Third grade is a tricky year for budding readers. They’re just beginning to gain interest in more mature subjects and ideas, but are still in love with making jokes and being full of shenanigans! At the same time, their reading skills are still growing and they need to be challenged, just as much as entertained. In this pivotal period, they’re making the shift from learning to read to reading to learn. Check out these 57 highly engaging stories to help your 8-year-olds develop their love of reading!
1. Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhiha Lai
Stronger 8-year-old readers will enjoy this author’s personal experiences as a child fleeing from Vietnam to the United States after the fall of Saigon. Though it’s a chapter book, it’s written in verse which is perfect for providing exposure to poetry.
2. Brown Girl Brown Boy What Could You Be?, by Dr. Temika Edwards
We love a book that gives fair representation to all races and allows your kids to see characters that are relatable. This inspiring story will inspire your elementary students to envision themselves in a multitude of careers- not dependent on their skin color. We also believe that this would be a great story for you to read-aloud on a school career day!
3. Trapped in a Video Game by Dustin Brady
What 8-year-old doesn’t enjoy a video game? They’ll be hooked on this imaginative book series where the characters are trapped inside their favorite video games and are trying to save the world! While there are no colorful illustrations, the vivid imagery and humor sprinkled throughout the story will have your readers wanting to explore more!
4. Hilarious Jokes For 8-Year-Old Kids, by Hayden Fox
Reluctant readers will be dying to read this book full of jokes so that they can share the hilarity and silliness with all of their friends and family. With knock-knock jokes, riddles, tongue twisters, and more- it’s the perfect book to capture their interest!
5. Maybe, by Kobi Yamada
This picture book is both inspiring and sweet. Maybe intends to rouse the endless possibilities in your kids’ lives and awaken the potential that they all carry around every day. Plus, the sweet illustrations and calm mood will have your students dreaming big!
6. Young Change Makers: Making A Difference, by Stacy C. Bauer
This awesome non-fiction book is packed with true stories of kids who are making positive changes in the world. From fundraisers to helping the environment, your young ones will be in awe at all that their peers have accomplished. Learning how kids around the world can make a difference will undoubtedly inspire them to want to find their own ways to contribute!
7. Mistakes That Worked, by Charlotte Foltz Jones
This entertaining story about a variety of mistakes that worked is definitely one that your kids will thoroughly enjoy! Teach your kiddos that oftentimes mistakes have led to incredible inventions- like the chocolate chip cookie and the Slinky!
8. The Mystery of the Haunted House, by Willow Night
This book is the first in a series of five-chapter books for your kids at a 3rd-grade reading level. When Josh goes missing at a Haunted House, Olivia and Noah are on a mission to save him! It’s a slap-full of mystery and action that will have them eagerly wanting to pick up the next book in the series.
9. The Fascinating Animal Book for Kids, by Ginjer Clarke
Animals always seem to capture the hearts of our kids. This amusing book will keep your students engaged with wacky, fun facts about a variety of animals while familiarizing themselves with non-fiction text. The up-close photos and fascinating facts will surely have them turning page after page.
10. Interesting Facts for Curious Minds, by Jordan Moore
Have you got learners that ask one hundred and one questions? If so, this is just the book for them! With vibrant illustrations and 63 chapters of intriguing facts about science, history, and pop culture- this is one they’ll pick up again and again.
11. Pokemon Super Special Chapter Book Collection, by Helena Mayer, Jeanette Lane, and Maria Barbo
Pokemon has made its way back into modern culture and kids are obsessed! Perfect for your 8-year-old reluctant readers because of its high-interest content, this box set consists of 4 chapter books that are full of vibrant illustrations. Will Trainer Ash and his Pokemon win the battles at hand? Encourage your littles to read and find out!
12. Horrible Science: Bugling Box of 20 Brilliant Books, by Nick Arnold
20 books in one box? What a special find! If you have kiddos who are in love with science, this is the perfect set of books to keep them occupied! With gory books about blood, brains, and bones, they’ll be enthralled with these best-sellers!
13. Bad Guys Series, by Aaron Blabey
This book series is a must-have set of action-packed graphic novels. The humorous collection of 18 books each features a different “bad guy” doing a good deed- and is great for even the most reluctant readers!
