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Best Books for 4 Year Olds

Updated on October 28, 2014

Top Books for 4 Year Olds

Are you looking for some tried and tested good books that 4 year old girls and boys will love?. This articles gives recommendations of age appropriate ideas of the best books for 4 year olds based on the classics, picture, story and bedtime books my own son loved at age 4 and those popular with my niece too.

How I Choose Books for my 4 Year Old

I like to have a variety of books at my disposal for bedtime reading. This stops me getting bored reading the same book every night and it exposes my little boy to lots of different words and vocabulary. I have some rules I follow when choosing books that you may find helpful too.

Make sure you like the book as well as your child

When I read books to my 4 year old I choose books that I like to read as well as books he likes to listen to. This means I am enthusiastic to read the book. Kids really enjoy listening to books that you use expression and enthusiasm to read. They can tell if you're just going through the motions. I don't choose books that I find boring even if my kid loves them as there's nothing worse then trying to read the bedtime story as quick as you can as you're bored with the book.

Consider fun books - Some of my 4 year olds favorite books are very interactive. They include flaps to lift or decisions to make. Some books allow you to read along with the story. My son loves all these types.

You can't go wrong with a classic - Classic books have stood the test of time and generations of children so you can't really go wrong. I enjoy reading classic books as it takes me back to my own childhood.

Visit a library - A good place to choose books is at the library with your child. You can see what they naturally gravitate to and then you can buy copies of their most favorite books that you've already tried and tested to read again.

Read reviews - There are lots of reviews of books throughout the web. Amazon is a great place to start. The reviews can be really useful in determining whether you and your child will like the book.

My 4 year old loves visual books - Books with bright illustrations always seem to appeal as well as books with characters he was familiar with from other books, TV and movies.

Read on for lots of ideas of the best books for 4 year olds.

Image courtesy of photostock /

Classic Books

You can't go wrong with books that children have loved for generations and have stood the test of time.

All of these books are actually very different and have become classics for very different reasons.

Harold and the Purple Crayon (featured first) leads you and your kids on a journey of the imagination.

The Cat in the Hat is well known for its rhyming prose.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt is a great book which kids can chant along too. My son loves this one.

Harold and the Purple Crayon (Purple Crayon Books)
Harold and the Purple Crayon (Purple Crayon Books)

This is a great choice to explore a child's imagination.

Harold has a purple crayon where he draws himself a landscape full of beauty on a moonlit walk.

The Cat in the Hat
The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat is a great rhyming book.

My son was read this by his teacher at school when he was 4. She was reading to a group of 4 and 5 year olds. So when I bought it home he had grown to love it already!

We're Going on a Bear Hunt
We're Going on a Bear Hunt

We're going on a bear hunt. We're going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We're not scared.

It has some repetitive text which means kids can join in once they recognize the story. You can also act out parts of the story which can be fun.


Reviews of Picture Books

There are lots of great books have been published over recent years. You can check out the New York Times Bestseller lists for children's books for the most recent popular books.

Quite often my son will also pick books that feature his favorite characters from TV programs or movies.

Here are a selection of books my son and I like below.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

I have to confess I haven't actually read this one to my son but I had to list it because it's featured on the best picture books by amazon and the reviews are excellent.

Pete the Cat is wearing his favorite shirt-the one with the four totally groovy buttons. But when one falls off, does Pete cry? Goodness, no! He just keeps on singing his song-after all, what could be groovier than three groovy buttons?

I Want to Be Much More Bigger Like You (Charlie and Lola)
I Want to Be Much More Bigger Like You (Charlie and Lola)

My son loves Charlie and Lola, He watches the TV programs but prefers the books. I enjoy reading Charlie and Lola too.

The Gruffalo
The Gruffalo

Julia Donaldson is a very popular author in our house and The Gruffalo is perhaps her well known book., We love her rhyming text and stories.

The Gruffalo tells the story of the mouse who while walking in the woods when along comes a hungry fox, then an owl and then a snake.

The mouse is good enough to eat, but he knows this so he invents a creature called "The Gruffalo". The Gruffalo with terrible claws, tusks and jaws. But mouse has no worry to show. After all there is no such thing as a gruffalo.


Check Out Books on Youtube

I quite often check out Youtube for readings of books. Check out Peter and His Groovy Four Buttons.

Interactive Books

Interactive books are some of my son's favorites.

Check out a couple of ideas below.

You Choose
You Choose

This is a great interactive book. Good for starting conversations and getting kids to use the vocabulary and describe stuff.

On each page there is a different decision to be made. You have to choose where you'd live, what you'd wear, who your friends would be, what you'd do as a job from the numerous options in the pictures.

My son is always keen to tell me what he would choose and why. And he always wants me to say what I would choose too.

Great fun!

Calm Down, Boris! (Puppet Pop Ups)
Calm Down, Boris! (Puppet Pop Ups)

Puppet books are great fun.

