Toronto Public Library Announces Its Annual Top Book Picks for Preschoolers

November 27, 2013 | Media Relations

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First & Best Booklist names this year’s top ten Canadian books for building reading readiness in kids birth to five

TORONTO (Wednesday, November 27, 2013) – Toronto Public Library today announced the titles that top its distinguished First & Best Booklist, the selection of the year’s finest Canadian books for children from birth to five years that help build early literacy skills.

The 2013 list includes a number of names familiar to First & Best including Barbara Reid (Welcome, Baby), Kathy Stinson and Dušan Petričić (The Man with the Violin), as well as newcomers Hélène Boudreau (I Dare You Not to Yawn), Anne Villeneuve (Loula Is Leaving for Africa) and Jessica Young (My Blue Is Happy). 

First & Best, now in its seventh year, is part of Toronto Public Library’s Ready for Reading set of free, high-quality early literacy programs, services, resources and spaces, which are founded on extensive research, and which focus on important principles and practices that foster reading readiness – essential skills for children before they learn to read. 

“We’re delighted to top off an incredible Ready for Reading year with this list of expertly and affectionately chosen books perfect for parents and caregivers to enjoy with their young ones. These titles explore a wide range of themes, feature stunning illustrations and, most importantly, are fun to read over and over,” said Lisa Heggum, Children and Youth Advocate for Toronto Public Library. “It’s critical to begin developing a joy of reading during the formative preschool years which, studies show, contribute to success in school and in later life. The first books you share with your child should also be the best, and the 2013 First and Best selections are sure to become well-loved favourites.”

Earlier this year, Toronto Public Library released Let’s Get Ready for Reading: a fun and easy guide to help kids become readers, a research-supported early literacy resource, that  was overwhelmingly well received by parents and caregivers, the education community and literacy experts.  All previous First & Best Booklists are featured in Let’s Get Ready for Reading.

All the books in this year’s First & Best list are available on and at library branches across the city. To find out more about Ready for Reading, visit or inquire at any branch.

Dark, TheThe Dark
Lemony Snicket
Illus. Jon Klassen




I Dare You Not to Yawn

I Dare You Not to Yawn
Hélène Boudreau
Illus. Serge Bloch
(Candlewick Press)


I Know a LotI Know a Lot!
Stephen Krensky
Illus. Sara Gillingham
(Abrams Appleseed)




Loula is leaving for AfricaLoula Is Leaving for Africa
Anne Villeneuve
(Kids Can Press)




Man with the ViolinThe Man with the Violin
Kathy Stinson
Illus. Dušan Petričić
(Annick Press)


My Blue Is HappyMy Blue Is Happy
Jessica Young
Illus. Catia Chien
(Candlewick Press)


Once upon a northern nightOnce Upon a Northern Night
Jean E. Pendziwol
Illus. Isabelle Arsenault




Read me a story StellaRead Me a Story, Stella
Marie-Louise Gay



Welcome, BabyWelcome, Baby
Barbara Reid
(Scholastic Canada)



Where do you lookWhere Do You Look?
Marthe Jocelyn & Nell Jocelyn
(Tundra Books)




Toronto Public Library is one of the world's busiest urban public library systems. Every year, 19 million people visit our branches in neighbourhoods across the city and borrow 32 million items. To learn more about Toronto Public Library, visit our website at or call Answerline at 416-393-7131. To get the most current updates on what's happening at the library, follow us on Twitter @torontolibrary.


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