third grade read aloud chapter books, books for third grade, chapter books third grade

10 Perfect Read Aloud Books for 3rd Grade

I had the great fortune to meet The Nerdy Book Club founders at a dinner for Anne Ursu hosted by Walden Pond Press to celebrate her latest chapter book, The Real Boy. (It’s wonderful. I put it on my  Newbery 2014 Contenders list! And it just won a Middle Grade Fiction Nerdie).

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Colby Sharp, one of The Nerdy Book Club founders, mentioned that he was teaching third grade this year, a move from years spent teaching fourth grade and I got very excited because I have a son in third grade! Quickly and not surprisingly, we started talking about perfect third grade read aloud books. And the weird thing is that my son’s teacher had read all three perfect third grade books that Colby mentioned! And in that exact order! Great minds think alike?!

  1. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  2. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  3. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

So I asked my son’s 3rd grade teacher how she picked her read aloud chapter books. She said that the other two third grade teachers team teach with her — our teacher taught 5th grade in years past and only this year made the move to 3rd grade — and tell her what books they are reading. My two daughters each have had these other two 3rd grade teachers and they are wonderful teachers! (You can’t go wrong in third grade at my elementary school!)

To complete this list of 10 perfect 3rd grade read aloud books either for parents to read at home or for a classroom, I asked my girls what books their teachers read to them in third grade. My oldest had no recollection but PickyKidPix remembered a few. Their teachers also mentioned books to me in past years which I am including, trying as best as I can to channel them. (I’ll continue to add the read aloud books they choose as the school year progresses.)

The beauty of third grade read aloud books is that most kids are just starting to venture into “real” chapter book and hearing the books allows them to experience books at a higher level than what they can read independently. It’s also a big year for writing. At our elementary school, third graders are subjected to the Long Composition Standardized Test which takes the better part of the day for them to complete.

Giving them wonderful works of writing to emulate helps them think about things like setting, voice, character, plot and experiencing sensations through words. Good stuff! Nothing like giving them examples of well written chapter books for them to model after!

The best part of a perfect read aloud, I think,  is how mesmerized the children become. And how much they learn to love reading; not as a chore to fill out a reading log but as a story that they can not wait to hear the next installment. Other perfect read aloud books gently teach empathy by letting reader see the world from a point of view they would not ordinarily experience.

What books did you love reading with your kids when they were in 3rd grade? I’d love your ideas and I’ll add then to this list. Thanks so much!!

1. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

My son’s school year started off with the wonderful classic Charlotte’s Web. In an era where school’s budgets are being slashed and creative arts are first to land on the chopping block, it’s nice to see that many of the books on this list have themes of a creative talent saving the day. In this case, it’s Charlotte’s artistry with web making as well as her knowledge of words!

My son said, “Charlotte’s Web is about how Fern’s pig Wilbur was going to be killed but then Charlotte (the spider) met Wilbur the day before he was going to be killed and made a plan to save Wilbur. I liked the book and my favorite character was the Gander goose.” (My son seems to love the minor characters as you’ll notice in his reviews!)

2. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

If you ask me what my favorite childrens’ book in the entire world is, I’ll always say this one. It’s a perfect chapter book in my mind where whole adds up to much more than the sum of the parts. Every character is memorable with a story to tell and somehow all these stories meld together into a satisfying ending with an uplifting message.

My son says, “Because of Winn Dixie was a extremely good book and when we read it, had everybody in the class wrapped inside the book. (not literally). When we watched the movie, I liked the book a lot better because I got to see my own vision of the story and my favorite character was Otis from Gertrude’s Pets.”

3.The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

My oldest’s third grade teacher flagged me down two years ago to tell me how much she loved this chapter book. It then went on to win the Newbery. She said that what stood out for her was voice. She’s right. Ivan the Gorilla’s voice draws you right in. He’s like an old soul that you can’t help but befriend.

In some ways this book reminds me of Charlotte’s Web so I like the pairing so kids can compare and contrast. Both books revolve around saving a friend using their artistic abilities!