Tell the story from the point of view of the puppet and put all your acting abilities to the test. Then when you've finished your 4 year old can have a go.


Bedtime Books for 4 Year Olds

I always read to my 4 year old every night before bed. Quite often we will read two or more books (depending on how long they are and how tired we are).

It makes a great bedtime routine and it means you spend some special one on one time with your child everyday.

If possible I try and choose books that calm my son down before bed. I find books that are rhyming can be calming and some of them seem to use hypnotic language which is always make me sleepy, so it must work on some level!

Sleep Like a Tiger (Caldecott Medal - Honors Winning Title(s))
Sleep Like a Tiger (Caldecott Medal - Honors Winning Title(s))

This is the winner of the Caldecott medal for 2013.

It tells the story of a young girl who't not tired even though its bedtime.

It's a magical bedtime story where the inquisitive girl asks does everything in the world go to sleep? Beautifully illustrated.


Books About Being Four

My son loves books he can relate to and kids aged 4 know their age and love books about being 4.

They also make great birthday gifts for a 4th birthday.

Check out a couple of ideas below.

When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old's Memoir of Her Youth
When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old's Memoir of Her Youth

This book celebrates the milestones a 4 year old has achieved. They can be proud of what they can do now compared to when they were a baby.

By Jamie Lee Curtis (the actress). This has good reviews over on amazon.

Four is a little, Four is a LOT
Four is a little, Four is a LOT

The book explores different scenarios where 4 can mean a little but it can also mean a lot.

And to finish "Four is a lot... when you're not three anymore!"


Popular Princess Books for 4 Year Old Girls

My 4 year old neice loves princesses from Disney Princess to the Princesses in frozen so I have put forward a couple of age appropriate books below.

If you are a bit anti princess you will probably enjoy the Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch.

Frozen (Little Golden Book)
Frozen (Little Golden Book)

Frozen is a really popular movie with girls this age at the moment. If they like the movie they will also love the book which retells the story.


Popular Books for 4 Year Old Boys - Superheros and Vehicles!!

My son has been car, truck, digger and fire engine mad for a couple of years now. He loves any book which features vehicles which is why I've featured Goodnight, Goodnight Constructin Site. This is the perfect bedtime book for boys this age.

He is also just entering a superhero face. He enjoys spiderman and batman particularly.

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

Love this one! The soothing rhymes and calming illustrations even start to calm me down ready for sleep.

Super Hero Squad: Meet the Super Hero Squad! (Marvel Super Hero Squad Readers)
Super Hero Squad: Meet the Super Hero Squad! (Marvel Super Hero Squad Readers)

If the 4 year old boy you read to is superhero mad (like many of them are - my nephews both love superheros!) then they'll love this book.

Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go

This is an full packed book with lots going on and lots of activities.

There's lots of different vehicles, lots of different characters and a story that runs through the book. You can either read the story or look at the pictures and details on each page.

There's also a Goldbug on each page that you can search for and find too.


Educational Books for 4 Year Olds

Reading any suitable book to your 4 year old will have some educational value as they will learn new vocabulary and be open to a world of reading.

However, some books are designed to be particularly educational like the sticker activity book below. My son loves sticker and activity books.

Richard Scarry's Big Busy Sticker & Activity Book
Richard Scarry's Big Busy Sticker & Activity Book

This book is packed with more than 900 stickers!

Preschoolers will enjoy learning to draw, filling in missing words and images, completing dot-to-dots and mazes as well as decorating with the hundreds of stickers.

School Zone - Big Preschool Workbook - Ages 4 and Up, Colors, Shapes, Numbers 1-10, Alphabet, Pre-Writing, Pre-Reading, and Phonics (Big Get Ready Workbook)
School Zone - Big Preschool Workbook - Ages 4 and Up, Colors, Shapes, Numbers 1-10, Alphabet, Pre-Writing, Pre-Reading, and Phonics (Big Get Ready Workbook)

This is perfect for 3 to 5 year olds.

There's lots of fun activities to learn shapes, colors, numbers and letters.

The pages are colorful and fun too.


Bestselling Story Books 2014

I have mentionned a few currest popular and bestselling books throughtout the article already. These include Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site.

Here are a couple more new books that are currently top sellers and suitable to read aloud to 4 year olds.

Dragons Love Tacos
Dragons Love Tacos

At the time of writing this has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for 20 weeks.

The kids love the illustrations and the funny story.

Dragons love tacos (They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teeny tiny tacos. So if you want to lure a bunch of dragons to your party, you should definitely serve tacos).

But make sure dragons don't eat spicy salsa or you'll be in trouble!

Journey (Aaron Becker's Wordless Trilogy)
Journey (Aaron Becker's Wordless Trilogy)

A 2014 Caldecott Honor Book

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2013

This book has beautiful illustrations and an imaginative story.

A lonely girl draws a red door on her bedroom wall and enters an imaginary world.


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