14. The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg
Add some enchanting books like this to your library for 8-year-olds. This sweet tale of a young boy who wants to believe in Santa comes to life in the pages of this touching story. Your little ones will feel the magic of the Polar Express train as it heads to the North Pole.
15. The Last Kids on Earth, by Max Brallier
This is book number eight in the New York Times best-selling series of The Last Kids on Earth. The infamous group of kids is on a mission to stop the evil Thrull from building a tower that could evoke doom in another dimension. Best described as a hilarious and action-adventure chapter book that your 8-year-olds will love!
16. Mystery in Rocky Mountain National Park, by Aaron Johnson
If you have an outdoor-obsessed kid in your life, they certainly need this epic adventure on their bookshelf. Before Jake’s grandfather died, he left a set of clues for Jake to go on a scavenger hunt in the Rocky Mountain National Park. He and his friends’ survival skills and friendship are tested on their quest. As the mystery unfolds, your readers will discover interesting information about natural history as well as the importance of integrity!
17. Code 7, by Bryan Johnson
A nice, wholesome beginner chapter book will get your kids learning how to crack the code for the life they want. Code 7 takes readers on 7 different journies with the sweetest bunch of characters!
18. Emily Windsnap Series, by Liz Kessler
This half-mermaid, half-human character will certainly capture the imagination of young readers everywhere. Have your students join her in her underwater adventures as she swims through conflict and resolution in this 6 book series!
19. Would You Rather Game Book, by Riddleland
This fun and exciting book provides your kids with an unlimited amount of “would you rather” questions to challenge their friends and family. When given two choices, neither being great options, they’ll have to choose which silly thing they’d rather do! These are great conversation starters or time fillers to learn more about your students in a humorous way.
20. The Secret Zoo, by Bryan Chick
What’s the big secret with the zoo? Living next door to a zoo is already exciting, but when the animals begin acting strange, a mystery unravels and a group of friends realize that there is a whole lot more to the zoo than they originally thought!
21. Funny Stories for 8-Year-Olds, by Helen Paiba
This collection of humorous stories is perfect for 8-year-olds. With popular authors like Judy Blume and Anne Fine- you know the stories will be of high quality! They can choose to read one or a few, and pick it up and put it down at any time.
22. Unplugged, by Gordon Korman
How would your kids feel about going on an overnight trip without their cell phones? Unplugged follows the spoiled son-of-a-billionaire as he goes to a sleep-away camp and is forced to leave all of his technology behind. As this hilarious tale begins to unfold, a series of strange occurrences begin to happen.
23. Oh My Gods, by Stephanie Cooke, Juliana Moon, and Insha Fitzpatrick
Here’s a new, popular graphic novel to add to your classroom library. It aims to captivate readers as the main character, Karen, moves to Mt. Olympus and begins to realize that her middle school classmates aren’t just ordinary kids – they’re gods and mythological creatures! Your readers will be just as surprised when the characters start to turn to stone!
24. Houdini and Me, by Dan Gutman
Kids are always shocked to learn about Houdini and his tricks so Houdini and Me will surely capture their interest! Living in Houdini’s old New York City home, a young boy coincidentally named Harry begins to receive strange messages from someone claiming to be Houdini himself. Should he believe the messages and go back in time to relive the life of the famed magician, Harry Houdini?
25. Salat in Secret
Salat in Secret by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow is a children’s book about community and acceptance. In this story, Muhammad gets a Salat rug as a gift for his birthday, but he’s afraid to pray at school. In this beautiful tale, your kiddos will learn something new about culture and realize that our traditions are what make each of us unique.
26. Half Moon Summer
Here’s a memorable tale for your fluent readers! Elaine Vickers writes Half Moon Summer to tell the tale of two kids who fall in love with running. Not every day is easy though, as Mia and Drew have to hold each other accountable in order to achieve their goal of running a half-marathon while juggling difficulties at home.
27. How to Stay Invisible
For your mature young readers, How to Stay Invisible will have your students feeling empathetic toward the main character, Raymond, who was abandoned by his parents. He must live in the woods behind his middle school and learn to survive with only a duffle bag of clothes and his dog, Rosie. This page-turner explores themes of support, friendship, and survival.