My son says, “My class is still reading it but it is a very good book so far and everybody loves it. (I think). My favorite character is Bob, the dog, because he was so energetic and funny.”

4.Wonder by R. J. Palacio

What’s not to love about Wonder? The theme of Choose Kindness resonates throughout the book. I actually think it makes the reader into a kinder person just through the act of experiencing the story. It also is a great example of telling a story from different points of view. And every child can relate to being a new kid and trying to fit in. But I think kids, after reading Wonder, will realize that they can choose to be Summer, who doesn’t need to be coerced to be kind, or Jack, who will stand up for his friend even if it costs him his friends, or Julian, a bully.

My son says, “We are not reading it at school. We are reading it at home but it is one of the best books I’ve read. I am surprised it hasn’t won a Newbery award because it’s so good. At some parts, it is sad but overall it is a REALLY GOOD BOOK.” (Yes, he typed those caps himself.)

We met author R. J. Palacio at a book club event for Understanding Our Differences.

5. The BFG by Roald Dahl

PickyKidPix’s 3rd grade class had a love affair with Roald Dahl all year long. It’s funny but they didn’t choose Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or James and the Giant Peach. PickyKidPix said that it was because they knew the story from movies so the book was ruined for them. Instead, nearly every child in her class read The BFG or Matilda. I guess the movie Matilda was less popular!

We amassed a large Roald Dahl collection that year and PickyKidPix said that her favorites are George’s Marvelous Medicine, The Twits, and Esio Trot. It was my turn to parent volunteer to read to her class so I  read them a chapter of my favorite Roald Dahl book, Danny The Champion of the World. It has a wonderful tie in to The BFG which really delighted them.

I think The BFG is the perfect Dahl book to start with. It’s classic Dahl but not as scary as some (like The Witches which we weren’t able to get past the first chapter.) PickyKidPix even brought Dahl’s Revolting Recipes home from the school library and she and her friend Helena spent an afternoon delightedly making really disgusting concoctions.

6. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Grasshopper and Sensei’s third grade teacher recommended this easy chapter book to me for her and I ended up using it for her book club. Her teacher said that girl bullying tends to rear its ugly head in third grade and this book centers around the role of bystanders in bullying.

It’s a true story of what happened to Eleanor Estes when she was a child. In some ways, it’s Estes way of a “do over.” She didn’t act at the time the way she wanted to and it haunted her so she wrote this book when she was older.

Wonder is another “do over” story in which author R J Palacio was so upset by her reaction to a little girl with Treacher-Collins Syndrome at an ice cream store that she started writing her book that night on a post-it note.

The beauty of “do over” stories is that they are so visceral that they do, in fact, let the reader experience a situation with time to process how they would react if it ever happened to them in real life. We get the effect of a “do over” the first time.

As I read this book with my daughter, I got that deja vu feeling and realized that I had read a long time ago too! It’s a classic that continues to guide and teach!

7. Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

Grasshopper and Sensei’s fifth grade teacher used this advanced picture book as a read aloud and all my daughter’s  friends raved about it. I think it works equally well for third grade. Polacco’s shares her own dyslexia story in this picture book.

Polacco says, ”

THIS STORY IS TRULY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL. IT IS ABOUT MY OWN STRUGGLE WITH NOT BEING ABLE TO READ.

THIS STORY HONORS THE TEACHER THAT TOOK TIME TO SEE A CHILD THAT WAS DROWNING AND NEEDED HELP. I AM A DYSLEXIC, DISNUMERIC AND DISGRAPHIC. CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO TRY AND LEARN ALONG WITH OTHER STUDENTS WHEN I NEEDED SPECIALIZED HELP…HELP THAT WASN’T AVAILABLE IN THOSE DAYS. I REMEMBER FEELING DUMB, THAT TERRIBLE FEELING ABOUT MYSELF WAS COMPOUNDED BY BEING TEASED BY A BULLY. THAT BOY CHANGED MY LIFE AND MADE ME FEEL SO UNSAFE AND SO SAD THAT I DIDN’T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL ANYMORE. MR. FALKER, MY HERO, MY TEACHER, NOT ONLY STOPPED THIS BOY FROM TEASING ME, BUT HE ALSO NOTICED THAT I WASN’T READING WELL AND GOT A READING SPECIALIST TO HELP

