Looking for the best chapter books for 3rd 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 or nine 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.
If you have a more advanced 3rd grade reader, check out the books on my 4th grade and 5th grade lists for more options.
These chapter books for 3rd 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.
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80 Best Books for Third Graders
Here are 80 best books for third graders:
Stella Diaz Has Something to Say
Published: January 16, 2018
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!
Mercy Watson to the Rescue (Series)
Published: August 23, 2005
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.
Maya and the Robot
Published: July 13, 2021
Maya is entering the fifth grade. She’s disappointed when she’s placed in a different class than her two best friends, Jada and MJ. Quickly, it seems like they’re forming a new friend group and barely spending time with her, especially since they don’t even have the same lunch period. But things begin to look up when Maya finds a broken down robot in the neighborhood store where she helps out. After setting the robot up to work, Maya suddenly has a new best friend, but how long will this last? And what happens when the robot, Ralph malfunctions?
The Princess and the Absolutely Not a Princess (Miranda and Maude #1)
Published: August 7, 2018
Princess Miranda does not want to go to school. She wants to shoe shop, plan parties, and decorate the castle.
Maude cannot wait for school. She loves rules and social justice and getting good grades. She also loves hard-boiled eggs, much to Miranda’s dismay.
When a tense first week of school results in Maude getting excluded from the Royal Birthday Party, Maude decides she’s found her first fight for social justice: a birthday boycott.
This hilarious, heartfelt chapter-book series teaches empathy, and reminds us that your very best friend could be one desk away.
Marya Khan and the Incredible Henna Party (Marya Khan #1)
Published: October 18, 2022
Marya’s eighth birthday is coming up in a week, and all she wants is an over-the-top birthday party just like the ones Alexa, her rich neighbor, always throws. When Alexa parades into school with fancy invitations, Marya can’t help herself—she claims that she’s having the most epic henna party ever. Now she has to convince her family to make it happen. Enter Operation Help the Khans! Marya’s siblings clearly need help with their projects. Maybe she could cook dinner for her parents, or clean her grandmother’s room? Except everything Marya does seems to end in disaster. Will Marya and her family be able pull it together and throw the best party ever?!
Lola Levine Is Not Mean
Published: November 3, 2015
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
Published: March 14, 2017
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.
Mr. Whiskers and the Shenanigan Sisters
Published: October 3, 2023
Mr. Whiskers is a street-wise stray dog with a nose for trouble and a fondness for two girls he calls the Shenanigan Sisters. So when Misty and Zelda’s professor father is kidnapped, Mr. Whiskers follows that car, picking up vital clues.
Then the two intrepid girls and one great dog follow the trail through the streets of San Francisco, discovering hidden passageways, buried secrets, and even pirate treasure.
But will they be able to rescue Dad? You bet your best biscuit, they will!
Wendelin Van Draanen’s new mystery is the ulti-mutt kid-pleasing caper.
J.D. and the Great Barber Battle
Published: February 23, 2021
Eight-year-old J.D. has to devise a means to correct a haircut gone wrong. His mom obviously doesn’t care much about lining his cut evenly, and J.D. gets laughed at school by his friends. Eventually, after using his little brother as a subject, J.D. figures out how to cut his own hair — and he does a fantastic job!
J.D. gets so good at cutting hair and coming up with creative hairstyles that his schoolmates start asking him to do theirs. The only barbershop in town is owned by an elderly man Mr. Henry and run by his son, Mr. Henry Jr. Unlike J.D., they only know three cut styles, so there’s no real competition. Until Mr. Henry Jr. tries to stop J.D. from running the business out of his house and the two have to engage in a “Barber Battle.”
Anisa’s International Day
Published: September 20, 2022
Anisa is excited about her class’s international day. She’s going to ask her mom to bring samosas for the class and share her Pakistani culture with everyone. But before she gets to reveal her plans, another classmate snags the samosa spot.
As a creative, Anisa is desperate to be unique. With her aunt getting married soon, she decides that mehndi is the perfect activity to introduce. But first, she’ll need to resolve a friendship misunderstanding.