28. Call Me Adnan
Reem Faruqi writes the story of Adnan; a 12-year-old who loves playing table tennis, but when he endures a tragedy, his love for the sport is questioned. Will he find a way to get through the grief and fall in love with his passion again? This story will take your kiddos on a journey to find out.
29. Dragons in a Bag
Zetta Elliott will effortlessly tap into your children’s imaginations in this story of delivering baby dragons! Jaxon has to find a way to safely deliver baby dragons without letting them out of the bag or feeding them sweets, but what happens when they break the rules? This is the first of a 4 book series that will captivate your lovers of magic and time travel!
30. Fire Chief Fran
This picture book is perfect for kids who love firemen and firetrucks as they’ll get an inside glimpse into the life of a fire chief! The story rhymes and tells all about how Fran saves her community from fire dangers.
31. Concrete, From the Ground Up
This book by Larissa Theule is an exciting read for your elementary readers. The book offers pictures to go along with the history and facts of concrete and how the substance has helped us make important structures.
32. The Skull, A Tyrolean Folktale by Jon Klassen
This is a retelling of a classic Tyrolean folktale where the author uses humor to offset the ominous setting. In the story, Otilla runs away into a dark forest and is summoned by a skull living in a haunted house. Your readers will relate to both Otilla and the skull as they both must face their fears that seem to be inescapable.
33. Fox Has a Problem
Corey R. Tabor writes this fun series, and in this book, the fox has a major problem- there’s a kite stuck in a tree! But it doesn’t stop there- each solution creates a domino effect of creating more problems! This is a great book for your early and developing readers to progress in their fluency.
34. The Story of Gumluck the Wizard by Adam Rex
Your little ones will undoubtedly enjoy this comical series by Adam Rex. The tales spin everything from magic to ghosts to fairies. In this particular story, a young wizard will do anything to be a hero, but he must get past his silly sense of self first!
35. Dory Fantasmagory: Can’t Live Without You
We love a silly series with relatable characters and the Dory Fantasmagory series is no exception! Your little readers will be totally captivated by Dory’s outrageous thoughts as she loses track of her mom in a store and gets separation anxiety, leading her thoughts to spiral and invent crazy scenarios!
36. The Puppets of Spelhorst by Kate DiCamillo
Katie DiCamillo does it again! She’s written a fabulous tale of 5 friends, or puppets, who are shut in a trunk by a sea captain. They fight together, laugh together, and comfort one another. They find out they’re together for a reason when they end up in the home of two little girls; starting their new life together.
Your kiddos will be curious to learn all that there is to learn about the color blue! This storybook details the history and cultural use of the color blue. Blue powders were sought after for centuries and different cultures used the color to signify different things.
38. Geronimo Stilton
An easy and light-hearted read to include on your bookshelf is Geronimo Stilton. It’s a series about a popular mouse who runs a newspaper and tells adventure stories. He lives on Mouse Island and within this story of stories, Geronimo and his sister are on the hunt for treasure.
39. The Lemonade War
Your students with siblings will appreciate reading about the summer-long shenanigans in The Lemonade War. A brother and sister start a business war to see who can sell the most lemonade in 5 days- who will win? Evan who is people-smart or Jessie who is math-smart?
40. Remember Us
This is a nostalgic book that any age reader will connect to. As Sage moves through middle school, her friend groups change and she has to figure out where she truly belongs. She loves hooping with the guys, and she doesn’t feel like she can connect with her long-time girlfriends. Your students will definitely feel for Sage and understand her desire to fit into her ever-changing life.
This one’s a page-turner for your mature readers! Valdez Jones VIII, also known as Wrecker, finds a boat moored on the sand with a group of men who don’t want to be found. He tries to forget about them, but he keeps seeing them all over town and now they want something in return. Will he give in to what the sketchy men want?
42. The War That Saved My Life
This story is great for your developing elementary readers who have a love for history and heroes. The award-winning book, set in WWII, is about young Ada who has never left her apartment- but now she sees an opportunity to go with her brother, and she takes it.
43. The Blackbird Girls
In this early reader chapter book, two girls are sworn enemies until they find common ground. The nuclear power plant Chernobyl has exploded, and both girls’ fathers work there. Now they’re on a train to Leningrad to stay with Valentina’s estranged grandmother: starting a new life together after a horrific tragedy.
44. Love That Dog
Jack finds his voice in this beautiful poetic book with the help of his teacher and a dog. This book is written in verse, which makes it the perfect read for all ages. Your kids will surely love Jack and his obsession with his dog.
45. Ways to Make Sunshine
Here’s a beautiful novel that explores themes of perseverance and will leave your kids feeling more at ease when it comes to unexpected change. Renee Watson writes the story of Ryan Hart who has to come to terms with living in a new, but smaller, house while her dad is now working the night shift in Oregon.
46. The Wild Robot
Here’s an unexpected story that’s sure to have a lasting impact on your students. The Wild Robot is a story about survival- robot survival that is. Can a robot survive in the wild? In this book, a robot named Roz is marooned on an island and she doesn’t know how she got there. She has to figure out how to live on the island; receiving some help from animal friends.
47. Ali Cross
Your mystery lovers will be enthralled in solving this case! Ali Cross is the son of Alex Cross; a renowned FBI detective. Ali wants to be as good at solving mysteries as his dad, and when his best friend disappears, he’s determined to follow in his dad’s detective footsteps. Can Ali solve the random disappearance of his friend?
Scouts is a heart-warming story about an inseparable group of friends who go out to watch a meteor shower together. When a meteor falls out of the sky, they go on an adventure together to find it. Your kiddies will love following along as they face dangers that test their friendships.
49. The Sea in Winter
The Sea In Winter is a novel that will undoubtedly tug on your kids’ heartstrings. It’s an award-winning novel about a young Native American girl named Maisie who has faced many trials and tribulations after hurting her knee. As a dancer who can’t dance, she falls into a depression and has trouble finding excitement in life.
50. Black Boy Joy
Your students will be enamored with Black Boy Joy; a book of essays that take a deep dive into what it means to be a Black boy in today’s world. There are a variety of perspectives about boyhood including picking out the first day of school outfit, skateboarding, and rapping; giving a necessary voice to our black youth.
51. Daughter of the Deep
Here’s a longer novel that will entice your adventure lovers! Ana Dakkar, the main character in this story, attends a competitive high school that focuses on preparing students for water-related careers. Ana has to pass a test at sea during the last weekend of her freshmen year, but things go awry, and Ana’s life will never be the same.
52. The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams
Surely some of your bookworms have dreamt of running their own bookstore at some point. It’s 1944 and Poppy’s family runs a bookstore with magical powers. People from different time periods- both past and future, can visit the bookshop. Poppy desperately wants to run the store after her father, but her brother is next in line.
53. Marshmallow and Jordan
Here’s a fictional story that will take your young ones on a heartwarming ride of friendship and challenges. In a terrible accident, star athlete, Jordan, is paralyzed and left wheelchair-bound. Jordan befriends an elephant named Marshmallow who helps her find another sport to be passionate about… water polo.
54. How to Catch a Turkey
How to Catch a Turkey is the perfect picture book to read around the Thanksgiving season. A turkey is on the loose in a school, and the kids have to find a way to capture it, but the turkey is making that nearly impossible! It’s a knee-slapper that will definitely have your class in hysterics!
Moonflower is a great book to use if you’re keen on engaging your learners in a conversation about their mental health. Moon is sad and the only time he’s happy is when he goes to another realm and visits his friend, Wolf. When the other realm is in harm’s way, it’s up to Moon to save that world.
56. Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe
Your little ones may wonder how much truth there is to the tales they are told. Cricket’s mom is missing, and he has to find her. He thinks that he can find her if he can find a secret room, but he isn’t even sure if it exists. Cricket heads off into the woods in search of the room where he will have to face tons of obstacles.
This award-winning book should definitely be on your class’ wish list! Homer and Ada leave their mother in search of safety from slavery. They don’t want to leave their mom behind, but they have no other choice because they know they’re being hunted. They wearily head north and find a community of former slaves living in a swamp.