Best Books for 4 Year Olds: Engaging and Educational Reads

There are so many great books for 4 year olds: from classic favourites to new releases, there’s something for everyone.

At this stage, children are transitioning from toddlers to preschoolers and are starting to develop their own interests and preferences… So now is the perfect time to choose books that encourage a love of reading and learning that will last a lifetime!

Best Books for 4 Year Olds

Whether your child loves animals, trucks, princesses, or superheroes, there’s a book out there that will capture their imagination and keep them engaged.

So, grab a cosy blanket and get ready to explore the wonderful world of children’s literature. Here are my favorite books for 4 year olds that I am sure will delight and entertain your little one time and time again!

1. We Are Going On a Bear Hunt By Michael Rosen

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

What Is It: This is a charming classic of the story of a father and his 4 children going on an adventure together. Their imaginary search for a bear takes them through all sorts of different terrains and experiences that children will love to explore.

Why Do I Recommend It? I love this book for its rich language which is perfect for this age range and of course the lovely illustrations. It puts across the message of how fun it is to discover and learn things together as a family beautifully.

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2. The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Dark By Jill Tomlinson

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark

What Is It: This lovely book tells the heartfelt story of a young owl who is afraid of the dark and the creatures and people he meets as he ventures into the night.

Why Do I Recommend It? Addressing the very common fear that many children have of being afraid of the dark with gentle humour, makes this a perfect book for this age group. The heartwarming illustrations help to tell the lovely story of how the little owl finds the courage to face his fears and is another timeless classic.

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3. Dogger by Shirley Hughes

Dogger By Shirley Hughes

What Is It: This is the heartwarming story of Dave who loses his favourite soft toy dog and how his sister saves the day.

Why Do I Recommend It? I have always been a fan of Shirley Hughes' books and her ability to capture the imagination of young children. She really understands how they think and feel and the story of Dogger is no exception. This book teaches so many important lessons about losing, finding and kindness. Great for this age group to listen to and for sparking all sorts of important conversations too.

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4. Madeline By Ludwig Bemelmans

Madeline By Ludwig Bemelmans

What Is It: This book that was written 75 years ago still stands out today as it tells the story of brave Madeline. Set in picturesque Paris, this is the tale of a brave little girl's trip to the hospital.

Why Do I Recommend It? I particularly love the gentle humour in the book, the rhyming and the bold illustrations that depict iconic Paris landmarks in this charming story. With lots to talk about and a lovely message of how to deal with our fears, this book is perfect for 4 year olds.

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5. The Jolly Postman (Or Other Peoples Letters) By Allan Ahlberg 

The Jolly Postman (Or Other Peoples Letters)

What Is It: This book reimagines traditional fairytales with letters that are tucked away inside the book and can be taken out and read as they are delivered by the Jolly Postman.

Why Do I Recommend It? A great way to introduce young children to the old-fashioned art of letter writing as well as giving you a reason to re-read all the old fairy tales. Children will love the concept of being able to hold the letters and then return them to the book for safekeeping. Humorous and whimsical this is a traditional book ideal for 4 year olds.

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6. Corduroy By Don Freeman

Corduroy By Don Freeman

What Is It: Corduroy is a timeless classic telling the story of a bear, a little girl and the friendship they find in each other.

Why Do I Recommend It? This is another lovely story and a wonderful story for your 4 year old's library. This will become a firm favourite with your little one and is ideal for early readers.

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7. The Skin You Live In By Michael Tyler

The Skin You Live In

What Is It: A delightful book that addresses the important themes associated with child development, social harmony, acceptance, diversity and so much more.

Why Do I Recommend It? This is the perfect book for talking to your child about social acceptance. Written in the style of a simple nursery rhyme this amazing story deals with a multitude of current issues and opens the door for an easy but important conversation with your 4 year old.

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8. Kindergarten Here I Come By D.J. Steinberg

Kindergarten, Here I Come!