Dog Days: The Carver Chronicles
Published: December 17, 2013
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
Published: September 19, 2017
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?
Definitely Dominguita: Knight of the Cape
Published: March 2, 2021
All Dominguita wants to do is read. Especially the books in Spanish that Abuela gave to her just before she moved away. They were classics that Abuela and Dominguita read together, classics her abuela brought with her all the way from Cuba when she was a young girl. It helps Dominguita feel like Abuela’s still there with her.
One of her favorites, Don Quixote, tells of a brave knight errant who tries to do good deeds. Dominguita decides that she, too, will become a knight and do good deeds around her community, creating a grand adventure for her to share with her abuela. And when the class bully tells Dominguita that girls can’t be knights, Dom is determined to prove him wrong. With a team of new friends, can Dominguita learn how to be the hero of her own story?
Jake the Fake Keeps It Real
Published: March 28, 2017
Jake can barely play an instrument, not even a kazoo. And his art? It’s better suited for Pictionary than Picasso. Which is a real problem because Jake just faked his way into the Music and Art Academy for the gifted and talented (and Jake is pretty sure he is neither). More jokester than composer, Jake will have to think of something quick before the last laugh is on him
Weekends with Max and His Dad
Published: April 5, 2016
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.
Betty the Yeti Hates Spaghetti
Published: August 1, 2023
Betty and her family of yetis just moved to their new apartment. Betty’s never lived around humans before now. When friendly neighbors bring the Yetis dinner, Betty eats spaghetti for the first time and it’s nothing like she expected! Will Betty adjust to a new neighborhood, new foods, and new friends?
News from Me, Lucy McGee
Published: October 9, 2018
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
Aven Green: Sleuthing Machine
Published: April 13, 2021
Third-grader Aven Green has been solving mysteries for a whole month—cracking such cases as The Mystery of the Cranky Mom. But can this perceptive detective solve two cases at the same time? First, her teacher’s lunch bag disappears. Then Aven’s great-grandma’s dog goes missing. Fortunately, since Aven was born without arms, all the “arm” cells went to her super-powered brain instead. (That’s her theory.) This hilarious chapter book showcases a new side to Dusti Bowling’s unforgettable protagonist.
Road Trip with Max and His Mom
Published: April 17, 2018
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)
Published: January 1, 2013
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)
Published: May 22, 2012
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.
Big Foot and Little Foot (Book #1)
Published: April 10, 2018
Hugo is a young Sasquatch who longs for adventure. Boone is young boy who longs to see a Sasquatch. When their worlds collide, they become the unlikeliest pair of best friends.
At the Academy for Curious Squidges, Hugo learns all manner of Sneaking—after all, the most important part of being a Sasquatch is staying hidden from humans. But Hugo dreams of roaming free in the Big Wide World rather than staying cooped up in caves. When he has an unexpected run-in with a young human boy, Hugo seizes the opportunity for a grand adventure. Soon, the two team up to search high and low for mythical beasts, like Ogopogos and Snoot-Nosed Gints. Through discovering these new creatures, together, Big Foot and Little Foot explore the ins and outs of each other’s very different worlds but learn that, deep down, maybe they’re not so different after all.
Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey
Published: May 4, 2021
Marisol Rainey’s mother was born in the Philippines. Marisol’s father works and lives part-time on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. And Marisol, who has a big imagination and likes to name inanimate objects, has a tree in her backyard she calls Peppina . . . but she’s way too scared to climb it. This all makes Marisol the only girl in her small Louisiana town with a mother who was born elsewhere and a father who lives elsewhere (most of the time)—the only girl who’s fearful of adventure and fun.
Will Marisol be able to salvage her summer and have fun with Jada, her best friend? Maybe. Will Marisol figure out how to get annoying Evie Smythe to leave her alone? Maybe. Will Marisol ever get to spend enough real time with her father? Maybe. Will Marisol find the courage to climb Peppina? Maybe.