TO THIS DAY, I REMEMBER THE FIRST DAY THAT WORDS ON A PAGE HAD MEANING TO ME…MR. FALKER HAD REACHED INTO THE MOST LONELY DARKNESS AND PULLED ME INTO BRIGHT SUNLIGHT AND SAT ME ON A SHOOTING STAR. I SHALL NEVER FORGET HIM…SO THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN BOTH TO HONOR MR. FALKER, BUT ALSO TO WARN YOUNG PEOPLE THAT MEAN WORDS HAVE A TERRIBLE POWER…AND THAT THEY SHOULD DO ALL THAT THEY CAN TO SEE THAT TEASING STOPS AT THEIR SCHOOL.

THANK YOU, MR. FALKER,”

 

8a. Mystery at the Club Sandwich by Doug Cushman

My son is going to meet Doug Cushman via a Skype author visit this year. His third grade teachers have used Cushman’s mystery picture books to lead off the mystery writing unit and have requested him! He’ll be Skyping in from Paris, France!! (Because there is a Paris, Texas!)

PickyKidPix said that these were her two favorite Doug Cushman mysteries that she read in third grade.

8b. The Mystery of the Monkey’s Maze (From the Casebook of Seymour Sleuth) by Doug Cushman

9. The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney

Simple Mom had suggested this in a Google + thread led by Doc Scholl. I had always loved this book but wondered and worried if it was too old fashioned and slow paced to hold kids’ attention. I was thrilled that my kids’ friends talked about it and, when questioned, said that they liked it a lot.

It’s about finding the wonder in everyday life and discovering that the people in your community have amazing stories and experiences! Eben’s farming community that seems so sleepy and boring is a wonder of adventure and intrigue when he gets challenged by his father in a bet to find 7 wonders in his home town of Sassafras Springs.

My son ended up doing a book project on The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs for rising 4th grade summer homework.

10. A Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

This is one of my favorite chapter books but remains is lesser known than it deserves to be. Though it’s the first book in a series, the rest of the books are not nearly as good as this one.

Chester is a cricket from Connecticut that winds up in picnic basket and ends up in New York City’s Times Square. He gets rescued by Mario, whose family runs a failing newstand inside the Times Square subway station, and makes new friends including a street smart mouse and a kindly cat (who inexplicably are friends). Chester and his friends plot to get him home but first they want to help their friend Mario.  It just so happens that Chester’s extraordinary musical gift is the key to both.

My daughter, PickyKidPix, did a really fun book club on A Cricket in Times Square when she was in third grade.

 

Perfect Third Grade Read Aloud Chapter Book Honorable Mentions

The Mysterious Miss Slade by Dick King-Smith

My son said that they read this mystery chapter book for read aloud and he highly recommends it. It’s by the author of Babe: The Gallent Pig.

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

My son’s class also had this 2014 Newbery winner read to them in class. It’s a wonderful example of strong voice in writing as well as just a really great read. There aren’t many Newbery winners that work for third grade and this would work fine for 2nd grade too.

The final Read Aloud book of the year was in prepration for a field trip to Plimoth Plantation. Debbie Reese of American Indians in Children’s Literature has issues with how the Wampanoags are portrayed and her post is here. She would recommend instead Margaret Bruchac’s photo essay 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving.

This would be great because their cousin was working at Plimoth Plantation when we visited and that would make for a rich discussion!

Debbie also recommends Guests by Michael Dorris.

