3 English Picture Books Recommended for 0-3 year olds


English is a hard language for Japanese people to learn because it includes many sounds that are not found in their language. However, children under the age of 6 months old are able to differentiate between sounds easily. As a result, reading English picture books to young children is very effective in improving their listening skills. In this article, we will recommend some English picture books for 0-3 year olds.


Some Points to Consider When Choosing English Picture Books

There are various types of picture books: some of them are mainly illustrations with some simple vocabulary and others include longer paragraphs. Picture books that will be read to 0-3 year olds should include large pictures and enough writing so that they can get used to the sound of English. Picture books that meet the following criteria are recommended:

-Illustrations that explain what is happening by just looking at them
-Simple story
-Short phrases and sentences that have rhythm
-Characters and a story that children can relate to

Baby Happy Baby Sad/Leslie Patricelli

With its use of simple vocabulary and contents that children can pick up easily, [Baby Happy Baby Sad] teaches children about “happy scenes” and “sad scenes” at the same time. For example, receiving ice cream is 「baby HAPPY」, and dropping one’s ice cream is「baby SAD」.
Since the book shows many “happy” and “sad” scenes with simple illustrations it is easy for young children to pick up the meaning of these words. The book also has cute illustrations and thicker paper so the book is perfect for 0-3 year old children.

Let’s Play/Leo Lionni/

This book is written by Leo Lionni, who is also known for his book, [Swimmy] and the book has been translated into Japanese by Tanikawa Shuntaro under the title [Asobo yo]. The story is about two cute mice and how they will spend the day playing with each other. The book begins with [Good morning] and ends with [Good night] so it is a great book for bedtime reading. The illustrations are colorful and children love turning the pages.。

Good Night, Gorilla/Peggy Rathmann/

This book is the number one picture book to read to young children in America. In the story, the manager of the zoo goes around the zoo saying “good night”to the various animals but a troublemaker gorilla takes his keyring and opens the cages of all the animals. The main words in the story are “good night” but the illustrations tell a larger story that is easy for younger children to grasp.

Many Japanese parents are worried that their English accent is not good enough but the goal of reading picture books with young children is to show them that English is not difficult so it is important for parents to go ahead and read even if they are not confident. Some picture books come with audio CDs with native English speakers reading out loud. These books are great to explore with children who have already picked up some English words.

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