Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! by Bob Barner is a good book for little ones interested in bugs, but not ready for a full nonfiction science book. The book gave interesting facts about the various bugs introduced. But, the coolest part of the book is the page with the life-size illustrations of all the bugs. The illustrations are bright and fun and the length is perfect for toddlers and young preschoolers.
An Ant’s Day Off by Bonny Becker is an interesting tale about an ant who has lived his whole life never seeing the sky or anything beyond the tunnels he works. Until one day he decides to take the day off. The text was a little long for my son who kept flip flopping on my bed. But he didn’t want me to close the book either. The story was solid, though. My favorite part was when he tried to return to his tunnel and the guard he expected to give him heck? Was supportive and shared that he too has taken a day off.
Ace Lacewing: Bug Detective by David Bierdrzycki is such a fun read. I started it thinking it would go over my son’s head but he sat listening to it the whole time. The mystery begins with a missing Queen bee and will have you guessing who is behind her disappearance as Ace tries to solve it. There was a lot of humor that was lost on my then 2-year-old. But the fun Dick Tracy like illustrations kept him happy while I snickered at the jokes he missed. Very fun read for kids that aren’t yet ready for a chapter book but outgrowing pictures ones.
Percival the Plain Little Caterpillar by Helen Brawley is one of my son’s favorite books right now, due to the fact that there are shiny and shimmery pictures throughout! The story does leave something to be desired. The message seems to be that being plain is bad and the only fix for poor Percival is when he turns into a beautiful butterfly! When reading this to my class I would often interject with questions to my students about what they thought was cool about Percival, and that combated the undesirable message that you have to be beautiful to be worthy.
Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel is a lovely story about 2 friends who must part ways, in this case, because one is a caterpillar who needs to build a chrysalis and the other an earth worm who needs to dig deep into the ground. What I like about this book is that it goes on to explain that the earth worm’s digging is vital for the trees to grow so that the caterpillar can eat the leaves and turn into a butterfly. I like the lesson about how we all play a part!
The Crunching Munching Caterpillar by Sheridan Cain is another story about a caterpillar who is not happy about his lot in life. There is a fair bit of language that some parents would object to. This caterpillar is often reminded that he is too fat to fly. So that poses a few challenges to parents like myself who are trying to instill healthy body images as well as using respectful words with others in our children. I have dealt with this book in two ways. First by saying that the caterpillar is getting fat. But that’s a good thing for him. That he will be able to sleep for a long time in his chrysalis and needs that fat to live. Also, I have simply replaced fat with big, a word that is much less ugly to many people’s ears.
The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle is more than a cute book about a crabby bug. The Lady bug is looking for a fight. Each hour she finds a bigger and bigger animal to fight with until she is unintentionally slapped by a big whale’s tail! I loved using this book to teach telling time, as there is a picture of an analog clock on each page. I would use a play clock and as I read each page ask one child to come and set our classroom clock. Also, don’t be put off by the fact that the ladybug tries to pick fights. No animal takes her up on her offer. You can spin that into a great lesson about not giving into people who are trying to pick fights.
The Very Busy Spider was a favorite of my son’s from the get go. We have the board book edition and what I love about it, is that the spider web in it is raised and offers a sensory element to reading the story. This is a story of hard work, persistence and also helps reinforce animal sounds. Perfect for toddlers!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a classic, that most preschool teachers like myself can recite from memory. It really is a fantastic book. Not only does it explain the life cycle of a caterpillar/butterfly. But it is also useful for a lesson about the day of the week and healthy eating! It was a childhood favorite of mine and if the fact that he fell asleep holding his “Pillar” is any indication. It is already one of my son’s favorites too!
The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle is one of my son’s favorite books to read before bed. Not so much because of the story but because the board book version has flashing lights at the end! The story is all about a firefly looking for another firefly but mistaking all different light for a friend. Toddlers love this book because it gives them a chance to be bossy and say “No that’s a flashlight” to the firefly. The text is the right length for little guys but not boring for older kids. I need to mention the little lights are really quite magical in a dark bedroom. Especially if you are in a place that doesn’t have fireflies!
The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle is another favorite the story is all about a little cricket who is trying and trying to chirp like the others to talk to all the bugs talking to him but he can’t! Whenever I read it to children ( and it was a classroom favorite too) I would wiggle my shoulders like I was trying to rub my wings together just like the cricket. Kids latched on to that and I loved seeing them so engaged by the repetitive but never boring book. I thought that seeing 12 little 3-year-olds wiggling was precious but one little 3-year-old is pretty cute doing it too! Of course, there is a “surprise” at the end that toddlers and preschoolers alike will love.
Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin is a very clever book with some pretty funny bits of humor. Older preschoolers will love it. The overall theme is that spiders aren’t all nasty and that they have fears too. What a great lesson for kids that are at the age where they are not as eager to share their fears because they don’t want to look weak or unable to handle things themselves.
Beetle Bop by Denise Fleming is a beautifully illustrated book with a melodic rhyming text and fantastic descriptive words. The pages are saturated with color and the pictures were done from a bug’s perspective. So feet, birds, and lizards all seem huge to the reader. They start to see what it might be like to be so small! It was very reminiscent of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids My son loved this book and so did I!
From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heligiman is part of my favorite nonfiction for kids series “Let’s Read and Find Out Science”. I always grab these books at garage sales and thrift stores. In this edition, you follow a classroom of students observing a caterpillar as it metamorphosis into a butterfly. A classic spring activity for preschool age children to discover and learn about life cycles. Also a perfect match for your own Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden which I highly recommend and will be doing this year with my son. Reading nonfiction with your preschoolers is important as it teaches them seamlessly that writing and reading is not just for stories but for information too.
Miss Spider’s Abc Book by David Kirk has the most vivid and beautiful illustrations. The text is simple and flows well. However, the value is in the illustrations. They cover all sorts of bugs and are so bright that they will appeal to your child!
Beetle McGrady Eats Bugs! by Megan McDonald isn’t really too much about bugs, it’s really about overcoming fears. Beetle McGrady wants to be a fearless pioneer and she sets out to prove that by eating an ant. She doesn’t quite reach her goal, at least not right away. I liked how Beetle was disappointed in herself and instead of continuing to sulk when an opportunity to try again arose, she took it.
Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg is a very interesting story of two ants who decide not to return to the colony and hang out in a sugar bowl eating instead. Of course, nothing is as it seems and they have quite an adventure trying to avoid all the dangers of a kitchen. Only realizing in the end that being a part of a colony isn’t so bad! This is a cute book for preschoolers. They will love trying to guess what each new adventure the ants face really are… They include a toaster, hot coffee, and an electrical outlet.
Buzz by Eileen Spinelli is a really sweet tale about a little bee who loves everything about being a bee, especially flying! When she finds out that bees should actually not be able to fly? She lost the confidence in herself and her favorite thing about being a bee. Luckily that is not where this adorable tale ends and your children will love it. My son came running into the kitchen where I was reading this to my daughter who screamed at me until I let her hold the book so she could touch the adorable little bee.
I Love Bugs!by Phileomon Sturges is a rare find. It is listed as fiction but I would consider it as non fiction. But it is really a great factual book about bugs for older toddlers/young preschoolers. It is really hard to find simple, short books that include facts and this one is perfect. It doesn’t go into the life cycles of butterflies or how lightning bugs light up. But it does use descriptive words with bright and charming illustrations. Great for the under 3 crowd, and useful for older kids too!
For more quick tips on helping your child learn to read check out my book; Raising A Rock-Star Reader. It is packed with fun ideas for families, book lists, and advice for parents.