Looking for the best chapter books for third graders? You’re in the right place! While as an adult, middle-grade books are my sweet spot, my next best thing would definitely be chapter books! I love chapter books or early readers as they’re sometimes called because they introduce new readers to longer stories. Options for younger kids (kindergarten to second grade) tend to have fewer pages, shorter chapters, and even larger fonts (expect a post on those soon). However, chapter books for third graders go a step further.
Just for reference, in the States, third graders are generally about eight years old. If you’re fortunate, you may already have a big reader on your hands who isn’t afraid to shoot for younger middle-grade titles like some of those on this list. Typically, though most eight-year-olds prefer smaller chapter books, under 150 pages, with lots of pictures and larger fonts than the typical middle-grade book. Kids at this age also like series — they want to remain in the same universe for as long as possible, so most of the books on this list are part of series.
These chapter books for third graders are good for independent reading and also for readalouds! All except one are heavily illustrated, and I’ve tried to include picks for a variety of interests.
Let’s get started. Click on the book covers to go their Amazon pages.
Disclaimer: I use affiliate links for Amazon and will make a cent or two if you buy using these links. It’s a great way to support a blog(ger) you love.
35 Best Books for Third Graders
Here are 35 best books for third graders:
Stella Diaz Has Something to Say
Stella Diaz loves marine animals, especially her betta fish, Pancho. But Stella Diaz is not a betta fish. Betta fish like to be alone, while Stella loves spending time with her mom and brother and her best friend Jenny. Trouble is, Jenny is in another class this year, and Stella feels very lonely.
When a new boy arrives in Stella’s class, she really wants to be his friend, but sometimes Stella accidentally speaks Spanish instead of English and pronounces words wrong, which makes her turn roja. Plus, she has to speak in front of her whole class for a big presentation at school! But she better get over her fears soon, because Stella Díaz has something to say!
Stella Díaz Has Something to Say introduces an infectiously charming new character with relatable writing and adorable black-and-white art throughout. Simple Spanish vocabulary is also integrated within the text, providing a bilingual element.
Mercy Watson to the Rescue (Series)
To Mr. and Mrs. Watson, Mercy is not just a pig — she’s a porcine wonder. And to the portly and good-natured Mercy, the Watsons are an excellent source of buttered toast, not to mention that buttery-toasty feeling she gets when she snuggles into bed with them. This is not, however, so good for the Watsons’ bed. BOOM! CRACK! As the bed and its occupants slowly sink through the floor, Mercy escapes in a flash – “to alert the fire department,” her owners assure themselves. But could Mercy possibly have another emergency in mind — like a sudden craving for their neighbors’ sugar cookies? Welcome to the wry and endearing world of Mercy Watson — an ebullient character for early chapter-book readers in a series that’s destined to be a classic.
Lola Levine Is Not Mean
Lola Levine likes writing in her diario, sipping her mom’s cafe con leche, eating her dad’s matzo ball soup, and playing soccer with her team, the Orange Smoothies. So what if she doesn’t always fit in?
Lola is fierce on the field, but when a soccer game during recess gets too competitive, she accidentally hurts her classmate Juan Gomez. Now everyone is calling her Mean Lola Levine! Lola feels terrible, but with the help of her family, her super best friend, Josh Blot, and a little “pencil power,” she just might be able to turn it all around.
In this first book in a series, young readers will be inspired by Lola’s big heart and creative spirit as she learns to navigate the second grade in true Lola style!
A Boy Called Bat
For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.
But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.
Dog Days: The Carver Chronicles
It’s tough being the new kid at Carver Elementary. Gavin had lots of friends at his old school, but the kids here don’t even know that he’s pretty good at skateboarding, or how awesome he is at soccer. And when his classmate Richard comes over and the boys end up in trouble, not only does Gavin risk losing his one new friend, he has to take care of his great aunt Myrtle’s horrible little dog as punishment.To make matters worse, Gavin seems to have attracted the attention of the school bully. Will he be able to avoid getting pounded at the skate park? And how is he ever going to prove he’s cool with a yappy little Pomeranian wearing a pink bow at his side?
Jada Jones: Rock Star
When Jada Jones’s best friend moves away, school feels like the last place she wants to be. She’d much rather wander outside looking for cool rocks to add to her collection, since finding rocks is much easier than finding friends. So when Jada’s teacher announces a class project on rocks and minerals, Jada finally feels like she’s in her element. The only problem: one of her teammates doesn’t seem to like any of Jada’s ideas. She doesn’t seem to like Jada all that much, either. Can Jada figure out a way to make a winning science project and a new friend?
Weekends with Max and His Dad
Max and his dad love their weekends together. Weekends mean pancakes, pizza, spy games, dog walking, school projects, and surprising neighbors! Every weekend presents a small adventure as Max gets to know his dad’s new neighborhood—and learns some new ways of thinking about home.
Acclaimed author Linda Urban deftly portrays a third-grader’s inner world during a time of transition in this sweet and funny illustrated story that bridges the early reader and middle grade novel.
News from Me, Lucy McGee
Even if it means skipping out on Songwriting Club? Even if she’s always been too popular to give you the time of day? Even if she asks you to paint the walls and serve the tea…?
Soon Lucy McGee realizes she’s been tricked into becoming mean girl Scarlett Tandy’s errand girl—and she’s getting in trouble for skipping her after-school activities. Things get complicated as she tries to balance school, friends, frenemies, songwriting, and family expectations. Clearly Lucy has to strike back! But it turns out that singing and playing your ukulele—and having loads of fun doing it—are the best revenge.
In this new series from state-award favorite Mary Amato, a spunky heroine matches wits with a mean girl and learns that middle school can be a balancing act—so you can’t lose sight of what’s important.
Road Trip with Max and His Mom
Third-grader Max is heading off on a road trip with Mom. With miles to travel, cousins to meet, and a tall roller coaster to ride (maybe), it will be an adventure! But Max always spends weekends with Dad; will Dad be okay if he’s left behind? And will Max be brave enough for all the new explorations ahead of him?
Like Bug Juice on a Burger (Series)
I hate camp. I just hate it. I wish I didn’t. But I do. Being here is worse than bug juice on a burger. Or homework on Thanksgiving. Or water seeping into my shoes. In this sequel to the critically acclaimed Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie, Eleanor is off to summer camp. At first she’s excited to carry on the family tradition at Camp Wallumwahpuck, but when she gets there she finds icky bugs, terrible food, and worst of all: swim class, where she just can’t seem to keep up with everyone else. But as the days go on, Eleanor realizes that even the most miserable situations can be full of special surprises and that growing up is full of belly flops.
The Year of the Book (Anna Wang Series)
In Chinese, peng you means friend. But in any language, all Anna knows for certain is that friendship is complicated.
When Anna needs company, she turns to her books. Whether traveling through A Wrinkle in Time, or peering over My Side of the Mountain, books provide what real life cannot—constant companionship and insight into her changing world.
Books, however, can’t tell Anna how to find a true friend. She’ll have to discover that on her own. In the tradition of classics like Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books and Eleanor Estes’ One Hundred Dresses, this novel subtly explores what it takes to make friends and what it means to be one.
The Magnificent Mya Tibbs: Spirit Week Showdown
Nine-year-old cowgirl Mya Tibbs is boot-scootin’ excited for the best week of the whole school year—SPIRIT WEEK! She and her megapopular best friend Naomi Jackson even made a pinky promise to be Spirit Week partners so they can win the big prize: special VIP tickets to the Fall Festival.
But when the partner-picking goes horribly wrong, Mya gets paired with Mean Connie Tate—the biggest bully in school. And she can’t get out of it. Good gravy!
Now Naomi is “friend-ending” mad at Mya for breaking a promise—even though Mya couldn’t help it—and everyone at school is calling Mya names. Can Mya work with Mean Connie to win the VIP tickets, and get her best friend back?
Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) (Bobby Vs Girls)
All of Bobby Ellis-Chan’s problems in life can be summed up in one word: GIRLS.
There’s his sister Casey, who has a weird obsession with Bobby’s goldfish, Rover.
There’s Jillian Zarr, who gets mad every time a boy even looks at her.
Most of all, there’s Holly Harper, Bobby’s ex-best friend. Who is now, for some reason, Jillian’s best friend. She used to like frogs and rolling down the hill; now she wears dresses and straightens her hair. Holly’s running against Bobby for Student Council representative. She knows all his secrets — and she just might spill.
It’s Bobby vs. Holly, boys vs. girls, in the biggest battle ever to rock Rancho Rosetta!
The Un-Friendship Bracelet (Craftily Ever After Book 1)
In the first book of the Craftily Ever After chapter book series, a new student gets between best friends Emily and Maddie—and changes the meaning of their friendship bracelets!
Emily Adams, Maddie Wilson, Bella Diaz, and Sam Sharma are eight-year-olds with one special thing in common: they love to create. They each have unique talents, too! Emily is great at constructing and building; Maddie has an eye for fashion, fabrics, and sewing; Bella is a gadget whiz; and Sam is a gifted artist. Together, these four crafty friends dream up new projects to design, build, and create and through their experiences, they’ll learn how to handle various obstacles at school and in their everyday eight-year-old lives.
In the first Craftily Ever After book, best friends Emily and Maddie are so close that they spend most of their free time together, and wear matching friendship bracelets, too! One day, a new student named Bella Diaz shows up at Mason Creek Elementary. Maddie immediately befriends her, discovering that she too is really crafty. As Maddie and Bella spend more time together, Emily finds herself spending more time alone…until she realizes that the boy who’s been sitting next to her in class this whole time loves to draw and create just like she does. When Emily’s friendship bracelet falls off and Maddie doesn’t even notice, Emily begins to think that maybe it was an un-friendship bracelet after all.
Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker
Beatrice does her best thinking upside down.
Hanging from trees by her knees, doing handstands . . . for Beatrice Zinker, upside down works every time. She was definitely upside down when she and her best friend, Lenny, agreed to wear matching ninja suits on the first day of third grade. But when Beatrice shows up at school dressed in black, Lenny arrives with a cool new outfit and a cool new friend. Even worse, she seems to have forgotten all about the top-secret operation they planned!
Can Beatrice use her topsy-turvy way of thinking to save the mission, mend their friendship, and flip things sunny-side up?
Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel (Series)
Dyamonde Daniel may be new in town, but that doesn’t stop her from making a place for herself in a jiffy. With her can-do attitude and awesome brain power she takes the whole neighborhood by storm. The only thing puzzling her is the other new kid in her class. He’s grouchy – but Dyamonde’s determined to get to the bottom of his attitude and make a friend.
Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen (Series)
Eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is a flamingo fan, tree climber, and top-notch mess-maker!
She’s also tired of her big sister, Sophie, always getting to do things first. For once, Jasmine wishes SHE could do something before Sophie―something special, something different. The New Year approaches, and as the Toguchi family gathers in Los Angeles to celebrate, Jasmine is jealous that her sister gets to help roll mochi balls by hand with the women. Her mom says that Jasmine is still too young to join in, so she hatches a plan to help the men pound the mochi rice instead. Surely her sister has never done THAT before.
But pounding mochi is traditionally reserved for boys. And the mochi hammer is heavier than it looks. Can Jasmine build her case and her mochi-making muscles in time for New Year’s Day?
Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express (Series)
When three guinea pigs from the local pet shop make a great escape, Stink Moody and his friends Webster and Sophie spring into action. Ta-da! The Fantastic Fur Friends round up the little hairballs and bring them safely back to Mrs. Birdwistle’s shop, where they discover — oohla- la! — guinea pig pandemonium! Time for the Great Guinea Pig Giveaway! Stink and company hit the road aboard the Squeals on Wheels Express in a crazy quest to find good homes for 101 squealing, whistling, chirping, wiggly piggies. FUR-eaky!
