Preschool books so great, they made a movie
The Butter Battle Book
by: Dr. Seuss - (Random House, 1984) 56 pages.
Both the Zooks and the Yooks like butter on their bread — but the Zooks eat their bread butter-side down, while the Yooks prefer theirs butter-side up. This insignificant difference causes a heated battle with a series of increasingly powerful and silly-sounding weapons. When snick-berry switches aren’t enough, triple-sling jiggers come out in full force, until the conflict escalates to a weapon powerful enough to destroy both the Zooks and the Yooks for good. This Seussian take on the futility of one-upmanship conveys an important lesson about tolerance while delighting kids with ridiculous language. (Who can resist laughing at poo-a-doo powder?) Parents appreciate the thinly veiled Cold War references.
Want to see the movie? Check out the Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who collection, which also features animated TV specials of The Butter Battle Book, Horton Hatches an Egg, and Daisy-Head Mayzie.
Perfect for: Kids who love toast and Seussian tongue twisters.
Find The Butter Battle Book at your local library.
by: Kevin Henkes - (Greenwillow Books, 1991) 32 pages.
Chrysanthemum loves her name — until she starts school. Teased by her classmates for her long and flowery name, Chrysanthemum dreams of being a plain Jane. But when the music teacher, Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle, announces that she’ll name her new baby Chrysanthemum, the class’ appreciation for unusual, colorful names blossoms. Full of synonyms, alliteration, and poetic language, this sweet story about being different encourages a love of words and self-acceptance.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 2002 Chrysanthemum and More Kevin Henkes Stories, which features Chrysanthemum (narrated by Meryl Streep), Owen (narrated by Sarah Jessica Parker), and Weekend with Wendell.
Perfect for: Kids who love word play.
Find Chrysanthemum at your local library.
Clifford the Big Red Dog
by: Norman Bridwell - (Scholastic, 1985) 32 pages.
The hook: When Emily Elizabeth first got Clifford, he was a tiny red puppy. But Clifford grew and grew — and now he’s bigger than a house. This beloved series starts with Clifford the Big Red Dog and follows Emily and Clifford through adventures, sleepovers, starting school, holidays, and more. Spanning more than 50 years and 75 books, this series appeals to children with its cartoonish illustrations and sweet storylines about a gentle red dog who’ll never fit into a regular-sized doghouse.
Want to see the movie? Check out Clifford’s Really Big Movie (2004) or the PBS Kids series Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Perfect for: Kids who love pets.
by: H.A. Rey - (Houghton Mifflin, 1969) 64 pages.
The hook: Curious George is a mischievous little monkey who lives with his friend, the Man with the Yellow Hat. Kids today may question why the Man with the Yellow Hat would remove George from his life in the jungle, but they’ll enjoy George’s zany antics as he escapes from jail, goes for a balloon ride, visits the hospital, and more.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 2006 adaptation, which combines the plot of several of the classic books, or try the long-running PBS Kids series.
Perfect for: Kids whose curiosity gets them into unexpected situations.
by: Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by: Clement Hurd - (Harper, 1947) 30 pages.
The ultimate bedtime book, Goodnight Moon has been lulling children to sleep for more than 60 years. With its gentle pace, soothing rhythm, and soporific repetition, this classic helps parents and kids establish a bedtime ritual. Darkly saturated, intriguing illustrations (Can you spot the references to Runaway Bunny?) keep little ones engaged — and pointing out the the mittens, kittens, and three little bears sitting on chairs — while listening to the simple text.
Want to see the movie? Check out Goodnight Moon and Other Sleepytime Tales (2005), a bedtime collection featuring Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star sung by Patti LaBelle and other tales and lullabies.
Perfect for: Kids who need just one more story before bedtime.
Find Goodnight Moon at your local library.
Is Your Mama a Llama?
by: Deborah Guarino, illustrated by: Steven Kellogg - (Scholastic, 1989) 28 pages.
Lloyd the llama is curious about his friends’ moms. He asks Dave the bat, Fred the swan, and Jane the cow if their mamas are llamas. As each animal explains how their mamas are different, they speak in wonderfully rhyming riddles, like, “She grazes on grass and likes to say, ‘Moo,'” prompting kids to shout out the answers. It’s a fun way for young readers to learn the characteristics of different animals while helping Lloyd figure out whose mama is really a llama.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 2009 Is Your Mama a Llama … and More Classic Children’s Stories, which includes The Little Red Hen and Reading to Your Bunny.
Perfect for: Kids who like riddles.
Find Is Your Mama a Llama? at your local library.
Max and Ruby series
by: Rosemary Wells - (Viking Books for Young Readers, 1997) 48 pages.
The hook: Ruby, the older sister, has a leg up on just about everything. Although Max, the baby brother, can’t yet speak, read, or write — and is constantly messing-up — in the 25-plus books, he always gets what he wants (much to Ruby’s annoyance), be it the coveted chocolate chicken or the dragon shirt.
Want to see the movie? Check out the Nickelodeon series, which nicely portrays Max and Ruby’s charming sibling bond.
Perfect for: Siblings who drive each other crazy.
Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me
by: Eric Carle - (Picture Book Studio, 1986)
Sitting on her papa’s shoulders and stretching as high as she can, Monica still can’t reach the moon. So she asks her papa to bring it home for her. By the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, is a story that literally unfolds for the reader. Vividly illustrated pages open up and out, drawing readers into the sweet tale of a young girl discovering the majesty of the sky, the wonders of the lunar cycle, and the love of a papa who’ll climb to the heavens to get the moon for his little girl.
Want to see the movie? Check out The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories, which also brings to life Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, The Very Quiet Cricket, and more.
Perfect for: Kids who love pointing out the moon in the night sky.
Find Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me at your local library.