Here’s a review to get a sense for the plot from Amazon:

“When Moss, a young Algonquian boy, accidentally broke his grandfather’s wampum on the morning that he was already dreading enough; his bad luck just got worse. When he showed the broken wampum to his grandfather, his grandfather said that he would just have to replace the old story with his own story and use the wampum’s beads to tell the story. He was to finish the story before the guests came that evening. When Moss refused to help with the preparations, he told his parents that he would run away before he ate with them. Moss left the village while he followed another Native American girl named Trouble. He followed her into the woods, even though she asked him not to. When Moss first told her that he was going on his away time, she did not believe him. Even though he was lying, she was persuaded when he adventured into the forest by himself. He found an animal in the forest that helped him dig deep into his heart and pull out the real Moss. When he found that he was lost, he became discouraged and walked in one direction. He came upon Trouble who showed him the way back. Moss is unhappy that the guests were coming and thought he might not return to the village. I recommend this book to children from ages 8-12 who enjoy exciting stories.”

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

My son tells me that they started this chapter book about the Wampanoag Native Americans but will not have time to finish it before school ends. It corresponds nicely with their field trip to Plimoth Plantation (which I will posting on shortly), and I LOVE Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series so I’m excited to finish this book at home this summer with my son.

p.s. A few more lists:

26 Perfect Read Alouds for Kindergarten

19 Perfect Read Alouds for 1st Grade

10 Perfect Read Aloud Books for 2nd Grade

10 Perfect Read Alouds for 4th Grade

10 Perfect Read Alouds for 5th Grade

23 Great Picture Books for 5th Grade

90 6th Graders Name Their Favorite Book

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

third grade read aloud chapter books, books for third grade, chapter books third grade

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

43 Comments

  1. What a great round up of books. So many favorites on this list
    Erica recently posted…15 Adventure Picture Books for KidsMy Profile

  2. My daughter’s favorite is Charlotte’s Web. She loved the movie too.
    Susie Lampman recently posted…Poker Training ReportMy Profile

  3. This is a fantastic list. Hadyn is starting to read Charlotte’s Web independently (if we can ever make our way to the library through the snow and freezing cold temperatures). I am pinning this list, because there are also great book suggestions.

    Initially, I was going to develop a writing project after each chapter and then have a bigger “to do” at the end. Now, I’m thinking not. Now, I think we will be having discussions (with both little girl and little guy) at the end of each chapter – and a writing “to do” at the end.

    Right now, I really want to focus his mind on concentrating and understanding the story to another level. Not sure if that makes sense, but I want him to be able to start working on analyzing and thinking about things more deeply.

    Thanks for this excellent list to work from. I appreciate it!
    Lisa Nelson recently posted…The Socratic Method of Learning as an option for your HomeschoolMy Profile

    • Hi Lisa,
      What a great idea to add an writing extension to the book. There are so many great themes in the book to think about that relate to kids and friendships. If you want to do a book comparison, I’d recommend reading The One and Only Ivan next because there are very similar themes of friendship and saving your friend using your skills. They are both fantastic books too!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Get Kids Reading Strategies: 12 Surefire WaysMy Profile

  4. You’ve done it again! Thanks for some new titles I hadn’t heard of yet. The longer I’m out of the classroom, the more behind I get. Pinning!
    Anna recently posted…Free Valentine’s Day Spelling GameMy Profile

  5. There are several here that I need to read. Thanks for this list!
    maryanne recently posted…Teach Your Child About the WorldMy Profile

  6. I really like this list – we read some of the books either together or separately, but I’d like to make sure that we will hang 10 on this list 🙂 Thanks for sharing with Afterschool!
    Natalie recently posted…Cooking With Children: Lomo SaltadoMy Profile

  7. This is such a great list! Thanks for sharing it. I have pinned it for later reference.

  8. I think my 4th grader would enjoy several of these books. I always enjoy your recommendations. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Jen

    Our school librarian sent us the link to your website and I love it!

    Last year I read aloud The One and Only Ivan to my third graders and they were mesmerized. It helped that I grew up near the B&I, the real name to the home of Ivan, and remembered him fondly. Through this book I also taught a reading fiction and nonfiction integrated unit. The class and I looked for articles about Ivan online, read books about Africa, and learned more about gorillas and their natural habitat to contrast to Ivan’s habitat at the mall. The kids loved it and learned so much, they were hungry for more nonfiction information to be able to bolster their understanding of Ivan.

