So when choosing books for kindergarten, I picked stories that were a little more sophisticated than pre-k. But I still went with memorable, funny books that I thought were right for their level of understanding. The concepts are still pretty straightforward (behaving in the library, behaving when your parents are away, being different, being nice), but I don’t know that pre-k would have enjoyed these books as much as kindergarten.

Library Lion by Michele Knudsen. I did a whole lesson around this book with kindergarten the week before I started our election project. I love this book, and the kids were very taken with it. And they get it. They understand why the lion gets in trouble for roaring in the beginning and they feel the injustice when he’s punished later on for roaring to save Miss Meriweather. This is one I want to buy for my library, regardless of whether or not it wins.

Elmer by David McKee. This is a fun book for talking about how our differences make us great. Kindergarten picks up on how Elmer’s appearance makes him really fun but also kind of unhappy. And some of them just cheered at the end when all the other elephants decorated themselves like Elmer to make him feel better. A few very sharp little ones accepted that Elmer was born that way but wondered where the other elephants found the paint to decorate themselves.

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems. I put at least one Mo Willems book on the list for all my read aloud grades because I want to buy everything he’s written (we currently only have 2 of his books). He’s the next Dr. Seuss as far as I’m concerned. And I love using this book to teach kids about how being mean can really affect the person we’re upsetting. They’re with me through the whole story, they really get all the nuances in this.

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. Of course this would have to be on one of the lists somewhere. I did this with kindergarten because I thought it would be a little dense for some of the pre-k kids and by 1st grade they’ve heard this book a bazillion times. Plus this book is sillier than Green Eggs & Ham and Horton Hears a Who (which I read with 1st grade), and kindergartners love silly.

Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor. I read this one last to sort of bring the house down. I get really into this when I read it. We put our pinkies in the air and I say “darling” a lot, I bat my eyelashes, we “fancy clap” when the book is over and hold our pinkies up while we get in line at the end of class. They all adore this book, and in kindergarten they don’t really think of books as “boy books” and “girl books.”