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Best Books for 3 Year Olds

Updated on September 24, 2014

Great Books For 3 Year Olds.

Reading with a 3 year old is great. They have gone past the stage of books with one or two sentences and have graduated onto proper storytelling. This means you can choose good story and picture books that you will both enjoy and you will not mind reading aloud to them again and again.

Books open up another world at this age. You can read books about different places, subjects, animals and interests. They are great for communicating with a young child. You can talk about the story and any feelings and emotions that it bought up. Books can help explain different situations. They can also allow a child to explore their imaginations and meet different charcters such as princesses and pirates that children this age often love. Good books help widen vocabulary and studies show that young children who are read to at home have a better start at school.

Best of all reading means that parents, carers and grandparents can sit down with a child and enjoy spending quality time together. Make the most of this special age where children are inquisitive and open to learning and reading. Buy or borrow lots of classic and popular books, don't get bored with the same stories over and over again and enjoy reading with a 3 year old. Here are a few ideas and suggestions of what I think are the best books for 3 year olds to get you started. Explore what's available and choose books that you think both you and the 3 year old will enjoy.

Classic Books For 3 Year Olds

If you're looking for books that have stood the test of time or those you remember from your own childhood, here is a selection that you may like.

Harold and the Purple Crayon (Purple Crayon Books)
Harold and the Purple Crayon (Purple Crayon Books)

"One night, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight." So begins this gentle story that shows just how far your imagination can take you. Armed only with an oversized purple crayon, young Harold draws himself a landscape full of beauty and excitement.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Big Books)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Big Books)

If you haven't introduced your 3 year old to The Hungry Caterpillar yet - it's not too late.

At age 3, my son loved this book.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt: Anniversary Edition of a Modern Classic
We're Going on a Bear Hunt: Anniversary Edition of a Modern Classic

We're Going on a Bear Hunt is a modern classic. Lots of use of repetitive language and rhythm to help improve vocabulary and language.

It's a great book to act out as you read it, moving through the long grass, the deep cold river and squelching through the swamp. And then you can do the actions faster when you're running away from the bear at the end.


There's lots of classic Dr Seuss books that you can read to 3 year old children and One Fish, Two Fish etc is just one of them.

The book features lots of ridiculous rhymes to ignite a child's imagination! The rhymes also explore simple concepts such as color, numbers and opposites,


Interactive Books for 3 Year Olds

There are lots of books available where 3 year olds can interact with the book and the story. Ideas include lift the flap books, puppet books and books where you can make decisions. My son used to love these types of books when he was three and they are great fun for adults to read and join in with too.

What's in the Witch's Kitchen?
What's in the Witch's Kitchen?

This is a lift the flap book that my son absolutely loved. It was his favorite book for ages. It's a lift the flap book with a difference. Each flap has the option of opening a different item in the witch's kitchen to discover either a yummy or yucky thing.

The only thing I would warn it does contain some toilet humor so if that's not your thing - avoid. But if that doesn't bother you I would highy recommend.

Where's Spot?
Where's Spot?

Lift the flap books are very popular with 3 year olds and you can't go wrong with the classic hide and seek tale of Where's Spot.

Barnyard Boogie: Original Puppet Book
Barnyard Boogie: Original Puppet Book

The adult can use the puppet in the front of the book and children can have a go as well.

Lend a hand to the Barnyard Boogie and the barnyard animals in this sing-song story will come to life

Lots of fun!


Books for 3 Year Old Boys

Check out the ideas below of the best books for 3 year old boys. Boys at this age especially love trucks and trains.

My Truck is Stuck!
My Truck is Stuck!

3 year old boys will love My Truck is Stuck. Great illustration, rhyming and funny too. This book has everything a young boy will love.

The Goodnight Train
The Goodnight Train

The Goodnight Train is a great bedtime books for little boys who love trains. It's another rhyming book with some magical words and illustrations.

Choo Choo - grab your teddy, climb aboard the goodnight train is of to dreamland station. And whatever you do don't close your eyes!

How I Became a Pirate
How I Became a Pirate

Pirate lovers will enjoy the excellent illustrations and wonderful story of "How I Became a Pirate". Great for doing voices and acting out.

Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go

My son is a bit car mad and loves anything to do with cars.

This book is perfect for him.

There's lots of detail, vocabulary and fun.

There is lots going on, in every page such as finding the "Goldbug" on each spread. The great thing about this book is that it will be a favorite for years to come.


Books for 3 Year Old Girls

Having two boys has meant that we haven't read too many traditional girly stories about princesses, fairies and other girls. However, my niece absolutely loved the book below which is a princess story with a difference.

Do Princesses Really Kiss Frogs?
Do Princesses Really Kiss Frogs?

A princess story but not as we normally know it.

This princess has hiking boots and lots of questions for her daddy. As this princess and her daddy wander through the woods, all kinds of wonders reveal themselves. She discovers that no matter who you are, a princess lies inside of us.

A great book for daddy's to read with their daughters.

Frozen (Little Golden Book)
Frozen (Little Golden Book)

Frozen is extremely popular with 3 year olds this year, so a book with the characters of Frozen will appeal to girls who have seen the movie.