Mia Mayhem vs. the Mighty Robot (Series)
Mia’s best friend, Eddie, has built an awesome robot that’s supposed to be a mighty cleaning machine! And at first, everything runs smoothly as the robot helps around the house and at regular school! But things quickly go haywire when Mia accidentally makes the robot grow three times its normal size. Does Mia have what it takes to go up against a mighty, big robot?
Dog Man: From the Creator of Captain Underpants (Dog Man #1)
George and Harold have created a new breed of justice. With the head of a dog and the body of a human, this heroic hound digs into deception, claws after crooks, rolls over robbers, and scampers after squirrels. Will he be able to resist the call of the wild to answer the call of duty?
Dav Pilkey’s wildly popular Dog Man series appeals to readers of all ages and explores universally positive themes, including empathy, kindness, persistence, and the importance of being true to one’s self.
A Bad Case of Stripes
Category: Making Friends
“What we have here is a bad case of stripes. One of the worst I’ve ever seen!”
Camilla Cream loves lima beans, but she never eats them. Why? Because the other kids in her school don’t like them. And Camilla Cream is very, very worried about what other people think of her. In fact, she’s so worried that she’s about to break out in…a bad case of stripes!
Meet Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle! She lives in an upside-down house with a kitchen that is always full of freshly baked cookies. She was even married to a pirate once! Best of all, she knows everything there is to know about children.
When Mary turns into an Answer-Backer or Dick becomes Selfish or Allen decides to be a Slow-Eater-Tiny-Bite-Taker, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has the perfect cure. And her solutions always work, with plenty of laughs along the way. This is the book that started it all!
At first, Maggie is just feeling plain stubborn when she declares she won’t learn cursive. What’s wrong with print, anyway? And she can easily type on a computer, so why would she need to know how to read those squiggly lines? But soon all her classmates are buzzing about Maggie’s refusal to learn, especially after her teacher, Mrs. Leeper, says Maggie’s cursive is so sloppy that her name looks like “Muggie.”
With “Muggie Maggie” ringing in her ears, Maggie absolutely, positively won’t back down…until she’s appointed class mail messenger. All the letters that Mrs. Leeper sends to the office are in cursive, and Maggie thinks they are written about her. But there’s only way to know for sure…so what’s Maggie going to do?
The Amazing Life of Azaleah Lane
Azaleah can’t wait for her class field trip to the National Zoo in Washington D.C., especially when her teacher announces the chance to earn extra credit. But when Azaleah gets home, she quickly realizes extra credit isn’t as easy as she thought. Azaleah’s younger sister Tiana can’t find Greenie, her stuffed animal, and she’s sure he’s been stolen. With Mama at the restaurant and Daddy at work on a big case, it seems Azaleah is the only one available to track down the stolen stuffie. Can Azaleah get to the bottom of the mystery in time to finish her extra credit?
Cilla Lee Jenkins 1
Priscilla “Cilla” Lee-Jenkins is on a tight deadline. Her baby sister is about to be born, and Cilla needs to become a bestselling author before her family forgets all about her. So she writes about what she knows best―herself! And Cilla has a lot to write about: How did she deal with being bald until the age of five? How did she overcome her struggles with reading? How do family traditions with Grandma and Granpa Jenkins differ from family traditions with her Chinese grandparents, Nai Nai and Ye Ye?
Written by Susan Tan and illustrated by Dana Wolfekotte, Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire is a novel bursting with love and humor, as told through a bright, irresistible biracial protagonist who will win your heart and make you laugh.
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
Alvin, an Asian American second grader, is afraid of everything—elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’ s there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad.
Ruby Lu, Brave and True
Most days the best thing about being Ruby is everything. Like when she’s the star of her own backyard magic show. Or when she gives a talk at the school safety assembly on the benefits of reflective tape. Or when she rides the No. 3 bus all the way to Chinatown to visit GungGung and PohPoh.
And then there are the days when it’s very hard to be Ruby. Like when her mom suggests Chinese school on Saturdays. Or when her little brother, Oscar, spills all of Ruby’s best magician secrets. Or when her parents don’t think she’s old enough to drive!
Join Ruby Lu on her first adventure and discover your own best things about her!
