Twaddle-Free Books for Preschoolers: Tsh's Top 10 Favorites

shelved under Children's Books and Bloggers' Picks

C. S. Lewis once said, “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally worth reading at the age of fifty.” In other words, if a grown adult can’t stomach a children’s book, why should a child be expected to? I think I agree with his words.

Charlotte Mason was a pioneer in children’s education during the 19th century, and her ideas have led to one of the primary methods of homeschooling. She also coined the term “twaddle.”

     Twaddle: Dumbed-down literature; absence of meaning.

Homeschooling or not, I believe children (and adults, really) should invest their time in living books, and not waste time on twaddle. And quite frankly, there’s a lot of twaddle out there in the world of children’s literature.

My children are very young, so I’m up to my elbows in early childhood literature. Here are my top 10 favorite preschool-age books, in random order, and all twaddle-free.



by Ludwig Bemelmans

All the Madeline books have a great cadence of words, and the illustrations are delightful. What little girl doesn't want to live in an old house in Paris that is covered in vines?


Best Friends for Frances

by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban

Frances is a lovable badger with a wild imagination, silly songs, and a bag full of tricks. In "Best Friends...", she learns that a sibling can be a friend, too.


The Story of Ferdinand

by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson

I loved this story as a kid, and my daughter loves it now. Ferdinand is a laid-back, gentle bull who's been recruited for a Spanish bullfight.


The Frog and Toad Collection Box Set

by Arnold Lobel

I adore this pair of amphibians. You'll laugh along with your children at Frog and Toad's sense of logic, and you'll love their close-knit friendship.


George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends Collector's Edition

by James Marshall

A hilarious duo of hippos who have more personality than common sense. Adults get a kick out of them, too.


Make Way for Ducklings

illustrated by Robert McCloskey

A classic tale of a pair of ducks living in Boston. This story has enthralled generations of children — my daughter enjoys my original book.


Winnie the Pooh 80th Anniversary Edition

by A.A. Milne, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard

This is the classic, non-Disney version. No child should miss the delightful tales of Winnie-the-Pooh and all his friends. The language is beautiful, the illustrations, sweet.


Mouse Cookies & More: A Treasury

by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond

My mother-in-law gave this treasury to our daughter for Christmas, and we've read it almost daily since. The stories are brilliant, the illustrations are hilarious, and I can honestly say I don't tire from reading these stories.


Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz

Both you and your kids will identify with Alexander, who's having a day when nothing goes right. Good for kids who get frustrated when things don't go their way.


Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

by Bernard Waber

A pet crocodile comes to stay with the Primm family. A fun story about friendship and loyalty.