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Tom Mason

Professional Children's Books Expert

Preschool Books

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There’s nothing better and more satisfying as a parent than sitting down with your child and reading a book together. The best picture books have an almost magical combination of story, art, and readability that will make children happy to read them on their own or have someone read to them. Many of the best children’s books have won awards and been recognized on a national level. Others have sold jillions of copies. But there’s no better judge of a truly great picture book than a child who says, “Let’s read this one again!”

Your child wants a story so what book will you choose? Here are five that definately belong on your bookshelf!

Best Preschool Picture Books by Tom Mason

The Best You Can Get

  • Lost and Found

    Tom says: A boy finds a penguin at his door and once he figures out where penguins live, decides to return it to the South Pole… by rowboat. Throughout their adventure, the boy regales the Penguin with stories to pass the time. When they finally reach the Pole and say goodbye, the boy realizes he’s made a terrible mistake. “Lost And Found” is one of those rare picture books: a beautiful, heartwarming story that isn’t saccharine-sweet. It also happens to be gorgeously illustrated, with lots of little touches in the artwork: while the boy rows against giant waves, the penguin takes refuge under an umbrella and lights the way with a flashlight. “Lost And Found” is a quiet, calm, and reflective tale of friendship.

    Read also: “The Book Eating Boy”.

    • by Oliver Jeffers
    • Published in 2005
    • Ages 4-8
    • Penguins!
    • A Blue Peter Book of the Year: 2006
  • Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type

    Tom says: When his cows find an old-fashioned typewriter and start typing, Farmer Brown’s problems are just beginning. What the cows are working on is a note to Farmer Brown telling him that the barn is too cold at night and if he wants any more milk, he’d better get them some electric blankets. Pretty soon, the hens and duck are in on it too. A very funny and imaginative story by Doreen Cronin is highlighted by bold, expressive artwork from Betsy Lewin.

    Read also: “Giggle, Giggle, Quack”.


    • by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
    • Published in 2000
    • Ages 3-7
    • Cows typing!
    • A Caldecott Honor Book (2001)
  • Knuffle Bunny

    Tom says: Mo Willems has a background in television animation and it shows to stunning effect in this emotionally real but funny and clever picture book. Willems has created a true treasure of design and storytelling. Trixie, a cute-as-can-be little girl who can’t talk yet, goes to the Laundromat with her Daddy and has a blast “helping” him. As they return home, Trixie realizes something horrible has happened: she left her stuffed rabbit, Knuffle Bunny, behind. Since she doesn’t talk yet, she has a hard time communicating her problem to her Daddy who doesn’t understand her forceful babbling and wild gestures. Willems’ mix of clean angled lines and beautiful black and white photographic backgrounds from Brooklyn, New York, blend to create a snappy-looking modern look with a story that every parent has to experienced at least once.

    Read also: “Knuffle Bunny Too”.

    • by Mo Willems
    • Published in 2004
    • Ages 2-5
    • A Caldecott Honor book (2005)
    • 6-time Emmy-winning writer for Sesame Street
  • How I Became A Pirate

    Tom says: Young Jeremy Jacob makes a sand castle while his oblivious parents are occupied elsewhere on the beach. When a band of old-fashioned pirates lands, they are impressed by the young boy’s sand-digging skills. Their leader, Braid Beard, insists that Jeremy joins them so he can help dig the hole to bury their latest treasure. These are not the Pirates of the Caribbean; these pirates are fun and funny. They don’t pillage, they play and Jeremy is happy to join in and even tries to teach them soccer. At first, Jeremy is thrilled by the freedom, but soon misses a lot about his old life – like being tucked into bed and given a goodnight kiss. Pirates just don’t do that kind of thing. Now he has to figure out a way to convince the pirates to take him home. Wonderfully drawn in an expressive and funny style by David Shannon (creator of “No, David!”), each page is packed with comic detail.

    Read also: “Pirates Don’t Change Diapers”.

