Chapter Books, Books in a Series, and Read Alouds for Your Child

As a homeschool mom who loves reading, I have bought, borrowed, and read a lot of books through the years. Some of the books, I read once and other books I read to every single one of my children. For instance, Mr. Popper’s Penguins was a read-aloud in my home for each of my children. Additionally, Charlotte’s Web was another great read-aloud. But if you are looking for books for 3rd graders (or around that reading level), I will give you both a list of read-aloud and a list of books they can read on their own.

Lists of Books for 3rd GRaders

The Value of Reading Aloud

Reading aloud to your children is such a great bonding experience. Sitting with your child snuggled up on the couch or around the kitchen table talking about what you read, answering questions, and seeing their reactions to Charlotte becoming Wilbur’s best friend is a memory that you and they will never forget.

Many of the books that we have read through the years, involves watching a movie based on the book – but only after we have read the book. It is always interesting to see Hollywood’s interpretation of a fiction book that has been on many best books lists.

What are Newbery Medal and Honor Books?

There are many of the books on my list that are Newbery Medal or Newbery Honor books. Interestingly, the John Newberry Medal is a literary award presented by the Association for Library Service to Children. The recipient each year is the author of the most distinguished contributions to American Literature for Children. John Newbery was an 18th century English publisher of children’s books. The award was first given in 1922 and many of the books are indeed classic books. However, some of the newer books may not be suitable for all children.

The Newbery Honor is a “runner-up” award. Interestingly, to be nominated, the book must be written by a United States citizen and published first (or simultaneously) in the United States during the preceding year.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What if my child isn’t ready to read these books?

If your child is reading below their grade level, don’t despair. In fact, it is normal for young readers to be “behind.” When we force children to read before they are ready, we often create reading difficulties. If you really think your child needs more work on reading, see Pride Reading Program HERE.

How long should my child read each day?

I generally let the child take the lead. Many children by 3rd-grade love to read, however, if they are behind and not reading as well as they think they should, they may dread reading. For this reason, I think it is entirely permissible to read aloud to them. When reading aloud, I usually have my child read a paragraph or two.

What if my child hates reading?

Most children do not hate reading everything. It may be a matter of finding what they like. For instance, I had one child that loved to read non-fiction books about animals and chicken reproduction even at a young age. Maybe your child would like to read a graphic novel or comic book. Maybe they like to read.

What if I don’t like my child’s choice of books?

I remember when my oldest son wanted to read Goosebumps books. We read one that seemed delightful, and I received advice that suggested I let him read more in his free reading time. I only read classics to him and assigned him great literature, but he could choose whatever he wanted within reason. He read a couple more Goosebumps and they started to get darker. On his own, he quit reading them. That doesn’t mean that you allow your children to read anything they want, but it does mean you let them have some say in the books they select. Eventually, they learn to discern great literature from fluff.

Book List for 3rd Graders – Best Chapter Books

The following books are great for third-grade readers as either read aloud or to read themselves.

The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth

Originally published in 1930 and won the Newbery Medal in 1931. It tells the story of a penniless artist and a calico cat. This Buddhist folk tale is set in ancient Japan. This book is a great way to introduce other cultures and religions to your children. (At this age, I would read this as a read-aloud. However, if you don’t plan to read it now, have your child read it when you study Japan or Buddhism.)

The Cat Who Went to Heaven book cover

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

This is the iconic story of Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory. The first 5 children that find a golden ticket in their chocolate bars will be allowed in the mysterious factory. The first four golden tickets holders are Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, and Mike Teavee. However, the last ticket is found by a poor boy named Charlie Bucket, and his entire world is changed. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie is a classic that stars Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. Johnny Depp stars as Willy Wonka in a remade version of this film.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

A little girl named Fern saves the runt of a litter of pigs and names him, Wilbur. After a month, Fern’s Uncle, Homer Zuckerman buys Wilbur. He then goes to live in the Zuckerman’s barn. While Fern goes daily to visit Wilbur, he is still lonely until he befriends Charlotte. Charlotte is a spider that lives in the doorway of the barn. She and Wilbur become good friends. However, Charlotte promises to help save Wilbur when he realizes he will become bacon. She spins a message on her web that reads, Some Pig. The series of messages she spins, help to save Wilbur’s life. Charlotte’s Web has had both movies and plays produced after the original book.

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli

Originally published in 1949 and won the Newbery Award in 1950. Set in England in the Middle Ages as the bubonic plague devastates the population. A young boy, Robin is sent to be a knight, but he loses the use of his legs. Robin eventually finds himself in the car of a friar who cars for him at a monastery. Robin learns to read the Bible, carve, and use crutches. The friar tells him to overcome challenges he must first find the “door in the wall.”

