Young readers entering early elementary grades may be intimidated by entering the classroom library and seeing so many books and not knowing where to start. Third graders have the option to choose either a picture book, a funny book, a good book that relates to real life, some of the best chapter books or even a book series. If they are having a hard time getting started, use this book list as a guide. Below I have listed and described some of the best books for 3rd graders. I have also kept in mind the guidelines for today’s children and assure you that nothing on this list is overly crude or inappropriate.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about these links in my disclosure policy.
Chapter Books for 3rd Graders
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
The magical world of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory is interesting, exciting, and will keep the kids on the edge of their seat waiting to see what happens next. Five lucky children have won a chance to experience the land of chocolate, but four of those kids just can’t seem to obey the rules. Charlie, our favorite character, however, is kind and honest. His reward is well deserved.
Stuart Little by E. B. White
Stuart Little is a classic story about a mouse that is born into a human family in New York City. He lives with his mom, dad, brother and pet cat. Stuart is a fairly quiet individual, as most mice are, but he loves adventures. His biggest adventure comes when his bird best friend disappears from her nest and is nowhere to be found. Stuart ventures away from his home for the very first time on this important mission to rescue his best friend.
The Box-Car Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
This is such an inspiring story about four orphan children who venture out on their own, in order to escape from their grandfather’s custody. The children find a box-car and move in. They find their independence and unity during this time. They love the freedom and adventure, but also learn about the importance of necessities. They must work odd jobs in order to provide for their new self sustained lifestyle.
What Was Pearl Harbor? by Patricia Brennan Demuth
A true story written easy enough for children to understand as they read about the tragic event of Pearl Harbor. They will learn about the sneak attack from the Japanese soldiers that killed over 2,000 American servicemen and sunk 4 battleships. This was the beginning of World War II.
My children loved all of the What Was and Who Was books. They are fantastic for learning about history in a fun and exciting way!
Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott
Lot’s of emotions are going on throughout this story. In the beginning we read about Jax’s mom having a horrible day. The landlord is trying to evict her and Jax, and she has been trying her hardest to make ends meet. Jax’s mom drops him off at a lady’s house, who he thought was his grandmother, being that his mom called her “Ma”, however, she isn’t his grandmother, in fact, she is a witch!
She sends Jax on a mission. She has baby dragons that need to be taken to a magical world. The only rules are to not feed the dragons sweets, and to not let the dragons out of the bag. Can Jax obey the rules?
Judy Moody was in a Mood by Megan McDonald
This is an ideal read for any school aged child that is having a difficult time finding their niche. This first book in the series starts out a new school year for Judy. She isn’t thrilled about all the changes. She won’t be in the same class as her best friend. She is destined to get in trouble for passing notes. And she is positive she will be placed in the front of the class so the teacher can watch her every move.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the first book of a five book series, featuring Peter Hatcher and his little brother Fudge. This easy chapter book is a perfect book for any young boy or girl with a younger brother who seems to always cause chaos. Peter sees all the trouble that Fudge causes, but all the adults just seem to think he is cute and adorable.
Here’s Hank: Bookmarks are People Too by Henry Winkler
Book 1 of a 12 book series starring a kid named Hank. Hank is hilarious, always making his classmates laugh, even when he isn’t trying. His school is putting on a play and Hank wants the lead role. When he goes for the audition he freezes and fails the part. His teacher makes up a role for him so he can be included. She makes him a bookmark. His enemy, Nick, who was given the lead part freezes during the play, and instead of making fun of him, Hank does a good thing and the play goes on.
Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
Nothing exciting ever happens to Henry Huggins. His day to day life is pretty ordinary, until one day a stray dog comes over and sits right next to Henry while he is eating his ice cream. At that moment, Henry’s boring days are over.
This book, along with all of the others in the Ramona Quimby series, are fantastic!
Anna Hibiscus by Antinuke
The Anna Hibiscus series is centered around a middle class family. Anna’s mom is from Canada, and her father is from Africa. They live in the Amazing Africa. Anna is never lonely. She always has someone around to laugh at or to talk to. This set of books is a great way for kids to learn about other cultures. To see how other countries are similar in many ways, as well as different.
Magic Tree House: #1 Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne
Magic Tree House is a popular novel series with a total of 36 awesome books! There is a book for everyone to enjoy! Time travel, magic and mystery. A young brother and sister, Jack and Annie, enter the magic tree house in this first book and get sent to the dinosaur ages. They must get back home before dark or else a dinosaur might eat them for dinner!
