The importance of sharing books 

Sharing books together is the single most important thing that you will do to help your child learn to read. As you share books with your preschooler, they are learning early reading skills like how to hold a book and turn the pages, what words, letters and sounds are and how to listen for rhyme.  

Books are also a fantastic way to talk about the emotions of others. You can explore these emotions with your child when they are feeling safe and are not experiencing the intense emotion themselves.  

How to share books with your preschooler 

Try to make sharing books a part of your everyday routine. Often reading before bedtime is a great way to relax your child and get them ready for sleep. Sit or lie together somewhere cosy and let your child open the book and turn the pages. Take time to talk about the pictures. Explore how the characters in the book are feeling and what may have caused them to feel this way. You can also relate your child’s real life experiences to those that are happening in the book (for example “remember when you lost your teddy at the park? That made you feel sad too.”).   

Your preschooler will enjoy hearing the same books over and over again as they learn to anticipate what will happen next. And it’s okay if they just want to look at the pictures with you rather than listen to the story. In fact, there are some great books for preschoolers that don’t have any words at all! The important thing is that your child is enjoying sharing books with you and that you are talking together.   

Top books for preschoolers 

Your preschooler will now be enjoying longer books. They will enjoy stories with characters that do things just like them (for example starting school, going to the zoo, going to Grandma’s house).  

Choose books that: 

  • Have characters a similar age to your child 
  • Engage your child through a shared interest or captivating illustrations 
  • Explore emotions, solve problems or encourage your child’s imagination 
  • Have great rhythm and rhyme  

Five great books for preschoolers 

  1. Harriet you’ll drive me wild (Mem Fox & Marla Frazee) 
  1. Imagine (Alison Lester) 
  1. The Magic Hat (Mem Fox & Tricia Tusa) 
  1. The Everywhere Bear (Julia Donaldson & Rebecca Cobb) 
  1. Who Sank the Boat? (Pamela Allen)  

Explore more fantastic books to share with your preschooler. For even more book sharing ideas head down to your local library and have a chat with your friendly librarian. 

Top ten tips for sharing books with preschoolers 

  • Let your child choose the book. 
  • Let your child hold the book and turn the pages. 
  • Talk about the emotions that the characters experience. 
  • Talk about the pictures together and focus on what your child is interested in. 
  • Ask your child “what do you think might happen next?” and “why do you think…”. Give your child plenty of time to answer you. 
  • Start to talk about words and sometimes point to the words as you read them. 
  • If you are reading a rhyming book together, talk about words that sound the same. For example “Bee and me, they sound a bit the same. They rhyme”. 
  • Talk about letters and the sounds they make. Point out the initial letter in your child’s name. Talk about the sound it makes. 
  • Make your own books with your child. Draw your own pictures together or take photographs. 
  • Try re-telling favourite stories and acting them out together.  

Want to know more? 

The Hanen Centre – Sharing Books with Preschoolers 

The Raising Children Network – Reading with Preschoolers  

The little big book club – Books for Preschoolers 

If you still have questions, contact our Parenting Line