The Door in the Wall

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

This book tells the story of three farmers, two curious creatures, a family of foxes, and Mr. Fox. The farmers – Boggis is a chicken farmer and a mean man, Bunce is a duck and goose farmer, and a nasty man and Bean is a think turkey and apple farm,er and a beastly man. Badger, rat, Mrs. Fox and her four small children, and Mr. Fox who is a fantastic fellow complete the cast. This book was made into a wonderful movie that is really worth watching.

Fantastic Mr. Fox stamp

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey

First published in 1943, Homer Price is the main character in two books. The first book is entitled simply, Homer Price. Homer lives in Centerburg, Ohio. He enjoys fixing radios, and occasionally gets stuck watching over things such as the unstoppable doughnut-making machine in his uncle’s diner. Home lives in a motor court where he helps his father out.

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Wanda is a Polish girl who attends a school where she is bullied and mocked for being different. After being teased for the blue dress she wears to school every day, Wanda tells her classmates that she has 100 dresses at home. Eventually, Wanda and her family leave to live in a new town because of the discrimination they have encountered. And her classmates soon learn about the hundred dresses Wanda owns. Originally published in 1944, and received the Newbery Honor in 1945, this is the perfect book to help teach your children how to welcome the new kid in town.

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

This historical fiction book tells the story of Johnny Tremain who was a young boy in Boston right before and during the outbreak of the American Revolution. Johnny Tremain is one of my favorite books and shows the life of an apprentice and the tension between the Patriots and Loyalists including the Boston Tea Party. While some people suggest this book should be read by older kids, I read this book to most of my children in 3rd grade. It was written in 1943 and won the Newbery Award in 1944. In 1957, Walt Disney Pictures released a film called Johnny Tremain based on this book.

Kildee House by Rutherford George Montgomery

First published in 1949 and a Newbery Honor book in 1950. This was another favorite of mine to read aloud. A house sits in the redwood forest and is a refuge for wildlife.

Mountain Born by Elizabeth Yates

This book is a children’s historical novel that tells the life of a shepherd’s family. This book is set in the Rocky Mountains in the 19th century. Published in 1943, and a Newbery Honor book in 1944. Additionally, Walt Disney released a television show in 1972, entitled Mountain Born that tells the story of Jason, an 11-year-old shepherd boy.

Mountain Born book cover by Elizabeth Yates

Mr. Popper Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

Mr. Popper lives with his wife, Mrs. Popper, and his two children, Bill and Janie Popper. When a large crate arrives carrying a male penguin, Mr. Popper’s world is turned upside down. Then a second crate arrives carrying a female penguin. Eventually, Mr. Popper has 12 penguins. How will he feed his growing family? This wonderfully funny book was written in 1938 and is a Newberry Honor Book from 1939.

Mr. Popper's Penguins book cover

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

This children’s adventure novel will probably require some explanation along the way and that it why it makes a wonderful read-aloud. This children’s fantasy is about a young boy who is bored. Milo receives a magical tollbooth that transports him to another kingdom. In the Kingdom of Wisdom, he meets a dog named Tock. Milo goes looking for the Kingdom’s princesses named Rhyme and Reason. This book is full of puns and is a great book to explain how things can have multiple meanings, puns, and idioms.

Red Sails to Capri by Ann Weil

This Newbery Honor book was written in 1952. I have read and reread this book numerous times. It sparked my desire to visit the Isle of Capri in Italy one day. This historical novel tells the story of the rediscovery of the Blue Grotto in 1826. If you have never seen a photo of the Blue Grotto, this is something that you need to rectify.

blue grotto in the isle of capri

Seabird by Holling C. Holling

Newbery Honor 1949.The story of Ezra, a ship’s boy on a whaling ship, who carves an ivory gull. The story tells the travels of Ezra’s descendants and traces the history of transportation.

Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark

Published in 1952, and won the Newbery Medal in 1953. This book is the reason that visiting the Andes Mountains tops my bucket list. Cusi is an Inca boy who leaves his home in the Andes mountains to learn about his ancient ancestors. He has a pet llama, Some of this book is historically accurate while other parts are just pure fiction.

llamas on the hills of peru

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois

Written in 1947 and Newbery Award winner in 1948. This novel details the balloon trip by a retired schoolteacher who discovers the island of Krakatoa.

Books for 3rd Graders – Series

The following are great book series that are excellent readers and a great way to introduce children to characters and how they develop over the course of time.

The Adventures of Wishbone by different authors

These books follow the adventures of a Jack Russell Terrier named Wishbone. In these books, which are named after classical literature, Wishbone goes back and forth between his current life and the life of the hero in the stories he retells for children. The first book in the series, Be A Wolf is inspired by Beowulf, #2 is Salty Dog and is a retelling of Treasure Island. Introduce your children to the classics such as The Three Musketeers, Moby Dick, The Odyssey, A Connecticut in King Arthur’s Court, and so many more. These books were adapted for a television series. Although these books were originally published in 1997-2000, and they may be hard to find, they are certainly worth the investment if you can find them on eBay or at a used book sale.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler

The first book in this series was originally published in 1924. In the first book, you are introduced to 4 orphans, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny. After their parents die they fear they will be split up or worse, sent to live with the mean grandfather who they do not know. They find an abandoned boxcar and fix it up to live in it. Henry goes looking for a job and the children eventually end up meeting their grandfather, although, they don’t know it is him. The rest of the books in the series deal with the children solving various mysteries.

