Your Preschooler: 3 Years Old

  • Knows that it is print (letters and words) that is read in stories
  • Pays attention to distinct and similar sounds in language
  • Has favorite books and likes to hear them read often
  • Pretends to read and write
  • Plays with language and makes up silly sounds and words
  • Participates by turning pages and saying words in familiar stories
  • Shows understanding through comments and questions

As you read to your child:

Talk about the characters and what they are doing. Nudge comprehension skills by asking simple who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. Emphasize the meaning of the story. This is a good age to use books about numbers, colors, geometric shapes and classifications. Your child will comprehend these concepts more easily when encountering them again later.

Just 20 minutes a day helps your child develop a lifelong love of reading!

Rhyming is another valuable pre-reading activity. Poems and rhymes train your child to hear the difference between the 42 sounds used in the English language.  Experts report that children who come to school having memorized  4-6 nursery rhymes are better readers by third grade.

Other things you can do are:

  • Talk frequently with your child, approximately 30 times an hour
  • Ask open-ended questions that require more than a one or two word response
  • Put books where they are visible and easy to enjoy
  • Go places together and talk about your experiences
  • Use books with predictable patterns and repeated phrases that your child can "read" with you
  • Chant rhymes together, emphasizing pattern, rhythm and rhyme
  • Enjoy counting books, alphabet books and books about colors and shapes
  • Name the parts of a book - such as cover, title, author, pages, top and bottom
  • Visit the library together often; attend story times, if available

Books for children 3 years old

  • Rain, Rain, Rain Forest by Brenda Z. Guiberson
  • Jamberry by Bruce Degen
  • The Dinosaur Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta
  • The Three Bears by Paul Galdone
  • Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert
  • The Random House Book Of Poetry For Children by Jack Prelutsky
  • Ducks On A Bike by David Shannon
  • It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw
  • The Tale Of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
  • Sylvester And The Magic Pebble by William Strig
  • Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber
  • Mouse Paint by Ellen Soll Walsh