What Is It: This book celebrates the familiar milestones and moments that confront every preschooler on their first day at kindergarten.

Why Do I Recommend It? Books that address situations that are going on in your child’s life are a great way to encourage them to talk about any fears they might have. This book ticks all the right boxes for introducing your 4 year old to the concept of going to kindergarten and what to expect. Every aspect of the kindergarten experience is covered in this funny lighthearted poem.

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9. The Rabbit Listened By Cori Doerrfeld

The Rabbit Listened

What Is It: A simple but moving book about kindness and empathy.

Why Do I Recommend It? This is the ideal book to teach your 4 year old about kindness and the different ways people deal with sadness and loss. Often a difficult subject to address with young children this book lovingly and carefully covers the issues of how to comfort those you love in different ways and to gently listen.

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10. The Last Tree By Emily Haworth-Booth

The Last Tree

What Is It: This book from Waterstones Chidrens book prize nominee Emily Haworth-Booth is an eco-fable which is very topical and is set to become a classic.

What Do I Recommend It? It is so important to educate our children from an early age about caring for the environment and this beautiful book is the perfect way to do just that. It cleverly explains in a way that young children can understand how we as humans manipulate our environment to the detriment of the natural world.

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11. Millie Fierce By Jane Manning

Millie Fierce By Jane Manning

What Is It: The story of Millie Fierce deals with not fitting in and being different. Millie tries to be fierce but discovers that being nice works so much better but with a touch of resilience too.

What Do I Recommend It? I love the way this book deals with the issue of feeling left out or picked on by your peers. It takes you on a journey as Millie learns how to deal with her feelings and together with its bright illustrations it’s easy for you and your little one to empathize with her situation. Many 4 year olds will relate to this story!

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What To Look For When Choosing The Best Books For 4 Year Olds

When it comes to choosing the best books for 4 year olds, there are several factors to consider. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Age-Appropriate Content. Make sure the book is age-appropriate for your child. The content should be easy to understand and not too complex. Look for books with simple sentences and captivating illustrations that are easy to follow.
  2. Engaging Illustrations. 4-year-olds love books with engaging and colorful illustrations. Look for picture books that are bright, bold, and fun. The illustrations should also be relevant to the story.
  3. Interactive Elements. Interactive books for 4 year olds with features such as flaps to lift, textures to touch, or sound effects to press can capture a child’s attention and make reading even more fun.
  4. Positive Messages. Books that promote positive messages such as kindness, empathy, and diversity can help instil important values in your child. Look for inspiring story books which have characters that your child can relate to and teach important life lessons to.
  5. Diversity And Inclusivity. It’s important for children to see themselves and others represented in the books they read. Look for books with diverse characters, cultures, and experiences to help broaden your child’s perspective and foster empathy and understanding.
  6. Varied Genres. Expose your child to different genres such as fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and more. This can help broaden their horizons and develop their interests.
  7. Familiar Themes. Books that feature familiar themes like animals, family, and friends can be comforting and relatable for a 4-year-old. Look for books that feature characters or themes that relate to what is going on in their life.
  8. Durability. 4-year-olds can be rough on books, so choose books that are durable and can withstand some wear and tear. Board books and hardcover books are good options. By keeping these factors in mind, you can choose the best books for 4 year olds that will not only entertain them but also help them learn and grow.
Books For 4 Year Olds Featured

Why Are Books So Important For 4 Year Olds?

At the age of 4, your child is at a crucial stage of development. They are learning new words, concepts, and ideas every day.

