The energy and enthusiasm of third graders—for reading, and everything else—are contagious. You’ll always have your favorite titles, but some years, your classroom library needs a refresh to meet everyone’s needs. We’ve got you covered! Whether you need picture books for ELA strategy lessons and curriculum tie-ins, series to motivate kids’ independent reading, or compelling chapter books to mull over as a small group or whole class, here are 50+ new (and new-ish) titles we think are worth adding to your third grade shelves.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. A House That Once Was by Julie Fogliano
Two children discover an abandoned house that’s anything but empty. A shining example of a book that can be enjoyed on multiple levels, we can’t wait to hear how older students unpack this tale—and use it to inspire writing about their own memorable items.
4. No Boring Stories! by Julie Falatko
A group of unusual animals bars Bunny from joining their writers’ group because he’s too predictable. Third graders will appreciate the hilarious nuances of this smart title. It’s great for kicking off a fiction writing unit, too.
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. Drawn Together by 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.
8. The Bell Rang by James Ransome
This moving tale, narrated by a young slave girl whose brother runs away, will take your breath away.
9. I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-ups by Chris Harris
Make a spot for this next to your Shel Silverstein collection. It’s that clever and funny.
10. Bookjoy, Wordjoy by Pat Mora
These poems about reading, writing, and loving words are, as the title promises, joyful, as are the accompanying diverse and energetic illustrations. Plenty of inspiration to launch a poetry unit, or for a quick dose of literacy love.
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. In the Past: From Trilobites to Dinosaurs to Mammoths in More Than 500 Million Years by David Elliott
We love sharing topic-specific poetry with kids to let them know that poems can spring from any passion—even dinosaurs! The amazing illustrations enhance the quirky, informative verses.
13. Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
Introduce conversations about the immigrant experience, resilience, and the power of literacy with this stunning and unique memoir.
14. Lovely Beasts by Kate Gardner
Who knew a nonfiction title about animal behavior could be so…lovely? This understated but stunning title introduces other ways to look at animals that often get a bad rap for being mean, creepy, or ugly.
15. An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin & Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution by Beth Anderson
Call them trick words, rule-breakers, or whatever else you want. Students (and teachers!) maddened by the quirkiness of spelling in English will enjoy this story about two historical figures who tried to change the alphabet.
16. This Is My Eye: A New York Story by Neela Vaswani
Share this unique 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
Give kids brief introductions to a variety of notable figures in history, sports, medicine, and more. The author’s note gives 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 author’s message in nonfiction. Plus, adorable dog photos.
20. Turning Pages: My Life Story by Sonia Sotomyer
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 unique autobiography mentor text.
21. Starstruck: The Cosmic Journey of Neil deGrasse Tyson by Kathleen Krull
“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. Short, manageable, and diverse tales—both familiar and less so—are perfect for sharing or students’ own reading.
23. Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez
Like many third graders, Stella Diaz is busy figuring out how to navigate two cultures and two languages. We love the whole relatable, diverse collection of characters.
24. Road Trip with Max and Mom and Weekends with Max and His Dad by Linda Urban
His parents living apart takes some getting used to, but Max has unique and fulfilling relationships with each of them.
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 by Zetta Elliot
When his mom drops him off with Ma, a mysterious character from her own childhood, Jaxon has no idea he’ll spend the day traveling into the world of magic. We love this urban fantasy story, filled with engaging characters of color, and hope this title is the beginning of a series.
27. The Magnificent Mya Tibbs series by Crystal Allen
These sweet stories will take you right to small town Texas, where nine year old Mya navigates the ups and downs of family life and school with plenty of spunk.
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: Wonderdog 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
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
Thank you, Adam Gidwitz, for this engaging and highly readable new 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 the forthcoming 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. 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.
36. 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.
37. 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.
38. Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
If you haven’t yet added a copy of this standout novel to your classroom library, don’t wait any longer. As wise as its majestic oak tree narrator, this novel explores anti-Muslim bigotry in an approachable way.
39. 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.
40. News From Me, Lucy McGee by Mary Amato
Mary Amato gets upper elementary peer dynamics, and her books are surefire hits with third graders. Meet spirited Lucy McGee, star of her fresh and accessible new illustrated chapter book series.
41. Bigfoot and Little Foot series by Ellen Potter
A young Sasquatch named Hugo and a young boy build an unlikely friendship, despite their differences. Stay tuned for the third installment, coming in 2019.
42. The Last Kids on Earth series by Max Brallier
The relatable cast of characters in these hybrid graphic novels navigates real-life tween emotions, even during apocalyptic turmoil. Plus, there’s a good dose oozing zombie grossness to hook reluctant readers.
43. Sparks by Ian Boothby
Readers will be cheering for the masquerading feline stars of this graphic novel—great for students who love Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man books.
44. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
This story of Xan, a misunderstood witch, and Luna, an unusual young girl, is spellbinding. It will stay with you long after reading.
45. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Illustrated Edition by Rick Riordan
Get a kid hooked on Rick Riordan books and you’ve got a reader for life. This new illustrated version of a classroom classic is irresistible.
46. 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 so much more in this delightful testament to hope and healing.
47. 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 students who are skilled readers but not ready for heavier themes.
48. 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.
49. 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. Plenty of material for discussions about perspective-taking, too.
50. 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.