top of page

An expert’s guide to books for under 3s


If, like me, you stand open-mouthed in the children’s section of a bookshop wondering where an earth to start, this next feature could be for you.


We asked teacher and early year’s consultant Veryan Cranston for her tips on the best books to buy for children aged three and under.


This is what she said:

  • If You’re Happy and You Know it (by Jane Cabrera)

  • Bear Hunt (by Michael Rosen)

  • Wobble Bear Says Yellow (by Ian Whybrow)

  • Dear Zoo (the basic open-flap version) by Rod Campbell

  • Driving My Tractor (by Jan Dobbins)

  • Peepo (board book) by Janet Ahlberg

  • Each Peach Pear Plum (by Janet Ahlberg)

  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See? (by Eric Carle)

  • You Choose (by Pippa Goodhart)

  • Where’s My Teddy (by Jez Alborough)

  • Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy (by Lynley Dodd)

  • The Big Red Bus (by Judy Hindley)

  • Ten in the Bed (by Penny Dale)

  • Dinosaur Roar (by Paul and Henrietta Stickland)

  • Down by the Cool of the Pool (by Tony Mitton)


Veryan explained: “You should be looking for stories they can join in with, books with rhythm or animal actions and sounds, bright pictures and predictable text. Books like Dear Zoo really hold little children’s interest and give a reason to turn the page and there’s an element of anticipation and surprise. With books like Each Peach Pear Plum there’s the chance to look for details on the page.


“No age is too young to begin reading to your child. I used to read Harry Potter to my children when they were babies... they found the sound of my voice soothing and I enjoyed the reading. My Grandpa used to read from the telephone directory when I was a baby to get me to sleep!


“Reading a bedtime story is a fabulous routine to get into – it’s a way of ensuring you read to them every day and is a good way of chilling them out ready for sleep. It’s a way of snuggling up and letting them know you love them - however dreadfully they’ve behaved in the day. There’s no right or wrong way to read a story... if you feel confident to mimic the voices of the characters in the story it can help bring the book to life but the most important thing is to read and read in a way you feel comfortable with.


“If we’re in a rush to get the children to sleep and haven’t time for a longer story we read a couple of nursery rhymes. It’s also good to be able to make up a story in your head... children love hearing stories about your own childhood or stories about when they were babies and it’s a great way to pass the time on a car journey and get the family sharing stories.


“I would encourage parents not to get dragged in to buying TV character spin off books – they are often badly written and difficult to read well.”


Veryan also encourages families to invest in a small, cheap, photo album and fill it with photos of family and friends: “It’s something you can sit and flick through together and is an opportunity to tell stories about the people featured. You can update it periodically and children enjoy choosing new photos to go inside.”

Save time and order your copy now:

bottom of page