The most recommended books for 3 year olds

Who picked these books? Meet our 370 experts.

370 authors created a book list with books for 3 year olds, and here are their favorites.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of book for a 3 year old?


Book cover of Santa Bruce

Dawn Young Author Of Once Upon a Christmas

From my list on fun and festive Christmas pictures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write funny picture books. Since some of my best memories include reading to my kids while they were plopped in my lap, giggling at silly, fun picture books, I want to bring that same joy to families everywhere. I’m in awe of clever humor, and I’m especially fond of wordplay, puns, and jokes. Of all the holidays, Christmas is my favorite. The tree, the décor, and the traditions bring so much merriment. When my kids were young, reading Christmas books was a huge part of our holiday. Once Upon a Christmas gave me the chance to write a humorous, fun, and festive story that families can enjoy together.

Dawn's book list on fun and festive Christmas pictures

Dawn Young Why did Dawn love this book?

The whole Mother Bruce series is hilarious, especially Santa Bruce. I love the juxtaposition of Bruce’s grumpy attitude and the other characters’ enthusiasm. The characters’ facial expressions and body language are priceless. The animals get so excited when they see Bruce in his red suit, and they act just like kids do when they see Santa at the mall. Higgins even throws in some humor for the adult readers—in the ask of each of the animals—and near the end Bruce looks as exasperated as a parent trying to keep up with their holiday to-do list. To me this book has everything: great illustrations, an adorable cast of characters, and loads of humor. Higgins has captured the energy and excitement of the holidays perfectly.

By Ryan T. Higgins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Santa Bruce as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bruce is a lot of things. He is a bear. He is a grump. He is a pretty decent cook. And he is a mother. One thing Bruce is not? Santa Claus. But that doesn't stop the whole forest from lining up to give him their Christmas wishes when he becomes the victim of mistaken identity—again. Kids will howl with laughter as award-winning author-illustrator Ryan T. Higgins delivers another hilarious story about this bear who just can't catch a break.

Book cover of God's Always Loving You

Natalee Creech Author Of Nothing: Nothing Can Separate You from God's Love!

From my list on children’s books about God’s love.

Why am I passionate about this?

“I am loved and forgiven. What a wonderful thing! I’m adopted as God’s own. I’m a child of the King!” I am an author who wants to help parents write important truths on their children’s hearts. Nothing is a book I wish I had written sooner, and would have loved to have read with my own children when they were little enough to hold in my lap. I hope these book recommendations help you share God’s love with your little ones, so that when they grow up they are sure of the promise that nothing can ever separate them from God’s love.

Natalee's book list on children’s books about God’s love

Natalee Creech Why did Natalee love this book?

God’s Always Loving You lets children know that God is with them in every situation, whether joyous, frightening, or frustrating. Most of all, he is loving them and working to make things new. The meter is flawless, and the stanzas are sprinkled with just the right amount of alliteration to make it pleasing to read, but not a tongue twister. Toddlers will love to join in on the answer to the question posed in each scenario: God, that’s who! 

By Janna Matthies, Airin O'Callaghan (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked God's Always Loving You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Remind little ones that God will always be there to love, support, and comfort them--no matter the situation--with this uplifting, reassuring board book.

This powerful little book is filled to the brim with hope and comfort. Simple, child-friendly verse outlines relatable moments of crisis, uncertainty, and fear common to a child's life, and asks who helps us in each of those scenarios. "God, that's who" is the reliable answer, forming a pattern kids will quickly pick up on. Each answer reinforces the book's deeply comforting message: God is always there for us. He loves us, He knows us, and He…

Book cover of Everyone Poops

Geoff Waring Author Of Oscar and the Bat: A Book about Sound

From my list on science for kids and adults.

Why am I passionate about this?

Science is truth and always evolving as we discover new things. Like a child, scientists are always asking "Why this? Why that?" Great scientists like great artists are childlike or at least manage to harness the wonder of their childhood self. If a child is interested in the world around them they will never be bored. It will set them up for life and that's a truly precious thing.

