Dear Santa: 13 tried-and-tested stocking-stuffer books for preschoolers

Poor Santa! So many presents to find, for so many little people, with so little time! Luckily, we’ve been on the case, searching high and low for the best books to help stimulate preschoolers’ language development – from the Galston Rotary Giant Book Fair to the Scholastic Super Book Sale at Sydney Olympic Park.

So, for Santa and all his weary helpers out there, we are pleased to present 13 book suggestions based on what’s working well for our preschoolers in the clinic right now.

Need more book ideas? No worries, we’ve got you covered.

Ho Ho Ho!

Duck in the Truck by Jez Alborough

One of my kids’ favourite books when they were young. They could recite the whole book and loved the rhyming. Jez Alborough’s excellent illustrations add to the text with lots of movement and frivolity.

Things I Like by Anthony Browne

Anthony Browne’s books are smart, thought-provoking and beautifully illustrated. Our personal favourites are Gorilla and Piggybook, and Things I Like is great for verbs.

Night Noises written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Terry Denton

Follow the adventures of a ‘fat old dog’ Butch Aggie on a wild winter’s evening as she attempts to protect ‘nearly ninety’ Lillie Laceby, who has drifted off to sleep by the fire, from unknown people outside the house. Are they robbers?

The Carnival of the Animals by Marianne Dubuc

Watch as a carnival of wild animals transform into other animals. Lots of lovely repetitions of the verb ‘to dress’.

Look and See written and illustrated by Shane Morgan

Another book featuring animals and action words, this time Australian fauna like kangaroos, emus, dingos, and frill-necked lizards, running, jumping, howling and hopping around the country.

Bouncing by Shirley Hughes

As the title suggests, there’s lots of bouncing in this book. The illustrations help reinforce the verb and as an added bonus, the inside sleeves feature illustrations of young children acting out another 17 verbs including bending, reading, scowling, looking, smiling, counting and drinking.

Let’s Go, Baby-o! by Janet and Andrew McLean

More actions on display with the McLeans’ Let’s Go, Baby-o! We love the rhymes, in the vein of Janet and Allan Ahlberg, and the illustrations of baby, Mum and random animals demonstrating the actions including pounce, thump, flap and hop.

Kissed by the Moon by Alison Lester

Alison Lester is one of our favourite authors of books for young children. Kissed by the Moon is a beautifully illustrated, verb-packed lullaby, perfect to serenade a baby to sleep.

Flashing Fire Engines by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker

Part of Tony Mitton and Ant Parker’s Amazing Machines series. We love these books as they appeal to children who like vehicles. They also provide excellent commentary about the particular machine’s function and how people, like firefighters in this case, operate the machinery.

Also available as an audio book with lots of noise to accompany the action.

Polar Bear Night by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by Stephen Savage

Another lovely bedtime tale about an insomniac polar bear cub wandering around her arctic neighbourhood, gazing at the sleeping animals, before a shooting star show helps her to fall asleep. Another of my kids’ childhood favourites and a New York Times bestseller.

Going shopping by Sarah Garland

A patient, if slightly harried-looking mother takes her two children and dog to the supermarket. Reminds us of the Berenstain’s Inside Outside Upside Down with its few words and limited number of pictures to describe an everyday adventure.

Piglet and Mama by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Stephen Michael King

Piglet loses her Mama in the farmyard and the farm animals try to distract her from her distress with suggested activities like snoozing with the cat, chasing the donkey, and cuddling the duck, but Piglet just wants her Mama. Margaret Wild and Stephen Michael King are a winning combination.

What the sky knows by Nike Bourke and illustrated by Stella Danalis

A short-listed book for The Children’s Book Council of Australia book of the year, it explores a girl imagining what it would be like to know all the things the sky knows.

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Hi there, I’m David Kinnane.

Principal Speech Pathologist, Banter Speech & Language

Our talented team of certified practising speech pathologists provide unhurried, personalised and evidence-based speech pathology care to children and adults in the Inner West of Sydney and beyond, both in our clinic and via telehealth.

David Kinnane
Speech-Language Pathologist. Lawyer. Father. Reader. Writer. Speaker.

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