Sejal Sinha Battles Superstorms
Published: May 2, 2023
Sejal Sinha is looking forward to celebrating Diwali with her family. But when a hurricane appears, Sejal and her cousin Mira learn that the house is in danger from the imminent storm. With the help of Sejal’s favorite stuffed animal, Professor Cheetah, the two girls use Cardboard Box Magic to build their own Hurricane Hunter and fly into the eye of the hurricane!
They learn about a project from the 1960s called Project Stormfury, where a team actually tried to stop hurricanes. Can Sejal and Mira do what the previous Stormfury team couldn’t and battle the superstorm?
Published: February 1, 2022
Just Harriet is a new chapter book/young middle grade book by Elana K. Arnold who wrote the A Boy Called BAT series. This new title features young Harriet whose family is undergoing a change. Her mom is pregnant and has been placed on bed rest until the baby is born.
Harriet, an energetic child has been sent to Marble Island where her grandmother lives and runs a bed and breakfast. She’s understandably frustrated, feeling abandoned by her parents. Thankfully, she takes her cat, Matzo Ball with her. When she arrives at Marble Island, Harriet starts to learn more about her father’s childhood and discovers that they have more in common than she expects.
The Magnificent Mya Tibbs: Spirit Week Showdown
Published: January 26, 2016
The Magnificent Mya Tibbs is one of those books that I’ve recommended several times on the basis of trusted reviewers. It was a pleasure to finally meet Mya Tibbs for myself.
Fourth grader Mya Tibbs is excited for Spirit Week! She has made plans to partner with her best friend Naomi Jackson. Mya’s life seems pretty good with her brother Nugget, his best friend affectionately known as Fish, and her other friends, identical twins Starr and Skye. The one scary part is Mean Connie Tate, who everyone knows is the biggest fourth-grade bully. So, you can imagine Mya’s terror when she’s partnered with Connie and Connie refuses to trade partners. On top of that, Naomi is mad at Mya for not trying harder to trade partners. Even the twins who agree on everything are getting torn apart because Skye wants to stay friends with Mya, while Starr is on Naomi’s side.
But as Mya works with Connie, she realizes that things aren’t as she’s thought. In the meantime, her brother Nugget is befriending a popular boy, Solo, and doing his homework to avoid being called “word nerd Nugget” — at the expense of his friendship with his best friend, Fish. At home, the kids do not want to worry their parents since their dad works super hard at his store and their mom is pregnant with a third child. Both kids learn a lot about themselves and what true friendship really means.
Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally)
Published: September 1, 2009
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!
A New Friend (1) (The Adventures of Sophie Mouse)
Published: January 20, 2015
In the first book of The Adventures of Sophie Mouse, springtime has arrived at Silverlake Forest! The animals are coming out of their homes, buds are blooming on the trees, and the air smells of honeysuckles and tree bark. Sophie Mouse can’t wait to go back to school after the long winter break.
Even better, there’s a new student in class—Sophie loves meeting new animals! But the class gasps when Owen enters: he’s a snake! No one is brave enough to sit near him, or play with Owen at recess, or even talk to him. Can Sophie help her friends understand that Owen’s not scary after all?
With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Adventures of Sophie Mouse chapter books are perfect for beginning readers.
Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet
Published: February 4, 2020
Welcome to the imaginative brain of Omar!
Omar and his family have just moved, and he is NOT excited about starting at a new school. What if the work is too hard or the kids are mean or the teacher is a zombie alien?!
But when Omar makes a new best friend, things start looking up. That is, until a Big Mean Bully named Daniel makes every day a nightmare! Daniel even tells Omar that all Muslims are going to be kicked out of the country . . . Could that possibly be true?
Luckily, Omar’s enormous imagination and goofy family help him get through life’s ups and downs.
Omar’s funny, relatable narrative is the perfect answer to the call for both mirrors and windows to fill bookshelves with diverse stories.
The Un-Friendship Bracelet (Craftily Ever After Book 1)
Published: March 27, 2018
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
Published: September 19, 2017
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?
Zara’s Rules for Record-Breaking Fun
Published: April 19, 2022
Meet Zara Saleem, the queen of the neighborhood.
Zara’s in charge of it all: she organizes the games, picks the teams, and makes sure everyone has a good time…and they always do.
When a new family moves in across the street, suddenly Zara’s reign is threatened by Naomi, who has big ideas of her own about how the neighborhood kids can have fun. To get everyone to notice her again, Zara decides she’s going to break a Guinness World Record—if her little brother Zayd doesn’t mess things up.
But when she finds herself increasingly alone in her record-breaking quest, Zara starts to wonder if sharing the crown and making a new friend might end up being the best rule of all.
Meena Meets Her Match
Published: January 29, 2019
Meena’s life is full of color. She wears vibrant clothes, eats every shade of the rainbow, and plucks eye-catching trash from the neighborhood recycling bins.
But when Meena’s best friend, Sofía, stops playing with her at recess and she experiences an unexpected and scary incident at breakfast, nothing can fight off the gray.
That’s when Meena comes up with a plan to create the BEST and most COLORFUL Valentine’s Day Box in the class. With the help of her cousin, Eli, and her stuffed zebra, Raymond, Meena discovers that the best way to break through the blah is to let her true colors shine.
Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel (Series)
Published: May 14, 2009
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.
Published: November 7, 2017
Just as Henry Huggins is complaining that nothing exciting ever happens, a friendly dog sits down beside him and looks pleadingly at his ice-cream cone. From that moment on, the two are inseparable. But when Ribsy’s original owner appears, trying to reclaim his dog, Henry’s faced with the possibility of losing his new best friend.
Has Klickitat Street seen the last of rambunctious Ribsy?
Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen (Series)
Published: July 11, 2017
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?
Sona Sharma, Very Best Big Sister?
Published: September 14, 2021
Sona Sharma’s house is full of three generations of people who joke often and argue sometimes. Relatives come over unannounced, the phone rings frequently, and friends drop by all the time. Then one day Amma tells Sona that she is going to have a baby. Is that good? Sona isn’t so sure. She doesn’t want to share her room or her things with a new baby, not to mention the attention of Amma, Appa, Thatha, and Paatti. And despite Amma’s assurance that the sky always has room for new stars, Sona doesn’t feel stretchy or bighearted like the sky. But when she learns there will be a baby-naming ceremony, she’s determined to find the best name for her new brother or sister—one as nice as her own, a Hindi word for “gold.” Perfectly pitched to young readers, this tale of warming up to change is followed by a glossary of words from India to explore in the story.
Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express (Series)
Published: April 9, 2013
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!
The Girl in the Tree
Published: June 13, 2023
Cordelia is a girl who lives in a tree in Central Park. Found as a baby and raised by an adoring squirrel named Shakespeare, Cordelia acts just like any other young squirrel, leaping across treetops, chasing her squirrel friends, and sleeping in her treehouse. Still, she wonders what it would be like to have a human friend, and when she stumbles into a gymnastics class, it seems like she might have her chance.
Living in a tree might have made Cordelia an exceptional gymnast, but people skills are a whole other matter. Even if Cordelia can’t fully fit in with the other kids, can she at least make one friend? Cordelia starts her journey to be—not exactly a girl, but more than a squirrel—squirlish!
The Daily Bark: The Puppy Problem (The Daily Bark, 1)
Published: January 18, 2022
Gizmo is a city dog, so when he moves to the village of Puddle with his journalist human, he doesn’t know WHAT to expect. Certainly not FLOWERS. Or BEES. And he couldn’t have even imagined MUD. Luckily he’s got Jilly, the wolfhound next door, to show him around.
But Jilly has a problem. Her puppies are going to be adopted by new owners who live far away — she’ll never see them again! Gizmo has got a nose for a story, and a great idea to help Jilly. What if the dogs of Puddle started a newspaper to get the word out and keep these pups closer to home? Stop the presses!
Mia Mayhem vs. the Mighty Robot (Series)
Published: November 26, 2019
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?
