Best 3rd Grade Books, As Chosen By Teachers


Third-grade energy and enthusiasm are definitely contagious—especially when it comes to reading! You’ll always have your favorite book titles and series, but some years, your classroom library needs a refresh. We’ve got you covered so you can meet all of your students’ needs! Whether you need picture books for ELA strategy lessons and curriculum tie-ins, a series to motivate independent reading, or compelling chapter books to mull over as a small group or whole class, here are 60 new (and new-ish) 3rd grade books we think are worth adding to your shelves.

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Lil’ Alan anticipates a grand family reunion at Granny’s house down home every summer, but he worries about how he’ll contribute to the annual celebration of family history. This touching narrative explores the concept of family and would work wonderfully as a writing mentor text.

 

This inspirational book exudes black joy as it celebrates black boys’ resilience, creativity, perseverance, and kindness. There are so many concrete examples to which all students can connect, and the language is guaranteed to leave readers energized and inspired. Read this one every year!

It’s moving day for Daniela’s best friend and neighbor, Evelyn Del Rey. Daniela narrates their final moments together in heart-wrenching detail as she lists all the reasons she’ll miss her friend. We love this story for discussing characters’ emotional responses to events, and as a writing mentor text when studying narrative voice.

3rd Grade Books - The Day You Begin

We just can’t stop reading this one again and again. Encourage students to find their voices and connect with each other.

3rd Grade Books - How to be a Lion

The best picture books are so much more than they appear. Is there only one way to be a lion? Examine themes of bias, individuality, and friendship.

Two children discover an abandoned house that’s anything but empty. This is a shining example of a book that can be enjoyed on multiple levels, and we love unpacking it with third-grade students. Plus, use it to inspire writing about students’ own memorable items.

3rd Grade Books - The One Day House

Wilson longs to help Gigi fix up her house, even though she reassures him his company is more than enough. One day, he’s able to realize his intentions, with the support of his community.

This traditional tale with a twist stars Ibb, the one girl brave enough to investigate who actually lives in the old castle that stands in the middle of town. Rumors run rampant, but the truth surprises everyone.

Faizah admires her older sister on her first day of hijab—both for wearing her “proudest” color blue with strength and beauty and for resisting the hurtful words of others. This inspirational story is written by the first female Muslim American Olympic medalist.

10. Drawn Together by Minh Lê and Dan Santat

3rd Grade Books - Drawn Together

Remind students about the many forms of communication with this gorgeous, almost wordless title. A boy and his grandfather speak different languages, but they connect through art.

This moving tale, narrated by a young slave girl whose brother runs away, will take your breath away.

Find joy in these poems about reading, writing, and loving words. The illustrations are also diverse and energetic. Find plenty of inspiration to launch a poetry unit or read them to the class when a quick dose of literacy love is needed.

Look to this reliable classroom poet for relatable verses about common social-emotional topics like the evolution of friendships, jealousy, individual differences, and more!

Whether you teach specifically about birds of prey or share this as a standalone title, this gorgeously-illustrated collection of haikus that detail the life cycle of the majestic Great Horned Owl is a unique informational text treasure. (Pair it with the equally impressive Hawk Rising  by the same author.)

15. Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

3rd Grade Books - Dreamers

This stunning memoir introduces conversations about the immigrant experience, resilience, and the power of literacy.

3rd Grade Books - Lovely Beasts

Who knew a nonfiction title about animal behavior could be so … lovely? This understated but effective book introduces other ways to look at those animals that often get a bad rap for being mean, creepy, or ugly. 

Here’s a creative and empowering take on an informational book about presidents. What were future presidents doing when their predecessors took office? Students can begin to think about where great leaders start and explore their own potential.

A girl who is a recent immigrant finds her voice through environmental activism. When she notices there are no monarch butterflies in her community, she leads efforts to plant a monarch way station. Share this story to help kids find their own passions, make plans, and create change.

This title packs powerful messaging into sparse text and gorgeous artwork in a way that reminds us of Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. This is an excellent addition to a collection of biography mentor texts. Mentions of Aretha’s performances at multiple presidential inaugurations tie this title to election conversations, too.

Parallel stories tell of a Colombian garbage collector who salvages discarded books and a young boy who waits all week for library day. This narrative nonfiction title is a heartwarming celebration of the power of books to both transport and connect readers.

Kids who love facts and numbers will love browsing this visually enticing title. Creative infographics—like a world map made of different balls to show each nation’s most popular sport—introduce kids to the endless possibilities for displaying data.

Reflect together on the artist’s purpose as you share this photographic journey, and then send your budding photographers off to document their own stories.

This book offers brief introductions to a variety of notable figures in history, sports, medicine, and more. The author’s note gives a helpful context.

Originally published as a picture book, this biography of Pedro Martinez has been reformatted as an illustrated chapter book for the Candlewick Biographies series. With a perfect blend of sports facts, human interest, and history, this is exactly how engaging narrative nonfiction for kids should look.  

This impeccably organized and focused title is perfect for introducing an author’s message in nonfiction. Bonus: adorable dog photos!

The first Latina Supreme Court Justice tells readers how books influenced each stage of her life. This makes for an inspiring read aloud, and would also make a useful autobiography mentor text.

“America’s Astrophysicist,” the charismatic Neil deGrasse Tyson, started out as a regular city kid focused on friends and fun—and on learning as much about the stars as he possibly could. We love how this biography shows that not all scientists are introverts.

3rd Grade Books - Once there was a Story

This is a great resource for examining traditional literature with kids. The tales are short, manageable, and diverse—both familiar and less so—so they are perfect for sharing or independent reading.