Geoff's book list on science for kids and adults

Geoff Waring Why did Geoff love this book?

...And every child will LOVE this book! Taro Gomi is one of Japan's most prolific children's book creators.

His beautifully simple, childlike paintings of animals and their poos are funny yet informative, and especially for younger readers, they will help them start to develop an enquiring mind.

By Taro Gomi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Everyone Poops as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 2, 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

The beloved, bestselling potty-training classic, now re-released for a new generation!

An elephant makes a big poop. A mouse makes a tiny poop. Everyone eats, so of course: everyone poops!

Taro Gomi's classic, go-to picture book for straight-talk on all things "number 2" is back, as fresh and funny as ever.

• Both a matter-of-fact, educational guide and a hilarious romp through poop territory
• Filled with timeless OMG moments for both kids and adults
• Colorful and content-rich picture book

The concept of going to the bathroom is made concrete through this illustrated narrative that is both verbally and…

Book cover of Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise

Nancy Vo Author Of Boobies

From my list on with sideways humor and irony.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born where the sun rose in the prairies and set behind the Rockies. Now I live on the West Coast of Canada. I am a picture bookmaker, and from my recommendations, you might think that I also have a thing for thieves: cupcake thieves, underwear thieves, hat thieves, chicken thieves, pie thieves. But I’m really here for the element of surprise and well-earned laughs in children’s picture books. They say comedy is hard, but comedy in picture books is even harder. These five picks are a great place to start if you like smartly silly picture books with a bit of off-kilter humor and a sense of irony. Bonus points for puns.

Nancy's book list on with sideways humor and irony

Nancy Vo Why did Nancy love this book?

Can a picture book be any more dramatic! The title! Those eyes! Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise pairs Sean Taylor’s purple prose with Jean Jullien’s graphic characters against a sky, “as black as burnt toast.” Readers meet an owl who thinks that he is clever and stealthy enough to land himself a meal – Rabbit? Mutton? Pigeon? Or simpler fare? Look there – hungry owl schemes, dramatically!

By Sean Taylor, Jean Jullien (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

A laugh-out-loud page turner from Sean Taylor with wickedly hilarious graphic art from Jean Jullien.

"This is the funniest picture book I have read in a long time" David Walliams

From masterful storyteller Sean Taylor and exciting, celebrated graphic artist Jean Jullien, comes the laugh-out-loud tale of Hoot Owl. Hoot Owl is no ordinary owl - oh no! - he's a master of disguise! And he will use his expert camouflage powers to trick his unsuspecting prey into succumbing to him! Tiny animals of the night ... beware! But, somehow, Hoot Owl's prey keeps escaping... Hmmm, perhaps he isn't quite…

Book cover of What Pet Should I Get?

Tanya Preminger Author Of Luna is Missing

From my list on picture books about pets.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved animals and felt a deep empathy for every living creature. But it wasn’t until the COVID lockdown that I truly connected with them. Locked up with a partner, a boy, two dogs, and three cats in a small house with a yard, I realized that it's not just us taking care of them—they're doing their best to take care of us, too. Trained in art since childhood by my mom, it was during the COVID lockdown that I began to draw our furry companions in earnest. I spent every waking hour capturing their funny and endearing moments, ultimately putting it all together in a picture book.

Tanya's book list on picture books about pets

Tanya Preminger Why did Tanya love this book?

I love this book because it's still funny and remains a classic.

Although it reflects a time when dads made decisions and pet adoption from shelters wasn't as common, its rhymes, unique illustration style, and humor make it a favorite.

Despite being a bit outdated contextually, it means well, sends a positive message, and its artistic charm never gets old.

By Dr. Seuss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Pet Should I Get? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Pick a pet with Dr. Seuss with this bestselling and silly tail of cats, dogs and more!

A dog or a cat? A fish or a bird? Or maybe a crazy creature straight from the mind of Dr. Seuss! Which pet would YOU get? A trip to the pet store turns into a hilarious struggle when two kids must choose one pet to take home... but everytime they think they see an animal they like, they find something even better! Perfect for animal lovers and Seuss lover alike, this book will delight readers young and old.

