3rd grade reading books for children aged 8-9

Books for grade 3 – this list of grade 3 books has been carefully compiled by teachers and librarians to appeal to elementary school children aged 8-9. There is a range of easier short stories and more challenging chapter books that are ideal to share aloud or read independently for the first time. This list of 3rd grade reading recommendations includes titles by Dick King-Smith, Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, Joyce Sidman, Beverly Cleary, Lenore Look Cornelia Funke and more.

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Books for Grade 3 – our recommendations

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman

An evocative collection of poems that describe dusk to darkness to moonlight to dawn – and everything that happens beyond our eyes while we are asleep. A great book to read with a class, and useful to spark imaginative ideas for children’s creative writing.

Poetry

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman - 3rd grade poetry

Babe by Dick King-Smith

The classic heart-warming story of a pig who learns how to herd sheep, which was turned into the blockbuster film ‘Babe’. An ideal reading book for the start of third grade.

Animal story

Babe by Dick King-Smith

The Adventures of Paddington by Michael Bond

Paddington Bear arrives from far away Peru and takes over the lives of the Brown family when they meet at Paddington station. Classic, timeless and great fun.

Adventure

The Adventures of Paddington by Michael Bond - grade 3 chapter book

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

The Penderwick children embark on exciting adventures in this classic children’s series set in Massachusetts. Ideal for imaginative third-grade children to get hooked on.

Adventure

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall - book series for 3rd graders

The World According to Humphrey by Betty Birney

Humphrey is an inquisitive and clever homeroom hamster who listens to everything. Soon he understanding reading and writing and joins in class. But can he outwit the evil teacher, Mrs Brisbane?

Animal story

The World According to Humphrey by Betty Birney - family text for grade 3

Bad to the Bone by Lucy Nolan

‘Here Kitty Kitty’ is a scheming cat that lives next door and ‘Down Girl’ is the family dog and hero of the story. Great fun and ideal for reluctant 9 year old readers.

Family | Animal story

Bad to the Bone by Lucy Nolan - animal story for grade 3

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas

Set in a fantasy world of spells and wizards, Conn finds himself thrown into adventures and solving mysteries. Exciting and fast-paced.

Mystery

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas - fantasy book for third grade

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Crenshaw is more than Jackson’s imaginary cat friend – he might be able to save the day and show Jackson how to solve all his problems. Touching and thoughtful, this book is ideal as a third grade class reader.

Friendship | Animal story

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate - adventure story book for 3rd graders

The Man Who Walked Between The Towers by Mordicai Gerstein

The captivating picture book story of Frenchman Phillippe Petit who walked a tightrope between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York in 1974. A jaw-dropping story and equally inspiring illustrations.

Picture book

The Man Who Walked Between The Towers by Mordicai Gerstein - picture book for grade 3

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

An emotional and thought-provoking book about the effects of bullying told through free verse and touching artwork. A really good choice to use with grade three classes.

Contemporary

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

A must-have book for any third and fourth grade library. Highly entertaining with fun comic-style illustrations and excellent for motivating 3rd grade children who don’t like to read.

Autobiography

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney - 3rd grade graphic novel

Big Nate by Lincoln Pierce

Fun comic style adventure stories about Nate – and his life at home and at school. Perfect for children who liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and ideal for less enthusiastic readers.

Humor

Big Nate by Lincoln Pierce - easy reader

Wayside School by Louis Sachar

Wayside School is a place where things go horribly wrong, often with hysterically funny consequences – especially on the thirteenth floor. Very funny and ideal for 8 and 9 year olds.

School story

Wayside School by Louis Sachar - funny story

Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

A thrilling fantasy series in which Jared, Simon and Mallory set off on adventures and solve mysteries in a gripping world of fairies and long-forgotten secrets. A more challenging 3rd grade read.

Fantasy

Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black - fantasy series for third grade book clubs

The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein

Alwyn the cat has magic powers in this book set in a world of witches and wizards. But will he be powerful enough to save his friends when they are captured by an evil queen?

Fantasy

The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein - spooky story for eight year olds

The Twits by Roald Dahl

Mr and Mrs Twit are a revolting couple. They smell, they’re vile and they play nasty jokes on each other. But the Muggle-Wumps, the house pets, finally decide to put a stop to the Twits’ tricks in this extremely funny grade 3 book with short chapters.

Humor

The Twits by Roald Dahl - funny story for grade 3

Alvin Ho by Lenore Look

If your child is a fan of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, they are bound to enjoy this story about Alvin who is scared of everything, hates school, hates girls and longs to be a superhero.

