10 Whimsical Preschool Circus Books

| Last Updated: January 10, 2023

Introducing whimsical circus books is a great way to spark preschoolers’ imaginations and stimulate curiosity. These activities also help develop children’s brains, especially their social and communication skills and ability to focus.

This article presents ten whimsical preschool circus book activities. Use them the next time you’re with preschoolers, and have fun going through these activities!

Great Preschool Circus Books

Language | Understand the World | Expressive Art and Design

1. Peter Spier’s Circus

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This book lets children see what happens behind the scenes at every circus — from setting up the tents to putting together a show with different performers. All the activities in the book are depicted with colorfully cluttered portrayals and witty descriptions of various characters. Plus, with the author’s use of humorous details, this book is guaranteed to provide adventure and fun to children! 

Use this book to teach children how circus shows are created. You can also take advantage of this book by nurturing children’s love for animals and why it’s important to be kind to animals. The characters mentioned in the book are also from different backgrounds and family statuses, something which can help children better understand diversity. Get Peter Spier’s Circus today to give children a different circus experience!

Reading | Problem-Solving | Critical Thinking

2. If I Ran the Circus

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Young Morris McGurk wants to turn a vacant lot into the Circus McGurkus — one of the biggest and most elaborate shows in the world. He imagines building a circus with talented circus animals and world-class performers. This book is sure to entertain children as it showcases bizarre but loveable creatures, as well as unique circus acts performed by a shopkeeper. 

This book requires youthful imagination and creating a fantasy, encouraging children to think out of the box. Let children design their own circus, including the performances they want to see. Since the book mentions fascinating animals, use this as a material for children to use their imagination and invent a new animal that they think will fit in the circus they’re creating. Shop If I Ran the Circus ASAP and let your tykes become circus masters!

 Reading | Phonological Awareness | Emotional Development

3. The Circus Ship

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Using rhyming texts and breathtaking artwork, the illustrator of this book shares a tale of human-animal interaction full of emotions. The story focuses on a circus ship that got wrecked in the middle of the ocean and animals seeking refuge on a nearby island. A greedy circus owner claims the animals and uses them for his own gain, but the villagers work together to outsmart him. 

Because the book discusses community bonds, you can use this material as an icebreaker as the school year starts. The book also offers a good introduction to villains without being too scary and teaches children a lesson that bullying can cause other people to treat them poorly. Shop for The Circus Ship and see how children learn to create a community on their own. 

Reading | Critical Thinking | Social Skills

4. Olivia Saves the Circus

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During her summer vacation, Olivia goes to the circus. But because all of the performers were ill, she had to step in and play different roles to ensure that the audience had a great time. She did everything, including jumping on a trampoline, flying through the air, taming the lions, juggling five balls, and riding on a unicycle. 

The black, white, and red illustrations and fold-out pages of the book are unique. It has a fanciful theme and uses short sentences, perfect for keeping children engaged. Olivia’s imaginative interpretation of her spending an entire day at the circus makes the book fun to read. Olivia Saves the Circus is a great way of teaching children how to read, reinforcing creative play, and encouraging them that they can do anything they want to be. 

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Magnolia took the poster that says, “You Can Do Anything at the Library!” to a whole new level. She put on her own circus at the library and even made her own human cannonball routine. She soon learns that she can do all of these (and more) in the library with her imagination.

If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don’t! is the perfect book to introduce library rules to children. You can introduce the book in class and send home various library-related activities for children to complete, such as reviewing library rules and designing a poster for the library circus. The whole story of the book is wacky, and the activities included encourage creativity and help with comprehension.

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Miss Bindergarten is planning a circus, and all of her kindergarteners are assigned different tasks from painting posters and making popcorn balls to practicing various acts. The circus includes a parade where the children perform stunts, like baton twirling. And for the grand finale, Miss Bindergarten has a big plan — she wants to give the audience a show-stopping and memorable act!

Because there are only a few words per page and words are printed in large fonts, Miss Bindergarten Plans a Circus with Kindergarten is an excellent reading, writing, and alphabet book. After the story, there is a short lesson on colors and color combinations, which can help with children’s visual perception. You can introduce this to your class any day of the week. 

Perspective | Communication | Social Skills

7. You See a Circus, I See…

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This adorable story starts when a young acrobat shows his friends around the circus and them realizing that not everything is what they seem. The group sees a strongman losing wrestling matches, a tattooed man pulling practical jokes, a raucous clown being a bookworm, and trapeze artists making their child do homework, just like regular parents at home. The young acrobat sees these individuals as a family, but for other people, they’re circus performers. 

The book features lively watercolors that capture the coziness of home and the excitement of the circus. Use You See a Circus, I See… to encourage children to see through the eyes of another child’s point of view and teach them the importance of not judging a book by its cover. 

Imagination and Play | Reading | Drawing Skills

8. Harold’s Circus

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Harold uses his purple crayon to perform as if he’s at a circus. He starts by walking on a tightrope and ends his performance by taking a bow alongside lion tamers and other performers. The things Harold creates with his purple crayon create a nighttime routine, which children can easily relate to and even copy!

The simplicity of the drawings makes the book an excellent material for teaching children how to read. And because Harold’s Circus is created using a purple crayon, the book will also encourage children to draw as much as they want to and let their imagination run wild. Introduce the book and have the children draw their own circus in class or give them the activity as homework. 

Cooperation | Gross Motor Skills | Communication

9. Clifford At the Circus

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Clifford the big red dog and Emily Elizabeth were excited to see the circus in their town, but when they arrive, everything seems to be going wrong. This prompts the circus owner to cancel the show. Fortunately, Clifford and Emily Elizabeth offer help, and soon, the two become animal trainers, clowns, and even tightrope walkers. 

The book gives an excellent introduction to different entertainers who are part of every circus performance. It’s also a great starting point for different circus-themed activities, such as gross motor skill-building games and crafts. Most importantly, Clifford At the Circus teaches children to help others using their unique abilities and skills. 

Social Skills | Fine Motor Skills | Cooperation

10. Curious George Circus Act

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An acrobat troupe teaches Curious George how to balance on a high wire after he delivers a pizza to them. Later that night, before the troupe’s first performance, Gnocchi the cat threatens to take the spotlight and ruin the show by walking along the high wire. Thanks to the new talent of Curious George earlier, he is able to save the day.

The book has many ‘surprises’ under its flaps, which encourages interaction among children. It also teaches children the importance of offering a helping hand to a friend. Use the Curious George Circus Act at the start of the school year to motivate children to make friends with their peers and become more helpful. 


Incorporating circus books into your lesson plan allows children to learn many different skills. Plus, with the activities these books have, your class will be fun and engaging!

If you’re still on the lookout for whimsical circus books for preschoolers, take note of the books we’ve mentioned here. Secure one or all of them to create a circus-themed learning environment for the children!

Hi, I'm Amanda! Welcome to Education Outside! Im passionate about educating young minds and helping parents/teachers by providing easy and effective teaching resources. Check out all of my teaching resources on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.