Discovered 22 years after…

Book cover of I Really Want the Cake

Lisa Wheeler Author Of People Don't Bite People

From my list on picture books that are even better read aloud.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an award-winning children's book author who loves everything about kid's books--including the smell! With over 50 books on bookstore shelves-- which have been read aloud hundreds of times all over the world-- I feel that I've become an expert on the subject.

Lisa's book list on picture books that are even better read aloud

Lisa Wheeler Why did Lisa love this book?

When our heroine and her little dog spy a spectacular cake just sitting alone on the kitchen table, it's on! The note attached from Mom says "You must not eat the cake." But what's a kid to do? She tries lots of activities to help her forget about cake but will temptation win out? This book is fun, funny, and well written. I love the drama of the situation and the art (by Lucia Gaggioti) is spot on. Fun to read dramatically aloud to both kids and adults. (Pair it with a reading of Green Eggs and Ham!)

By Simon Philip, Lucia Gaggiotti (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Really Want the Cake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

There's a smell I can't ignore.
It's wafting through the kitchen door.
It's time for me to find out more.
I think it might be cake.

How do you resist the most amazing cake ever? Especially when your mum has left a note saying that you MUST NOT eat the cake?

This wonderful rhyming text from Simon Philip, author of You Must Bring a Hat, is illustrated with huge energy and humour by Lucia Gaggiotti.

Book cover of No Matter What: A Foster Care Tale

Marcy Pusey Author Of Speranza's Sweater: A Child's Journey Through Foster Care and Adoption

From my list on for foster and adoptive families.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a birth, foster, adoptive, and pseudo mom to many children, I know firsthand how hard it is to find quality literature that reflects their experience and gives them skills for their own life journey. As a therapist, certified in trauma and resilience, having spent many years in social services, I also see the lack of resources available to caregivers, teachers, and counselors. It's my passion to help remove shame, build resilience, and reclaim hope in the lives of each member of these families. I’ve done this through a TEDx talk on the power of story on the brain, authored multiple books, speak regularly, offer trainings, and private parent coaching.

Marcy's book list on for foster and adoptive families

Marcy Pusey Why did Marcy love this book?

Josh Shipp, a former at-risk foster kid turned youth advocate and TEDx speaker brings us this beautiful mostly autobiographical story of a squirrel who needs a family, but also kinda doesn’t want one. But also does. The quality of fost/adopt books for children has been lacking in the past, but Shipp takes fost/adopt literature to a whole new level with engaging, gorgeous illustrations and the perfect balance of humor and depth. I love that he’s a former foster youth with a mission to help kids find their one caring adult (and for adults to be one!) This is a must-have for any foster or adoptive family’s shelf (and anyone who knows, works with, teaches, counsels, or interacts with children in this situation). 

By Josh Shipp, Yuliya Pankratova (illustrator), David Tieche (contributor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Matter What as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Josh was a squirrel without a squirrel family, so other families tried to take him in. Between the pelicans, the leopards, the otters, the snakes, and many more, no one seemed to want a squirrel like him. Josh didn't want a family, either.

He did everything he could to scare those families away first, but the elephants weren't like other families. The elephants were very large and very patient, and they wanted Josh to be part of their family today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow. When Josh takes his plans a little too far and gets into a sticky…

Book cover of Bud

Why am I passionate about this?

Lots of us rely occasionally on technology to help us entertain a young child, but the connection we form when looking at a book together cannot be beaten. I have found, both personally and professionally, that great books are born when a kind of magical mix-up is created in a child’s imagination between the words you read and the pictures they see. It feels so wonderful when this happens that they want to revisit the book again and again. I have written many books for young children over more than 20 years, and I am always striving to help cast that magical spell.

Fiona's book list on families and growing up–the funny bits, the comforting bits. . .and the scary bits

Fiona Munro Why did Fiona love this book?

