15 Best Books for 3-Year-Olds


A three-year-old would love listening to stories while glancing at the illustrations and turning the pages of the books themselves. A toddler may be too young to read all by themselves, but that should not stop them from becoming avid readers later.

Reading to your child is the first step towards drawing them to books. If you are looking for the best books to read for a three-year-old, you’ve come to the right place.

Here is a MomJunction post with a list of the 15 best books for three-year-olds.

1. The Wonderful Things You Will Be

The Wonderful Things You Will Be

Author: Emily Winfield Martin

The book contains rhyming phrases interspersed with colorful illustrations across the book. The theme of the book is humorous and warm. It is an excellent book that you can read to your three-year-old before bedtime.

2. Dragons Love Tacos

Dragons Love Tacos

Author: Adam Rubin

This is a funny story about dragons who love tacos, and how you can befriend them by throwing a taco party. The dragons in this story love tacos, but they hate spicy salsa so beware! Dragons Love Tacos is a popular read-along book with a humor-filled storyline and sketches.

3. Grumpy Monkey

Grumpy Monkey

Author: Suzanne Lang

Jim, the chimpanzee, wakes up one morning to find that everything around him is perfect – the sun is shining bright, the sky is blue, and the bananas are just sweet. However, Jim is not happy and is grumpy to the bewilderment of his friends. Each page of the book has colorful illustrations with remarkable detail to keep a child engrossed.

4. The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree

Author: Shel Silverstein

The picture book tells the story of a selfless tree that gives away its fruits, leaves, and wood so that someone can benefit from it. The tale is simple and teaches the child the essence of helping others. The Giving Tree was published in the year 1964 and to this day is considered to be one of the best books for toddlers and young children.

5. Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night?

Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night?

Author: Brianna Caplan Sayres

An imaginary tale where the author wonders where do diggers, trucks, and other automotive machinery sleep at night. The book has colorful drawings on every page. This book will surely stoke the imagination of a three-year-old while introducing them to a variety of automobiles and heavy-duty vehicles.

6. The Gruffalo

The Gruffalo

Author: Julia Donaldson

A jungle mouse creates an imaginary monster named Gruffalo to protect himself from predators. Each time the mouse encounters a dangerous animal, he would say to them that he has to meet the Gruffalo. While other animals develop a fear of Gruffalo, the mouse triumphantly roams around the forest without any concern. The story is jovial and full of attractive illustrations of animals.

7. Blue Hat, Green Hat

Blue Hat, Green Hat

Author: Sandra Boynton

A group of funny animals wears clothes of different shades to teach the reader about colors. The animals are hilariously portrayed, with a bird who always wears the wrong clothes being the funniest one! The book is entertaining and adorable with all the illustrations. Children can play the game of identifying colors at the turn of each page.

8. The Snail and the Whale

The Snail and the Whale

Author: Julia Donaldson

A snail and a whale become best friends and set out on a journey of the oceans. The snail, who has never traveled beyond its home, is fascinated by the vast expanse of water. But there is a moment when the whale drifts close to the shore, leaving the snail panicked and in a hurry to save its giant friend. This well-illustrated book tells a sweet tale of friendship between two unlikely friends.

9. Press Here

 Press Here

Author: Herve Tullet

Press Here is an interactive book without any screens or lights. Each page has instructions that prompt the toddler to touch a point on the page or blow gently on it. That leads to the next page that has an illustration and text describing the result of the toddler’s action. Press Here is an excellent book for parents and three-year-old children who love to be an active part of the reading sessions.

10. First the Egg

 First the Egg

Author: Laura Vaccaro Seeger

The book starts with a solution to the dilemma about what came first, the hen or the egg. Each page has a sketch and a cut-out, which gives a clue of the picture on the next page. It creates a guessing game that also teaches children about the transformation of eggs into birds, caterpillars into butterflies and tadpoles to frogs!

11. If Animals Kissed Good Night

If Animals Kissed Good Night

Author: Ann Whitford Paul

During a conversation with her mother before bedtime, a young girl wonders if other animal mothers and children wish each other ‘good night’ too. It starts a thread of imagination about how each animal family would wish each other a good night. If you have an imaginative three-year-old who loves animals, then they will enjoy this book.

12. The Day the Crayons Quit

The Day the Crayons Quit

Author: Drew Daywalt

A young boy opens his pack of crayons but instead finds a stack of envelopes with letters in them. Each letter is a complaint written by the crayons that have quit their work and are dissatisfied by how they are used. The book is funny with surprises and a original storyline.

13. Room on the Broom

Room on the Broom

Author: Julia Donaldson

A witch and her pet cat are merrily flying on the magic broom when the wind comes in and blows away the witch’s hat, her bow, and then the wand. Three different animals on the ground pick up the fallen items. But to return the items, the animals want a ride on the broom, which leaves the witch wondering if there is enough space for all of them on the slender broom?

14. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Book

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Book

Author: Laura Numeroff

A boy gives a hungry mouse a cookie. After a cookie, the mouse asks for milk. Since the tiny mouse cannot have milk from a glass, he asks for a straw. After drinking milk, the mouse wants to see his milk mustache in the mirror. The series of funny events continue as the mouse keeps asking for more and more things. It is a nice book with a subtle message on the importance of sharing.

15. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Author: Eric Carle

It is an illustrated story of a caterpillar and its transformation from an egg to a butterfly. Each page contains drawings that document the life of the caterpillar, its daily adventures, and its eventual metamorphosis into a butterfly. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was released in 1969 and is considered to be one of the best books for children even today.

Considering that a three-year-old child cannot yet read, books for them have several interesting illustrations, which will make the little one want to see them for a second time. Buy picture books as well as simple storybooks that can teach the little one easy, everyday words.

Remember, the more they read or are read to, the better are their chances of becoming an avid book reader later in life.

Have something to share about books for three-year-olds? Do tell us in the comment section below.

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