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Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0

Preschool Literature (3 - 6 yr)

Attitudes toward reading during the preschool years are of indelible importance in laying the foundation for future reading activities in school. Reading aloud to your child is invaluable: your preschooler acquires reading skills while watching you read from left to right and top to bottom and begins to associate printed symbols with meaningful words. Enjoyment of literature leads preschoolers to await eagerly the time that they, too, will be able to extract the "magic" from the printed word.

Do not expect your young child to sit quietly without interruption while you read a story aloud; young children love to participate directly. (They become better listeners around the age of five years.)

Children experience new challenges and conflicts during the preschool years, and specific fears and worries may surface. Fears of the dark, being left alone, attacks by real or imaginary creatures, and feelings of anger or hostility may become apparent during this time. Books and stories that use a light, usually humorous, touch in dealing with these fears and feelings are helpful. Hearing about another's experience with a similar conflict is reassuring. Children this age crave happy, clear-cut endings.

During these years, books provide a simple introduction to concepts like size, shape, and color. Preschoolers' preoccupation with the "whys" of the world creates interest in books and stories about the weather, nature, animal life, and transportation. Although interested in books with new concepts and new words, children this age also enjoy returning to old favorites time and time again.

Young children relish stories that describe familiar adventures like a trip to the zoo, circus, or fire station. They also delight in stories about everyday family life and activities with playmates. Older preschoolers are thrilled by books and stories that appeal to their sense of humor and exaggeration.

When selecting books for children in the preschool stage, look for:

  • one main character
  • recognizable people, animals, objects
  • simple sentences and storyline
  • action rather than description
  • plenty of clear, colorful pictures
  • playful language and pleasing rhythm

For more information see:

Importance of Books

Suggested Reading Activities

Using Books to Help Children Cope

Children's Books Listed by Subject

Written by Donna Warner Manczak, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems