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The Best Chapter Books for 3rd Graders to Read

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Are you on a quest for the perfect book list that will captivate the curiosity of third graders? Well, buckle up, because you’re in the right place. We’ve assembled an excellent list of books that are not only great fun but also engage young readers in a world of stories, characters, and life lessons. This list of the best chapter books for 3rd graders, is perfect to help get you started.

The best chapter books for 3rd graders

As an avid reader myself, I can still remember the worlds that opened up to me when I was a child, diving into a great book. I believe that third graders stand at a critical juncture in their literary journey. They are transitioning from learning to read, to reading to learn, and it’s during this time that we have the opportunity to spark a lifelong love for reading.

In this post, I aim to arm you with a curated list of book recommendations for third graders, cultivated from my extensive experience and deep passion for children’s literature. Let’s take a journey together to discover these treasures and the magic they hold for our young readers.

The Importance of the Right Books

Selecting the right books for children, particularly 3rd graders, can have a profound impact on their development. Just like a good friend, a good book can teach, inspire, and amuse. It’s not just about learning new words or improving comprehension skills – it’s also about fostering creativity, developing empathy, and understanding real-life situations. From classic books like “Stuart Little” by E.B. White to captivating adventures in Roald Dahl’s stories, the best books for 3rd graders have the potential to turn them into lifelong readers.

Tips on Choosing Books for 3rd Graders

When it comes to choosing the perfect book for a 3rd grader, there are a few things to consider.

  • Understanding a child’s reading level and preference is key.
  • Look for books that resonate with their interests. If they have a love for mystery, a book like “Nancy Drew” could be a great choice.
  • Don’t shy away from introducing them to different genres. A funny book or an adventure story can be a delightful change.
  • Graphic novels or comic books like “Captain Underpants” by Dav Pilkey can also be excellent books to engage reluctant readers.

With these tips in mind, I’ve created an extensive list of the best 3rd grade chapter books to help you choose.

The Power of Books: Language Skills and Beyond

Reading enhances language skills, builds knowledge, and encourages curiosity. It can act as a catalyst to ask questions, seek answers, and ultimately foster a love for learning. Books can be windows into other people’s lives and mirrors reflecting their own experiences.

Reading can also serve as an emotional toolkit. When children read about characters facing challenges, experiencing joy, sadness, fear, or courage, they learn to understand and navigate their own feelings better. A book that resonates with a child can comfort, heal, and empower.

Classic books like “Stuart Little,” or “Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder, offered timeless stories that resonated with third-grade readers when we were kids. These tales, coupled with coming-of-age stories like Judy Blume’s works, offered a window into real-life experiences. But these books may not appeal to kids now and that’s okay! Remember the goal is to spark a love of reading, and the books we loved as kids might not resonate with kids today.

Choosing the right book can make all the difference. An engaging book can turn a reluctant reader into an avid one, forever changing their relationship with reading.

Tips on Choosing Books for Third Graders

Choosing the right book for a third grader can seem like an overwhelming task. Here are some tips to guide you:

  1. Consider Their Interests: If they love dinosaurs, find books with a prehistoric theme. If they’re into sports, find books that weave a story around that sport. Match the books with their interests to pique their curiosity.
  2. Look at Different Genres: Don’t limit your choices to one genre. Expose them to a variety of genres – mystery, fantasy, adventure, biography, science, history, and more.
  3. Understand Their Reading Level: Consider your child’s reading proficiency. Third graders can be at different reading levels. Make sure to choose books that are not too easy to bore them or too difficult to frustrate them.

Choosing the right books for third graders can be a task. Most kids are still discovering what genres they are interested in while hearing how “boring” reading is from their peers. But books have the power to open minds, build empathy, and spark a love for reading that can last a lifetime.

This list of recommendations for the best chapter books for 3rd graders offers a diverse range of books to help your third grader discover their love for reading.

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Recommended Book List

Let’s now venture into the exciting part – the recommended book list. In this list, you’ll find a mix of classic stories, funny tales, adventure stories, and coming-of-age narratives. Whether it’s an easy chapter book or a middle-grade novel, there’s something for every young reader here. Let’s start the journey! To make your journey easier, I’ve categorized the books based on their genre or theme.

Adventure & Fantasy

"World's Worst Time Machine" book cover. 3 teenage boys in a cartoon style looking at a weird gadget

World’s Worst Time Machine

by Dustin Brady

Liam Chapman stumbles upon his luckiest find at a garage sale – a time machine labeled ‘World’s Worst Time Machine,’ which he acquires for just $3. His initial excitement swiftly turns into a whirlwind of unexpected adventures as the machine brings forth a 10-year-old aspiring gangster version of Thomas Edison from 1933, and even kidnaps his parents, leading Liam and his friend Elsa on a roller-coaster journey filled with sci-fi gadgets, historical oddities, real-life gangsters, and an inordinate amount of Cheetos.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone book cover, titular character in red cape mounted on a old style broom

Harry Potter

by J.K. Rowling

This is the perfect age to get kids started on Harry Potter! Follows the magical journey of a young wizard named Harry Potter. From his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to the ultimate battle against the dark wizard Voldemort, readers are captivated by the adventures, friendships, and triumphs that define this iconic coming-of-age tale.

How to train your dragon book cover

How to Train Your Dragon

by Cressida Cowell

Embark on thrilling dragon adventures with Hiccup and Toothless in this epic saga. The books are fantastic and we also really enjoyed the audiobooks!

A Tale Dark & Grim book cover, silhouetted boy and girl hold hands, boy holds an apple girl holds a blood stained sword

A Tale Dark and Grim

by Adam Gidwitz

In this debut, Hansel and Gretel embark on an adventurous journey through Grimm-inspired tales, unraveling the truth behind iconic elements. These irreverent siblings rewrite their destinies and craft their own happily ever after with wit and charm. Great for fans of fractured fairy tales!

Minecraft MobSquad book cover


by Delilah S. Dawson

Join Mal and her adventurous friends Lenna, Tok, and Chug as they defy the rules of their village, Cornucopia, and embark on a thrilling journey through the Overworld. In this official Minecraft novel, the Mob Squad discovers wonders and dangers beyond their wildest imaginations, proving that they are more than just bad apples. Get ready for an exciting adventure in the world of Minecraft!

The Wild Robot Book cover, a silver humanoid robot stands atop a pile of rocks in the woods.

Wild Robot

by Peter Brown

A captivating and heartwarming tale set in a world where nature and technology intersect. It follows the extraordinary journey of a robot named Roz as she navigates the challenges of survival, friendship, and the meaning of belonging.

The Phantom Tollbooth book cover

The Phantom Tollbooth

by Norton Juste

A captivating adventure story that catapults Milo, a bored young boy, into a magical world filled with puns, idioms, and curious characters. Through this enchanting journey, Milo discovers the importance and beauty of words, numbers, and thinking, turning the seemingly mundane into something extraordinary and exciting.

Funny & Light-hearted

The Never Girls: In a blink book cover

The Never Girls

by Kiki Thorpe

Step into the magical world of Neverland with Kate, Mia, Lainey, and Gabby – the Never Girls. In this enchanting series, four friends find themselves transported to Neverland, where they encounter fairies, mermaids, and other fantastical creatures. Join them on their thrilling adventures as they discover the true meaning of friendship and bravery in a world full of magic and wonder.

Ivy & Bean book cover, two girls back to back, girl on left in pink dress holding a book, girl on the right in shorts and t shirt holding a ball

Ivy & Bean

by Annie Barrows

This series revolves around the unlikely friendship between two young girls, Ivy and Bean, as they embark on imaginative and mischievous adventures in their neighborhood.

Every After High: A Wonderlandiful World book cover

Ever After High

by Shannon Hale

This captivating fractured fairy tale series transports readers into a world where fairy tale characters’ children attend a special school to embrace their destinies or rewrite their own stories. The series introduces a new generation of characters who grapple with the weight of their legendary lineages and strive to forge their own paths. This series is a big favorite in our daughter’s class this year!

Sideways Stories from Wayside School book cover

Sideways Stories from Wayside School

by Louis Sachar

Enter the whimsical world of Wayside School, where each floor has its peculiar classroom and eccentric characters. Our oldest could not get enough of these!

The Treehouse Series book cover

The Treehouse Series

by Andy Griffiths

Enter a world of riotous adventures with the protagonists, Andy and Terry, in their ever-expanding treehouse filled with incredible rooms and mind-boggling creations. From a marshmallow machine to a boxing robot, the series offers a playful blend of humor and imagination, making it an ideal pick for third graders seeking fun and excitement in their reading journey. This series was a favorite of our oldest when he was eight!

the Breakfast Club Adventures: Beast beyond the fence book cover

The Breakfast Club Adventures

by Marcus Rashford

Join a group of friends on their exciting and funny adventures as they navigate the ups and downs of middle school life in “The Breakfast Club Adventures” series. With relatable characters, humorous situations, and heartwarming moments, these books are a delightful read for young readers.

The Tail of Emily Windsnap book cover

Emily Windsnap

by Liz Kessler

Meet Emily Windsnap, a twelve-year-old girl who discovers her mermaid heritage and embarks on a quest to find her mysterious father underwater. In this enchanting debut by Liz Kessler, explore a world of family secrets, loyal friendships, and the captivating allure of the sea. Our daughter loves the audiobooks as well!

Galactic Hot Dogs book cover

Galactic Hot Dogs

by Max Brallier

Embark on an interstellar ride with Cosmoe, a once ordinary Earthling orphan turned hot-dog-slinging space voyage. As they journey through the universe to participate in food competitions with their spaceship-cum-food truck, Neon Wiener, they encounter numerous space beings and acquire an unlikely companion, Princess Dagger, which leads to a daring face-off with her evil mother, challenging their camaraderie and courage.

Last Kids on Earth Book cover

Last Kids on Earth

by Max Brallier

Meet a young boy named Jack and his band of quirky friends as they navigate a post-apocalyptic world overrun by monsters. Filled with humor, courage, and friendship, these action-packed adventure stories keep third graders thoroughly engaged, turning the seemingly scary concept of an apocalypse into an exciting escapade of survival and bravery.

Classics & Historical Fiction

The Baby Sitter's Club: Kristy's Great Idea book cover

The Baby Sitter Club

by Ann M. Martin

Follow the adventures of a group of friends who start a babysitting business in the fictional town of Stoneybrook. The audiobooks are narrated by Elle Fanning!

Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox book cover

Fantastic Mr. Fox

by Roald Dahl

This classic is a great fun, easy-to-read book with a crafty main character, Mr. Fox, who outwits his farmer neighbors to provide for his family.

"Inspirational Sports Stories for Young Readers" book cover

Inspirational Sports Stories for Young Readers

by Kurt Taylor

Celebrate great athletes and their inspiring struggles, from popular sports like basketball to unheralded ones like boxing. This is a great choice for kids who are into sports!

The Boxcar Children #1 book cover.

The Boxcar Children

by Gertrude Chandler Warner

These classic books offer a window into a simpler time, showcasing a story of a group of siblings making a new home in an abandoned boxcar.

Graphic Novels

Phoebe and Her Unicorn Book cover

Phoebe and Her Unicorn

by Dana Simpson

A delightful and whimsical graphic novel series by Dana Simpson. The series follows the adventures of a young girl named Phoebe, who unexpectedly encounters a magical unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils.

Zita the spacegirl book cover

Zita the Spacegirl

by Ben Hatke

In a sudden twist, Zita’s life becomes an intergalactic adventure when her best friend is kidnapped by aliens. Facing quirky creatures and daunting challenges, she embraces her role as a hero and sets off on a captivating journey of friendship and redemption

Diana Princess of the Amazons book cover

Diana Princess of the Amazons

by Shannon Hale

Delve into the young life of Diana, Princess of the Amazons, as she navigates her way through the challenges and wonders of being an Amazonian and a hero in this empowering graphic novel.

The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novel book cover

The Baby-Sitter Club Graphic Novels

by Raina Telgemeier

Follow the adventures of a group of friends who start a babysitting business in the fictional town of Stoneybrook. The Netflix show is very popular with our 9 year old daughter and her friends!

Beginning Chapter Books

Princess in Black Book cover

Princess in Black

by Shannon Hale

“The Princess in Black” series introduces us to Princess Magnolia, who leads a double life as a royal and a monster-fighting superhero. These delightful books blend humor, action, and a touch of magic as they follow her daring adventures, showcasing her bravery and resourcefulness while battling a range of mischievous monsters.

Hamster Princess book cover

Hamster Princess

by Ursula Vernon

Meet Harriet, a hamster princess who’s far from your traditional royal. Balancing humor and adventure, these books follow Harriet as she courageously battles wicked fairy spells and nefarious villains, all while proving that princesses can also be warriors, despite what fairy tales might suggest.

Heidi Heckelbeck has a secret book cover

Heidi Heckelbeck

by Wanda Coven

The series follows the adventures of Heidi Heckelbeck, a young witch with a knack for finding herself in magical and everyday predicaments.

The Bad Guys book cover

The Bad guys

by Aaron Blabey

This humorous series features a group of “bad guys” – a wolf, a shark, a snake, and a piranha – who try to be heroes by undertaking daring missions and righting wrongs.

The Magic Treehouse book cover

The Magic Tree House

by Mary Pope Osborne

This book series is a wonderful introduction to historical events and cultures, presenting them in a way that’s both informative and entertaining. This is the series that got out oldest into reading independently!

Mercy Watson to the rescue book cover

Mercy Watson

by Kate DiCamillo

These are great choices for young readers transitioning into chapter books, featuring short chapters, fun illustrations, and an endearing main character – a pig named Mercy. These have been a huge hit with all of our kids!

These recommendations span a variety of genres, interests, and reading levels, aiming to ignite a love for reading in every third grader. Each book offers unique stories and lessons, all while keeping young readers hooked with engaging storytelling. Our best chapter books for 3rd graders will continue to get updated and edited as times change so if bookmark this page for any other kids in your life.

Additional Reading Tips

Equipping your child with the right books is just the beginning. Here are some additional tips to encourage reading:

  1. Create a Reading Ritual: Make reading a part of their daily routine. This could be before bedtime or during a dedicated ‘quiet time’ in the afternoon. We do our family read aloud book before bed. Then I read to our five year old at tuck in and our older children read for thirty minutes before they go to bed.
  2. Model the Habit: Let your child see you reading regularly. Children are great imitators, and if they see adults in their life enjoying reading, they are likely to follow suit. I will often sit on the couch to read and suddenly be joined by children with book in hand!
  3. Discuss the Books: After your child finishes a book, ask them about it. Encourage them to express their thoughts, opinions, and how they relate to the characters or situations. My kids love to ask what I am reading too!
  4. For Reluctant Readers: Allow them to pick their own books. Graphic novels, comics, or books about their favorite activities or hobbies can be a great starting point. The library is a great way to let them try lots of different kinds of books for free!
  5. Let them stop: Embracing the freedom to stop reading a book that doesn’t captivate a child’s interest is essential. Given that children often have to finish books they don’t enjoy for school assignments, it’s important not to impose the same rule on their recreational reading, allowing them to discover the joy of reading for pleasure

We want to hear from you!

I’d love to hear from you! Please share your experiences with these books or your own personal favorites for third graders in the comments below If you find this list helpful, please share it with others who might find it useful too. Together, let’s ignite a love for reading in every child. Happy reading!