Children's Books About Frogs for Preschool, Storytime, or Anytime
Books featuring frogs cover a variety of genres in children's literature, including nonfiction, fiction, and even folklore and fairy tales. There's something universally appealing about these alien-looking little amphibeans with their slick skin, long tongues, and their hearty appetites for flies! No wonder little girls and little boys just love books about frogs.
The Frog With the Big Mouth by Teresa Bateman and illustrated by Will Terry is a humorous tale about a very tiny frog with a really big mouth. This little frog, barely past the pollywog stage, manages to eat an enormous fly. He is so proud of this questionable accomplishment, that he proceeds to seek out the other animals in the rainforest so he can tell them about it. Each animal he meets doesn't eat flies, so they aren't really that impressed. Unfortunately, the last animal he meets is a spotted jaguar, and although the rainforest feline doesn't eat flies, it sure loves a tasty, scrumptious, big-mouthed frog. Does the little braggart live to tell the tale? Read the book and find out.
One of my favorite characters in a series book published by successful author Jonathan London, is Froggy. Froggy is cute and always finds himself in humorous, though embarrassing predicaments. Any of the Froggy books are an excellent selection for Storytime, and you'll find him in a variety of holiday-themed books and books about children's milestones, such as Froggy's First Kiss.
Froggy's First Kiss by Jonathan London is my first recommendation in the frog category, but any book by this author will be a winner for the kindergarten and up crowd. Froggy Eats Out by Jonathan London and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz is a humorous misadventure starring Froggy with his parents at a fancy restaurant. Froggy tries and tries to use good manners, but his efforts are thwarted at every turn. He and his parents end up at Speedy's, a 'fast flies' place, where they can all enjoy their dinner without the pressures of a small child eating at a fancy restaurant.
In the Small, Small Pond is by Denise Fleming, an author and illustrator committed to preserving the wild natural places in the world. In short rhyming phrases, this book depicts the wildlife a child might encounter at a pond from spring to winter. The star of the book is the little frog, depicted on the first pages of the book, and as the reader learns about herons, raccoons, minnows, and turtles, among others, the frog is in every two page spread, enjoying the scenery (except when it is jumping away from a diving bird.) This book contains lovely illustrations in primary-colored acrylic paints that are child-friendly without being at all cutesy. This story particularly lends itself to sharing in a storytime setting because it has a seek and find element and is a good length for preschoolers. Fleming also wrote and illustrated the lovely, but wistful book Where Once There Was a Wood.
Excuse Me! by Lisa Kopelke is another shocking and hilarious look at etiquette from a frog's eye view. The funny and only slightly disgusting main character in this story is banished upriver to live with the uncouth frogs when his behavior starts to bother the neighbors. Fortunately the little guy in this story sees the error of his ways and gets to come home again, but only after he learns that his manners need to include a respect for his fellows' feelings.
Beware of the Frog by William Bee has the elements of a well-known froggy fairy tale with a wicked twist. This book would be great fun to share with a first or second grade class while reading a more traditional version of the frog prince fairy tale. I would maybe be reluctant to share this in a preschool storytime, because preschoolers tend to be quite literal and don't understand the wry tongue-in-cheek humor intended by the author. Mrs. Collywobbles lives on the edge of a dark, scary wood with only her little pet frog to protect her from the frightening creatures that come out of the forest, including a horrible thieving goblin, a smelly troll, and a giant hungry ogre. Unfortunately for the monsters, the frog is much hungrier than he looks, and unlike real frogs, eats monsters for breakfast. How can Mrs. Collywobbles repay him? With a kiss of course! But that isn't the end of the story, and you'll either hate or love this very unusual book and funny book.
A more traditional version of the frog-prince fairy tale is easily available in any collection of stories by The Brothers Grimm. If you prefer to read a picture book adaptation of the story, the Frog Prince by Jess Stockham is a cute retelling about a grumpy little princess who "doesn't keep her promises and doesn't have any friends." I like this one for its preschooler-friendly illustrations.
