I’ve always found that one of my favorite ways to learn about history- or even science- occurs when that learning comes through a book that that engages me in its story or characters. When we experience things through story, we learn in a way that feels accessible and personal to us. As adults, this is still true for many of us, but it’s even more true for kids! The ability of well-written stories to teach effectively and naturally is one of the main reasons that many homeschooling families love to use what is known as “living books” in their homeschool.
What Are Living Books?
The term “living books” is associated with the educator Charlotte Mason. (She’s the woman for whom one of the most popular homeschooling methods is named!) Living books are well-crafted books that educate through story. They are books that stand the test of time with their quality and that draw children into learning through the stories they convey and the characters (whether real or fictional) that they follow.
In terms of genre, living books can take many forms. A biography can be a living book, and so can a work of historical fiction. A non-fiction book that takes the reader on a journey can be a living book. An engaging book of poems can, too! In essence, living books are quality literature that naturally teaches through engagement.
Living Books for Preschoolers
“For the children? They must grow up upon the best . . . There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told.” (Charlotte Mason, Parents and Children, p. 263)
Charlotte Mason believed that children, even young children, are never too young to learn from, and be inspired by, the best quality stories–“living stories”! Today, I’m going to share some living stories with you that are perfect for the youngest learners who are just starting to enjoy the world of books. Here are 10 of the best living books for preschoolers that will help them discover and learn through the art of story!
10 Living Books for Preschoolers
This non-fiction classic helps the youngest of children observe and learn about animals in a fun and easy-to-follow narrative. This delightful book is perfect for toddlers and up!
Every home library needs a Mother Goose Treasury! This collection contains some of the most iconic children’s songs and poems in Western culture. This collection is timeless, making it a great way for your child to absorb a little bit of vocabulary, history, and Western civilization while enjoying the playful rhymes.
Stellaluna is a sweet story about a little fruit bat who is separated from her mother and raised in a family of birds. Throughout her story, she learns that she is different from the others, but discovers that she doesn’t have to be ashamed about that! This tale is a great way for young children to learn more about bats while also discussing topics like family and the things that make each of us different!
This is another tender animal-tale by the same author of Stellaluna, featuring Verdi, a little yellow python living in the jungle. Verdi doesn’t want to become an adult python, but when he starts to grow and change color, he begins to accept that growing up is not a bad thing. Like Stellaluna, this book can help young children learn about a specific animal in nature, while also talking about important emotional concepts.
This colorful classic is a great way to get your toddler engaged in music and introduce him or her to the alphabet through this simple story!
If you have a young child who loves music and/or the ocean, The Jolly Mon is sure to delight and entrance them with its beautiful Caribbean illustrations and lyrics throughout the story that can be sung aloud. This book is based on the Jimmy Buffet song, so give it a listen before and after you read this book to your child! This one is especially good for older Pre-K children- elementary ages (although I confess that I still enjoy it as an adult.)
This book is the perfect way to introduce your young child to the concept of diverse cultures via a topic that you know they will be interested in — other children! This story shares differences between the lives of seven different children who live in seven different cultures by comparing their daily routines, meals, clothing, etc. Children will be fascinated to discover the differences in the lives of children from around the world.
Harold and the Purple Crayon is all about the power of creativity. Your young child will be engaged in the adventures that Harold (literally) creates for himself with a single crayon, and will likely be inspired to explore the world of art, too!
This beloved book has been a classic for over half a century. Madeline is a beautiful tale set in Paris about an adventurous young girl. This story has a rhyming meter and plenty of engaging, whimsical illustrations of Parisian landmarks. There are a lot of interesting things to discuss with your young child while reading this timeless book: from the setting, to the vocabulary, to the routines of the girls, to the interesting things going on in the backgrounds of the illustrations!
If you are interested in starting to share the Bible with your very young child, The Jesus Storybook Bible is a great way to do it! This children’s collection of Bible stories is unique because it shares the Bible (chronologically) in a way that will consistently engage kids, while also helping them connect to some of the bigger themes/stories in scripture. This one is a great resource for learning Bible stories while also working on the heart. This book would be great for Pre-K through elementary level.
Stories are one of the best ways to engage with – and learn about – the world around us, especially for children! We hope that you enjoy reading some of these wonderful living books with your young child(ren)! Do you have any living books that you especially recommend for this age range? Drop a comment and let us know!
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