One more thing – there are early readers based on this series. The Boxcar Children Early Chapter Books.

Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

A series of books about a man who can talk to animals. Several movies have been made from this book series. If you are only good to read one book about Doctor Dolittle, read The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, published in 1922, and the Newbery Award Winner in 1923. Many of the newer published versions of Doctor Dolittle leave out some of the original language due to racism. However, I prefer to read the original versions and talk to my children about how things have changed and how we can change the world one person at a time. Several films have been produced from this series.

Geronimo Stilton is written by Elizabetta Dami under the pen name of the character Geronimo Stilton

This Italian children’s chapter book series is set in an earthlike universe overrun by mice and rats. Geronimo is the main character and he lives in New Mouse City on Mouse Island where he works as editor and publisher for the newspaper The Rodent’s Gazette.

Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary

Henry is an ordinary boy, and in book one Henry rescues a stray dog and names him Ribsy. When these books were written, Henry Huggins was called the “modern Tom Sawyer.”

Henry Huggins book cover

Laura Ingalls Wilder books – Little House on the Praire, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie

These are just a few titles by Laura Ingalls Wilder. While some of the languages may be objectionable (anti-Native Americans and anti-Black sentiments in her work including words such as darkie). However, some of these books won awards when they were written. The Little House on the Prairie book was published in 1935 and tells the story of the Ingalls family from 1874-to 1875. Laura was a young girl and her family lived on the prairie in Kansas. A television series starring Michael Landon followed the books series. Another excellent choice in the books for 3rd graders category.

Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne

Books 1-28 of the series follow Jack and Annie Smith, who are siblings living in Frog Creek, PA. They have a magical treehouse that transports them to other places and times. Dinosaurs Before Dark is the first book in the series. The children travel to the Revolutionary War, meet Benjamin Franklin, see the Civil War, and have lunch with llamas. What I really love about the magical world that they encounter is it really helps children to use their imagination and imagine what it would be like to live in a different time and place. The second thing I love about these books is that there are a series of companion books that go along with the series. These non-fiction books called Magic Tree House Research Guides provide more information about the time periods and subject matter.

Miss Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald

The first book in this series was published in 1947. These books follow a small woman who lives in an upside-down house in a neighborhood with children with bad habits. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s magical chest has cures for bad habits and she helps the neighborhood parents deal with typical children’s bad habits.

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

First published in 1947 and was a Newbery Honor book in 1948. Since there are other Misty books, I placed it in this category. However, you cannot go wrong with any of Marguerite Henry’s books which include King of the Wind (Newbery Award 1949), Brighty of the Grand Canyon. Justine Morgan Had a Horse (Newbery Honor 1946), White Stallion of Lipizza, and others. Originally inspired by the island town of Chincoteague, Virginia, and real life. If you have never heard of the wild ponies of Chincoteague and Assateague Island and the annual pony penning days, this is a book that will intrigue you. For years I have talked about going to pony penning days and seeing the wild horses of these islands.

wild horses on chincoteague island

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth S. Gannett

Published in 1948 and a Newbery Honor book in 1949. A story of a young boy who runs away to an island to rescue a baby dragon. Two other books in this series, Elmer and the Dragon, and The Dragons of Blueland, round out this series. These adventure stories are truly delightful and a favorite of most children.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Pippi is a 9-year-old girl with red hair and ponytails. She is incredibly strong. Pippi loves being a child. She lives in Villa Villekulla which is the name of the house she shares with a monkey and horse. Her mother is deceased and her father is missing at sea. She loves being independent. She befriends the two neighbor children.

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

Published in 1926. Winnie-the-Pooh is a collection of short stories about a delightful bear named Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends, Christopher Robin, Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga and Roo. Contents include: Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees, In Which Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets into a Tight Place, and In Which Eeyore Loses a Tail and Pooh Finds One. The second book, The House at Pooh Corner was published in 1928, and introduces Tigger. These books are my absolute favorite literature of all time. Additionally, Disney has produced many, many films and series based on these figures.

Furthermore, this book is great for 3rd graders. However, Winnie-the-Pooh is a great book for children and adults of all ages.

My next list of books will include the best books for Middle School

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8 Great books to Read to Your Kids with a Cup of Hot Chocolate

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15 of the Best Christmas Books to Read to Kids

Kids’ Favorite Christmas Chapter Books

Books Every Homeschool Mom and Dad Should Read

Book lists for 3rd graders

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