I pre-selected the books for pre-k, kindergarten, and 1st grade in my school book election. I read all the stories out loud to the kids, and I’ve made up picture ballots for them to vote from next week. While grades 2-5 will have their final vote in our elimination-style election, the younger kids will just vote once from the books I’ve read them.

I didn’t select the books because I think they are the end-all be-all of children’s literature. I picked books that would make interactive read alouds, were age appropriate and funny, were written by authors with widespread appeal, and that I want for my library (if they’re not already there). It gave me a chance to test some books out to see how popular they would be.

So here’s pre-k:

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. I have yet to meet a kid who doesn’t love this book, and even my kids who find it hard to pay attention are riveted by it. It’s like magic, and they all remember it long after I read it.

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. I think this is a fantastic book for pre-k. Simple line drawings help kids understand the concept of imagination. The bunny looks like he’s just playing with a box, but then red line drawings show us all the fun he has using his imagination. The kids thought this was hysterical when I read it, and they like to imagine what the bunny will think of next.

Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine. This Caldecott Honor book is another one I love for this age. Ella Sarah has a lot of style and refuses to wear what her family suggests. This book has great repetition, and the kids love her outfit. They also respond to her independence when it comes to choosing her clothes and getting dressed herself.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. This is a book that I take for granted because it’s so simple and has been around forever. I included it because it’s incredibly popular and I wanted some known quantities on the list. But I was amazed at how strongly the kids responded to it. They love this book-the counting, the food, the caterpillar becoming a butterfly. This was a huge crowd pleaser.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. I put one Dr. Seuss book on the list for each of the read aloud grades. I picked this one for pre-k because I thought I could really sell the idea of gross food that you refuse to eat. Then he tries the green eggs and ham and loves them. I like books with concepts (like trying new things) with this age. And I know some of our pre-k teachers make their own green eggs and ham for the kids to eat and experiment with at some point during the year.