The Best Books For 3 Year Olds Every Child Should Enjoy!

Finding the best books for 3-year-olds is an adventure story in itself. An adventure filled with fun colours, silly stories, charming characters and beautiful stories!

The Very Best Books For 3 Year Olds

By the age of 3, toddlers can handle slightly longer stories and, as they’ve hopefully stopped eating their books by now, you can begin to introduce more complex narratives, characters and moral lessons.

Of course, firm favourites from their early years will still remain, but now is the perfect time to expand their bookshelf and vocabulary with new books.

From picture books to classic books, these are fantastic books for 3 year olds:

1. The Wonderful Things You Will Be By Emily Winfield Martin

The Wonderful Things You Will Be

What is it? A New York Times worthy best-seller, with beautiful illustrations and sing-song rhymes, this book celebrates the unconditional love parents have for their children no matter who they turn out to be.

Why do I recommend it? One of the best books for 3-year-olds, t​​his book is truly special and will become a firm favourite with your children. I love the concept that this book focuses on children becoming the best person they can be rather than the career successes they might have. It's an absolute gem!

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

2. Billy’s Beetle By Mick Inkpen

Billy's Beetle

What is it? This book, from the ever-popular Mick Inkpen, tells the simple story of Billy who has lost his beetle and enlists the help of a motley crew of people on his journey to find it.

Why do I recommend it? This has always been a huge favourite of mine since I first read it to my son 25 years ago! Young children will love the growing group of people who join Billy on the quest for his beetle as well as spotting the beetle in every picture. This book is a great example of repetitive text that will capture the imagination of your 3-year-old.

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

3. Giraffes Can’t Dance By Giles Andreae

Giraffes Can't Dance By Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees

What is it? An amusing and triumphant story about a Giraffe who thinks he can’t dance…...but can he? 

Why do I recommend it? This is another all-time favourite of mine. I remember picking this book up many years ago and thinking how perfect it was for young children to express that it's OK to feel awkward and different but to have a go anyway as you might be surprised by the outcome!

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

4. Be Kind By Pat Zietlow Miller

Be Kind

What is it? This book explores the all-important message of being kind to others but also how to deal with this gesture when it does not always go as planned.

Why do I recommend it? I have included this book as one of my top picks because its resounding message to parents is to teach your children to be kind!

What is good about this book is that being kind is not always easy and is sometimes rejected. This can be tricky for young children to deal with and I love the fact that you can explore this together with this unique book!

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

5. You’re The Biggest By Lucy Tapper

You're The Biggest

What is it? Another one of my favourite toddler books, this story explores the role of becoming an older sibling in a way that young children can relate to.

Why do I recommend it? This is a great example of how to use a book that is relatable to a child's current life experience. It explores how your child may be feeling about the arrival of a new baby and how they can embrace becoming an older sibling in a way that is very relatable.

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

6. Alfie’s Feet By Shirley Hughes

Alfie's Feet

What is it? This is a lovely book from the 'ALFIE' range by Shirley Hughes that tells the story of little ALFIE who goes for a walk with his boots on the wrong feet.

Why do I recommend it? Although I have chosen this particular 'Alfie' story, I love all the 'Alfie' books as they are so relatable to this age group in their everyday lives.

The subject lines are simple but I can guarantee your little one will delight in the world of Alfie as it mirrors their own!

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

7. Best Word Book Ever By Richard Scarry

Best Word Book Ever By Richard Scarry

Illustrated in Scarry’s signature style, the book is packed with hundreds of names for objects both familiar and new, grouped by subject, occasion and theme. From colours and numbers to fruit and vegetables to animals, vehicles and so much more, this is a beautifully entertaining way to expand a child’s knowledge of the world!

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

There are endless places to buy books for your 3-year-old. Amazon is the first place most people think of buying books, however you can pick up books at garage sales, charity shops, online second hand book shops such as Awesome Books and Better World Books and of course, your local library.

Looking to get your little one to sleep quickly and effortlessly? Check out my Bedtime and Nap Cheat Sheet and master the art of making daytime naps and bedtimes as seamless as possible.

Tips For Choosing The Best Books For 3 Year Olds

When it comes to choosing books for 3 year olds, there are 10 simple tricks to get the most out of storytime and keep your toddler engaged…

These tricks never fail when choosing the best books for 3 year olds and are guaranteed to hook your toddler into reading them in no time.

