Your three-year-old can enjoy literature just as much as older children, but to really get them hungry for more, you need to be choosing the right books.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best books for 3-year-olds – they’re enthralling, funny, and sometimes serious, but always guaranteed to put a smile on their face.
1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Some children’s stories are timeless, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of them. First published in June 1969, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has pleased parents and inspired children for decades.
If you take a look around any children’s book corner, we guarantee you’ll find this front and center. So, what makes it so popular?
This book follows the story of a small (but fiercely hungry) caterpillar who, much like our kids, decides to eat everything he possibly can before he gets a tummy ache. To cure his pain, he eats a leaf, which unexpectedly turns him into a beautiful butterfly.
Although this book is for young kids (see also: How Many Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Books Are There?)(trust us, they’ll love it), it asks some pretty big moral questions, too.
It covers topics of happiness, self-control, change, growth, and well-being in its 22 pages, and it’s bursting with colorful illustrations and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to keep your child excited and engaged.
This is a must-have for any kid’s bookshelf, and they’ll love it for years to come.
2. The Gruffalo
Next up, we have The Gruffalo. If you don’t know this book… where have you been? Published in 1999, The Gruffalo has enjoyed a few decades of unwavering success and a loyal fanbase of kids and parents across the world. It has even gone on to have its own film and merchandise!
The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson, is a charming and inspiring picture book that tells the tale of a small mouse and a Gruffalo), plus a few other characters.
One day, our small mouse takes a walk through the woods, where he comes across an owl, a snake, and a fox. In a bid to deter them, he tells the story of a terrifying Gruffalo.
However, the mouse ends up stumbling across the Gruffalo himself, where he must create another inventive tale to escape him…
With its stunning illustrations and innovative storytelling, it’s no surprise The Gruffalo has captured kids’ hearts across the world.
The story also touches on some pretty big topics, including bravery, imagination, perseverance, and self-belief – no matter how big (or small) you are, you can still accomplish great things.
This book is best for kids aged 3-5, but even your older ones will love this!
3. The Wonderful Things You Will Be
Written by Emily Winfield Martin in 2015, this New York Times Bestseller has become a family favorite. It’s sweet, fun, and inventive, and we already know it’ll take pride of place on your bookshelf.
The Wonderful Things You Will Be is a quaintly illustrated picture book told from a parent’s point of view.
This heartwarming tale explores the parent’s own imagination, wondering what great things their child might grow into, and we learn more about the children within the book as they discover themselves (If you like these stories, also check out the Magic Tree House Books).
Maybe they’ll be actresses or be in a band? Or perhaps a tailor or a doctor? The children are shown as loving, kind, and brave, and it’s bound to inspire your children.
If we could sum this book up in just a few words, it’s a book of dreams with diverse characters and endless possibilities. Life is for the taking, and even your three-year-old will come away feeling the same!
4. All About Weather: A First Weather Book for Kids
This is a relatively new book; first published in 2020 and written by Huda Harajli, All About Weather: A First Weather Book for Kids is an educational story (see also: How Many Outlander Books Are There?)aimed at 3-5-year-olds and you guessed it, it’s all about the weather!
This exciting adventure book takes your kids through the ins and outs of the elements, from how clouds form to why it rains and what types of weather make up all four seasons!
With beautiful illustrations and exciting facts, this book will leave your three-year-old feeling inspired, curious, and hungry for more. You may even learn a thing or two yourself!
Plus, author Huda Harajli is an educator as well as a writer, so you’ll know your kids are getting a great learning experience, rolled up sweetly into a world of excitement and adventure.
5. Oh No, George
Now, let’s introduce you to another one of our favorites – Oh No, George! Oh No, George! It was first published in 2011 and written and illustrated by Christ Haughton.
We all know how much kids love illustrations, and your three-year-old will be able to spot this front cover from a mile off. It’s bold, exciting, and slightly humorous, just like the rest of the story!