Wednesday and Woof #1: Catastrophe
Published: May 24, 2022
Detective Tip #1 Try not to jump to conclusions. Wednesday and her service dog, Woof, are the best detectives in the whole world—or at least their neighborhood. But can they find Mrs. Winters’s missing cat before her big trip? Or will the case of the cat-napped kitty be their first unsolved mystery?
Donut Feed the Squirrels
Published: September 29, 2020
Norma and Belly would really really really really really like a donut.
With a burned breakfast and a cranky donut seller at the local food truck, they may be stuck with only nuts to eat . . . unless they can steal the biggest, most delicious donut of their tiny lives!
Mika Song gives readers something to laugh at as these squirrels try their hardest to get some donuts while just about everything goes wrong. A fun “donut caper” graphic novel that focuses on madcap action, problem-solving, and the power of working together.
Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen
Published: March 26, 2019
When you’re a Buttman, the label “bully” comes with the territory, and Bernice lives up to her name. But life as a bully is lonely, and if there’s one thing Bernice really wants (even more than becoming a Hollywood stuntwoman), it’s a true friend.
After her mom skedaddles and leaves her in a new town with her aunt (who is also a real live nun), Bernice decides to mend her ways and become a model citizen. If her plan works, she just might be able to get herself to Hollywood Hills Stunt Camp! But it’s hard to be kind when no one shows you kindness, so a few cheesy pranks may still be up her sleeve. . . .
Super-Serious Mysteries #1: The Untimely Passing of Nicholas Fart
Published: May 23, 2023
Nicholas Fart toppled from his chair, rolled across the carpet, and passed out cold on the floor after smelling something foul. It was the perfect crime.
Never fear! Penelope Whiff is on the case, and she is sure to get to the bottom of this who-dealt-it mystery. Can she sniff out the source of the nasty, PUTRID smell?
In a new series that promises to be laugh-out-loud funny, Josh Crute teams up with dynamic illustrator James Rey Sanchez to introduce young readers to a gang of friends and a sleuth who will stop at nothing to solve the silliest of mysteries.
Dog Man: From the Creator of Captain Underpants (Dog Man #1)
Published: August 30, 2016
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
Published: March 1, 1998
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.
Too Small Tola
Published: March 2, 2021
Too Small Tola is a new chapter book from Atinuke featuring three stories about a girl living with her grandmother and siblings in Lagos, Nigeria. Everyone teases Tola — sometimes lovingly — for being so small. They think she can’t lift heavy loads or do other things because of her size. But Tola’s grandmother reassures her that you can be small, but mighty, and Tola proves that she is!
The first story Too Small Tola shows what happens when Tola accompanies Grandmommy to the market. In the second story, Small but Mighty, Tola deals with a bully while trying to fetch water at a public tap. The last story, Easter and Eid shows how Tola comes to the rescue when their beloved tailor sustains an injury.
Published: August 14, 2007
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!
Frankie Sparks and the Class Pet
Published: June 18, 2019
The best thing EVER is happening in Frankie Sparks’s third grade class: They are getting a class pet! Their teacher, Miss Cupid, tells them they will vote on their pet, but it has to meet some “parameters.” Their pet must:
1. Fit in aquarium.
2. Cost less than $50.
3. Be easily portable.
4. Be able to be left alone for the weekend.
Frankie thinks that a rat—just like the rats in her beloved Aunt Gina’s lab—would be the perfect fit. But her best friend, Maya, doesn’t think a rat would be great at all. They are kind of gross and not as cool as a hermit crab, which is Maya’s top choice. Using her special workshop, can Frankie find a way to convince her teacher and her best friend that Team Rat is the way to go?
Published: October 6, 2009
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?
Two Friends, One Dog, and a Very Unusual Week
Published: April 18, 2023
It’s a pair of silver sequined sneakers that unexpectedly flips Emily’s comfortable, predictable world upside down. Or, more precisely, it’s the girl wearing them.
The shoes belong to Rani, who moves into Emily’s apartment building—and her life—with absolutely no one but her dog Otto. (Her research scientist mother is away in Patagonia.) And that’s only the first rule that Emily watches Rani break without hesitation.