    • by Melinda Long and David Shannon
    • Published in 2003
    • Ages 4-8
    • Pirates!
    • An ALA Notable Children’s Book
  • Flotsam

    Tom says: After a wave knocks him over on the beach, a young boy finds a camera with a roll of undeveloped film. When he gets the photos developed, they reveal a secret eye-popping undersea world of what really lies beneath the surf. After studying the pictures with a microscope, he discovers there are also self-portraits of the previous young photographers dating back many decades. He happily adds his own photo to the group and returns the camera to the sea for another lucky child to find. A magically inventive wordless story, “Flotsam” is expertly paced and richly detailed. It dazzles with every turn of the page.

    Read also: “Tuesday”.


    • by David Wiesner
    • Published in 2006
    • Ages 4-8
    • NY Times Book Review “Best Illustrated Children’s Book”
    • A Caldecott Medal Book (2007)

You will be happy with any of these

  • Skelly The Skeleton Girl

    Tom says: When Skelly the Skeleton Girl discovers a loose bone, she’s determined to find out to whom it belongs. Her journey leads her through a comically fantastic gallery of monsters, ghoulies, and creatures before she finds the rightful owner and gets a surprise reward. Fans of “The Addams Family” and Henry Selick’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” will love Jimmy Pickering’s spooky and funny tale of friendship.

    Read also: “Bubble Trouble”.


    • by Jimmy Pickering
    • Published in 2007
    • Ages 4-8
    • Skeletons!
    • For fans of “The Addams Family”
  • Stick

    Tom says: Stick is a young frog with a sticky tongue and a very independent “all by myself” streak. When he accidentally latches onto a much-larger dragonfly, he’s taken for the ride of his life until he ends up in New Orleans… all by himself. Unable to find his way back to his mom and the swamp, Stick has to admit that he can’t do everything by himself. He needs help. A wonderfully funny and action-packed story with brilliant, expressive cartooning and inventive situations highlight a warm family story. Creator Steve Breen is donating a portion of his royalties to a Katrina-related disaster-relief organization.

    • by Steve Breen
    • Published in 2007
    • Ages 4-8
    • New Orleans locations
    • Pulitzer Prize-winning creator
  • Our Tree Named Steve

    Tom says: Every home has something iconic that the kids who grew up there will never forget. It could be a favorite hiding place, or a favorite room or even a chair. In Zwiebel and Catrow’s picture book, it’s a tree. Not just any tree, but a tree that Mom and Dad’s three children didn’t want cut down when the land was being cleared to build the house. Over the years, that tree became the center of the family’s outdoor life, from a place to hang laundry or a tire swing to the perfect spot to pitch a tent. Framed as a letter to the children from their father about the tree’s life and recent demise, “Our Tree Named Steve” is a warm recollection of a family member that could help children deal with loss in their own lives.

    • by Alan Zweibel and David Catrow
    • Published in 2005
    • Ages 4-8
    • A Junior Library Guild selection
    • Zweibel is a former writer for “Saturday Night Live”
  • Not a Box

    Tom says: Simple line drawings and simple concepts make a terrific book about some of the things a box can become when it’s in the right hands. A box is not just a cardboard square. One rabbit – and the reader as well - can turn that box into lots of different toys, with just the power of imagination. A box can become a robot, a mountain to climb, a race car to drive, and so much more. Fresh and playful, “Not a Box” is sure to inspire kids to play with something that doesn’t need to be plugged in.

    Read also: “Not a Stick”.

    • by Antoinette Portis
    • Published in 2006
    • Ages 2-6
    • Rabbits!
    • Encourages creativity
  • Once Upon a Banana

    Tom says: Rule #1: Monkeys are always funny, and the evidence is here in Armstrong and Small’s wordless and comic adventure. When a street performer’s monkey gets loose and steals a banana from the local market, the stray peel sets off a chain reaction of hijinks throughout the city. Dogs, bicycles, skateboards, grocery carts, and baby buggies all play a role in building comic mayhem as the performer pursues his pet across an urban landscape filled with rhyming signs. Detailed illustrations, bright colors, and bold linework highlight the action on every page.

    • by Jennifer Armstrong and David Small
    • Published in 2006
    • Ages 4-8
    • An ALA Notable Children’s Book
    • Illustrator David Small is a Caldecott Medal recipient

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