Reading books can help them to develop important skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. Here are some reasons why books are so important for 4 year olds:

  1. Builds Vocabulary: Reading books with your child helps them learn new words and expand their vocabulary. Children who are exposed to a wide range of words are better equipped to communicate their thoughts and feelings effectively.
  2. Develops Imagination and Creativity: Books for 4 year olds can take your child on exciting adventures, introduce them to new worlds, and inspire them to think creatively. Encouraging your child to use their imagination while reading can help them develop their creativity.
  3. Improves Listening Skills: Listening to stories helps children develop their listening skills and focus their attention. This can help them become better listeners in the classroom and in social situations.
  4. Promotes Bonding: Reading books with your child can be a special bonding experience. It creates a shared moment where you can cuddle up and enjoy a heartwarming story together. This can help strengthen your relationship and build a foundation of trust.
  5. Cognitive Development: Reading books can also help your child to develop their cognitive skills. As they listen to stories and follow along with the plot, they are learning important skills such as sequencing, cause and effect, and problem-solving.
  6. Imagination and Creativity: Books for 4 year olds can help to stimulate your child’s imagination and creativity. They can transport your child to new worlds and introduce them to new ideas and concepts. This can help to foster a love of learning and a desire to explore new things.
  7. Emotional Development: Reading books with your child can also help to develop their emotional intelligence. As they read about different characters and their experiences, they can learn to empathize with others and understand different perspectives. This can help to develop their social skills and emotional maturity.
  8. Helps address difficult situations and emotions: Using books to address starting kindergarten or to talk about feelings and emotions that they would otherwise not know how to talk about can be hugely beneficial to your 4 year old. Winding down before bedtime is the ideal time to talk and be open about your child’s feelings and emotions.

Looking to get your little one to sleep quickly and effortlessly? Check out my Bedtime and Nap Cheat Sheet and master the art of making daytime naps and bedtimes as seamless as possible.

Where To Buy The Books For 4 Year Olds?

When it comes to buying the books for 4 year olds, you have a variety of options… Here are some popular places to find great books for kids:


Your local bookstore is a great place to start your search for children’s books. Many bookstores have dedicated sections for children’s books, and some even have staff members who can recommend classic books based on your child’s interests and reading level.

Some popular bookstores include WHSmiths, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and independent bookstores in your area.

Online Retailers

Online retailers like Amazon, World of Books, Target, and Walmart offer a wide selection of children’s books, including popular titles and new releases.

You can easily browse and filter books for 4 year olds by age range, genre, and author. Plus, you can read reviews from other parents to get an idea of whether a book is a good fit for your child.


Don’t forget about your local library! Libraries offer a wide selection of children’s books that you can borrow for free.

Plus, many libraries have storytime events and other programs that can help foster a love of reading in your child.

Second-Hand Stores

You can also find great deals on books for 4 year olds at second-hand stores like British Red Cross, Goodwill and The Salvation Army.

While the selection may be more limited, you can often find classic children’s books and popular titles at a fraction of the cost of buying new.

Book Subscription Services

Finally, you can also consider subscribing to a children’s book subscription service, such as the award-winning Bookroo and the lovely Equal Opportunities Book Box.

These services will send your child a new book every month, which is a great way to build their library and keep them excited about reading.

Frequently Asked Questions About Books For 4 Year Olds

Looking for more information about reading, teaching and choosing the best books for 4 year olds? Here are the answers to the most common questions.

Should A 4 Year Old Learn To Read?

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, many experts agree (myself included) that it is beneficial for 4-year-olds to learn the basics of reading, such as letter recognition and phonics.

What Level Can 4 Year Olds Read At?

Most 4-year-olds can read simple words and sentences with the help of an adult, but the level at which they can read independently varies from child to child. Most 4-5 year olds will be reading at Level 1+.

What Are Some Good Topics To Cover When Reading To My 4 Year Old?

Good topics to cover when reading books for 4 year olds include emotions, social skills, and problem-solving.

When Is It Best To Read To A 4 Year Old?

It is best to read to a 4-year-old when they are calm and focused, such as before bedtime or during a quiet time in the afternoon.

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Author Image Bio
Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and a highly qualified childcare expert with over 40 years of experience as a Norland Nanny. She holds a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development & Learning (0-6 Years) and the prestigious Norland Diploma. Paula has worked as a night nanny, run a successful daycare center in London, and helped raise countless children using her tried and tested developmental and guidance methods.

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