But it’s not just that Rani breaks rules. Most of the time, she doesn’t seem to know the rules exist. Why can’t she bungee jump off their building? Or bring an ice cream truck to school?
For steady and orderly Emily, Rani’s approach to life feels impossible . . . and more than a little irresistible. But is there a place for her in Rani’s world? And should she find a way to make space for Rani in her own?
Nina Soni, Former Best Friend
Published: October 1, 2019
Nina Soni is a lovable, distractible Indian American girl with big plans and cast of family and friends to help her make her realize her dreams—or resolve the chaos that often results.
Nina tried as hard as she could but still somehow forgot about her school project. Fortunately, a class lesson about Alexander Fleming suggests how she might make a great discovery—and thus a great project! But with little sister Kavita’s birthday party right around the corner, and her longtime friendship with Jay on the rocks, Nina has a lot to keep track of.
The Amazing Life of Azaleah Lane
Published: January 1, 2020
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?
Fenway and Hattie
Published: February 9, 2016
Fenway is an excitable and endlessly energetic Jack Russell terrier. He lives in the city with Food Lady, Fetch Man, and–of course–his beloved short human and best-friend-in-the-world, Hattie.
But when his family moves to the suburbs, Fenway faces a world of changes. He’s pretty pleased with the huge Dog Park behind his new home, but he’s not so happy about the Evil Squirrels that taunt him from the trees, the super-slippery Wicked Floor in the Eating Room, and the changes that have come over Hattie lately. Rather than playing with Fenway, she seems more interested in her new short human friend, Angel, and learning to play baseball. His friends in the Dog Park next door say Hattie is outgrowing him, but that can’t be right. And he’s going to prove it!
Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute
Published: November 30, 2011
Serving justice . . . and lunch!
Hector, Terrence, and Dee have always wondered about their school lunch lady. What does she do when she isn’t dishing out the daily special? Where does she live? Does she have a lot of cats at home? Little do they know, Lunch Lady doesn’t just serve sloppy joes—she serves justice! Whatever danger lies ahead, it’s no match for LUNCH LADY!
Cilla Lee Jenkins 1
Published: March 28, 2017
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?
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
Published: July 8, 2008
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.
A to Z Animal Mysteries #1: The Absent Alpacas
Published: June 13, 2023
Solve Animal Mysteries from A to Z! Young clue hunters Abbi, Daniel, and Lydia sniff out the mystery behind a group of missing alpacas. Inspired by Ron Roy’s beloved A to Z Mysteries series, this spin-off is perfect for budding young chapter-book readers–and future detectives!
A is for ALPACAS . . .
It’s time for the alpaca costume contest, and Abigail “Abbi” Wallace is excited to see it at the Maine State Fair. But there’s only one alpaca left—the rest are missing! What sent the alpacas packing? Abbi; her dog, Barkley; and her friends Lydia and Daniel are ready to sniff out this mystery!
The Newest Princess (1) (Itty Bitty Princess Kitty)
Published: February 4, 2020
Something exciting is happening in Lollyland. Itty Bitty Kitty’s eighth shooting star is about to arrive and that means she’s going to become a princess! Itty’s excited, but when she learns about all the things that are going to change, she’s also nervous. Between trying out new hairstyles and hearing that she can’t attend her regular school anymore, Itty begins to feel like she might not be cut out for this princess gig. Will Itty Bitty Kitty become Itty Bitty Princess Kitty after all?
It’s Me. (Catwad #1)
Published: March 26, 2019
From New York Times bestselling author Jim Benton, meet Catwad! He’s blue, he’s a bit of a grouch, and his best friend is a dim-witted cat named Blurmp who can see the bright side of anything. From pizza and computers, to love and happiness, this crabby tabby has a funny take on just about everything, and he’s not afraid to share it. This collection of short comic stories will make even the grumpiest of grouches crack up and is not to be missed!
Ruby Lu, Brave and True
Published: March 1, 2004
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
Published: May 5, 2015
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.
