10 Best Books for 3 Year Olds in 2017

best books for 3 year old

While it is true that three year olds still cannot read on their own, we can do a lot of things to help them learn some of the fundamentals of reading and help develop their pre-reading skills which usually manifest around 4 years of age. For this matter, we are sharing with you 10 of the best books for 3 year old boys or girls whether you’re going to read to them or let them scan through the pages themselves.

10 Best Books For 3 Year Olds

Giraffes Can't DanceGiles Andreae5
National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of WhyAmy Shields4.8
The Monster at the End of This BookJon Stone4.7
Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night?Brianna Caplan Sayres4.5
Wipe Clean: Early Learning Activity BookRoger Priddy4.3
Dragons Love TacosAdam Rubin4.2

1Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

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In just a few years your three year old kid will already be entering preschool and then grade school. He or she will then be exposed to some of the many challenges that today’s grade school children have to battle every single day: being accepted by their peers. Giraffes Can’t Dance is a great story about Gerald the giraffe who simply doesn’t fit in the animal kingdom where every single specie knows how to dance or at least have a signature move. But, owing to the unique anatomy of a giraffe’s legs and neck, dancing is simply not one of those talents that can be easily learned. But perseverance does provide its benefits, as Gerald finds out. Children will love the story of being accepted into the circle of animals even though Gerald may have a very peculiar way of dancing. The story actually resonates in real life wherein children learn the value of individuality and how you can still “fit in” despite being “different”. Guy Parker-Rees’ wonderful illustrations further add to the magic of Gerald’s moves and transformation.

What We Like about It – Rees’ magical illustrations plus Andreae’s superb weaving of Gerald’s story make Giraffes Can’t Dance a wonderful book to read to 3 year old kids.

2National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why by Amy Shields

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While it’s true that National Geographic provides in-depth knowledge to almost everything about life on the planet we call home, please don’t expect the National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why to offer such depth. It’s penned primarily for preschoolers. Some reviewers seem not to understand the difference between a content for adult and that for kids in that they expect this book to provide a 3-page answer to a simple question. Kids, especially toddlers and preschoolers don’t have the patience and the attention span to listen to you explaining why some animals are big and some small when it can only be answered in one or two sentences. As one reviewer said, the NK Little Kids is a great book; just don’t listen to what negative reviewers tell you. This much we can say, the NK Little Kids is an excellent source of very simple information about the things that are found in our planet. It’s written in a question-and-answer format so young kids can understand the framing of the question. The answers are also written in very simple terms that 3 year olds will understand. So, if you want a real National Geographic type of in-depth discussion, then get a PhD book for yourself, but not for your kid.

What We Like about It – In keeping with the goal of National Geographic, the Little Kids First Big Book of Why is a useful instrument in helping kids understand how the world works in words that they know and understand.

3The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone

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For those of us who grew up with Sesame Street and the Muppets, we’re pretty sure our parents read to us the classic piece of Jon Stone, The Monster at the End of this Book. We can still vividly recall the glee we had with mom reading to us the words of Grover written in each page of the book, begging us not to read and turn the page. Yet, the manner in which the passages are cleverly written only fueled our desire to keep on reading despite pleas from Grover. The punch line is still very fresh in our memories: the Monster at the End of this Book is none other than Grover himself. Three year olds will surely have fun going through each page as if Grover himself is actually talking to them. For parents who have been weaned off such books, it will simply be nostalgic. We’re sure it’ll bring a smile to your face.

What We Like about It – The way in which the story builds suspense before delivering the wonderful punch line in the end is simply captivating. Kids will adore it and will keep on reading it even when they are already grownups.

4Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night? By Brianna CaplanSayres

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For children who are fans of Bob the Builder and the lovely construction vehicle characters Scoop, Lofty, Dizzy, Muck, and Roley, they will love the book Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night? While it is not really a representation of the popular children’s TV show, the book nonetheless, provide answers to some of young children’s most baffling questions particularly how other things in this world go to sleep. The storyline is actually a reflection of what children all over the world ask their parents every night: if they can have just one more story before bed time. It’s an excellent introduction to the value of bedtime stories. The graphic illustrations of the fire engines, monster trucks, and even tractors help add excitement to the story.

What We Like about It – The storyline is something that children of this age will really appreciate. The simple passages make for easy understanding.

5Wipe Clean: Early Learning Activity Book by Roger Priddy

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The author of the My First 100 series is back with the Wipe Clean: Early Learning Activity Book. Technically, this is not something that you’re going to read to your 3 year old child. It is a learning resource tool for them to learn and master the art of writing, drawing, spelling, and other fundamental language and communication skills including math and numerical skills. The Wipe Clean, as the title suggests, contains workbook pages that can be “wiped clean” so that it can be used again. Because of its reusable pages, your child can keep on practicing the different skills that are intended to be developed by the various learning activities. Each page comes with a unique learning activity complete with a learning objective. Once your 3 year old has tried it, he or she won’t stop until he or she feels confident about his or her newly-found skills.

What We Like about It – If you’re looking for something of a hands-on learning experience for your young child, then the Wipe Clean is an obvious choice.Priddy is well known for his developmentally appropriate works. The Wipe Clean continues with this theme.

6Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

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Children love dragons. From Dungeons and Dragons to How to Train Your Dragon, these magical creatures have captured the fascination of kids and adults alike. Now, it’s time to put a little twist to their fantastic story, bringing them to life fully illustrated in a gouache, watercolor, and colored pencil cartoonish manner. The Dragons Love Tacos is a wonderful take on an every child’s dream creature but done so in a very lighthearted manner, full of wit and laughter. The story simply talks about building friendships with dragons doing it over a bowl of tacos. Now, we all know that kids don’t necessarily like tacos especially the super spicy ones. But the point of the story is that dragons, while they do love tacos, also don’t really want a taste of the salsa as this can really drive them fire-a-breathing. Children learn that they can make new friends even if the ingredient is something they don’t necessarily like. Of course, you’ll have to add some drama to your reading to make it more convincing.

What We Like about It – It’s a funny take on a serious mythical creature that children all over the world have come to associate with power. With the Dragons Love Tacos, even very powerful creatures can make friends over some seemingly ordinary stuff like a taco.

7Stories for 3 Year Olds by David Bedford, Diane Fox, and Christyan Fox

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Young children love a good story especially during bedtime. If you would like to read to them something not the usual, then get them the Stories for 3 Year Olds. However, don’t expect tons of stories in the literature as it only contains three: a pirate adventure, a climb to the summit of a mountain, and a day in the garden. In each of these stories, young children will be introduced to different situations or scenarios complete with the things that are central to these stories. The pages are divided in verses and poems that spice up the stories. Adding to the excitement is a wonderful collection of illustrations done in a very colorful way. Three year olds will love the action images while you read to them.

What We Like about It – It may not be as classic as your usual children’s stories but this book sure can stimulate any kid’s interest.

8The Going-to-Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

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What do you get when you mix goofy yet lovable animals and simple rhymes that mean a lot to small children? The Going-to-Bed Book, that’s what you’ll get. Boynton has created lovable animal characters that is well-liked by children for so many years. The sweet and very comforting stories presented in a rhyming pattern in the The Going-to-Bed Book make for a superb bedtime story for 3 year olds. It’s entertaining and an excellent take on the different activities that we do before going to sleep and calling it a night.

What We Like about It – Boynton’s lovable animals provide color to classic kiddie bedtime stories. At least, kids will have a much more pleasant sleep.

