I want your third grade 8- year old boys and girls to have lots of good chapter books to read. That’s why I’ve put together a list of all the books I’ve reviewed and recommend for 8- year olds in third grade.
LEXILE: A reader recently asked me to include the Lexile reading levels of the books on this list. If this is helpful, you’ll see a number followed by an L. The general reading levels for third grade are 330L to 770L according to the Lexile website. (If there is no number listed, it’s because I didn’t find it’s Lexile level.)
TOO CHALLENGING? If you see a book that you think will be interesting but too challenging for your child, use it for a read aloud at bedtime. Kids still need to be read to and hear as much story and vocabulary as possible. This is a great way to spend time together and to read more difficult books.
Best Books for 8 Year Olds (Third Grade)
Lunch Lady by Jarrett J. Krosoczka HUMOR
If you haven’t read these addictive and hilarious graphic novels, they are a must — anyone who has eaten lunch in school will appreciate the humor, even parents love these books.
Mr. Pants Slacks, Camera, Action! by Scott McCormick, illustrated by R. H. Lazzell HUMOR
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar HUMOR
Old school humor at it’s best! These describe a wacky school with crazy teachers and even crazier events.
Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo
Mercy lives with Mr. and Mrs. Watson. They feed her buttered toast and take her for drives in their convertible. One night, Mercy gets scared and decides to sleep with Mr. and Mrs. Watson. Can you imagine what happens next? Hilarious and quirky, this is a fun series filled with many amazing adventures.
Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce HUMOR
Another funny book with a combo of text and comics that will crack your kids up!
Zoey and Sassafras Dragons and Marshmallows #1 by Asia Citro, illustrated by Marion Lindsay SCIENCE / FANTASY
This is an entertaining and well-written story with the coolest mix of science and magic, a diverse main character, and fantastic illustrations that will get kids reading and learning. Zoey, like her mom, can see magical creatures and is tasked to care for any injured creatures that might need help. In this story, she uses her science skills (including research and the scientific method) to figure out how to care for a sick baby dragon.
Mal and Chad by Stephen McCranie HUMOR
I hate to compare books but this is like the Calvin and Hobbs for the next generation. Funny and perfect for second and third graders.
Never Girls FANTASY
These friends accidentally travel from England to the Never Land fairy world of Tinker Bell. What adventures they will have?!
Dog Man by Dav Pinkey GRAPHIC NOVEL / HUMOR
Weird. Quirky. Funny. I think all three describe this new graphic novel from the creator of Captain Underpants. In this story, a police officer and a dog are joined together — the top from the dog, the bottom from the officer to make: Dog Man. Dog Man solves crimes and has adventures, the likes of which will entertain you for hours.
Doodle Adventures: The Search for Slimy Space Slugs! by Mike Lowery HUMOR SCI-FI
This book not only hooks the reader with it’s space-adventure plot and hilarious narrator Carl the Duckbut it invites YOU to find the missing priceless artifact requiring bravery, heroism and drawing. Yes, drawing. Along the journey to retrieve the artifact from Captain Sleezoog (he’s a slug), you’ll be tasked with doing your part. So you’ll make sure (by drawing) that you’ve got a spacesuit, you’ve packed everything you need to bring, the rocket design is perfect plus has some silly (bandages!?) extras, and lots more as the adventure ensues. It may sound contrived but it’s a fun, engaging adventure that any kid, artist or not, will love. And there is MORE in the series! Also read: The Pursuit of the Pesky Pizza Pirate!
Perfectly Princess FANTASY
A series of colorful princesses (printed on the same color paper) stories. My third grader loved these.
The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke HUMOR
The Zita books rock — they’re full of adventure, humor, and fantastic characters!! Zita is an awesome, courageous problem-solving heroine who accidentally gets stuck in space. In this third book of the trilogy, our beloved Zita is in jail. (Gasp!) Not only does she need to escape because of course, she didn’t do it, she must stop her evil jailer from taking over the world.
Whatever After by Sarah Mlynowski FANTASY / HUMOR
Once upon a time, a regular girl and her brother accidentally went into a fairy tale. And messed it all up. (Whoops.) We love all the books in this series so far.
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot The Voodoo Vultures from Venus by Dav Pilkey, illustrated by Dan Santat SCI-FI
Kudos to Dav Pilkey and Dan Santat for creating such an action-packed, engaging new series for young readers. And the illustrations are marvelous. It’s not often you see a book in full color – love that!
The Critter Club by Callie Barkley, illustrated by Marsha Riti
The girls in the Critter Club love animals and want to help them any way they can. Sweet stories!
Dragon Slayer’s Academy by Kate McMullan HUMOR FANTASY
When a traveling minstrel foretells that he is to become a hero, Wiglaf sets out to fulfill his destiny: he signs up at the Dragon Slayers’ Academy. But how can he ever hope to be a dragon slayer when he can’t even stand the sight of blood?
Stink and the Shark Sleepover by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds REALISTIC
I loved this adventure because it’s an exciting adventure as well as it includes a lot of factual information about marine life. Stink gets to sleep over at the aquarium. While he’s there, he learns more about sharks, gets to solve a mystery, learns a ghost story, and has tons of fun. I like that kids can easily relate to the characters in the story, as well as the setting. Of course, the Peter H. Reynolds illustrations are ah-mazing as always.
Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sophie Blackall ADVENTURE
Get ready to laugh along with these charming young friends who won’t stop until they find the best way to solve their environmental issue, no matter how many ideas they must try. Fantastic series.