Friends Fur-ever (Must Love Pets #1)
Published: May 31, 2022
Imaan Bashir loves dogs, but she doesn’t have one. Yet. If only there were a surefire way to demonstrate her special canine connection to her mom. Then she’d be well on her way to pampering a pup of her very own.
When one of Imaan’s neighbors needs a last minute pet-sitter for her dog, Sir Teddy, a great idea is hatched. Imaan and her friends London and Olivia will step in as pet-sitters! Imaan’s mom will be so blown away by Imaan’s amazing animal abilities that she will beg her to adopt her own dog. Or something like that. . . But the reality of pet-sitting is a little more complicated—Imaan soon discovers that Sir Teddy is a real paw-full!
The Secret Explorers and the Lost Whales
Published: July 7, 2020
Meet The Secret Explorers! This group of brilliant kids comes together from all four corners of the globe to fix problems, solve mysteries, and gather knowledge all over the planet – and beyond. Whenever their help is needed, a special sign will appear on a door. They step through to the Exploration Station and receive their mission…
In The Lost Whales, marine life expert Connor needs to use his underwater expertise to help save a pod of humpback whales that have lost their way. Along with space expert Roshni, he sets out in a submarine to search for a way to steer the whales back on track, but encounters unexpected problems along the way, including lost baby whales and a fleet of boats. Will The Secret Explorers manage to succeed in their mission?
Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business
Published: January 14, 2020
Mindy and her father have recently moved from the city to a suburb in Florida where she is the only Asian girl in her school. On top of that, Mindy’s mom died shortly before their move and her dad is adjusting to being a single parent. Like any normal child, Mindy wants to be liked at her new school. She’s fortunate to meet a new friend on her first day, even though the kids complain about the way her Korean lunch smells.
Things start to look up for Mindy when the kids try and love her seaweed snacks. At first, she starts a snack trade-off, but later decides to start selling the snacks so she can save up money to buy a puppy. However, Mindy’s new business and friendship run into some problems along the way.
Peach and Plum: Here We Come!
Published: August 2, 2022
Here they come! It’s Peach and Plum!
Welcome to Fruitdale! School is out and work is done. Now it’s time for summer fun. Peach and Plum have lots to do. Beach day, bikes, and basketball, too. Will they wind up stuck indoors with a pesky list of chores? True adventure never ends for this pair of sweet best friends.
Ripe with humor and bursting with rhyme, these five short stories and four mini-comics will have newly independent readers wriggling, giggling, and going bananas for Peach and Plum.
Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Published: May 26, 1998
Accidentally built sideways and standing thirty stories high (the builder said he was very sorry for the mistake), Wayside School has some of the wackiest classes in town, especially on the thirtieth floor. That’s where you’ll meet Bebe, the fastest draw in art class; John, who only reads upside down; Myron, the best class president ever; and Sammy, the new kid—he’s a real rat.
Izzy Barr, Running Star (Franklin School Friends Book 3)
Published: April 28, 2015
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.
Cat Kid Comic Club
Published: December 1, 2020
Naomi, Melvin, Pedro, and Poppy are just a few of the twenty-one rambunctious, funny, and talented baby frogs who share their stories in the Cat Kid Comic Club. Can Li’l Petey, Molly, and Flippy help the students express themselves through comics? The adventures in class and on paper unwind with mishaps and hilarity as the creative baby frogs experience the mistakes and progress that come with practice and persistence.
“Squid Kid and Katydid,” “Baby Frog Squad,” “Monster Cheese Sandwich,” “Birds Flowers Trees: A Haiku Photo Comic,” and other mini-comics are featured as stories-within-the-story, each done in a different style, utilizing humor and drama, prose and poetry, illustrated in different media including acrylics, pastels, colored pencils, felt-tip markers, clay, hand-made cardboard sculptures, photographs, pipe cleaners, construction paper collages, and cookies.