Anna Banana and the Friendship Split
Meet Anna and her beloved wiener dog, Banana, in this start to a charming illustrated chapter book series about the joys and challenges of elementary school friendships.
Anna has been best friends with Sadie for as long as she can remember. So Anna is utterly perplexed when, on Anna’s birthday, Sadie unceremoniously stakes claim to Anna’s new pony necklace, then suddenly stops speaking to Anna altogether. Did Anna do something wrong? With a little help from her wiener dog, Banana, as well as some sage advice from her family, Anna makes some important discoveries about what it means to stand up for herself, and how to be a true friend.
Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business
Mindy Kim just wants three things:
1. A puppy!
2. To fit in at her new school
3. For her dad to be happy again
But, getting all three of the things on her list is a lot trickier than she thought it would be. On her first day of school, Mindy’s school snack of dried seaweed isn’t exactly popular at the lunch table. Luckily, her new friend, Sally, makes the snacks seem totally delicious to Mindy’s new classmates, so they decide to start the Yummy Seaweed Business to try and raise money for that puppy!
When another student decides to try and sabotage their business, Mindy loses more than she bargained for—and wonders if she’ll ever fit in. Will Mindy be able to overcome her uncertainty and find the courage to be herself?
Izzy Barr, Running Star (Franklin School Friends Book 3)
Izzy Barr is the star athlete of the third grade: she hits homeruns on her softball team and is one of the fastest runners in her class. But at home, her half-brother, Dustin, seems to be her father’s favorite athlete―why else would her dad go to all of his games and miss so many of hers? Izzy pretends that she doesn’t care, but as she, her friends Annika Riz and Kelsey Green, and the rest of their class are gearing up for class field day, she can’t help but hope her dad will be there to cheer her on in the big race against her rival, Skipper Tipton. Dad doesn’t make it to field day, but when he realizes how important it is to Izzy, he and all of her friends and family are there to watch her participate in the citywide 10K run.
The One and Only Ivan (Great Readaloud Recommendation!)
Having spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.
In the tradition of timeless stories like Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create an unforgettable story of friendship, art, and hope.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
In this imaginative adventure from Newbery Medal–winning author Beverly Cleary, a young mouse named Ralph is thrown into a world of excitement when a boy and his shiny toy motorcycle check in to the Mountain View Inn.
When the ever-curious Ralph spots Keith’s red toy motorcycle, he vows to ride it. So when Keith leaves the bike unattended in his room one day, Ralph makes his move. But with all this freedom (and speed!) come a lot of obstacles. Whether dodging a rowdy terrier or keeping his nosy cousins away from his new wheels, Ralph has a lot going on! And with a pal like Keith always looking out for him, there’s nothing this little mouse can’t handle.
Ivy & Bean (Book 1)
The moment they saw each other, Bean and Ivy knew they wouldn’t be friends. But when Bean plays a joke on her sister, Nancy, and has to quickly hide and Ivy comes to the rescue, proving that sometimes the best of friends are people never meant to like each other. Vibrant characters and lots of humor make this a charming and addictive introduction to the Ivy and Bean Book Series.
When it comes to tackling third grade, Clementine is at the top of her game-okay, so maybe not all the time. After her teacher announces that the third and fourth graders will be putting on a talent show, Clementine panics. She doesn’t sing or dance or play an instrument. She can’t even hop with finesse. And as if that didn’t make her feel bad enough, her perfect best friend, Margaret, has so many talents, she has to alphabetize them to keep them straight? How can Clementine ever hope to compete?
As the night of the big “Talent-palooza” draws closer, Clementine is desperate for an act, any act. But the unexpected talent she demonstrates at the show surprises everyone-most of all herself.
There they are: 35 of the best chapter books for third graders! You can find even more chapter books on this list, here, and here. It’s important to note that chapter books do not replace picture books even for older kids, so please feel free to keep those in your library. I’ve read several on this list myself, and have a few others recently downloaded on my Kindle. You can check out my reviews of the chapter books I’ve read by following along on Goodreads.
How do you feel about chapter books? Which of these chapter books for third graders have you read and loved? Any more recommendations? Please share!