4 is an interesting age for choosing reading books! Most 4 year olds are not reading independently though some may recognise a few simple words. While others may only just be learning the letters of the alphabet. I had one each of with my boys – one picked up reading very quickly, one took a long time.
What books are appropriate for a 4 year old then? You will find the best books are ones where your child can follow the story line by looking at the illustrations alone AND are interesting enough for reading aloud by Mom or Dad!
These books below definitely do that and are great books for 4 year olds, as well as 5 and 6 year olds.
Read Aloud Book Rules
First, the rules! I am really picky about the books I read with my kids. I want to enjoy the story too!! I also believe that really good books will be fun to read again and again.
So here are a few simple rules I have for choosing books to read aloud with my kids.
1. No Monsters
I don’t read books about mythical monsters because I might have trouble sleeping. Or fairies!! For the same reason. It might sound strange but a few of us are highly sensitive in our family and strong emotions – sadness, aggression, suspense affect us too much to be enjoyable reading!
2. Large Font Size
The print has to be big enough for me to comfortably read. No squinting here!
I prefer books that have less words to read for my own benefit and theirs. Now days my kids will reassure me with “Look Mum, there’s not a lot of words in the book even though it has 50 pages!”
4. Has A Storyline
The book has to have a story line and one that I find interesting to read. So Pokemon, Minecraft, Ninjago and an Encylopedia of dinosaurs, do not count!
If you have younger kids than mine, Peppa Pig might fall into this category too. Do Peppa Pig books have a storyline or not?
So here are some of our favorite books that follow all the rules. (And my 4 and 5 year old love them!)
10 Best Books For 4 Year Olds
1. Where Is The Green Sheep?
Board books are great for 4 year olds. One of our all time favorites is this classic board book by Australian author Mem Fox, Where is the Green Sheep?
It has lasted several years in our household and still gets requested again. My 3 year old was even able to impress visiting family members with his early reading skills. Though really, he had just memorized the words from hearing it so often.
2. The Snail and The Whale
This book is about a snail that gets bored with living life on a small rock and joins a whale to travel the oceans. I originally got The Snail and The Whale for one of my kids’ birthdays. It has now ended up being on our regular family reading list.
It’s a great one to read aloud because it has great rhyming and an interesting story line which sometimes my 4 and 5 year old will chime in with.
3. Giraffes Can’t Dance
We don’t have a copy of Giraffes Can’t Dance so we borrowed it from our local library. I enjoyed this book, probably more than my boys did! Though they still liked it a lot. A fun readable story for 4 year olds with a great teaching point to the story line.
Check out all the reasons we love our local library!
4. Hairy Maclary
A list of best books for 4 year olds has to included Hairy Maclary by New Zealand author Lynley Dodd! I managed to buy a copy of five of the Hairy Maclary stories through the discards pile of my local library.
I love reading these books to my kids- short, funny, great illustrations and memorable characters. Can’t believe my 5 year old could point out to me which dogs were included in which story and which dog is missing!
I know I have been reading Hairy Maclary a lot when I start to identify the neighborhood dogs as there goes a Bottomly Potts, or he looks like Hercules Morse.
5. Two Frogs
Two Frogs by Chris Wormell may be a less known reading book for 4 and 5 year olds but this is one book we have read again and again.
In the words of the back cover, “The combination of frog illustrations and witty text works beautifully, so as soon as you finish it you’ll find yourself flicking back to enjoy this cautionary tale all over again.”
Well anyway I like it because it’s an easy, interesting read with large illustrations. Makes the kids think they have just been read a long book, lots of pages to turn. Highly recommended!
6. Paddington Bear
Often not the first book to be chosen for bedtime reading, but it might be picked when one of the “no, it doesn’t have a storyline” books is selected first.
It’s like when your favorite coffee is not available at the local café, well you chose your next favorite coffee. Or in this case… Paddington Bear! Gives the kids a giggle reading about Paddington’s misadventures.
7. Walter the Farting Dog
This one is pretty much always requested by my kids and now I’ve just discovered there is a WHOLE series of Walter the Farting Dog Adventure books. One of these will have to be on our Christmas list!!
My 5 year old got this book for his birthday recently from a friend and yes I read it to them. It is a funny story with colorful illustrations, and just really suits my boys’ sense of humor.
I’m sure some of us know of dogs (or people) that fart like Walter and laughing is a great way to end the day!
8. Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp
A great reading book kids who love dinosaurs or dancing or… both! Saturday Night At The Dinosaur Stomp is a fun read aloud book with a simple story about, as the title suggests, getting ready for a party. The enjoyment is in the characterization of the dinosaurs!
9. Room on the Broom
The witch and her cat are happily flying through the sky on a broomstick when the wind picks up and blows away the witch’s hat, then her bow, and then her wand! Luckily, three helpful animals find the missing items, and all they want in return is a ride on the broom.
But is there room on the broom for so many friends? And when disaster strikes, will they be able to save the witch from a hungry dragon?
10. The Wonky Donky
Based on the popular song, The Wonky Donkey is such a fun book for 4 year olds. Who ever heard of a spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey?