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Best Books for Third-Graders


Third grade is a time when children begin to learn more complicated ideas and become more adept at using their words to express their thoughts and emotions. This makes it an important time for reading to become a part of their life, ensuring that they meet developmental milestones. For third-graders looking to add new books to their reading list, these recommendations offer exciting plots and new vocabulary. These books are a great introduction to lengthier books, with many still including illustrations that will keep children engaged in the material as they build their reading skills.

Best Illustrations

My Father’s Dragon (Paperback)

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This is a great introduction to chapter books for third-graders. The author, Ruth Stiles, shows readers a little boy’s courage and integrity as he faces a complicated series of events in his journey. The storyline leaves children on the edge of their seats and transports them into an engaging and imaginative world.

The story is easy to navigate and is paired with interesting artwork. With its whimsical storyline, the book has a cadence that hooks the reader from the first chapter, making it an ideal read for those with short attention spans. The main character’s spirit of bravery and clever thinking will teach your child the importance of developing independence and finding solutions to problems.

Best Classic

The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Paperback)

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With a naturally flowing plot, “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” shows how a mouse and a boy connect over their love of motorcycles amidst a thrilling adventure. The young human boy, Ralph, has a close bond with his family that the author uses to shows readers how thoughtful he is towards other people, — an angle that will help teach your child the importance of considering others’ needs.

The thrills and surprises scattered throughout each chapter help children remain invested in the story. Likewise, children become deeply invested in Ralph and the relationships he shares with the other characters. Adults will also enjoy the book’s unique sense of humor when reading the book aloud. This is an excellent choice for introducing children to the adventure genre and will help them develop a greater appreciation of storytelling.

Most Creative

Fortunately, the Milk (Paperback)

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In “Fortunately, the Milk,” a boy’s father takes way too long to run to the corner store for milk, and his explanation is an outrageously wild adventure, complete with time-travel, volcanoes, hot-air balloons and vampires. This imaginative story is a wonderful choice to read aloud, and it’s easy to consume in one sitting. This is not a chapter book, which makes it hard for young readers to put down.

The writing is accompanied by fantastic illustrations that make it easy to visualize each scenario, and the story itself is constantly changing, making it difficult for the reader to guess what they’ll discover on the next page.

Best Characters

Tumtum & Nutmeg: The Rose Cottage Adventures (Tumtum & Nutmeg (2)) (Paperback)

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Several stories are included in this book, which features innocent characters that will be sure to delight children. “Tumtum & Nutmeg” includes a lot of interesting puns and plays on words, and kids will love the British words and phrases. American children will be sure to delight in trying an English accent while reading the story aloud! The series is ideal to read in class or at home, as it is easy to connect with the characters.

Third-graders can tackle one chapter each day as they learn how to read independently through the age-appropriate vocabulary included in the story. The stories also include many lively and detailed pictures for added value and entertainment. Readers can watch as the tiny heroes Nutmeg and Tumtum save the day with short and simple plots.

Most Spooky

The Haunted Library #1 (Paperback)

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This is a story about the friendship that forms between a ghost named Kaz, and a human, Claire, who has the ability to see ghosts. Kaz and Claire team up to solve the mystery of which ghost is haunting the library.

The black-and-white pictures and large text on each page make it an easier read for children who are building confidence in reading independently. At the same time, the story includes some challenging vocabulary (and a few new words invented by the author for added fun) for children whose skills are beginning to grow. Kids can use the clues provided together with their critical thinking skills to guess which ghost is lurking around the corner in the library as they approach the end.

Expert Commentary 

“In some cases, third-graders begin engaging with advanced vocabulary as well as complex plots, but every child develops in a unique manner,” Kelsey Daubenmier says. “As a result, use your best judgment as a teacher, parent or caregiver to keep the majority of the reading at the child’s current level. New genres of books may be wise to introduce at this age if the child has an interest.”

Our Expert Consultant

Kelsey Daubenmier

Kelsey Daubenmier is a licensed primary school teacher with over 10 years of experience in primary education. Kelsey thoughtfully balances the demands of raising four children with the never-ending stack of papers to grade and lesson plans to prepare. In the last decade, Kelsey has gained experiences educating children as young as 5 and as old as 11. She is passionate about bringing the best possible baby and children’s products to you and your loved ones.