9Happy Birthday to You! byDr. Seuss

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Almost 6 decades ever since Happy Birthday to You! was published in 1959, the book continues to be a favorite among children across generations. It’s a kiddie literature that celebrates the joys of individuality primarily those that we experience with birthdays. While young kids may equate birthdays with balloons, cakes, and many presents, by the time they grow up they will be remembering those fun times they had during these momentous occasions. While reading Dr. Seuss’ classic, your kid will be swept by a Smorgasbord birthday bird to begin a journey towards celebrating life. Happy Birthday to You! isDr. Seuss’ interpretation of his famous dictum that a person is a person regardless of how small he or she may be. He refers to children being like us who also need to laugh, be entertained, be challenged, and be delighted.

What We Like about It – It’s a classic. The book never fails to take readers on a journey of a lifetime through the wonders of one’s birthday.

10Press Here by HerveTullet 

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If you don’t want to read long stories to your 3 year old, maybe you’d be interested in a more interactive book session. Press Here is the written version of interactive plays your children love on their tablets or smartphones. Each page is filled with interactive activities that will ask your kid to press a dot, shake the page, or even tilt the Press Here. What happens next is pure excitement as kids will grow in anticipation. As you read aloud the instructions in each page and flip the pages, the dots increase in number, grow in size, and change direction. It’s all about using one’s power of imagination and when this is mastered by a 3 year old, the possibilities are simply endless.

What We Like about It – The interactive pages of the Press Here make for creative ways to stimulate your 3 year old’s imaginative capabilities.

How We Chose the Books for 3 Year Olds in Our List

Just like our section on the best books for 2 year olds, choosing a book for a child who doesn’t have the faculties for reading yet was especially challenging. For the most part we had to rely on the developmental appropriateness of the book wherein we had to make sure that its content is best suited for the cognitive skills of children of this age. The good thing about children who are already on their third year is that their vocabulary is already rapidly expanding. They already know quite a lot of words and their rudimentary meanings. While they may not yet be able to fully read what is written, we can nonetheless read to them. Because of their more developed cognition compared to a 2 year old, they can now begin to have a clear understanding of the essence of the story.

Additionally, we also had to look at the features of the book. For the most part, illustrations, drawings, images, and other visuals can help convey a particular message. We took these to heart. If the item is able to provide other benefits, then we included this, too.

Bestsellers as well as children’s books that are well-received by parents were included. Of course, the comments and reviews of parents as well as other notable critics were factored into the equation to come up with a more comprehensive evaluation of the titles we have in this list.

The Value of Reading to Our Young Kids

Three year olds cannot be expected to read on their own; not yet anyway. That is why it is imperative that we read to them to help them prepare for this very important developmental task. There are many benefits of reading especially to young toddlers and preschoolers. Chief of these is the bond that is built and nurtured especially when you cuddle your child or even sit beside him or her. This is particularly beneficial for 3 year old kids as they begin to shed their negativistic attitude and begin forming closer and stronger relationships with their parents. Trust is nurtured, if not reestablished, which can become the foundation for your kid’s social development later in his or her life.

Additionally, reading to our young children helps them develop their own language and speech skills. They learn the correct pronunciation of words as well as the meaning of such words in the story that you are reading to them. Three year olds are naturally curious. Whenever they hear a word that is particularly new to them, they will ask you to explain it to them in very simple words that they understand. This is how they grow their vocabulary which ultimately forms the foundation of their language development.

By reading to our young children, we are also introducing to them the different human emotions. Unfortunately, this only works if we are able to deliver the story in such a way that we’re reading it from the heart and not some monotonous babble. This can help build the foundation for emotional wellbeing among our kids.

The Bottom Line

Three year olds may not be able to read yet but this doesn’t mean we cannot read to them. We can use very simple sentences to help them get introduced to the joys of reading. With the help of our 10 best books for 3 year olds, you now can start building your kid’s reading skills.

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Selina Marie
Selina Marie is our head of content for MyKidNeedsThat.com, mum of two and a self proclaimed toy geek. When she isn't juggling the madness at home, on a school run or baking her world famous blueberry muffins, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest toys and fun for our readers!


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