Third graders are in the sweet spot between innocent and independent, and it’s such fun to share a wide range of books with them. You’ve got your old standbys, but fresh titles are always needed. Here are 60 recent third grade books we think could become your new favorites to read aloud and offer to students.
1. I’m From by Gary Gray Jr.
This mesmerizing memoir poem of one boy’s school day shows readers that everyone is from a rich, detailed “somewhere.” From the bus driver’s threats to “SIT DOWN” to school “books that don’t click with me,” to buttermilk biscuits and baked beans for dinner, the text overflows with small but meaningful details. We’re definitely adding this to our third grade books inspire students’ own poetry or narrative writing.
Buy it: I’m From on Amazon
2. I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James
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!
Buy it: I Am Every Good Thing on Amazon
3. Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina
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.
Buy it: Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away on Amazon
4. 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 one another.
Buy it: The Day You Begin on Amazon
5. My Baba’s Garden by Jordan Scott
This gorgeous title is perfect for conversations about kindness and as a narrative-writing mentor text. A young boy spends lots of time at his grandmother’s tiny house, enjoying her delicious cooking and helping in her garden. When her house is torn down and she moves in with the boy and his parents, he tries to repay her kindness by evoking happy memories.
Buy it: My Baba’s Garden on Amazon
6. The Walking School Bus by Aaron Friedland and Ndileka Mandela
It’s too dangerous for siblings Shaka and Nandi to walk alone to school when their father gets a new job. They’re so disappointed not to be able to attend that they think up a community-based solution: They encourage lots of local children to travel together as a walking “school bus.” Add this to your third grade books to read aloud and spend time thinking and discussing as a group. The back matter gives more information about kids’ real-life obstacles in getting to school.
Buy it: The Walking School Bus on Amazon
7. 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, with the support of his community, he’s able to realize his intentions.
Buy it: The One Day House on Amazon
8. 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.
Buy it: The Very Last Castle on Amazon
9. 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.
Buy it: The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family on Amazon
10. 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.
Buy it: Drawn Together on Amazon
11. Hurricane by John Rocco
John Rocco’s disaster stories are so fun to read aloud, and they’re fantastic for inspiring kids’ own narrative writing. When a hurricane tears through the area, a young boy’s favorite spot, the neighborhood dock, is wrecked. Can it be rebuilt? This would be fun to share as part of a weather unit too.
Buy it: Hurricane on Amazon
12. Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie and Julie Flett
This gorgeous illustrated version of a song by an award-winning Cree singer-songwriter will take your breath away. Share it as part of a study of indigenous cultures, to practice determining themes, or to inspire student poetry. (We also just really want to see a school chorus concert with kids singing this song!)
Buy it: Still This Love Goes On on Amazon
13. Copycat: Nature-Inspired Design Around the World by Christy Hale
Tanka poems, stunning photos, and fascinating back matter give kids an introduction to biomimicry—design that imitates nature. This is a unique addition to your third grade STEM books, for sure.
Buy it: Copycat: Nature-Inspired Design Around the World on Amazon
14. Counting in Dog Years and Other Sassy Math Poems by Betsy Franco
We love third grade books that do double duty. These funny poems will also help kids practice math concepts like multiplication and fractions.
Buy it: Counting in Dog Years and Other Sassy Math Poems on Amazon
15. The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale by Aya Khalil
Kanzi, star of the book The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story, is shocked to find an entire display of diverse books gone from her school library. Her class learns that the books have been banned by their district, and they decide to take action. They plan a bake sale and protest. Share this title to educate students about the issue of book banning and to share a relatable example of kid-powered activism.
Buy it: The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale on Amazon
16. Listen: How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion by Shannon Stocker
This story of defying expectations is one of our new favorite third grade books to spark classroom discussion. Don’t miss the author’s note: It explains how the author, also a disabled musician, used her own experiences and real-life conversations with the book’s subject to make sure her writing was authentic.
Buy it: Listen: How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion on Amazon
17. 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.
Buy it: The Next President on Amazon
18. Butterflies Belong Here: A Story of One Idea, Thirty Kids, and a World of Butterflies by Deborah Hopkinson
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.
Buy it: Butterflies Belong Here on Amazon
19. Respect: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul by Carole Boston Weatherford
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.
Buy it: Respect: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul on Amazon
20. Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built by Angela Burke Kunkel
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.
Buy it: Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built on Amazon
21. Show and Tell! Great Graphs and Smart Charts: An Introduction to Infographics by Stuart J. Murphy
Today’s kids are living in a visual world. Introduce bar graphs, pie charts, pictographs, and line graphs with fun illustrations and examples. Great for launching a math unit about representing data.
Buy it: Show and Tell! Great Graphs and Smart Charts on Amazon
22. Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
This unique and captivating book is one for every social studies classroom! Get students thinking about connections across history, science, geography, and the arts through the lens of the color blue.
Buy it: Blue on Amazon
23. 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.
Buy it: Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes on Amazon
24. If You’re a Kid Like Gavin by Gavin Grimm and Kyle Lukoff
This OwnVoices story of transgender activist Gavin Grimm is empowering and important for all kids. Gavin made headlines for bravely speaking out about his right to choose which bathroom to use at school. Teachers will find the language so useful for building a classroom community in which transgender individuals—and all individuals—can be supported and celebrated.
Buy it: If You’re a Kid Like Gavin on Amazon
25. 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!
Buy it: Made for Each Other: Why Dogs and People Are Perfect Partners on Amazon
26. Breaking Through the Clouds: The Sometimes Turbulent Life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson by Sandra Nickel
Joanne Simpson was the first woman to receive a doctorate in meteorology. Her research changed the world’s understanding of clouds. Expand kids’ understanding of the field of weather studies with this fascinating biography.
Buy it: Breaking Through the Clouds on Amazon
27. 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.
Buy it: Starstruck: The Cosmic Journey of Neil deGrasse Tyson on Amazon
28. Killer Underwear Invasion! How To Spot Fake News, Disinformation & Conspiracy Theories, by Elise Gravel
Put this one at the top of your pile of third grade books about media literacy. One of our favorite authors takes on the timely topics of fake news, confirmation bias, fact vs. opinion, and credible sources. The outlandish examples and silly illustrations make this important content memorable for kids.
Buy it: Killer Underwear Invasion! on Amazon
29. The Water Lady: How Darlene Arviso Helps a Thirsty Navajo Nation by Alice B. McGinty
Every day Darlene Arviso drives kids to school and then uses her school bus to deliver clean water to families of the Navajo Nation. This powerful true story, along with the author’s note, will give classrooms lots to discuss. It could easily inspire wonder, research, and activism too.
Buy it: The Water Lady: How Darlene Arviso Helps a Thirsty Navajo Nation on Amazon
30. Wait! What? series by Dan Gutman
When we learned that Dan Gutman had a biography series, we knew we’d love it. These titles introduce famous historical personalities from a kid-centered perspective. Each book is formatted as a conversation between two siblings who try to one-up each other with interesting facts about the book’s subject that go beyond “stuff your teacher wants you to know.” Add these to your third grade biography books collection for the kids who say biographies are boring!
Buy it: Wait! What? series on Amazon
31. The Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale by Jon Klassen
This retold Austrian folktale is moderately creepy, but it has heartwarming messages about friendship too. A girl named Otilla runs away from home. She happens upon a grand abandoned house in the forest and befriends a skull that lives there, proving her loyalty when the skull’s skeleton body comes looking for it. The afterword is especially interesting to share with third graders when you study folktales. The author talks about how he arrived at this particular retelling and the power of folktales to be uniquely shaped by each person who enjoys them.
Buy it: The Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale on Amazon
32. City of Dragons series by Jaimal Yogis and Vivian Truong
Set in present-day Hong Kong, this graphic novel series stars Grace, who’s given a mysterious egg that hatches into a water dragon she calls Nate. Grace and her new friends have to protect Nate from unsavory characters. The mix of Chinese mythology with modern themes like making new friends and teamwork make these ideal third grade books.
Buy it: City of Dragons series on Amazon
33. Locker 37 series by Aaron Starmer
Wouldn’t it be perfect if there was a way to fix any problem that’s ruining your school day? At Hopewell Elementary, select students can rely on Locker 37, a magical trove of helpful tools. Fast-paced and relatable, these are excellent third grade books to keep your students reading.
Buy it: The Magic Eraser (Locker 37 #1) on Amazon
34. Dragons in a Bag series by Zetta Elliott
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 urban fantasy series.
Buy it: Dragons in a Bag series on Amazon
35. Best Wishes series by Sarah Mlynowski and various authors
We love this author’s other magic-themed series (Whatever After and Upside-Down Magic) so we’re definitely adding this new set of stories starring diverse characters to our third grade books. In each title, a girl in distress receives a magic bracelet in the mail that promises to grant wishes.
Buy it: Best Wishes series on Amazon
36. Just Harriet series by Elana K. Arnold
Many reviewers compare these quiet titles to Beverly Cleary’s beloved Ramona series. Harriet Wermer loves to puzzle over mysteries during her summer stay on Marble Island. She also, it turns out, tends to stretch the truth … often. This can make it hard to get adults to listen to her. Share these titles with your third graders who love relatable, endearing characters.
