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 50+ new (and new-ish) 3rd grade books we think are worth adding to your shelves.
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1. Going Down Home With Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons
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.
2. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
We just can’t stop reading this one again and again. Encourage students to find their voices and connect with each other.
3. How to Be a Lion by Ed Vere
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.
4. A House That Once Was by Julie Fogliano
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.
5. The One Day House by Julia Durango
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.
6. The Very Last Castle by Travis Jonker
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.
7. The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad
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.
8. Drawn Together by
Minh Lê and Dan Santat
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.
9. The Bell Rang by James Ransome
This moving tale, narrated by a young slave girl whose brother runs away, will take your breath away.
10. Bookjoy, Wordjoy by Pat Mora
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.
11. Friends and Foes: Poems About Us All by Douglas Florian
Look to this reliable classroom poet for relatable verses about common social-emotional topics like the evolution of friendships, jealousy, individual differences, and more!
12. Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story by Maria Gianferrari
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 Risingby the same author.)
13. Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
This stunning memoir introduces conversations about the immigrant experience, resilience, and the power of literacy.
14. Lovely Beasts by Kate Gardner
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.
15. The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents by Kate Messner
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.
16. This Is My Eye: A New York Story by Neela Vaswani
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.
17. Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes by Wab Kinew
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.
18. Growing Up Pedro by Matt Tavares
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.
19. Made for Each Other: Why Dogs and People are Perfect Partners by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
This impeccably organized and focused title is perfect for introducing an author’s message in nonfiction. Bonus: adorable dog photos!
20. Turning Pages: My Life Story by Sonia Sotomayor
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.
21. Starstruck: The Cosmic Journey of Neil deGrasse Tyson by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer
“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.
22. Once There Was a Story by Jane Yolen
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.
23. Stella Diaz Has Something to Say and Stella Diaz Never Gives Up by Angela Dominguez
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.
24. Road Trip with Max and Mom and Weekends with Max and His Dad by Linda Urban
His parents live apart and that takes some getting used to, but Max has unique and fulfilling relationships with both his mom and dad.
25. Eleanor series by Julie Sternberg
Follow along with Eleanor as she navigates friendship, awkward situations, and the growing pains of youth.
26. Dragons in a Bag series by Zetta Elliot
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.
27. The Magnificent Mya Tibbs series by Crystal Allen
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.
28. The Year of the Garden by Andrea Cheng
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.
29. Tales From Deckawoo Drive by Kate DiCamillo
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.
30. Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen by Candace Fleming
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.
31. The Real McCoys and The Real McCoys: Two’s a Crowd by Matthew Swanson & Robbi Behr
These detective stories star Moxie—who absolutely lives up to her name—and her reserved, exacting younger brother, Milton. Lots of fun!
32. The Unicorn Rescue Society series by Adam Gidwitz
In this engaging and highly readable series, Elliot and Uchenna join their odd teacher, Professor Fauna, on quests to protect mythical creatures.
33. A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold
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.
34. The Carver Chronicles series by Karen English
These engaging realistic fiction stories star the diverse students at Carver Elementary.
35. Jada Jones series by Kelly Starling Lyons
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.
36. Time Twisters series by Steve Sheinkin
Sensational and a bit ridiculous? Yes. Will these titles grab kids’ interest and drive home the point that, “History is NOT boring?” Also, yes.
37. Stinkbomb and Ketchup Face series by John Dougherty
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.
38. The Fantastic Frame series by Lin Oliver
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!
39. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
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.
40. The Best of Iggy by Annie Barrows
LOL-worthy new series alert! Iggy Frangi has a long list of complaints against him — and plenty of smart responses to explain away his behavior.
41. Words With Wings by Nikki Grimes
When Gabby is in a tough spot, her teacher encourages her to channel her daydreams into writing in this powerful novel in verse.
42. News From Me, Lucy McGee by Mary Amato
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.
43. Big Foot and Little Foot series by Ellen Potter
A young Sasquatch named Hugo and a young boy build an unlikely friendship, despite their differences.
44. The Last Kids on Earth series by Max Brallier
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.
45. 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.
46. When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
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.
47. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Illustrated Edition by Rick Riordan
Get a student hooked on Rick Riordan books and you’ve got a reader for life. This new illustrated version of a classroom classic is irresistible.
48. Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech
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.
49. The Enchanted Files books by Bruce Coville
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.
50. 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.
51. The Wild Robot and The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown
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.
52. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Starry River of the Sky, and When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin
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.