By the age of three, most children’s attention span is long enough to enjoy listening to stories (as opposed to looking at pictures in books and talking about them). The best picture books are fun to read aloud, with art that really brings the story alive. Kids can get very absorbed in looking at the art while listening to the story.
Children of any age love to recognise themselves in books, which helps them connect with the story. They also like to read about different places and people, and feel their world expand that way. Specialists often talk about books as mirrors and windows for children.
Kids in the 3-5 age group tend not to be too picky about what type of book they read, often just as happy looking at information books as they are listening to stories. Picture books can be used to help children learn to manage emotions and navigate relationships, new experiences or life-changing events.
Many young children find comfort in familiar books and in book series with familiar characters that they can get to know over time. Below are some popular picture book series, both stories and more interactive books.
A Shell Is Cozy
by Dianna Aston & Sylvia Long (illustrator)
Want to start at the beginning? The first book in this series is An Egg Is Quiet.
Nature Books (book 7). Gorgeous scientific picture books about the natural world. Age 4+
by Tom Percival
Big Bright Feelings (book 7). Picture book series to help children manage emotions, build confidence and navigate social situations. These storybooks are a helpful tool for adults to start conversations with kids about feelings of anxiety, jealousy, etc. Age 3+
by Stephanie Blake & translated by Linda Burgess
Simon the Rabbit (book 10). Simon is a mischievous little rabbit. This particular book in the series is a funny adaptation of the cry wolf story. The illustrations are big and expressive, full of movement and humour. The series, which is translated from French, has an animation series spin-off. Age 2+
Elmer and the Gift
by David McKee
The first book about Elmer the Patchwork Elephant came out in 1968. This is the final book, published posthumously, in this classic series that celebrates difference. Cheerful books for children age 3-6.
by Rotraut Susanne Berner
All Around Bustletown (book 5). Large format board books by a well known German illustrator. These are not storybooks. Instead there are seven detailed double page pictures for children to look at and make up their own stories around the pictures. Age 2-6.
Luna Loves Dance
Joseph Coelho & Fiona Lumbers (illustrator)
In an interview with the author, Joseph Coelho recommends The Best Books on Grandparents and Grandchildren.
Luna Loves series (book 3). Picture book series for children age 3+ about Luna who loves the good things in life, such as art and going to the library.
You Choose: Fairy Tales
Pippa Goodhart & Nick Sharratt (illustrator)
The third book in this series, You Choose Your Dreams, was picked by Marion Gillooly in the interview Dolly Parton's Imagination Library: Inspiring a Lifelong Love of Reading.
You Choose (book 4). Children can be in charge in this picture book series, which allows readers to create their own stories, with endless possibilities on every page. Age 3+