8 Best Books for 3 Year Olds

Written by in Top 10 Books for 3 Year Olds on . 1 Comments




Written By: Debbie Hatswell

Once children hit the magic age of 3, the book industry unleashes all sorts of fantastic picture story books for this age group. It can be a fantastic relief as a parent to be able to read something that has more of a story and even to be able to introduce some humour at story time. We loved it when our little man reached age 3 and we could really start to get into books that were a little more interesting. Choosing our favourites are a tough job though - there are so many classic picture books and fantastic new releases to choose from. 

So, without further ado, and not necessarily in order of importance.. here are our all time top 10 picture books for 3 Year Olds:

I Need a Hug Aaron Blabey

I Need a Hug by Aaron Blabey


“I need a hug. Will you cuddle me, Lou?” Says the porcupine to the rabbit.

“What with those spikes? Get away from me! Shoo!”

The little porcupine asks assorted animals for a cuddle. When the animals who rejected him come running back towards him, they are followed by a snake looking for a kiss. Funny!

This is another fun story from Aaron Blabey. It has lots of shouting for kids to join in on, so it is a perfect read aloud.. This is a fun read aloud. We like the message that everyone needs a hug sometimes! Note this is slightly shorter than the usual 32 pages.

Fancy Nancy

Fancy Nancy, by Jane O’Conner, pictures by Robin Preiss Glasser 9780007253463

Nancy makes over her family (who strike us as being exceptionally good sports!) to be more “fancy”. This was a NY Times number 1 bestseller and stayed there for 100 weeks. It is set to become a Broadway musical. This one is for the girly girls. Why be ordinary when you can be fancy? It has fantastic colourful illustrations and is a memorable family adventure.


Possum Magic by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas


Possum Magic by Mem Fox, pictures by Julie Vivas 9781742990002

Grandma Poss makes Hush the baby possum invisible to keep her safe from predators, but when it comes to undoing the spell it takes a gastronomic tour around Australia to do it. This award winner is considered an Australian Classic and is a perennial bestseller. Possum Magic has just celebrated its 30th birthday. The watercolour illustrations in this one are gorgeous and it has a very “Australian” feel. This edition is a gorgeous collector item in a gorgeous red fabric cover with protective slip case.


Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion, pictures by Margaret Bloy Graham 978006842444

Harry the dog gets so dirty that even his family doesn’t recognize him. This is a 50th birthday edition.

A touch of nostalgia (wow a steam train!), a loveable, slightly mischievous dog and lots and lots of dirt. What more could a toddler want. We even remember loving this one as a kid ourselves.

whale in the bath kylie westaway and tom jellett

Whale in the Bath by Kylie Westaway and Tom Jellett

A funny story full of imagination and a little boy who clearly can’t get in his bath because there is a big whale in there. His family just do not believe him. His parents are constantly saying “get in the bath Bruno!” but there just is not any room. Until Bruno and the whale come up with a clever solution.

This CBCA Notable Book: Early Childhood in 2015 is a clever and fun bath time story for children age 3-6. Especially imaginative ones.  Or ones that like baths. Or take a bit of convincing to get in!  

The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson, pictures by Axel Scheffler 9780333710937

Clever little mouse persuades all of his scary predators that he is friends with an imaginary fearsome beast, who then turns out to be real. This story has sold 10 million copies + and has spawned movies, plays and merchandise. We love the quick witted mouse in this one, and the lesson that sometimes the winner in life can be brains over brawn. This rhyming award winner regularly appears on “must own” or “best children’s book” lists

Olivia by Ian Falconer

Olivia, by Ian Falconer 

The multi-award-winning, heart-warming tale of a sweet little pig with a whole heap of energy. This is the original Olivia story, and is a treasure. Olivia the non-napping, cheeky, wall drawing, dancing little pig will most likely resemble someone you know well. Some days more than others.

There is a Hippopotamus on my Roof Eating Cake, by Hazel Edwards

A little girl imagines the leak from her roof is caused by a Hippopotamus living up there eating cake. Little girl lives vicariously through imaginary hippopotamus watching TV, riding bikes, drawing on books. This book celebrated its 30th birthday in 2010 and is the 1st book in a series. The original idea came to Hazel Edwards when her own homes roof was leaking and her 3 year old son thought there was a hippopotamus up there! Alright so this one is a bit silly, but if you can’t be silly with a toddler, then when can you? The imaginary Hippopotamus’ antics are very child-like and make this extremely familiar. Here at Story Mama we especially love a book that has been loved by generations.

Again, by Emily Gravett 9780230745360

It's nearly Cedric the dragon's bedtime – there's just enough time for his mum to read him his favourite book. Unfortunately for her, Cedric likes the story so much that he wants to hear it again... and again... and again...

For any parent that has had to read a story over and over and over… Emily Gravett’s illustrations are just gorgeous. You will find it hard to resist cute little Cedric the Dragon.

Baby fish says hello to brightly coloured fish until he finds the one he loves the best. The author/ illustrator Lucy Cousins is also the creator of the bestselling Maisy series. This durable board book is great for exuberant little hands. We especially love that little fish’s favourite fish is his mum. This picture book is full of bright colours and simple rhyme.

Over to you!

So thats our book list! Did we get all your favourites? Have we missed any?? Tell us your favourite best books for 3 year olds in the in the comments field.


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Last update: Aug 30, 2017

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