The Miniature World of Marvin & James (The Masterpiece Adventures, 1)
Published: February 4, 2014
In this Masterpiece Adventure, the first in a companion series for younger readers from bestselling author Elise Broach, James is going on vacation for a week. His best friend, Marvin the beetle, has to stay at home. Without James to keep him company, Marvin has to play with his annoying cousin, Elaine. Marvin and Elaine quickly find themselves getting into all sorts of trouble―even getting trapped inside a pencil sharpener! Marvin misses James and starts to worry about their friendship. Will James still be Marvin’s friend when he gets home or will James have found a new best friend?
The One and Only Ivan
Published: January 17, 2012
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.
Flipping Forward Twisting Backward
Published: August 2, 2022
When she’s twisting backward and flipping forward on the balance beam, Claire feels on top of the world. As the best gymnast on her school team, it’s always a good time for her. Unfortunately, reading isn’t quite as easy. The words swirl and shuffle, and she can never seem to recognize them. When her principal wants to evaluate her for dyslexia, Claire’s mom refuses, protesting against wanting her child to be labeled. But how can Claire get help if she isn’t diagnosed as dyslexic?
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Published: October 24, 2017
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.
Tally Tuttle Turns into a Turtle (Class Critters #1)
Published: August 31, 2021
It’s Tally Tuttle’s first day of second grade, and she’s so nervous that she feels like she ate butterflies for breakfast! On top of moving to a new town and new school where she doesn’t know anyone, everyone starts teasing her when her full name, Tallulah, is revealed during roll call. She just wishes she could retreat into a shell . . . Then, all of a sudden, the desks and her classmates around her seem enormous, and Tally is shell-shocked to discover that she’s actually turned into a turtle! She’d heard that Mrs. Norrell’s class was special, but she hadn’t expected this. Tally likes having a shell to hide in, but there are other parts of turtle life–like the fear of being stepped on–that aren’t exactly ideal. And once she’s tired of hiding, how can she change back into a girl? Tally will have to forge her own transformation back to herself and come out of her shell–both literally and figuratively!
The Chocolate Touch
Published: July 2, 2013
Can you ever have too much of your favorite food? John Midas is about to find out….
The Chocolate Touch has remained a favorite for millions of kids, teachers, and parents for several generations. It’s an enjoyable story that pulls in even reluctant readers.
Emmett and Jez (Adventures in Fosterland)
Published: June 7, 2022
When a tiny piglet named Emmett bounces off the truck carrying his mother and siblings, he’s lost, hungry, and stuck on the side of the road. He has no idea where he’s supposed to go, or where he belongs.
Then a giant scoops Emmett up and takes him to a wonderful, magical place called Fosterland, where he meets a kitten named Jez. Emmett has a lot of questions, and once he hears all about life as a kitten, he decides it’s much better than being a piglet. So, Emmett decides to just become a kitten instead! Problem solved.
But as both Jez and Emmett grow older and realize they might be headed off to different forever homes, Emmett will have to confront his fears and face the scariest question of all: Is there a Foreverland out there for him?
Ivy & Bean (Book 1)
Published: April 20, 2006
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.
Published: September 15, 2006
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.
Super Dweeb and the Pencil of Destiny
Published: October 1, 2021
Andy wishes that he had *awesome powers*, like the heroes of his home-made comic stories. But instead, he’s stuck in the real world, where he has an annoying little brother, a super-weird teacher … and everyone says he’s a total dweeb.
Then one day, he discovers an oversized, glowing pencil on a school trip to the local toxic waste dump. He starts sketching and finds that he can redraw reality.
Now, thanks to the power of doodling, Andy can bring to life anything that he can imagine, erase his problems, and doodle his way of sticky situations. He’s not just a dweeb … he’s a SUPER DWEEB! Even Mona, the ice-cool new girl at school, seems impressed.
But there’s a twist in the tale.. because everything goes very wrong when little brother Oscar does some doodling of his own. Now there’s a scribble monster on the loose! Run for it, Andy!
There they are: 80 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.
How do you feel about chapter books? Which of these chapter books for 3rd graders have you read and loved? Any more recommendations? Please share!
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So fun! 🙌