Like many of today’s third-graders, Stella Diaz is busy figuring out how to navigate two cultures and two languages. We love the relatable, diverse cast of characters.

 

His parents live apart and that takes some getting used to, but Max has unique and fulfilling relationships with both his mom and dad.

  

Follow along with Eleanor as she navigates friendship, awkward situations, and the growing pains of youth.

  

When his mom drops him off with Ma, a mysterious character from her own childhood, Jaxon has no idea he’ll travel into the world of magic and end up in charge of baby dragons. We love this new urban fantasy series.

Okay, so we all have a few students (or more) who can relate to this book. Light-hearted, visually-appealing advice will get even the most reluctant of readers to crack a smile about reading—and pick up some reading tips that are actually helpful, too.

You likely have some of the 250+ titles in this series in your classroom already, but what you might not know is that the series website has TONS of companion resources. The series is constantly being updated, so add some of the newest Who? What? and Where Is? titles to your classroom library to pique every student’s curiosity.

  

This series stars third graders Violet and Pablo as they take science-themed adventures that include transport by magical science instruments to a challenge-filled Maker Maze, a guide that reminds us of Miss Frizzle, and fun project directions for home. As a neuroscientist and a mom, this author knows what will get kids excited about reading and science!

A father-daughter pair navigates a Paris art heist in this fast-moving story packed with tons of interesting background information for kids. It’s perfect for third-grade readers who love mysteries, travel adventures, and plucky, determined main characters. It would also be a popular chapter book class read aloud.

  

These sweet stories will take students to small-town Texas, where nine-year-old Mya navigates the ups and downs of family life and school with plenty of spunk. A great series for a 3rd grade books library.

3rd Grade Books - The Year of the Garden

Anna and her family have just moved into a new house, which means a new school and new friends for Anna. This posthumously published prequel to the Anna Wang novels ushers third-grade readers into the series.

  

For readers still hungry for more buttered toast and rollicking adventures after the end of the Mercy Watson series, this spinoff collection is pure fun. 

3rd Grade Books - Strongheart

This is a manageable and engaging read for animal lovers that’s based on a true story. After starting his career as a police dog, this German Shepherd became a beloved movie star.

 

These detective stories star Moxie—who absolutely lives up to her name—and her reserved, exacting younger brother, Milton. Lots of fun!

  

In this engaging and highly readable series, Elliot and Uchenna join their odd teacher, Professor Fauna, on quests to protect mythical creatures.

  3rd Grade Books - A Boy Called Bat 

Meet Bat, an unforgettable third-grade boy on the autism spectrum, as he tries to show his mom that a baby skunk can be the perfect pet. Also check out Bat and the Waiting Gameand Bat and the End of Everything.

 

These engaging realistic fiction stories star the diverse students at Carver Elementary.

We adore Jada Jones for her realistic kid voice and her love of everything STEM. This series reflects common childhood dilemmas and drama with fresh-feeling details and plenty of heart.

 

Sensational and a bit ridiculous? Yes. Will these titles grab kids’ interest and drive home the point that “History is NOT boring?” Also, yes.

 

These British imports, recently re-released with updated illustrations, will appeal to students who like wacky humor. Stinkbomb and his messy little sister Ketchup-Face get themselves into madcap adventures in this fun series of 3rd grade books.

This five-book series about a magical golden frame that transports time travelers into the historic world of famous paintings has a lot to offer: full-color illustrations, modern characters, a bit of art history, tons of adventure—and the thrill of a ticking clock!

The hilarious but realistic antics of the two dads and four adopted brothers in the Fletcher family make for an enjoyable tale for your latest 3rd grade books.

LOL-worthy series alert! Iggy Frangi has a long list of complaints against him—and plenty of smart responses to explain away his behavior. 

Mary Amato definitely understands upper elementary peer dynamics, and her books are surefire hits with third graders. Meet spirited Lucy McGee, star of her accessible new illustrated chapter book series.

 

A young Sasquatch named Hugo and a young boy build an unlikely friendship, despite their differences. 

 

The relatable characters in these hybrid graphic novels navigate real-life tween emotions, even during apocalyptic turmoil. Plus, there’s a good dose of oozing zombie grossness to hook reluctant readers.

54. Sparks by Ian Boothby and Nina Matsumoto

Readers will cheer for the masquerading feline stars of this graphic novel—great for students who love Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man books. 

Here’s your next class read-aloud winner. The appearance of a magical tiger brings to life the Korean folktales Lily’s grandmother always told her. Explore themes of self-discovery, identity, courage, family, and grief.

No one can pack so much emotion into a slim novel like Sharon Creech. Louie’s efforts to nurse a sickly newborn donkey back to health turn into much more in this delightful testament to hope and healing.

   

File this fantasy series under “funny classroom read alouds with wide appeal.” They’re also perfect recommendations for those students who are skilled readers but not ready for heavier themes.

58. Wonderland by Barbara O’Connor

If you loved Wish, prepare to be equally as drawn in by Barbara O’Connor’s newest set of compelling characters—including Henry the dog—in this coming-of-age story.

  

These tales about a robot marooned on a futuristic island will mesmerize your students, and offer plenty of material for discussions about perspective-taking, too.

  

This fascinating series of adventure quest novels have exceptional staying power. They are perfect picks for riveting class read alouds or for your voracious advanced readers to devour.

What are your favorite 3rd grade books? We’d love to hear about them in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, our favorite books for 1st, 2nd, and 4th grade.

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