minds.