Little Tad Grows Up by Italian children's book author Guiliano Ferri and adapted by Charise Myngheer tells the story of Little Tad, and how distressed he is by his changing body. When he loses the tail he cherishes and sprouts a pair of awkward legs, he complains to everyone who will listen that he is a freak! But when he encounters a deceptive snake who wants to make Little Tad his lunch, Tad's instinct kicks in and he springs into action and out of the jaws of the hungry snake. This book held my 4-year old's rapt attention but it has a lot of dialogue on each page, so it may or may not hold the attention of a younger audience than 4. The watercolor illustrations and child-friendly pond animals are lush and appealing in this engaging tale. If your young child is resisting the idea of being a big boy or a big girl, this book may be a good selection with its theme that changes can be new, exciting, and positive. This book would also work well paired with other books in the self-concept category.
Frog Went A Courtin' by John Langstaff was the Caldecott Medal winner in 1955 for its adaptation of a beloved folk-song from England and Scotland that arrived in America with its earliest settlers. This book has the classic-look of a mid 19th-century children's books, and has simple line drawings and a restrained use of color. I like the fact that you can get this book with an accompanying recording of the folk song recorded in an Appalachian folk music style. This is a prime example of a book that you can use to combine music and motion in a storytime setting.
Fish is Fish by Leo Leonni is tells the story of a fish and tadpole who grow up together. The frog goes off to see the world and describes his adventures to the fish. This is a book about self-concept and understanding things from our own personal paradigms, so it is a popular selection among psychology students as wells as a children's classic that has been shared across generations.
A Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson, the author of Hilda Must Be Dancing and Bear Snores On, is illustrated by the award-winning children's illustrator Joan Rankin. This title is a rhyming, counting book that would be a fun story hour selection paired with many of the above titles. The pictures are muted watercolors, a departure from the candy-colored illustrations used in many of Wilson's other popular books. n this book, a little frog in a back-country bayou finds plenty of delicious insects to eat, until that frog is too big to move. And then, Uh-oh! that bumpy log where frog was sitting turns out to be a hungry alligator, and up comes all of the delicious bugs (and thankfully, since this is a rather disgusting concept) the bugs are miraculously all still alive. In the end, the frog and the insects learn to stay away from their larger predators. A fun, silly, rhyming story to add to a storytime program.
A final selection in the frog category is a picture book adaptation of the storytime favorite song Five Little Speckled Frogs by Nikki Smith. This song is always a favorite with preschoolers who want to sing it over and over. Finding this cheerfully-illustrated picture book makes sharing this perennial favorite song a storytime treat. If you are a storytime presenter who uses this song, this book is a must-have for your storytelling arsenal.
Nonfiction Books About Frogs (and toads)
The Trouble With Tadpoles by Sam Godwin and Simone Abel is an illustrated cartoon-style story about the life cycle of a tadpole that becomes a frog. Though the story is in a cartoon style and depicts frogs talking, the book answers questions about how the frog eggs come to be in the pond, where the tadpoles hide to stay away from predators, and how they miraculously grow legs and begin losing their tails. This book is cute and chock full of science facts, but the only trouble I have with the book is the title: no trouble with tadpoles at all!
Parents of older children will probably recognize Red Eyed-Tree Frog by Joy Cowley with full-color macro-sized photographs by the award-winning nature photographer Nic Bishop. This story about a tiny tree frog in the rainforest will expand your child's world in the classroom or living room. We have this book at home and have read it over and over again. What will the frog in this story eat? Not an iguana, not an ant, and not a poisonous caterpillar. Oh, and certainly not the hungry boa constrictor that wants to make this little tree frog its lunch. Once the hungry frog avoids this perilous situation it finally finds and devours its lunch, just in time to take a nap.
A few final titles to mention in the frog non-fiction category are What I Like About Toads by Judy Hawes, This book in the Let's Read and Find Out About Science series was first published in 1969. This small title isn't too long but it is chock-full of science information about toads, and in some parts of the book, the author explains how frogs and toads are different from each other. For example, toads have short legs, which makes them better pets, since they can't easily hop away. The illustrations in this show-stealing science book are detailed and visually appealing in a distinctive 1960s style. Another title in this series by the same author is Why Frogs Are Wet. This book is also full of frog-science facts. These books are geared to early elementary ages.
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