Gifts for preschoolers should nurture their innate creativity, play and innovation. And what better way to get your little one moving and grooving to the beat of their imagination with a special book and a matching toy. After listening to a grownup read the book, your child can springboard off the storytelling into pretend play with one of these carefully selected matching toys for preschoolers.
I've carefully selected the picture books based on my experience both as a parent and as a story time volunteer and I know your 3-5 year old will love all these choices! So whether your child loves vehicles, space, or going zen with a coloring book, you will find the perfect present in this gift guide for preschoolers!
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Book and Toy Gifts for 3-5 year olds
Find it: Iggy Peck, Architect | Unit Blocks
In Iggy Peck, Architect Iggy loves building so much he will build anything, anywhere out of any material. This best-selling picture book is ideal to inspire creative feats engineering in your preschooler! Give your little builder a set of unit blocks. Unit blocks are one of those essential toys that every preschooler should have!
Find it: Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin | Melissa & Doug Band in a Box
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin is an award-winning book that introduces kids to the instrumental members of an orchestra. Preschoolers love making noise, er, I mean music! And don't know know that a foundation in music is great for later math skills! Kids can make music of their own with Melissa & Doug Band in a Box instruments.
Find it: Sky Color | Silk Rainbow Streamer
Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds is a lovely book is about a girl who learns that painting the sky goes beyond the color blue. It teaches kids to think outside the box and use their imagination to help them soar! A whimsical Silk Rainbow Streamer is perfect for painting the sky during pretend play.
Find it: Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site | Melissa & Doug Trailer & Excavator
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker was one of my (then) 3 year old’s all time favorite books (and he got it as a gift!), and for good reason. The clever rhymes and appealing illustrations of all kinds of trucks will have your child asking for it again and again. Pair it with any construction toy, such as this wooden Melissa & Doug Trailer & Excavator. You could also pair it with the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site Matching Game.
Find it: Z Is for Moose | classic magnetic wooden alphabet set
If you find most alphabet books annoying try out the zany Z Is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, named one of the best kid books of its year by Kirkus Reviews. After reading, kids will want to put what they've learned into action and exercise their pre-literacy skills with a classic magnetic wooden alphabet set, which comes with both upper and lower case letters.
Find it: A Bargain for Frances | Tea Set
You probably have fond memories of reading A Bargain for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban when you were a kid. It's a classic story about a little raccoon who visits her friend for a tea party. This Green Toys Tea Set may not be china with a blue pattern like the one Frances covets, but it’s made out of 100% recycled plastic, does not contain BPA, phthalates, or lead paint and meets FDA standards for food safety.
Find it: A Birthday for Cow! | Wooden Birthday Party Cake
Some kids, like my youngest, have a birthday that falls during the winter holiday. Celebrate with the hilarious A Birthday for Cow! by Jan Thomas, perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, and a Wooden Birthday Party Cake. My kids had one of these cakes and it was one of their most used toys during their pretend play sessions. They served me many a slice of wooden cake, and each one was delicious.
Find it: Cars Galore | Wooden Cars and Street Signs
Cars Galore by Peter Stein was another one of my boys’ favorite books. It truly is one of the most imaginative car-themed books you will ever read and I love that it is oversized so kids can really dig in. Its colorful illustrations and playful, rhyming text will win over every kid. Pair it with any set of toy cars, like this set of cars and road signs.
Find it: The Scrambled States of America | USA Map Floor Puzzle
Laurie Keller's picture book, The Scrambled States of America, filled with lots of state facts, is a hilarious way to introduce your kids to the uniqueness of each state. Plus, it's an excellent example of plain old fashioned excellent story telling. After they fill their brains, they can put together a USA Map Floor Puzzle, which has pieces shaped like the states. My boys adored this puzzle and I credit it with helping them learn geography!
Find it: How to Catch a Star | glow-in the dark constellations
How to Catch a Star from the marvelous author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers is about a boy who dreams up ways to catch hold of his very own star. Kids can catch their own stars and place their very own glow-in the dark constellations on their ceiling. What preschooler doesn't want to fall asleep under the stars every night. Magical!
Find it: Dog Loves Drawing | Colored EcoPencils | sketchbook
In Louis Yates' clever picture book, Dog Loves Drawing, Dog gets a blank book and starts drawing away, with surprising results. Inspired children can start drawing with easy-to-hold triangle-shaped Colored EcoPencils made from reforested wood and triangular in shape so they do not roll off the desk. Be sure to include a sketchbook. I love all the sweet Eeboo sketchbooks.
So what are you waiting for? The best gift for preschoolers is definitely a book and toy combination. It's the perfect pairing of literacy and pretend play to spark their imaginations!
Love these pairings.
And thanks for explaining what makes Citiblocs so special - I had been wondering (but not enough to figure it out!)
This is an awesome list! I love the idea of pairing a book with something else so that the two together really initiate some creative free play! I always have thought it would be fun to pair "Chalk" by Bill Thomson with a box of chalk.
Mom and Kiddo says
That's a great idea, too. I like any idea that gets kids creative after reading books.
I love the books. I love the toys. I especially love the pairings. I love everything about this post! So wonderful!
Mom and Kiddo says
The Picture Book Review says
What a great idea and I love your suggestions! Iggy Peck is a favorite of mine. While reading your post I thought of the picture book Extra Yarn and some yarn and knitting needles would be a nice gift. I'll have to see what else I can think of - but your post and ideas are fantastic!
Mom and Kiddo says
I love the idea of combining yarn/needles with Extra Yarn. Extra Yarn was my favorite book of 2012.
I love this list! I always co-ordinate my books to my grands when their gifts. I'm printing a copy of this for birthday ideas. Citiblocs are new to me and the Dog loves drawing set makes me smile. 🙂
Mom and Kiddo says
Thanks Pamela, it's nice to know so many other people like to give books as part of a gift to kids.
Bethany @ No Twiddle Twaddle says
I've been wanting to read your list ever since I saw the title! What a great list of choices. : ) I remember reading A Bargain for Francis as a kid.
This is an awesome link up! I have to browse through the posts, secure in my knowledge that our Christmas-Hanukkah shopping is "hopefully" complete. I will try to add my own board games guide later next week.
I love the way you paired up toys and books. What a creative idea for Christmas gifts. How about the Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly and an Old Lady Doll complete with animals?
Mom and Kiddo says
Great idea, Julie!
I've looked at your blog for about 20 minutes and I am addicted. I started with your chapter book list for young readers for my kindergarten class, then found the book/toy gift posts. How brilliant! I often give books to young family members, but never with a toy! I'm going to be the coolest aunt ever this holiday season!
Erica MomandKiddo says
Thank you so much for your kind words, Lynna!
The Russian Store says
Great list! It is so nice to give a kid a little bit of both a learning tool and a toy. We just want to add one more, hope you don't mind!
It's The Littlest Matryoshka book with a set of matching nesting dolls!
Ryan | Dad Suggests says
This is a cool idea, and Frances is one of the best characters of all time. Good call. Every list should somehow find a way to get Frances on it. 😁