1. Choose Books With More Detailed Illustrations

By this age, your little one will enjoy looking at more complex pictures, colorful illustrations and be interested in the detail. 

They will also enjoy being able to search for particular objects in a picture too, so books that require them to search and find as part of the reading process are great for this age too.

2. Utilise Books Without Words

I know this sounds backward… but the best books for 3 year olds are also ones where they are encouraged to make up their own story. 

Get their imaginations firing and include some books without words and encourage them to speak about what they see and what they think might be going on.

3. Pick Books That Relate To Things That They Do In Their Life

Your child will love to read books about things that they can identify within their everyday lives, such as going to the park, being on walks, making friends and learning to share.

4. Books About Big Events In Their Lives

Using books that have a heartwarming story to deal with big events in your young child’s life such as the arrival of a new baby or starting daycare is a great parenting tool as they’re an ideal way to get your child to understand and talk about something that they might be finding difficult.

5. Read ‘Goodnight’ Books At Bedtime

Books should always be part of the bedtime routine and at this age, there are some lovely ‘goodnight’ books to read that set the tone beautifully for saying good night and settling your little one for a good night’s sleep feeling loved and secure.

6. Still Include Interactive Touch And Lift-The-Flap Books

This age group will still enjoy all types of interactive books and their old favourites from when they were younger will still be relevant.

In fact, some of these books grow beautifully with your child as they find new ways to enjoy books that they have been looking at since they were younger but now are developmentally ready with the improvement of their motor skills to appreciate them and use them in a different way. 

7. Books With Repetition Are Loved By This Age Group 

3 year olds love repetitive stories that they can learn and join in with. 

These adorable books are ideal for improving memory and language skills too, so they are a must when looking for books for 3 year olds.

8. Pick Books With Simple Story Lines That Don’t Last Too Long

Simple storylines with a clear relatable subject matter are the best books for 3 year olds as they won’t be able to concentrate for too long and can get bored easily. 

Funny books and sticker books are perfect for keeping your little one’s attention on the story.

9. Start To Introduce ABC Books And Simple Q&A Books

3 year olds love books where you ask questions and they answer, so this is a great time to introduce simple ABC books or books about colours, shapes and naming of objects and animals.

10. Finally, Make It Fun!

This age group will love a quirky, funny story. So choose books with crazy rhymes, funky colours, interesting characters and fun stories that they will delight in!

Common 3 Year Old Reading Questions

These are the most common questions that parents ask me about their 3 year old’s reading skills. 

1. Should My 3 Year Old Be Reading By Themselves Yet?

3 year olds will be able and should be encouraged to look at books independently. However, most children of this age cannot read yet.

2. What Level Can 3 Year Olds Read At?

The foundations of reading skills will be laid down between the ages of 3-5 years.

Although most 3 year olds will not be able to read in the true sense of the word, they will be able to recognise that the printed word is what you are reading to them. 

By this age, they will be able to hold a book and turn pages correctly. They will also know the name of their favourite book and recall and repeat familiar phrases from these books, wanting you to repeat them over and over again.

You may even hear your 3 year old ‘pretending’ to read a book by recalling the words of the story as they look at the book on their own or just make things up as they turn the pages.

3. What Are Some Good Topics To Cover When Reading To My 3 Year Old?

Great topics for books for 3 year olds are ones that relate to what is going on in their lives, such as: 

They will also be drawn to books with funny rhymes and repetitive silly storylines.

4. Will My 3 Year Old Have Favorite Books?

Absolutley! From board books to colorful books to classic story books and modern gems, your 3 year old will certainly have favourite books and stories that they come back to time and time again.

My 31-year-old son still adores the book Billy’s Beetle and plans to share it with his children one day too!

Final Note

Whatever books you decide to choose for your 3-year-old, making reading a big part of your little one’s life is hugely important.

Nurturing a love of books in young children is one of my must-do’s as a parent. 

It is a fun way for your youngster to learn so much and boost their emotional and cognitive development. As well as increase their language development, concentration and listening skills too.

It is also a wonderful bonding experience for your little one too.

Need More Parenting Help?

Author Image Bio
Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and a highly qualified childcare expert with over 40 years of experience as a Norland Nanny. She holds a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development & Learning (0-6 Years) and the prestigious Norland Diploma. Paula has worked as a night nanny, run a successful daycare center in London, and helped raise countless children using her tried and tested developmental and guidance methods.

Keep Reading