One of my close friends recently asked for a living book list for her preschool age child. Which is perfect timing really since I am in the process of putting one together for my youngest. I’ve been researching, asking other seasoned homeschool moms, then previewing them at the library. I’ve come up with a pretty thought out picture living book list for the upcoming year.
Picture Book List Influenced by…
When choosing my living book selections for my preschooler, I often reflect on a couple different quotes from some of my favorite authors. “The real use of naturalists’ books (nature lore) at this stage is to give the child delightful glimpses into the world of wonders he lives in, to reveal the sorts of things to be seen by curious eyes, and to fill him with desire to make discoveries for himself.” Charlotte Mason Home Education (vol 1) pg. 64.
“Fairy Tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.” G.K. Chesterton
”Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.”
Starting with Elsa Beskow.
Elsa Beskow is one of our new favorite children’s book authors. “Elsa Beskow was a Swedish children’s book author and illustrator. She is often called the ‘Beatrix Potter’ of Scandinavia. Elsa Beskow’s popular Swedish children’s books include Peter in Blueberry Land, Children of the Forest and Pelle’s New Suit. Swedish children have grown up with Elsa Beskow’s books for over 100 years.” (Full Biography here)
My children adore The Land of Long Ago written by Elsa Beskow. Right now, it is that book that we read all the time. It is an enchanting magical story of Kia and Kelly who set off on an adventure after their backyard tree trunk turns into a flying dragon. Kia and Kelly meet a princess, rescue a knight, and trick the troll king during their journey. While my oldest is starting second grade (form 1) she still is captivated by The Land of Long Ago. My youngest son eagerly shares that it is his favorite. We have also read Children of the Forest which is perfect to inspire a love for nature all while stirring up the imagination. Elsa Beskow’s wholesome Children’s books have been such a hit around here that I am recommending many of them.
Peter is looking for blueberries for his mother’s birthday but he can’t find a single one. Then a light tap on his shoe starts a strange and magical adventure.
The Curious Fish is highly imaginative and a funny picture book which paints the world from Flash the Fish’s perspective. Flash is caught and held prisoner on dry land, his aunts and uncles are determined to save him. With the aid of a wise old frog and a little magic, the impossible become possible. Your children will delight in the wonderful characters of the lake, and in their extraordinary adventure on dry land.
Christopher often plays on his own in his garden — until one day, he discovers a whole new world! A strange boy called September takes him on a hunt for a lost ball, meeting lots of people along the way: the playful gooseberry boys, Mrs. Bramley Apple, the strawberry families, Mr. Scarecrow and many more. Christopher learns all about the different fruits, berries and vegetables growing in his garden, and makes lots of new friends who promise to always play with him. I particularly appreciate a little boy being the lead character in this tale as it demonstrates a relatable character with good character for my young son.
My oldest craves adventure and shares that these lively “adventurous” stories really “excite” her and makes her “so happy.” In The Sun Egg, a mysterious orange egg has fallen into the woods. “It’s a sun egg!” declares the elf who finds it nestled on the forest floor. Soon she and her friends find out what it really is, but not before the little elf has one of the best adventures she has ever had.
This delightful Fall story describes the woodland adventures of two acorn children who get carried away by the blustery wind. Mr. Squirrel and Hazel, the youngest Hazelnut child, go off in search of them and encounter a grumpy troll and the Chestnut boys along the way.
Around the Year uses “delightful verses and delicate, playful illustrations take young children through the special joys of each month of the year, from icy February to the green shoots of April, the red poppies of July, September’s apples and the delights of December.” I thought that this was a lovely way to teach my youngest the months and seasonal changes throughout the year.
Gail Gibbons seemingly weaves beautiful language together with facts. She tells a story all the while teaching information on the subject matter. Many of her books delightfully teach natural science. (Full about Gail Gibbons here)
The Honey Makers is what I have planned to read after our Bee Nature Study. I took my children to a home-based Bee Keeper and showed them the bees and the bee box. Plus, I plan to take them to Belle Isle nature center and them their Bee exhibit. After reading through Honey Makers I know this will be perfect to teach my youngest about Bees.
“Thousands of bees visit more than one million flowers to gather the nectar that goes into a one-pound jar of honey. Every page in this picture book reveals how these remarkable insects work together to create this amazing food.
With detailed illustrations and diagrams, Gail Gibbons offers a nonfiction picture book that makes complex scientific concepts understandable and entertaining for young readers.”
Each book that Gail Gibbons writes that are like this provide an extensive natural science lesson through her writing and beautiful illustrations. Apples works well with the upcoming fall and the cider mill field trip I am taking our children on with our homeschool co-op. If you have older children you can also pair Apples with this Autumn Nature Study.
Frogs by Gail Gibbons is a living book I recommend for ages 4/5-7 in Nature Worth Observing for a Frog nature study. It is what I just read as my children are raising tapoles in our home. Frogs covers the life cycle of the frog, anatomy, eating habits, and habitat of the frog. It also discusses the differences between a frog and a toad.
John Robert McCloskey
An American writer and illustrator of children’s books. He wrote and also illustrated nine picture books, and won two Caldecott Medals from the American Library Association for the year’s best-illustrated picture book. Four of the nine books were set in Maine: Blueberries for Sal, One Morning in Maine, Time of Wonder, and Burt Dow, Deep-water Man; the last three were all set on the coast. His best-known work is Make Way For Ducklings, set in Boston. (source here)
My children and I go to a park with gardens near our home to feed the ducks. It reminds me of Make Way For Ducklings which I read to my oldest when she was younger and I look forward to reading it with my youngest again.
Burt Dow, lives in a snug little house on the Maine coast. He sets out to sea with his pet giggling gull. A raging storm insues and it takes all his might and some plain old ingenuity to save him and the gull.
The setting of this story takes place at the rocky shores above the waters of Penobscot Bay, you can watch the time of the world go by, from minute to minute, hour to hour, from day to day . . .” This classic starts on one summer morning on a Maine island. Suddenly the terror of a hurricane disrupts the peace of the island and the family packs up to leave. Written in poetic language and shown in vibrant, evocative pictures.
Margaret Wise Brown
A prolific American writer of children’s literature whose books, many of them classics, continue to engage generations of children and their parents. (Biography here)
“A beautifully moving story centers around a little island in the midst of the wide ocean, and the curious kitten who comes to visit. As the seasons pass, the island and the creatures who call it home witness an ever-changing array of sights, smells, and sounds.” An enduring picture book about the magic of nature written by Margaret Wise Brown.
There is a gentle magic to The Runaway Bunny, found in the reassuring words of little bunny’s mother. “Little bunny keeps running away from his mother in this imaginary game of hide-and-seek. Children will be profoundly comforted by this lovingly steadfast mother who finds her child every time.”
The Story of the little red hen is a timeless classic that should be part of every young child’s collection of books. A cautionary tale that teaches perseverence, the importance of hard work and that if we chose not to work for it then one will not profit. Written by Paul Galdone full autobiography here.
The Three Billy Goats is based off of a Norewegian Folktale. The Billy Goats want to get across the hill side so they can eat lots of daisies. Along the way they come across a mean and ugly troll, that the three Billy Goats must outsmart to get past. (Written by Paul Galdone)