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My Top 20 Favorite Living Books for Ages 2-6.

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

What exactly are "living books?"

Living books are high-quality, well-written books that engage the reader's emotions and imagination and are written by someone with a passion for the subject. Instead of being written like a dry textbook, they are often written in narrative form like a story is being told. These are the types of books that you want to collect and share with future grandchildren!

“One more thing is of vital importance; children must have books, living books. The best is not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough. And if it is needful to exercise economy, let go everything that belongs to soft and luxurious living before letting go the duty of supplying the books, and the frequent changes of books, which are necessary for the constant stimulation of the child’s intellectual life.”

-Charlotte Mason

I've been working my way through the almost 100 books listed on Simply Charlotte Mason's list of Favorite Read-Aloud Books for Preschoolers. We've read almost all of the ones I bought used or could borrow through my local inter-library loan system. There are a few that I haven't found yet.

Here are my top 20 favorites! I picked books that my oldest son and myself both enjoy.

(Each book leads to an affiliate link for Abebooks Used books. There is also an Amazon list at the bottom so you can comparison shop. Some of the new books are only $1 more or the same in price. The new board books are great value too.)

I Put a * next to books that are best for the younger preschoolers!

20 Living Picture books for preschoolers

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

The Big Alfie Out of Doors Storybook by Shirley Hughes - she writes many other great Alfie books as well.

Corduroy by Don Freeman*

Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day - These are generally wordless books with really fun illustrations to walk you through the story*

Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown*

Imogene's Antlers by David Small

Let it Snow by Holly Hobbie - and other Toot and Puddle books

Lost in the Woods by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick - We love all of their photographic fantasies!

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

McDuff Comes Home by Rosemary Wells - and other McDuff books

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey

Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats*

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder - and the other books in the series!

This is the only chapter book listed. I started reading this when my son was three. I read while he was playing and only as much as he could listen too. He would often surprise me and ask for me to read more! We've read up to "The Long Winter" and my son loves listening to the audio books on his CD player for his daily quiet time. They also have made some great beginner picture books in this series.

* = books that are best for the younger preschoolers! (They often come in board book options)

Here's the list to all of the books on Amazon (affiliate)

Let me know in the comments if there is a living picture book I didn't include that you absolutely LOVE!



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