Timeless Education: Pre-Primary Book List

I previously shared a portion of chapter two from Fingerposts to Children's reading, which discusses the importance of literature in the pre-primary years; ages one to six.  Today, I am going to share book suggestions that Field shared for each age level. 

Many of these books can be found in reprint, while many cannot. Simply use the list as a guide to help you decide on books that are suitable for each age range. 


*Pictures of books in this post are Amazon Affiliate Links. 

One to Two Years of Age

Good picture books, with just a few bright and simple pictures, preferably of animals. Look for books of zoo, farm and domestic animals.  Nister was a popular choice during the early 1900's. 

Two to Three Years of Age

Favored illustrators for this age were Caldecott and Crane and included titles such as

  • Hey Diddle, Diddle
  • Baby Bunting
  • A Farmer Went Trotting
  • Mother Hubbard
  • The Three Bears
  • This Little Pig
  • The Fairy Ship

Three to Four Years of Age

Take no substitutions and have a beautifully illustrated copy of Mother Goose on hand. In addition to the beloved children's classic, round pick up a full collection of Beatrix Potter and a book of Mother Stories.

Four to Five Years of Age

Bible Stories*, particularly the stories of Adam, Noah, Abraham and Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Jesus and his disciples.

Classic Nursery tales and fables such as Scudder's "Fables and Folk Stories", Lansing's "Rhymes and Stories"  and "Tales of Old England. You can begin to introduce Aesop's fables and also look for illustrated versions of the following titles

  • Red Riding Hood
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Cinderella
  • Blue Beard
  • The Frog Prince
  • Jack and the Bean Stalk
  • The Sleeping Beauty  
  • The Three Bears
  • The Three Little Pigs
  • Tom Thumb

For poetry, pick up the classic, "A Child's Garden of Verse," from Stevenson.

Five to Six Years of Age

Fairy Tales - avoid Grimm's tales at this age, as they are bit much. Instead look for editions by Nister or Ginn and include the Green and Red Fairy Book's by Lang. For poetry, look for works such as Lear's nonsense rhymes (foliosociety.com has a LOVELY edition) and Poems of Childhood by Fields.  Additional titles ideal for this age are 

  • Water Babies
  • Adventures of Pinocchio
  • Just So Stories
  • Scudder's "The Children's Book" 



Do you have a favorite modern day title for any these age groups? What is it?