This book retells the story of the movie.

Rosie Revere, Engineer
Rosie Revere, Engineer

This book is in catchy rhyming text and tells the story of Rosie who is quiet in class but when nobody is looking she finds materials in the trash and builds all kinds of creations.


More Favorite Books for 3 Year Olds

The book below "Giraffes Can't Dance" is another of my son favorites (and mine too). I don't mind reading this one over and over.

I love the illustrations and the moral message of this book. Gerald the Giraffe doesn't really fit in so he finds his own tune to dance to.

Giraffes Can't Dance
Giraffes Can't Dance

This tells the story of Gerald.

Gerald loves to dance and wants to dance like the other animals. But when he does dance the other animals mock him.

But then, Gerald receives some wise words from a friend who tells him he can dance he just needs a different song.

Rhyming text and big colorful illustrations make this a winner in our house.


Bedtime Stories and Books for 3 Year Olds - My Top Choice

There have been lots of books already mentioned that would make great bedtime stories for 3 year olds. But Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site is my favorite in this category.

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (Hardcover Books for Toddlers, Preschool Books for Kids)
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (Hardcover Books for Toddlers, Preschool Books for Kids)

Lovely illustrations and soothing rhyming make this a perfect bedtime book.

"As the sun sets behind the big construction site, all the hardworking trucks get ready to say goodnight."


Bestselling Picture Books for 3 Year Olds 2014

There are some great new picture books that have been recently released and / or are on or have been on the New York Bestseller List as well as on bestseller list on amazon this year. They include some that have already been mentioned in the article such as the book "Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site".

Here are a selection of a few more which are perfect for 3 year olds.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Following the success of Pete the Cat: I Love My Shoes, the author wrote Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons. Released in May 2012 this was still in March 2014 one of the New York Times Bestseller List for Picture Books and has excellent reviews. Adults enjoy reading this as much as the kids enjoy listening.

Pete the Cat goes walking down the street wearing his brand new white shoes. Along the way, his shoes change from white to red to blue to brown to WET as we steps in piles of strawberries, blueberries and other big messes! But no matter what color his shoes are are, Pete keeps movin' and groovin' and singing his song...because it's all good.

Press Here (Interactive Book for Toddlers and Kids, Interactive Baby Book)
Press Here (Interactive Book for Toddlers and Kids, Interactive Baby Book)

Press here - this is a really unusual idea for a book. It has excellent reviews and again is on the New York Bestseller book.

Open the first page to see a yellow dot. "Ready", says the narrator, "Press here and turn the page". On the next page as if by magic, a second yellow dot appears.

Each page of the book instructs the reader to press the dots, shake the pages, tilt the book and then see what happens next.


More Recommended Story Books

Julia Donaldson writes highly recommended books which are brilliant for 3 year olds. Her books are really well illustrated. The rhymes are clever and lovely to read. I don't get tired of reading her books to my little boy over and over again. Our favorites are The Gruffalo and Room on a Broom.

Room on the Broom
Room on the Broom

The witch and her cat are flying on the broom. But they lose her hat, the bow from her hair and then her wand. Luckily some helpful animals find and return the items but they also want a ride on the broom. But is there room for all of them? And can they save the witch from a hungry dragon?


Learning Books for 3 Year Olds

Many 3 year olds love books which teach them about numbers, letters, colors and other concepts.

My son used to love doing activity books at this age. It's important not to push them to do activity books and read learning books that they don't enjoy. This will just build up a reluctance to books and it's important at this age they learn to love books and reading.

As well as activity books there are lots of books that teach children about the outside world and more.

Check out the activity book idea below.

Wipe Clean: Early Learning Activity Book (Wipe Clean Early Learning Activity Books)
Wipe Clean: Early Learning Activity Book (Wipe Clean Early Learning Activity Books)

This book contains over 200 learning activities teaching letters, animals, time & numbers. They pages are wipe clean so you can do them over and over again. It comes with 2 wipe clean pens.


Books for 3 Year Olds in the UK

Here are two websites that suggest good books for 3 year old boys and girls in the UK

Do you have any book suggestions that you think 3 year olds would love or any feedback on the suggestions in this lens? Please feel free to add a comment below.

Suggestions of the Best Books for 3 Year Olds

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I enjoy incorporating fun into learning as it is a welcome way of making sure that the children in my class get to understand their lessons without having to withstand boring learning lectures. Valuable resources for a 3 year old you have here. http//educationalplay.infoRegardsDaniele Wren

    • pjsart profile image


      6 years ago

      I love reading to my great granddaughter. She loves "Sophie the Giraffe" It is such a pleasure to have these children in my life. I am presently writing special books just for them as my work up to now was about boys. I didn't know I was going to get to enjoy girls.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Really very good collection,Thank you very much for sharing it with us!!

    • iijuan12 profile image


      6 years ago from Florida

      Great selection! You've listed all our favorites!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great reading list of books for 3 year olds and I will refer to it often for a new book for my grandson who is now 2.

    • Baddew Fibes profile image

      Baddew Fibes 

      7 years ago

      What a lovely selection of books! Thanks for this excellent lens.

