12 of the Best Chapter Books for 3rd Graders
I taught third graders for several years, and I’m now an instructional coach for elementary school reading teachers. Plus, I’ve got a little girl at home who is an avid reader. All of the books below are currently on our shelf at home, and I’ve used several of them as classroom texts.
These are the best chapter books for 3rd graders, assuming your child is reading roughly on grade level. Whether your child loves mysteries, science fiction, make-believe, or prefer to remain firmly rooted in reality, these books will keep them engaged in reading and growing in endurance.
If your child is reading a bit below grade level, start with my list of chapter books for 2nd graders!
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Best Chapter Books for 3rd Graders – Guided Reading Level N
Students who are beginning third grade are expected to be reading at a guided reading level N. These three books will be just right, and now you just have to make sure to find one that suits their interest. Fortunately, all three of these are series, so if they like one book, they’re sure to enjoy the rest.
Daisy Dreamer Series
Daisy Dreamer is a lot like my daughter; she has her head in the clouds quite a bit. She’s a day dreamer with imaginary friends! I am partial to the illustrations in this book series. Because the drawings are frequent, lots of kids won’t realize they’re reading a slightly harder text.
Here are my favorite picture books to enjoy in the autumn with kids.
Best Chapter Books for 3rd Graders – Guided Reading Level O
By winter break, most third graders will be reading somewhere around a guided reading level O. These 6 options will work great, and I’ve made sure to include books with both male and female protagonists, since that’s a big hook for many kids.
The Princess Pulverizer Series
This is my daughter’s favorite series of all times. This little girl is a princess, but all she really wants to be is a knight! In order to become a knight, she has to complete lots of good deeds as she embarks on her “kindness quest.” Of course, I like how “princess” becomes all about what’s in the heart.
If you’ve got a third grade girl with a wild imagination, a disregard for manners, and a mind of her own, Pippi is the protagonist she needs on her shelf! This book is a Swedish classic about a little girl, her next-door-neighbor besties, her cherished monkey, and her horse (which she can lift with one hand, thanks to her superhuman strength).
First of all, Beverly Cleary’s books are ALL on this reading level. So if you’ve got a little girl who’s reading on a level O, you could try the Ramona series or the Ralph S. Mouse books, too. They’re all fantastic, because Beverly Clearly is a timeless treasure. We owe her … a LOT. I like Henry Huggins because I’ve always got an eye out for compelling male protagonists for kids this age.
The Dory Fantasmagory Series
I adore Dory because she’s the wild child baby of the family, oft-neglected, who gets into all sorts of hilarious nonsense. I have a classic third child who’s constantly keeping us on our toes, too. Dory Fantasmagory books also have super eye-catching pictures peppered throughout the books, so you can bet that little kids will stay engaged.
The My Weird School Daze Series
My oldest has read most of these, which she has checked out from our local library over the summer. The format never gets old to her! I recommend this book set most for kids who need lots of laughs to engage in a book. However, if you’ve got an impressionable or sensitive child, this may not be the set for you. There are words like “stupid” and a main character who finds school annoying. It can be a bit tacky sometimes. You know your own child best!
My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish
If your kiddo likes the Dav Pilkey books, this will be a great fit, too. The protagonist is a boy named Tom, whose older brother wants to be an Evil Scientist. The brother’s first experiment is to dunk Tom’s goldfish, Frankie, into toxic green gunk. Tom and his best friend Pradeep revive the goldfish with a battery, but now Frankie is acting weird – like a zombie goldfish!?!
Got an early, advanced reader? Check out this post: Your 4 Year Old Can Read: Now What?!
Best Chapter Books for 3rd Graders – Guided Reading Level P
The next six choices are the best chapter books for 3rd graders who are reading on a guided reading level P, which is where the average reader is toward the end of the year. My personal favorite from this selection is the Sideways Stories from Wayside School, but all of them are great!
Sideways Stories from Wayside School
As a teacher, I used to assign a chapter from this book when I had a substitute in the classroom. It was so engaging that students would behave well, no matter who was in the room. After they read a chapter (each one features a different student in Wayside School), they would write about it, and VOILA! An exciting lesson plan to keep my kids on track.
This is a great choice for early chapter book readers because there are tons of black and white illustrations throughout the text. Plus, so many kids have a natural adoration for science fiction! There are 24 books in total, so if your child gets into them, it will really build their endurance and excitement for reading over time.
The Adventures of Captain Underpants
Here’s another Dav Pilkey series with tons of books and two Netflix series based upon them! This series is about two boys who create a comic book character named Captain Underpants, who accidentally becomes REAL one day when the boys hypnotize their mean old school principal, Mr. Krupp.
The Magic School Bus Chapter Book Series
If your kids love the Netflix series or the picture books, these are sure to be a hit, too. Doesn’t everyone love Ms. Frizzle? If you’re not familiar with the Magic School bus, here’s the premise: Ms. Frizzle, a science teacher, drives a magic school bus that can transport kids anywhere in the world, even under the sea, to outer space, or inside a whistle! These stories are action packed and exciting.
Jane Austen Children’s Stories
Here’s a series of Jane Austen novels that has been adapted for kids. They are absolutely lovely and completely appropriate, plus the artwork is just gorgeous. I love these books because they bring classic literature to little kids in an easily digestible way.
Prefer picture books? Check out this post: Our All Time Favorite Picture Books.
I plan to update this regularly as my kiddos discover new books. I hope your kiddo enjoys them, too!