Realistic fiction

Alvin Ho by Lenore Look - diverse story for grade 3

Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine

Henry doesn’t know how old he is or when his birthday is. Born into slavery he longs for freedom, and one day, he seizes his chance.

Classic

Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine - classic story for 3rd grade class reading

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

An African folktale about two very different sisters who both dream of marrying the king. Will the king pick the scheming selfish sister or the kind-hearted sister?

Diverse

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe - diverse picture book for third graders

Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

Everyone thinks Fudge is the perfect child, except his older brother Peter, who knows what he’s really like and what he gets away with. How can Peter make his parents notice him more? Very funny and a great easy read for third and fourth grade children.

Family

Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer

When Will’s mother decides to send him to the library he’s terrified of the librarian – Spud Murphy – rumored to have a huge spud powered gun to shoot children who misbehave. But slowly Will discovers the library is a great place. Great for reluctant readers.

Humor

The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer - chapter book for third grade students

Little Wolf’s Book of Badness by Ian Whybrow

A very funny story about Little Wolf, his uncle Bigbad and a school where he has to learn the 9 rules of badness. A great book to read aloud.

Animal story

Little Wolf's Book of Badness by Ian Whybrow - picture book for reluctant readers

Canned by Alex Shearer

Fergal collects grocery cans with no labels. When his mother decides he has too many, she tells him he must open one before he adds any more to his collection. But there are some nasty surprises inside the cans he opens and Fergal is determined to find out who is responsible.

Mystery

Canned by Alex Shearer - funny story for grade 3

Poppy by Avi

In this stunningly well-illustrated fable, Poppy, a tiny mouse, faces the bullying owl Mr Ocax in a perilous quest in search of a better home and more food for her family. A great book to read with your 3rd grade child.

Fable

Poppy by Avi - classic fable for third grade readers

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler by E L Konigsburg

When Claudia decides to run away, she doesn’t want to go just anywhere, so she picks the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Along with her younger brother, she is drawn into a mystery when a beautiful statue is perhaps not all that is seems.

Mystery

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler by E L Konigsburg - classic class reading text

Ghost Hunters by Cornelia Funke

Nine-year-old Tom’s grandma’s best friend is the world’s best ghost hunter, and with her help, Tom tracks down some seriously revolting ghosts. Very funny and ideal for reluctant readers in the third grade.

Mystery

Ghost Hunters by Cornelia Funke - mystery book for grade 3

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

Nasty farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean have joined forces to try and catch clever Mr. Fox and his family. But Mr. Fox has a cunning plan to escape them. Will it work? Very funny and ideal to read aloud in grade 3.

Humor | Animal story

Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl - classic chapter book for more advanced readers

Muggie Maggie by Beverly Cleary

Maggie refuses to practise cursive handwriting. Why should she? What’s the point? But that soon changes when she wants to spy on her teacher’s handwriting…

School story

Muggie Maggie by Beverly Cleary - thought-provoking book for third graders

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Alden children make a home in an old boxcar, and in doing so find a grandfather and begin a series of adventures solving mysteries. A classic set of stories which will appeal to eight and nine-year-olds.

Classic

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner - classic third grade book

The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Catling

John discovers he has a magic gift. Everything he touches turns to chocolate. At first, this is great, but soon he begins to regret his new power. Ideal for 3rd grade reluctant readers, particularly those who prefer shorter chapters.

Fantasy

The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Catling - magic books for 8 year olds

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parrish & Fritz Seibel

Amelia Bedelia is a very good girl does who does exactly what she’s told. Except, because she takes everything absolutely literally, this often has hilarious results. Great to read aloud in groups.

Classic

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parrish and Fritz Seibel - group reader for grade three

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Three unlikely friends, Despereaux the mouse, Roscuro the rat, Pea the princess and Miggery Sow a slave girl set off on an epic quest to find their destinies despite many dangers. A classic short chapter book perfect for emerging readers.

Classic

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo - grade three animal story book

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

James is sent to live with his two evil aunts after his parents are unexpectedly eaten by a wild Rhino. Just when he thinks things can’t get any worse, a chance encounter with magic, and a peach that grows and grows, finds him escaping in a hugely imaginative and funny adventure that will appeal to younger readers in the third grade.

Fantasy | Humor

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl - fantasy book for third graders

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About Tom Tolkien

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Tom Tolkien is an educational management professional who has written extensively for US K-12 curriculum publishing, focusing on literacy teaching, reading recommendations and school improvement advice.