Buy it: Just Harriet series on Amazon
37. The Magnificent Makers series by Theanne Griffith
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!
Buy it: Magnificent Makers series on Amazon
38. Julieta and the Diamond Enigma by Luisana Duarte Armendáriz
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 for a class read-aloud.
Buy it: Julieta and the Diamond Enigma on Amazon
39. The Magnificent Mya Tibbs series by Crystal Allen
These sweet stories will take students to small-town Texas, where 9-year-old Mya navigates the ups and downs of family life and school with plenty of spunk. A great series for a third grade library.
Buy it: The Magnificent Mya Tibbs series on Amazon
40. Marya Khan series by Saadia Faruqi
This series opener from the author of the popular Yasmin early reader series is ideal for third graders. In the series opener, Marya is desperate for an over-the-top awesome birthday party like her neighbor Alexa. She can’t resist telling her classmates about it … even before getting the OK from her family.
Buy it: Marya Khan series on Amazon
41. Marcus series by Kevin Hart
Tap into kids’ love of YouTube and videography with this fast-paced and fun series. Marcus takes an after-school film class and starts dreaming of turning his cartoon drawings into a hit movie. These books will have kids wondering: Could they be famous one day? Written by actor and comedian Kevin Hart.
42. 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.
Buy it: The Unicorn Rescue Society series on Amazon
43. A Boy Called Bat series 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 Game and Bat and the End of Everything.
Buy it: A Boy Called Bat on Amazon
44. Once Upon a Tim series by Stuart Gibbs
This new series from a favorite author is readable, quirky, and fun. Tim, a smart-aleck peasant, finds himself wrapped up in a royal rescue scheme. This could make a great student book club choice. Keep an eye out for the sequel too.
Buy it: Once Upon a Tim series on Amazon
45. 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. Also check out the Miles Lewis series by the same author.
Buy it: Jada Jones series on Amazon
46. The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza by Mac Barnett
Your collection of third grade books should definitely include a hysterical crowd-pleaser like this one. A cat launches a space expedition to save the moon from hungry rats. It’s weird and adventurous and sure to be passed all around the class.
Buy it: The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza on Amazon
47. 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 third grade books.
Buy it: Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face series on Amazon
48. 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 and tension of a ticking clock!
Buy it: Fantastic Frame series on Amazon
49. Family Fletcher series by Dana Alison Levy
The hilarious but realistic antics of the two dads and four adopted brothers in the Fletcher family make for enjoyable tales for your latest third grade books.
Buy it: Family Fletcher series on Amazon
50. Iggy series by Annie Barrows
LOL-worthy series alert! Iggy Frangi has a long list of complaints against him—and plenty of smart responses to explain away his behavior.
Buy it: Iggy series on Amazon
51. Lucy McGee series 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 this accessible illustrated chapter book.
Buy it: Lucy McGee series on Amazon
52. 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.
Buy it: Big Foot and Little Foot series on Amazon
53. The Last Kids on Earth series by Max Brallier
The relatable characters in these hybrid graphic novels navigate real-life kid emotions, even during apocalyptic turmoil. Plus, there’s a good dose of oozing zombie grossness to hook reluctant readers.
Buy it: The Last Kids on Earth series on Amazon
54. Sparks! series 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.
Buy it: Sparks series on Amazon
55. The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass
When Evan finds a peculiar new Little Free Library on his walk to school, it launches him and his best friend into a (slightly) spooky mystery. Why are all the books from the town library that burned down decades ago? Add this to your third grade books for reading aloud or book clubs. Its alternating perspectives make it perfect for talking about character traits, motivations, and relationships.
Buy it: The Lost Library on Amazon
56. 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.
Buy it: Saving Winslow on Amazon
57. Packing for Mars for Kids by Mary Roach
This new young readers edition of the bestselling adult nonfiction title could add some variety to your classroom read-aloud time or catch the attention of advanced readers. Surviving as a human in outer space is a complicated endeavor, as this science journalist explains with plenty of wit in chapters like “Toilet Training for Adults” and “Roommates for Very Small Rooms.” We plan on using excerpts as mentor texts for informational writing too.
Buy it: Packing for Mars for Kids on Amazon
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.
Buy it: Wonderland on Amazon
59. The Wild Robot series by Peter Brown
These tales about a robot marooned on a futuristic island will mesmerize your students. They offer plenty of material for discussions about perspective-taking too.
Buy it: Wild Robot series on Amazon
60. Cress Watercress by Gregory Maguire
Add this rich and complex animal story to your third grade read-aloud books or share it with just the right student reader. A young rabbit must cope with his missing Papa and a big move to a new home. This is an instant classic.
Buy it: Cress Watercress on Amazon