Children’s picture books get so much more interesting once your little one hits the magic ages of 3. Stories become more complex and often involve humour.

Children at this age have really started to engage in books and story time makes for excellent wind down time at the end of a busy day.

Having said that, choosing a top 10 when there are so many choices makes the job just that much harder.

Here are our all time top 10 books for 3 Year Olds:

pants-bookPants, by Giles Andreae

This book is a great resource for parents who are transitioning their children out of nappies and into pants. The book involves singing, dancing and even waving pants in the air. It is one big celebration of undies and is colourful and a little bit silly. This book is guaranteed to make your 3 year old giggle.

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

Fancy Nancy has a very understanding family who are not all put out by her dressing them up to be more “fancy”. This book is perfect for very girly girls and was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 100 weeks. You gotta love anyone with a motto “Why be ordinary when you can be fancy?”

Nighty Night, by Margaret Wild and Kerry Argent 

In this picture book mischievous baby farmyard animals are acting like naughty children and are refusing to go to bed. Imagine little ones stalling bedtime? Sound Familiar? This one is both humorous and a classic bed-time read aloud. Eventually the Farmyard Parents get the little ones off to sleep in the right beds.

Possum Magic by Mem Fox, pictures by Julie Vivas possum-magic-30th-anniversary

In this Australian classic, 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 foodie tour around Australia to do it.

It is hard to believe that 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.

The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson, pictures by Axel Scheffler 

In this UK classic, a 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. We love the quick witted mouse in this one, and the lesson that sometimes the winner in life can be the little guy. Told in fabulous rhyme and with distinctive memorable pictures this book will be remembered fondly by any child.

Olivia, by Ian Falconer 

In this original Olivia story, Ian Falconer tells a heart-warming tale of a sweet little dancing pig. She refuses to nap, is a little bit cheeky and sometimes draws on walls. This multi-award winning book was the basis for the TV show.

there-hippopotamus-on-our-roof-eating-cakeThere is a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake, by Hazel Edwards

This classic picture book celebrated its 30th birthday in 2010 and has been loved by generations. In the story a little girl imagines the leak from her roof is caused by a Hippopotamus living up there eating cake. She then lives vicariously through imaginary hippopotamus watching TV, riding bikes, drawing on books. The book is a little bit silly but a lot of fun.

Again, by Emily Gravett 

Cedric is off to bed and he wants a story. Unfortunately for his mum, Cedric demands his favourite book again, and again… and again. This book is 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.

Hooray for Fish! By Lucy Cousins

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 and can be seen regularly on Playschool.

The Very Cranky Bear by Nick BlandThe-Very-Cranky-Bear_Compressed

In the Jingle Jangle Jungle on a wet and windy day, four friends encounter a cranky bear. Moose, Lion and Zebra all think they know how to cheer him up.

This one is full of rhyming fun and card playing animals.  Their antics as they try to dress up the Cranky Bear to lighten his mood are highly amusing.  A great read aloud story for little animal lovers or those with Cranky and sleep deprived parents!

So there you go, that’s our list of top 10 best books for 3 year olds.

Did we get all your favourites? Have we missed any? Tell us below in the comments field.

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  • There are so many awesome books out there now.


  • “Possum Magic” and “There’s a Hippopotamus” were my two favourites as a kid and I love sharing them with my toddler. What a great, timeless, list!


  • thanks for this list, books are always on my Christmas list


  • I’m A Dirty Dinosaur
    The Terrible Plop
    Poo Bum

    all favourites in my 3 yr old room


  • Possum Magic is such a wonderful book. Mex Fox is so talented!!


  • I love books. We always had lots of books as kids, lucky the local library was a stones throw away! My kids got lots of books too. They enjoyed the Dr Seuss collection and Disney collection. The Little Gooden books were popular too, I used to grab a couple each time I was at the check out


  • might head to our local library to have a look at all these names


  • We love the sequel to the very cranky bear in this house. It’s called ‘The very brave bear’. We also love ‘Where’s my teddy’by Jez Alborough and anything Dr Seuss (especially ‘Green eggs and ham’ and ‘Fox in socks’)


  • Anything by Pamela Allen.


  • It’s great to see that some of the books we read when my kids were little, still make the list.


  • I’m happy to see we have a few of the books on this list. I adore the Hippo on the Roof book!


  • These books all sound great.


  • My 3 year old loves anything by Julia Donaldson. She has written so many brilliant books for small children.


  • All these books sound really terrific!


  • I’m always on the hunt for a great book.


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