We want our pre-school kids to like them. We want our pre-school kids to enjoy them. We want our pre-school kids to like and enjoy them without taking an hour of bedtime to read three pages.
Oliver sometimes "reads" his chosen bedtime story to me. He combines a mixture of the words he recalls me reading with his own interpretation of the pictures. Despite this sometimes being employed as a tactic to delay the moment he has to go to bed, it is always a revealing little insight into how his mind works. The dialog often reflects some of that I hear when he is playing with action figures (where my definition of "action figure" includes anything he chooses: have you ever seen Peppa Pig take on Ben 10?).
Yesterday Hayley bought Oliver a Power Rangers notebook which came with a Power Rangers rubber eraser and pen. He sat down next to me on the sofa and said he was going to read it to me. As I started to mention that it had no words he ignored me and went straight to the first page, which was, like every other page in the notebook, blank.
No matter. He proceeded to tell me the story and to provide a picture he placed onto the page the rubber with the face of a Power Ranger on it. He continued to do this for several pages before we were interrupted by dinner being ready.
The power of kids' imaginations never ceases to amaze me and I do my best to keep in check the adult tendency to direct his thoughts towards any commonly perceived "right" way of interpreting the world. He's going to have years of doing things someone else's "right" way later in school life, so it's a joy to see him discover and describe the world with such untainted wonder.
Art was once described to me as something to challenge our normal way of seeing the world. Unconstrained by years of mental and social manipulation, our children's descriptions of the world around them are themselves works of art.
So my recommendation when buying books for pre-schoolers is not to worry too much about what they can take out of them, because they'll be putting a whole lot more into them as well.