26 Best Books for 3-Year-Olds - Baby Chick

26 Best Books for 3-Year-Olds

Explore the magical world of books with our list of the best books for 3-year-olds, from educational books to short and funny reads.

Updated December 11, 2023

by Natalie Cook

Certified Reading Specialist and Early Childhood Educator
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Reading to young children is an activity that helps improve their language and communication skills and fosters emotional and social development. Whether you’re looking for a silly story that will make your child giggle or a heartwarming tale that will teach them essential life lessons, our list has something for everyone. So, snuggle up with your little one and get ready to explore the magical world of books with our list of the best books for 3-year-olds.1,2

Best Books for 3-Year-Olds That Are Funny

Here are six of the best books for 3-year-olds that are funny and offer life lessons on having a positive attitude and embracing uniqueness.

1. Ricky, the Rock That Couldn’t Roll

Ricky the Rock that Couldn't Roll book cover
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Ricky is a charming little rock who can’t keep up with his fellow pebbles as they roll down the hill. But despite his challenges, Ricky is determined to find a way to join in on the fun. With a positive attitude and a can-do spirit, Ricky sets out on a journey of self-discovery and friendship. He meets a cast of colorful characters who help him learn to believe in himself and his abilities. Your little one can join Ricky on his exciting adventure and discover the power of perseverance, teamwork, and embracing our unique strengths and weaknesses.

2. Never Let a Unicorn Wear a Tutu

Never Let a Unicorn Wear a Tutu! book cover
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This delightful book is a tale of adorable unicorns discovering the joys of expressing themselves through dance and creativity. This book encourages kids to embrace their unique interests and passions and never let anyone tell them what they can or cannot do. It’s a fun and uplifting story that celebrates individuality and self-expression and will become a cherished addition to any three-year-old’s bookshelf.

3. Oh No! My Dinosaur Wants a Bath!

Oh No! My Dinosaur Wants a Bath! book cover
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A little boy named Harry discovers his pet dinosaur desperately needs a bath, but getting him in the tub is easier said than done. This book will have kids laughing out loud as they follow Harry’s antics and try to help him get his dino squeaky clean. Along the way, they’ll learn the importance of patience, creativity, and a little humor, making this a must-read for any three-year-old who loves a good laugh.

4. The Hiccupotamus

The Hiccupotamus book cover
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This book will surely delight young readers as they follow the hilarious journey of this hiccupping hippo. As the hippo tries various remedies to cure his hiccups, kids will learn about the power of persistence and creative problem-solving while enjoying the playful rhymes and silly scenarios that make this book such a joy to read. It’s a lighthearted and charming story that celebrates the joy of laughter and the power of friendship, making it a must-read for any child’s bookshelf.

5. The Serious Goose

The Serious Goose book cover
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This book features a delightful goose on a mission to make kids laugh, and the playful illustrations and witty humor are sure to do just that. As kids follow the goose’s journey and learn about the importance of laughter and fun, they’ll also be helping to support a good cause, as all proceeds go to children’s hospitals across the country. It’s a feel-good book with a positive message that’s sure to become a favorite among young readers and parents alike.

6. The Wide-Mouthed Frog

The Wide-Mouthed Frog book cover
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In this silly story, a curious frog meets various animals and asks each what they like to eat. This book will surely entertain kids as they follow the frog’s adventures and learn about different animals and their diets. Kids are encouraged to use their imaginations and join in on the fun as they mimic the sounds and actions of each animal the frog meets.

Best Books for 3-Year-Olds for Learning the Alphabet

Here are five of the best books for 3-year-olds to help them learn the alphabet.

1. Eating the Alphabet

Eating the Alphabet book cover
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This book is the perfect way to introduce young readers to the joys of healthy eating. As kids explore the alphabet through the lens of different fruits and vegetables, they’ll learn about the importance of a balanced diet and discover new foods to try. It’s a fun and engaging way to promote healthy habits and inspire a love of learning, making it a must-have for any three-year-old’s book collection.

2. I Spy Letters

I Spy Letters book cover
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This fun and interactive book is perfect for three-year-olds learning the alphabet. With colorful photographs and engaging riddles, this book encourages kids to search for hidden letters and words in everyday objects. As they explore each page and solve each puzzle, kids will develop their observation and critical-thinking skills, all while having fun and learning about letters and words.

3. Animal ABC

Animal ABC book cover
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This charming book explores the animal kingdom through the letters of the alphabet. It is the perfect way to introduce three-year-olds to different animals and their habitats. As kids journey from A to Z, they’ll discover various animals, from the familiar to the exotic, and learn about their unique characteristics and behaviors.

4. ABC What Can She Be?

ABC for Me: ABC What Can She Be? book cover
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This book inspires young girls to dream big and aim high. From astronaut to zoologist, this book encourages girls to explore and imagine what they can be when they grow up. With colorful illustrations and an upbeat message, this book will surely spark the imaginations of little ones and empower them to chase their dreams.

5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s ABC

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's ABC book cover
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This charming board book takes little ones on a colorful journey through the alphabet, with each page featuring a fun and whimsical illustration that brings letters to life. Not only is The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s ABC educational, but it also promotes curiosity and imagination. It is sure to become a favorite for both parents and kids.

Best Books for 3-year-olds for Counting

Here are the three best books for 3-year-olds to learn to count.

1. I Spy Monster Trucks!

I Spy Monster Trucks! book cover
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This thrilling and action-packed book will have your three-year-old on the edge of their seat. The book takes little ones on an exciting adventure through the world of monster trucks, challenging them to spot all the hidden objects. So, gear up and get ready to join the monster truck madness with I Spy Monster Trucks!

