Books for three year olds

19 Best Books for Three Year Olds

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If you’re searching for the best books for three year olds, you may be a little overwhelmed. Which books are the best? Which will encourage their love of books or encourage their imagination? He we have listed some of our favorite children’s books that your three year old is sure to love!

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How to find the best books for 3 year olds?

Storytime with 3 year olds tends to last a bit longer than when reading to 2-year-olds. As young children begin to grow, not only is their appearance changing, but so is their brain. Absorbing anything and everything that the child experiences.

Books are the perfect gateway to help expand their imagination. Through books, our children learn vocabulary, new sounds, colors, shapes, phrases, the possibility for education is endless when introducing the power of reading.

I won’t list all the books that I grew up on, even though I will always recommend Dr. Seuss books to every parent on the face of the Earth. I will expand the variety beyond “Where the Wild Things Are.” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

Reading to toddlers increases their literacy skills, which, in turn, results in them getting a head start in school. Take my son, for example; he is the only one in his Pre-K class that can count to 10 (he can count to 100), he knows all the alphabet, all the colors and shapes, and his teacher has been pulling him aside and teaching him how to add! She believes that he will be reading on his own by the end of the year!

The things that seem so simple, end up being the most important lessons. Story time is beneficial in so many ways. Not only are you getting to spend quality time with these children, but story time is so educational.

If your young one has never been introduced to the magical world within books, it’s never too late to begin their journey. Allow them to flip through a few of the best picture books. This is a great way to let them experience all the colorful illustrations.

Board books are perfect for kids who aren’t accustomed to the fragile pages of regular books. Board books are designed with kids in mind. The pages are made out of hard pressed cardboard, or thick laminated paper that can withstand even the most excited children’s hands.

Here we’ve separated some of our favorite books into a few categories to help you find the perfect book for your young readers:

  • board books
  • learning books
  • story time books
  • vocabulary books
  • bedtime books

No matter which book you choose, you’re sure to find a new favorite!

Best Board Books for 3-Year-Old Kids

Hands Are Not for Hitting by Martine Agassi Ph.D

As we know, children learn by example. No child is raised exactly the same as another. Some are more aggressive than others. This is a great book to teach children from a young age that hitting is not the way to play.

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There's a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins

This funny book, full of illustrations of animals,  also touches on learned behavior. As people, we are not perfect. Neither are the animals throughout this simple book. Each animal makes a mistake, but also, each animal gives an apology. Written in rhyme that small children will enjoy, this book is great for sparking a discussion on feelings.

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The Best Learning Books for 3 Year Olds

1, 2, 3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle

This is the perfect book to prepare young children for primary school. This book is full of beautiful illustrations, teaching children an easy way of counting, using animals and simple text.

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The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

Kids can identify with a group of friends who just can't get along - but what happens when your crayons just decide to quit? A little boy has a box of crayons who do not like the way they are being used, so they go on strike until he can appreciate them. You'll laugh over the crayons' conversations, but this book also opens up the door for serious talks about cooperation.

This is a fantastic book that my students always loved when I was a teacher.

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123 Count with Me by Tiger Tales and Georgie Birkett

Learning their numbers is another important thing that toddlers need a jump start on. This book helps teach them 1 through 20. They can trace their finger over the number and count each of the objects on the page.

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Poke-A-Dot! Old MacDonald’s Farm by Melissa and Doug

Another cute book that our young kids will love to interact with and have so much fun reading. While learning animal sounds, they get to poke their fingers through the holes in the pages to help teach them to count.

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Potty by Leslie Patricelli

Potty first joined our home when my little girl began potty training at two years old. Then it became my son’s favorite book to read while he learned to go potty!

The simple text and illustrations are attention-grabbing, and your little one will enjoy doing the potty dance along with the character. Prepare for hearing “tinkle tinkle toot” at every potty time going forward, but it’s well worth it.

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All By Myself by Mercer Mayer

The Little Critter books are so awesome! My siblings and I were brought up reading these classic books, and so were our kids! Little Critter learns how to get dressed and accomplish other simple tasks all by himself.

This simple story teaches children from an early age how great it is to be independent (even if sometimes you need a little help).

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Best Story Time Books for 3 Year Olds

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems

Mo Willems is one of our favorite authors, and Knuffle Bunny is maybe our favorite Mo Willems book of all. Most children (and parents) will be able to relate to the drama of misplacing a beloved stuffed animal - and what happens when parents just don't understand what went wrong! Even older children will love reading this precious book before saying good night.

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Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

Your little one may only see a fun story with a blue truck and farm animals. But with your guidance, Little Blue Truck can teach so much more about life, kindness, and perseverance. Not just for little kids, this is a great book for students graduating high school.

This is one of my son's favorite bedtime stories, and I know you and your child will love it too!

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Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

This super funny story is one of my son’s favorite books. What is better than dragons or tacos? Put them together for an amazing silly story that will have salsa coming out their nose! Picky eaters - or any kid who doesn't like spicy food - will love this book for sure.

(Parenting tip: Make sure you read this one with extra enthusiasm and silly voices!)

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The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

Fairy tales are my favorite type of story, by far! The Gruffalo is a monster that was invented by a tiny mouse, to help keep him safe. However, this story has a very cute and silly twist.

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The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin

Emily Winfield Martin uses rhyming sounds that help children tune into storytime. The illustrations are appropriate for a variety of ethnicities and touch on many feelings and mannerisms. By reading this book, children will be encouraged to be friendly and kind to others, be courteous and helpful.

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Go, Dog Go! by P. D. Eastman

If you are looking for a book that is simple and will keep your young child’s attention, this is a perfect go to. It was one of the first books my children learned to read, thanks to the repetition and easily memorized text. It's also great for learning sight words!

Full of rhyming words and silly characters, this is a fun short book for anyone to enjoy.

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Best Vocabulary Books for 3-Year Olds

Best Word Book Ever by Richard Scarry

Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book is just one of his 150 children’s books. Over 100 million copies sold, combined. (5 million with this book. alone).

If you are looking to improve your child’s literacy skills, this book has hundreds of items that are labeled. People, places, animals, and so much more!

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The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds

Children will enjoy reading how Jerome, the main character, collects new words that he discovers. Read along and discuss how you feel about new words - ones that you like or ones that feel good in your ears.

A fun literacy activity for this book is writing new words on sticky notes and sticking them on the bedroom wall or inside the cover of this book!

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The Best Bedtime Books

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram

I first bought this book when my oldest daughter was a baby, and I've read it to each of my children. Parents may have a hard time finishing the last few pages aloud, as every mom and dad can identify with the love that Big Nutbrown Hare has for Little Nutbrown Hare. Even so, this one is a good book to read as you tuck your sweet little one into bed at night.

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Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

Anna Dewdney’s books are capable of so many wonderful things. Take this one, for example. Many children are scared of going to bed alone, just like Llama Llama. This story shows how Mama Llama saves the night. With simple rhymes and bright illustrations, young children will fall in love with all of the Llama Llama books.

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Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night? by Brianna Caplan Sayres

If your little one loves trucks and tractors and everything in between, then they will love Where do Diggers Sleep at Night! Read about diggers and dump trucks as the various vehicles – and your little digger – prepare to sleep.

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As a mom of 4 kids (and the oldest of 4 kids herself), Amanda has over 30 years of parenting experience. A former special education teacher, Amanda has a Master’s degree in Special Education and a second M. Ed. in Educational Leadership.

When she’s not working, Amanda enjoys DIY projects, exercising, photography, and long walks through Target.

You can find Amanda on all social media at @parentingnestblog and @amandaseghetti

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