Lola Levine is not Mean! by Monica Brown
A 4 book series about Lola Levine, who is half Jewish and half Peruvian, inspires young readers to be kind and consider others feelings. In the first book, Lola gets the reputation of being mean when she accidentally hurts one of her classmates during a recess soccer game. She would never do such things like that. With the help of her family and best friend, she makes everything right again.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
This classic book has been enjoyed for a long time. Generation after generation has had the pleasure of reading this heart wrenching story about a little girl, named Fern, who rescues a baby pig runt, as we have grown to love, named Wilbur. The story goes through a timeline of good friends, new friends and old friends.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
The Harry Potter stories are 7 total books of a series. Full of magic and mysteries, these books tell a tale of friends who face a number of bad guys. Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione are all entered into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. My kids and absolutely love Harry Potter books and enjoyed watching all of the Harry Potter films in the movie theater. They are very entertaining!
While these books are a little longer (this one is 345 pages) and they are a higher reading level (lexile 880), they are still great for 3rd grade readers who are a little more advanced and ready for the challenge.
Meena Meets her Match by Karla Manternach
The Meena books are a good choice of story book to uplift young readers about real life events. Not only does Meena experience trials that come with having a best friend, but also, something that most child books do not touch on, are things that can happen inside the human body. Meena is diagnosed with epilepsy and through the story Meena learns how to cope through her day to day life.
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
George and Harold are two 4th Graders that love to laugh and have fun. Their main hobbies include playing practical jokes and making their own comics. Well, one day, one of their comic book characters comes to life! This laugh out loud series is about the adventures of Captain Underpants! My oldest boy said these were some of his favorite books in elementary school.
This popular graphic novel series contains simple words, making them an easy read for children of all ages. The author, Dav Pilkey, was actually diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia as a child, and now writes these books that are highly engaging for reluctant readers.
Don’t miss this list of the funniest books to read aloud to your kids!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Greg Heffley starts this diary off with a new school year, in middle school. Weird situations, and walking the halls with the older and meaner kids. His friendship with his best friend will be tested through numerous events. Is their friendship strong enough to withstand what middle school brings to the table? My son absolutely loves these books. I often hear him laughing out loud while reading them.
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
Three of the meanest farmers around have been losing their crops due to the same culprit. The one and only, Fantastic Mr. Fox. He is slick, sneaky, and fast. These three farmers have now formed an alliance and have Mr. Fox and his family surrounded. Mr. Fox must come up with the best of best plan to get out of this messy situation. Remember, this isn’t any ordinary fox, he is the Fantastic Mr. Fox!
If you end up liking this book, be sure to check out all of Roald Dahl’s other books too!
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindred
This classic tale features a young girl with long red braided pigtails. She has no parents, no rules, and not a worry in the world. This is a great read for young people who are looking for a silly story. Some children may need a little help reading it, due to it being British, but still, they are sure to find Pippi Longstocking hilarious.
Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez
This story is at the top of the list for book recommendations for children having a hard time understanding diversity in school. Stella Diaz is Mexican-American and sometimes she gets her Spanish mixed up with her English, which is embarrassing. Her best friend is in a different class this year and the new kid is wanting to be Stella’s friend. Stella is super shy, but she has to overcome her fear very quickly, because she has to do a presentation in front of her whole class!
Picture Books for 3rd Graders
Just because many 3rd graders are reading chapter books doesn’t mean they are too old for picture books! Here are a few picture books that are perfect for 3rd grade students.
Mini Movers and Shakers picture books are perfect for young children to learn about historical fiction on a level that is easy to understand. There are several picture books that show a great example of what hard work can accomplish. This particular book shows the story of Jane Goodall and how she followed her dream to work with animals, despite all the people that tried to discourage her.
Mr. Lincoln’s Way by Patricia Polacco
Truthfully, it’s difficult to choose just one Patricia Polacco book for this list. She is a fantastic author who has written many picture books that children and teachers love. This book is about Mr. Lincoln and how he handles a bully at school who hates everyone who is different. Not only can children learn about bullying and differences in this book, but it can be a tool to open up difficult conversations with your children about racism and injustice.
Want more book ideas? Here are our favorite books for 2nd graders!