2. Count the Animals!

Count the Animals! book cover
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This book makes learning to count a blast! It takes young readers on a journey through the animal kingdom, inviting them to count every creature they encounter. From one curious monkey to 10 playful puppies, this book is jam-packed with cute, cuddly critters that kids will love.

3. Poke a Dot! Old MacDonald’s Farm

Melissa & Doug Children's Book - Poke-a-Dot: Old MacDonald’s Farm book cover
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Get ready for some poppin’ fun with this one. This book takes a classic children’s tune and turns it into an interactive and engaging experience. Little ones can “pop” the dots as they count and sing along with Old MacDonald. This book has adorable farm animals that kids love to “pop” and play with.

Best Books for Social-Emotional Learning

Here is a list of the six best books to help your 3-year-old improve social-emotional learning.

1. Calm-Down Time

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This is the ultimate guide to helping little ones unwind and relax. It has easy-to-follow tips and techniques, and this book helps little ones learn how to calm themselves when they’re feeling overwhelmed or upset. This book offers fun and engaging activities that kids can do on their own or with a caregiver, such as taking deep breaths or walking. Calm-Down Time is a must-have resource for any parent or caregiver looking to help their three-year-old develop essential self-regulation skills.

2. What to Do When You Feel Like Hitting

What to Do When You Feel Like Hitting book cover
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This empowering and insightful book helps little ones learn how to manage their anger healthily and positively. It offers practical strategies for dealing with difficult emotions and teaches your child how to communicate their feelings effectively. This book provides various helpful tips and calming strategies that can be used in any situation, such as taking deep breaths and counting to 10. So, if your little one could use extra support in managing their anger, check this book out.

3. Roaring Mad Riley: An Anger Management Book

Roaring Mad Riley: An Anger Management Story for Kids
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This fun and engaging book features a relatable main character, Riley, who learns valuable tools and strategies for dealing with frustration and anger. Riley helps kids identify and understand their emotions while teaching them healthy ways to express and manage them. Roaring Mad Riley is a must-read for any child who could use extra support to navigate their feelings.

4. How Do I Feel?

How Do I Feel? book cover
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Get ready to explore the world of emotions with How Do I Feel? This colorful and engaging book is perfect for little ones learning to identify and express their feelings. Kids can explore emotions and learn to communicate them effectively. It covers many emotions and offers helpful tips for coping with difficult feelings.

5. In My Heart

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings book cover
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This beautiful and heartwarming book explores the many emotions within us. It features poetic language and stunning illustrations that take readers through various feelings, from joy to sadness and everything in between. Readers will discover new and exciting ways to understand and express their emotions as they turn each page. From the vibrant colors to the unique die-cut heart shape, In My Heart is a work of art that captivates and inspires your three-year-old.

6. B is for Breathe

B is for Breathe: The ABCs of Coping with Fussy and Frustrating Feelings book cover
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This book teaches little ones how to manage their emotions through mindful breathing. Your little ones will learn to take deep breaths and calm themselves when overwhelmed. Readers go on a fun and engaging journey through various settings while learning valuable coping skills.

Best Picture Books for 3-year-olds

Here are six of the best picture books to entertain your 3-year-old with.

1. Waiting is Not Easy!

Waiting Is Not Easy! book cover
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This hilarious and relatable book explores the challenges of waiting. Featuring beloved characters Elephant and Piggie, this book takes readers through the ups and downs of waiting for something special. Waiting is Not Easy! is a joy to read and will resonate with three-year-olds and adults. Whether your child is waiting for a birthday, a holiday, or just something fun to happen, this book is the perfect way to help them understand that waiting can be tough, but it’s always worth it in the end.

2. Strictly No Elephants

Strictly No Elephants book cover
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This is an inclusive story that celebrates the power of friendship and community. When a boy and his pet elephant are excluded from a pet club, they join other unconventional pets to form their own club. Through their shared experiences, the pets learn about the importance of acceptance, empathy, and belonging. This book is a perfect way to teach little ones about diversity and inclusivity in a fun and engaging way.

3. Frederick

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A timeless classic that celebrates the power of imagination and creativity. The story follows a mouse named Frederick, who spends his days gathering colors and words while his fellow mice prepare for winter. When the harsh winter comes, Frederick’s unique contributions help keep his friends’ spirits up and remind them of the beauty and warmth of the world. Your little one will be inspired to look at the world with wonder and to appreciate the power of art and storytelling.

4. 3-Minute Stories for 3-Year-Olds

3-Minute Stories for 3-Year-Olds book cover
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This is a delightful collection of short and sweet tales that are perfect for three-year-olds. It will capture the attention and imagination of even the most active and fidgety toddlers. The collection offers a wide range of stories that are sure to entertain and delight.

5. A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee

A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee book cover
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This story follows Mr. Magee and his dog Dee as they embark on a camping trip. However, when encountering a curious and hungry bear, their peaceful excursion turns wild. A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee is a perfect book for parents and three-year-olds to read together. It is a great way to introduce young readers to the joys and thrills of outdoor adventures while emphasizing the importance of friendship, perseverance, and problem-solving.

6. Zoom: Farm Adventure

Zoom: Farm Adventure
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Technically, this is a board book, but it’s so sweet that we just had to add it to our list! From What On Earths Books, this pop-up book features a little boy named Bo who is helping out on a farm. Read along as he kindly greets the animals, milks the cows, collects honey from bees, and more. Your three-year-old will also love the peek-a-boo holes!

Reading to your three-year-old is a special bonding experience that can create lifelong memories and a passion for books. The books on our list will surely spark their curiosity, imagination, and love of reading. So, whether you’re looking for a classic tale or a new adventure, there’s a book out there for every child. Happy reading!

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Natalie Cook
Natalie Cook Certified Reading Specialist and Early Childhood Educator
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Natalie Cook graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education and a Master's in Reading Education. She is a certified Reading Specialist… Read more

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