    • mrsclaus411 profile image


      7 years ago

      I used to story tell my daughter before going to bed and she loves hearing stories about disney princesses. This lens is very helpful especially for those 1st time parents who are looking books for their children!

    • FunWithSquidoo profile image


      7 years ago

      My favorite book growing up was "One Fish Two Fish". This lens is a great resource for children's books. Thanks so much!

    • milaniki profile image


      7 years ago

      My sons favorite is "The very hungry caterpillar! and "We're going on a bear hunt" and of cource "The Gruffalo"

    • montanatravel52 profile image


      7 years ago

      What a great display of various books and ideas for reading with a 3 yr old! I have a 1 1/2 yr old and 5 1/2 yr old, and I loved reading with my oldest when she was 3. We used reading often for learning, it was great, she soaked it up. We even used a great book about dying when her beloved grandpa died when she was 3 1/2. Great lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      awesome lens :)

    • profile image

      Kathleen Hiler 

      7 years ago

      I have marked this site to come back to read more..I love good, wholesome children's book..and I like this list..Good Job !

    • Jillynn profile image


      7 years ago

      If I Found a Wistful Unicorn. My 3 year old granddaughter loves it!

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great selection of books for 3 year old kids and nicely categorized.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm a fan whenever it comes to children education. Well done on your index of children books. *blessed by a squid angel*

    • agoofyidea profile image


      7 years ago

      I love so many of these. I might recommend the Diary of a Worm, the Diary of a Fly and the Diary of a Spider. They are really funny. Great list.

    • GOT LM profile image

      GOT LM 

      7 years ago

      Nice work

    • LewesDE profile image


      7 years ago

      This lens is very ineresting. Please make more lenses!

    • NickyT LM profile image

      NickyT LM 

      7 years ago

      As the father of a 3 year old, this is an excellent and well written resource for me. Thanks!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      My little one loves nothing more than to grab her favourite book and plunk down on my lap and have me read it to her. Great lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Good info. Very nice lens!

    • flightofdestiny2 profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens. My daughter(4) loves reading and some of these look like things she would love. I'll have to check it out. Thank you

    • bead at home mom profile image

      Teri Hansen 

      8 years ago

      Reading has always been a favorite in our house at any age but reading for the little ones is my all time favorite.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      My nephew who is 3 years old are not fond of these books. He wants anime comics. maybe because I influenced him. How could I turn his likes to these books.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is a great list of books for toddlers, I will feature a link to your site on my blog today.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      8 years ago

      Very nice and useful lens. I think we must teach kids to love books,,, even now in Internet era... and the habit must start at early age... this way it will be preserved for the rest of the life.

    • smithlights profile image


      8 years ago

      I LOVE Wherever You Are! Great picks on the books!

    • cinstress profile image


      8 years ago

      great selection!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Just the name Dinosaurumpus makes my children giggle.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      We (my son and his mom and I) love Goodnight Gorilla. Library Lil, by Suzanne Williams is a great one too. We just got for a second time from our library because our 3 year old likes it so much! It's illustrated by Steven Kellogg, so that makes it even better.

    • lemonsqueezy lm profile image

      lemonsqueezy lm 

      8 years ago

      We used to have "The Little Mouse, the Ripe Red Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear" but now I realize that it is missing. Hmmm... might have to buy a new one. Great list!

    • IlanaMoore LM profile image

      IlanaMoore LM 

      8 years ago

      Goodnight Gorilla is a favorite around here. It's actually a great educational tool because there are no words, you can ask the kids to fill in the story, guess what will happen next, and interpret situations for themselves. There's also fun color recognition and general animal names/sounds to learn. An all around great book. I am looking forward to checking out some of your other recommendations. Thanks!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      waiting my baby till 3 years old....good article

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice books but you have not any free book.Thanks

    • sheilamarie78 profile image


      8 years ago from British Columbia

      Nice books for little ones!

    • Anahid LM profile image

      Anahid LM 

      8 years ago

      Hi: Great to read about children's books. I have 2 granddaughters and recently I bought a book called My big animal Book for the 4 years old. I will read some of the ooks you recommend. Thanks. Anna

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I would highly recommend Pop-Up Books, Picture Books, and Interactive Books .

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      great lens and a great resource very well done.Top ten childrens books for christmas

    • ChildBlessed profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens! We own quite a few of the books mentioned but I found a few that I'd like to check out. Thanks!

    • mariaamoroso profile image


      9 years ago from Sweden

      The one in Sweden that everybody love is MAMA MU. It s about a cow that is funny and not like other mums.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great looking books here, I'm sure kids would love them. There are also some great ones worth looking at by Lee and Low. They are some of the best books for children around right now.

    • RuntFarmSeries profile image


      10 years ago

      Nice lens! This is a very helpful list of books to check out. I'd love for you to drop by my children's books lens and say hello.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      10 years ago from Canada

      Nicely done, you have featured some of the favorites my boys had including The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear.

    • ILoveLegosToo profile image

      Tom Fattes 

      10 years ago from Naperville, IL

      To help with Potty Training, Everyone Poops is a classic.


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