This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Candlewick Press, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board.
Ages 3 and 4 tend to get grouped together, but I can attest that they are, in fact, wildly different. My 3-year-old son recently got to play with his 4-year-old cousin and we immediately noticed. She was much more patient, communicative, and imaginative. Some of her favorite activities were practicing writing letters, playing pretend, and looking through books (as opposed to throwing cars across the living room 🙃). One year of growth seemed to make a difference, and seeing it made me realize how quickly it’s coming for us (I pray). So I got to thinking: what happens between ages 3 and 4 that changes toddlers so drastically, and how can we best prepare them for the upcoming stage?
Age 4 is full of transitions. They’re phasing out of the toddler stage and finally reaching independent little kid status. Kids who are 4 years old are likely headed to school for the first time, are fully potty trained, and starting to form meaningful friendships. Social skills are blooming, motor skills are far more advanced, and they can better identify their emotions. And since their attention spans are longer, it also feels easier to engage with them.
But all of this external and internal change could easily fill them with self-doubt and new anxieties. It’s important to walk them through these new feelings and situations, and storytelling is the perfect way to do that. Reading books exposes children to unfamiliar ideas, encourages critical thinking, and helps them develop a deeper understanding of the world around them. So we rounded up 12 books for 4 year olds that are perfect for guiding them through the big year ahead.
Put your imagination caps on because this unique story follows a young girl on the hunt for her endearing (and frustratingly) invisible pet. Helen Yoon's use of mixed media artistry immediately captivates young readers by page one. Her breezy tone and charming premise encourage kids to explore problem-solving, logic, and basic pet care.
In a tale relatable to all preschoolers, three young children traverse emotional highs and lows over the course of a school day. The wide spectrum of emotions covered—far beyond happy and sad—invites readers to share their own contradictory, unpredictable, ever-present feelings. Vetted by an expert in the science of children’s emotions, this story encourages first steps toward emotional literacy.
This is a story for anyone, at any age, who's ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult. It inspires kids to pursue their dreams and feel confident in their choices.
The characters in this story endure a frightening event and learn how to persevere by leaning on their friends and welcoming their emotions. This is ideal for little ones going through big life changes like starting school or enduring a family challenge.
Preschoolers and parents alike are obsessed with Bluey—and for good reason. This book is based on the camping episode where Bluey makes a new friend despite language barriers.
Ages 3-5 are ideal for teaching children about thankfulness, empathy, and appreciation. This endearing tale will pique their interest and keep them captivated until the end.
Self-love starts early. This book features positive body representation, which helps promote confidence and self-acceptance in children.
A gorgeous depiction and lyrical ode to self-confidence and kindness, for girls from every background and every color, from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers.
Every 4-year-old child experiences frustration when they don't get something right the first try. This story thoughtfully explains resiliency and how they may not be good at something—yet—but they will be one day.
A beautiful, empowering picture book about two sisters who work with their community to effect change. Inspired by a true story from the childhood of the Vice President, Kamala Harris, and her sister, lawyer Maya Harris.
A child describes all the beautiful shades of blue they feel and discovers how one has the power to change their blues into meaningful art.
Navigating friendships is an important part of this age. UK's Children's Laureate, Joseph Coelho, tells the story of how to get through an argument with friends—a valuable lesson for all children.
This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Candlewick Press, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.