  10. Renee @ MDBR

    Your top four books are among my very favorite. It’s funny because I was thinking of putting together a very similar list! lol It’s getting trickier to find read aloud books for my kids that they both like (3.5 years between them and different genders). I have not read Charlotte’s Web to my kids yet but I would absolutely love to – I think I will try that one next! Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop and for hosting with us. We are so thrilled to have you on board! 🙂
    Renee recently posted…Book Review ~ The Super Duper Princess Heroes: How it All StartedMy Profile

    • Hi Renee,
      There is something defining about third grade read aloud books! I was thinking of doing a series for other grades but am not sure about the books … somehow the grade appropriateness is not as clear as third grade! I guess it is because that is the year that kids make the leap to chapter book?? I’m glad you like the book list Renee!!! Thanks for including me to host the Kid Lit Blog Hop!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Super Easy Valentine Card Craft for KidsMy Profile

  11. This is a great list of books for 3rd graders. Thanks for sharing at the after school link up.
    Kelly recently posted…10 After School Activities to try in February {Learning about Money}My Profile

  12. I love it when I find a list like this that includes some of my all-time-favourites rubbing shoulders with some I\’ve never heard of!My 3rd and 4th graders recently loved the classic Understood Betsy, too.Thank you!

  13. So glad to see one of my 3rd grader’s favorite authors here: Roald Dahl! He has so many great stories! I’d also like to suggest a book my friend, a 3rd grade teacher, said got her class laughing: Joey Pigza Loses Control (by Jack Gantos).

    • Hi Kristin,
      We had such a great year reading Roald Dahl when my middle child was in third grade. My youngest is in third grade now and I hope he starts on Roald Dahl this year though we’ve mostly been reading Harry Potter, Rick Riordan and The Unwanteds. Thanks so much also for your great book recommendation! I love Jack Gantos too! He lives in Boston near me but I’ve never met him (yet …)
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Peanut Butter and Jellyfish Trailer Exclusive!My Profile

  14. Fantastic list!! Seeing this list makes me want to go hit up the library today 🙂
    Thanks for sharing.
    XOXO

  15. Blaine Kaercher

    Thank you for this wonderful list. I am a third grade teacher and every year I read
    The Pagemaster!

  16. Karen Kent

    We must be kindred spirits. I read 6 of 10 of your list as read alouds to my third grade class this year. Another can’t miss is The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963.
    Thanks for compiling these lists! I found you on pinterest.

  17. Karen Amador

    I also read The One and Only Ivan, Wonder, and Flora and Ulysses to my three third grade classes this year. They were all much-loved books. One book that you don’t have on your list is The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt. My students loved it, and it fits in well with the ecosystems units we teach in the second semester. It has something for everybody adventure, animals, humor, respect for the environment (not heavy handed though). My daughter’s fourth grade teacher read it aloud to her class who also loved it. I do think it’s a good one to read after Wonder since the point of view shifts between chapters, but without the help of the way Wonder is divided.

  18. Brittnei

    I’ve actually only read Charlotte’s Web when I was a kid. Thank you for sharing more ideas with us at the Creative Style Linkup. Reading aloud is definitely an important skill that should be practiced. I’m looking forward to my kids doing it. 🙂
    Brittnei recently posted…#TuesdayTen :Things I Need To LearnMy Profile

  19. Thanks for this great book list! Some of my favorites are on here are Charlotte’s Web and The Cricket in Times Square. There are also a few that I want to check out like The Hundred Dresses, Because of Winn Dixie, and Mysterious Miss Slade (my family loved Babe). I have twins in third grade, and it is hard to keep up with them as they are voracious readers!

  20. Amy

    Will have to check some of these out! Thanks! We just finished reading The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. It was a huge hit with our two boys who just completed 2nd grade! It’s a great classic and the movie was fun to watch after we finished the book 🙂

  21. Jessica

    Thanks for the list! I read The Only and Only Ivan every year now. It quickly became one of my favorites. You included so many that we have read this year, but also some books that I’m now excited to try. Two books that are not on the list that my students LOVE is Bunnicula (by: James Howe) and Goblins in the Castle (by: Bruce Coville). Both are so much fun to read aloud!

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