This book tells the story of George, a family dog who promises to be on his best behavior when his owners leave the house… Although he tries his best to be well-behaved (despite the temptation of a chocolate cake and a cat), things don’t go quite to plan…
Oh No, George! is a lighthearted tale that will have you and your kids in tears of laughter. If you have a dog yourself, your three-year-old will probably love this story even more!
With exciting illustrations and hilarious storytelling, this book also explores the issue of being faced with temptation and how to navigate it – a lesson we could all use a little brushing up on!
6. Kiki and Bobo’s Sunny Day
Kiki and Bobo’s Sunny Day is just as charming as it sounds. This quaint lift-the-flap storybook, written by Yasmeen Ismail and published in 2017, tells the tale of Kiki and Bobo (our beautiful dog and cat friends) as they head off to the seaside for the day.
Their expedition is mainly Kiki’s idea; Bobo isn’t too excited about the trip, and as Kiki embraces the water, Bobo must finally admit that he’s scared. As any good friend would do, Kiki lends him her hand, reassures him, and encourages him into the water for a fun-filled day.
This wholesome, heartwarming tale is all about facing your fears and the importance of having good friends. It’s a great message to send your three-year-old, and they’ll appreciate how interactive this story is, too!
7. Paw Patrol 5 Minute Stories Collection
Paw Patrol is every small child’s favorite show, but now, you can break away from your screens and enjoy their adventures in book form! This 5-minute stories collection published in 2017 by Random House is exactly what your paw patrol obsessed kids need.
This book follows the stories of our favorite characters, including Skye, Marshall, and Chase, as they embark on thrilling missions to save their friends, protect their communities and have fun in the process.
With lots of teamwork, awesome vehicles, and a few tools, Paw Patrol is here to save the day again!
Each story can be read in just 5 minutes or less, making this the perfect collection to help get your kids ready for bed. Fun, inspiring, and beautifully illustrated, we love this collection!
8. If Animals Kissed Goodnight
Have your kids ever wondered what would happen if animals did the things that we do, like kiss goodnight? Well, in this beautiful bedtime story written by Ann Paul, you won’t have to.
With the help of clever rhymes and attractive illustrations, this story will introduce your kid to plenty of new animals, animal sounds, body parts, and more.
Explore the lives of some slow-kissing sloths, long-necked giraffes, a bear and bear cub, and more. This is the perfect story to snuggle down into bed with, and if your three-year-old loves all things animal-related, they’ll love this book.
Published in 2008, this story has enjoyed many years of success, and it’s part of a wider collection that your kids are bound to love, too!
9. Go, Dog. Go
This timeless tale was first published in 1961. Written by P.D.Eastman, Go, Dog, Go! Is an action-packed story aimed at 3-7-year-olds, and it features all sorts of weird and wonderful happenings.
In this story, dogs operate their own vehicles, work, play, and party, and all in all, they have a ball! They’re riding scooters in crazy hats, going skiing, and trying on hats…
However, this story is also a pretty educational one, and it does a great job at introducing simple language and colors to your child in a memorable and exciting way.
If your kids enjoy the book, they’ll also love the CGI TV series that Netflix released in 2021! There’s plenty of fun to be had in this story. If your kids crave adventure, excitement, and all things kooky, they’ll love this.
10. Dragons Love Tacos
That’s right – Dragons Love Tacos! Published in 2012 and written by Adam Rubin, this unforgettable story quickly became a New York Times Bestseller, and it’s still enjoying plenty of success today.
When a boy and his dog settle down to watch TV, they get more than they bargained for when they learn that Dragons love Tacos!
Not only do Dragons love tacos, but they love ALL kinds – big ones, small ones, beef ones, chicken ones… and of course, such a big appetite for tacos leads to a few salsa spillages and fiery encounters along the way…
If you want something fun and lighthearted to entertain your three-year-old with, this is the book for you. Prepare for plenty of giggles and excitement, and start learning the story now – you’ll be asked to read it over and over again!
The Bottom Line
Whether you want something fun, heartwarming, educational, or all three, you’re bound to find your three-year-old’s next favorite tale in this line-up!