This story is full of drama and laughs. I loved the detail in the artwork and the wit–the four beetles that patrol the garden are called . . . Ringo, John, Paul and George! 

I had never really thought how much every tiny seed growing in our garden or in the park has to face before it grows up! There are worries and dangers around every corner, but, like a child, if that seed is nurtured and protected by friends and family, it can grow tall, bloom, and reach for the sky whilst grounded by strong roots we cannot see. Bud is a tale that brings tears to my eyes. 

By Laura Hambleton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bud as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

Book cover of The One O'Clock Miracle Storybook: A true story about trusting the words of Jesus

Nancy Tupper Ling Author Of One Perfect Plan: The Bible's Big Story in Tiny Poems

From my list on Christian picture reads for kids.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a children’s author, poet, bookseller, and librarian, I surround myself with books and sometimes books of faith. I remember the joy I felt reading many Bible stories with my parents as a child. It took months to journey from the battle of David and Goliath to the bravery of Queen Esther, and then onto Jesus’ miracles. Exploring something new, I decided to tell these stories through short poem, so a family could read an entire book in one sitting. I truly appreciate when faith-based books work to build the love of God for young readers. Thankfully, more books exist now to show young readers what a faith-centric life looks like.

Nancy's book list on Christian picture reads for kids

Nancy Tupper Ling Why did Nancy love this book?

We’re pulled into this story right from the title of Mitchell’s book.

Inquiring minds wonder: What miracle happened at one o’clock? Soon we discover a father who’s beginning a very long journey to find Jesus, the only one who might heal his dying son. The problem is Jesus is preaching far away in Cana. What if the man’s son passes away before he can return to him? Still, the father walks for miles and miles until he finds Jesus, who instructs the man to return home, for his son will be healed.

Could a miracle have happened at one o’clock, as soon as Jesus spoke, miles away from the sick child? We can all be inspired by this grown man who had the faith of a child and believed. 

By Alison Mitchell, Catalina Echeverri (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The One O'Clock Miracle Storybook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Stunning retelling of the story of Jesus healing the official’s son that will teach children about the instant power of Jesus' words.

Based on the healing of the official’s son in John chapter 4, this wonderful storybook will teach children about the instant power of the words of Jesus, and that they should trust Jesus because he is God’s Son.

Stunningly illustrated by Catalina Echeverri, author and illustrator of several bestselling children’s books and all the storybooks in the Tales That Tell the Truth series from The Good Book Company.

This book is perfect for children aged 3-6 years old…

Book cover of Something's Wrong!: A Bear, a Hare, and Some Underwear

Sarah Williamson Author Of Elevator Bird

From my list on teaching kids kindness.

Why am I passionate about this?

Of all the lessons that we should be teaching kids, I think kindness should be at the top of everyone’s list. If people treated every human and sentient being with kindness and compassion the world would be a better place, which is something we all want. The more we can illustrate this for children the better so that they can understand that we are all in this together and that everyone deserves respect.

Sarah's book list on teaching kids kindness

Sarah Williamson Why did Sarah love this book?

Jory John is a hilarious writer and this book is no exception. A bear forgets something but he can’t figure out what (it’s his pants). We see him in his white cotton underwear, but it’s never actually stated so while he mulls over the problem to other animals in the forest, the reader laughs waiting to see what will happen. No one tells him what the problem is. But his good friend, Anders puts on underwear too. He proclaims to the other animals in the forest that it’s cool and the new style. A dose of kindness goes a long way in this funny and surprising tale.

By Jory John, Erin Kraan (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Something's Wrong! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Jeff the bear has definitely forgotten something. He ate his breakfast, he watered his plant, he combed his fur . . . what could it be? Why does he feel so oddly off? So he asks his friend Anders the rabbit what could possibly be wrong. It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that he's wearing underwear . . . over his fur . . . could it? Another read-out-loud, laugh-out-loud picture book from bestselling and beloved author Jory John, paired with rising star illustrator Erin Balzer, about that horrible nagging feeling that it just might not be…