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Book List Book Reviews Charlotte Mason Living Books

Book List: Living Books for Preschoolers (Updated)

I have been asked a number of times if I have any recommendations for “living books” for preschool aged children. I am by no means a pure Charlotte Mason practitioner, but I appreciate the use of living books in our homeschooling. Most of these are classics which provide beautiful “musical” arts to any child.

If you want to learn more about what living books are, Sonya Schaefer of Simply Charlotte Mason has written about 5 Ways to Find Living Books or you could read How to Choose Living Books by My Little Robins.

“Children must have books, living books; the best are not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough.”

Charlotte Mason, Parents and Children, p. 279

You could check the wonderful recommendations at AmblesideOnline or Mater Amabilis for Year 0. Aside from the classic Aesop, A. A. Milne, or Beatrix Potter, allow me suggest a few books that are little known, but could likewise provide truth, goodness and beauty in your own read alouds at home. I try my best to constantly update this page. So do come back from time to time to check out new additions. Or follow me on my Facebook page to find out when that happens.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

For the Children’s Hour

by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey and Clara M. Lewis

A choice collection of stories for the preschool child, carefully selected, adapted, and arranged by two veteran kindergarten teachers. Includes nature stories, holiday stories, fairy tales and fable, as well as stories of home life. Emphasis is placed on fanciful tales for their value in the training of the imagination and on cumulative tales for developing a child’s sense of humor and appealing to his instinctive love of rhyme and jingle. T

This book is included in the Year 0 AmblesideOnline Booklist.

View it on Archive.org | Buy it on Amazon

Firelight Stories

by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

SINCE the childhood of the races, certain old world stories have appeared in various dress in different nations, all bearing the stamp of the same source: the interest of primitive people in rhyme, repetition, and the attributing of human powers to the brute world. It has been my effort to collect and edit a few of these old folk tales.

View it on Archive.og | Purchase it on Amazon

Kindegarten Gems

by Agnes Taylor Ketchum & Ida M. Jorgensen

A full collection of stories and rhymes for the youngest listeners. In addition to the usual fairy tales, folk tales, and fables, there are numerous stories about animals, tales of everyday doings, and stories of the seasons. The material is conveniently arranged in groups, with several stories and rhymes for each holiday and season throughout the year. Numerous black and white illustrations complement the text.

View it on Gateway to the Classics | Buy it on Amazon

A Child’s Own Book of Verse, Book One

by Ada M. Skinner and Frances Gillespy Wickes

First volume of A Child’s Own Book of Verse, a three-volume set planned for use during the four primary years. This unusually fine collection of poetry was selected with the child’s interests in mind. Includes sound rhymes and jingles to appeal to the ear, descriptive poems to create images in the mind’s eye, lullabies and lyrics to warm the heart, and story-telling poems to stir the imagination. Attractively illustrated by Maud and Miska Petersham.  

View it on Gateway to the Classics | Buy it on Amazon

Fairy Tales Too Good To Miss—In the Meadow

by Lisa M. Ripperton

The first of two fairy tale anthologies for 5 year olds, each containing 36 stories specially selected for their literary merit, ethical soundness, and child appeal. All the well-known nursery tales are included, along with a smattering of less familiar stories. Attractive illustrations, many in color, accompany most of the tales. 

View it on Gateway to the Classics

Mother Stories

by Maud Lindsay

Seventeen stories ideally suited for kindergarten children who take great interest in lively stories about familiar things, especially those that include rhyme and repetition as these stories do. Within each story is a subtle moral, pleasing to children and not at all obtrusive.

View it on Gutenberg | Buy it on Amazon

More Mother Stories

by Maud Lindsay

Twenty more delightful stories for kindergarten children about the commonplace things they care about most, with enough rhyme and repetition to keep them begging for more. Most of the stories in this book revolve around animals of the barnyard, with a sprinkling of stories of everyday doings. Two Christmas stories conclude the volume. 

View it on Gateway to the Classics | Buy it on Amazon

A Story Garden for Little Children

by  Maud Lindsay

Maud Lindsay has an extraordinary gift for making delightful stories out of ordinary events that help very young children make sense of their surroundings. Each chapter in this collection presents a simple story, depicting a child actively engaged in the world, whether that is gathering wild fruit, saving pennies to buy a tool, or helping to make biscuits.

View it on Gutenberg or Gateway to the Classics

Frederick Richardson’s Book for Children

by  Frederick Richardson

Frederick Richardson’s illustrations bring to life ten traditional children’s stories, including ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff’ and ‘The Bremen Town Musicians.’ Each story introduces a new collection of animal and human characters, whose clever and spirited interactions with each other delight children of all ages. 

View it on Gateway to the Classics | Buy it on Amazon

Reading-Literature Primer

by  Harriette Taylor Treadwell and Margaret Free

Introductory volume in the series of Reading-Literature readers, whose purpose is to train children in reading and appreciating literature through the reading of literature. Contains nine of the best folk tales, true to the original, and yet written in such a simple style that children can quickly begin reading the real story. Includes The Little Red Hen, The Gingerbread Boy, The Old Woman and Her Pig, The Boy and the Goat, The Pancake, Chicken Little, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Little Tuppens, and Little Spider’s First Web. Attractive black and white illustrations are appealing to children.

View it on Gateway to the Classics | Buy it on Amazon

Little Folks’ Land

by Madge Bigham

This delightful book for young listeners awakens children’s interest in the world around them through the story of ‘Joe-Boy’ and how he grew from a baby in a gipsy camp to become an active member of society. We hear first about how Joe-Boy’s house is built and furnished, and how his clothes are made. Then we watch Joe-Boy’s circle broaden to include the pets he cares for, the wild animals he observes, and the friends he makes. Includes an especially fine group of nature stories. An ideal introduction to a longer narrative for children of kindergarten age.

View it on Gateway to the Classics | Buy it on Amazon

The Story Hour: A Book for the Home and the Kindergarten

By Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora A. Smith

The fourteen little stories in this book are not offered as a collection ample enough to satisfy all needs of the kindergartner.

Such a collection should embrace representative stories of all classes—narrative, realistic, imaginative, scientific, and historical, as well as brief and simple tales for the babies.

An experience of twelve years among kindergartners, however, has shown us that there is room for a number of books like this modest example; containing stories which need no adaptation or arrangement; which are ready for the occasion, and which have been thoroughly tried before audience after audience of children.

The three adaptations, “Benjy in Beast-Land,” “Moufflou,” and the “Porcelain Stove,” have been made as sympathetically as possible. Their introduction needs no apology, for they are exquisite stories, and in their original form much too advanced for children of the kindergarten age.

View it on Gutenberg | Buy it on Amazon

Finger Plays for Nursery and Kindergarten

In all times and among all nations, finger-plays have been a delight of childhood. Countless babies have laughed and crowed over “Pat-a-cake” and other performances of the soft little hands… Yet it is not solely upon the pleasure derived from them, that finger-plays depend for their raison d’etre. By their judicious and early use, the development of strength and flexibility in the tiny lax fingers may be assisted, and dormant thought may receive its first awakening call through the motions which interpret as well as illustrate the phase of life or activity presented by the words.

View it on Gutenberg | Buy it on Amazon

Poems Every Child Should Know

by Mary E. Burt

This anthology of poetry, published in 1904, contains such favorites as The Raven, My Shadow, and The Village Blacksmith, as well as many lovely poems that may be unfamiliar. Most of the poems in this collection are short enough for children to memorize.

View it on Gutenberg | Listen on LibriVox | Buy it on Amazon


Did I miss anything that should be included in this list?

This page was last updated on 5 June 2021

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