Amelia Bedelia Chapter Book #2: Amelia Bedelia Unleashed by Herman Parish, illustrated by Lynne Avril REALISTIC
I’ve been enjoying these updated Amelia chapter books by the original author’s son. In this story, Amelia searches for the perfect puppy.
A to Z Mysteries: The Absent Author by Ron Roy
The A to Z Mysteries series rocks! None of the books need to be read in any particular order, each has a self-contained mystery. I think my kids read most of the books in this series and several more than once. In this story the famous writer that is coming to the bookstore doesn’t show up. Dink and his friends, Josh and Ruth Rose, must find out what happened and where the author is.
Mango and Bambang The Not-a-Pig by Clara Vulliamy REALISTIC
Shelter Pet Squad: Jelly Bean by Cynthia Lord REALISTIC
I’m a big fan of Cynthia Lord’s middle grade books and I really like this new series, too. Suzannah joins the Shelter Pet Squad because her apartment building doesn’t allow pets. She meets a sad girl who has to leave her guinea pig, Jelly Bean, at the shelter due to moving. Suzannah promises the girl she’ll find Jelly Bean a good home. Only it’s not as easy as she first though. The Shelter Pet Squad works together to find the perfect home — a kindergarten classroom.
Eerie Elementary: The School is Alive! by Jack Chabert, illustrated by Sam Ricks ADVENTURE
Sam isn’t thrilled about becoming hall monitor. Especially when he discovers that the school is ALIVE and trying to harm he and the other students. Sam has quite a wild adventure trying to save the students from the school. I think kids who like sort of scary things (it’s not too bad) will enjoy this book.
Stick Cat: A Tail of Two Kitties by Tom Watson HUMOR
Stick Cat and his neighbor kitty, Edith, want to save their neighboring piano man whose arms are stuck inside the piano. but HOW? Well, their rescue involves a laundry line 23 floors above the ground and the pockets of an apron. Even though the neighbor cat, Edith, isn’t the smartest, she helps Stick Cat and unknowingly ends up saving the day.
Galaxy Zack Hello, Nebulon! by Ray O’Ryan, illustrated by Colin Jack
An easy chapter book that’s simple, fun, and entertaining about a boy who moves to a new planet.
Zeke Meeks by D.L. Green and Josh Alves
I loved Zeke Meeks – it’s a combo of text with comics and always a good life lesson. Funny and thought-provoking.
Good Crooks Missing Monkey! by Mary Amato, illustrated by Ward Jenkins REALISTIC
What a fun premise! These are children of thieves who really want to do good things, not bad things like their parents. So when their parents steal a monkey from the zoo, the kids must figure out how to return it without their parents figuring out that their children are up to some good.
Frankie Pickle by Eric Wight ADVENTURE HUMOR
Your kids will totally relate to this imaginative boy whose wild adventures are written in comic form — it’s funny and entertaining!
Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Secret Admirer by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser MYSTERY
Another enjoyable book in the Nancy Clancy series. In this book, Nancy and her best friend, Bree, decide to play matchmaker for Nancy’s babysitter, Annie, and her guitar teacher, Andy. Funny and fun!
Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake by Julie Sternberg, illustrated by Matthew Cordell REALISTIC
I really loved this story told in first person from Eleanor’s point of view. It’s about the challenges when Eleanor gets jealous of a new girl she thinks her best friend Pearl might like better than her. This made my top five list of best books for the year.
Here’s Hank: Bookmarks Are People Too! #1 by Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver
Catnapped! Puppy Pirates by Erin Soderbergh ADVENTURE
Calling all dog lovers! Read about the most awesome pirate puppies who due to an unfortunate prank one pulled, are now prisoners on the pirate kitten’s ship –with no escape. This is a charming and funny rollicking adventure and #3 in the new Puppy Pirate series. See also: Puppy Pirates #1 Stowaway and Puppy Pirates #2 x Marks the Spot.
Galactic Hot Dogs: Cosmoe’s Wiener Getaway by Max Brallier, illustrated by Rachel Maguire and Nichole Kelley HUMOR SCI-FI
I resisted reading this for awhile but after seeing so many kids LOVING it, I knew I should give it a go. Now I know what the fuss is all about — it’s got non-stop action and danger, potty humor, space adventures, zombie aliens, mutant worm wrestling, a misunderstood evil princess, good friends, video games, and a diabolical, hunting-them-down evil queen. Not to mention the loads of cartoon illustrations throughout and hilarious writing with a kagillion exclamation marks!!!! I see what kids are loving now — and see why it’s totally up some kids reading alleys. (Book 2, The Weiner Strikes Back is also out now.)
Jessica Finch in Pig Trouble by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Erwin Madrid
Jessica Finch is a delightful early chapter book with exceptionally pleasing and colorful illustrations. Jessica wants nothing more than a pig for a pet. For her birthday. When a misunderstanding happens with her best friend, Judy Moody, she learns a valuable lesson about not making assumptions and calling people names. This is one of my top picks for an early chapter book, I loved it!
The Haunted Library by Dori Hillestad Butler
My daughter and I loved this entertaining new series about a boy ghost, Kaz, who is blown away from his family and into a new haunt – a library. But who is the library ghost — it’s not him. He and his new friend, Claire, decide to be detectives and discover the secret of the ghost.
Dory and the Real True Friend by Abby Hanlon REALISTIC
Dory is one of my favorite book characters because her imagination is THE BEST! She has three imaginary friends: one monster friend, one fairy godmother that’s actually not a lady, and one bad lady nemesis. I love this story because she meets a real-life friend who understands all about imaginary friends and together, they’re the perfect match.
Shredderman: Secret Identity by Wendelin Van Draanen
Illustrated with comics, hilarious, relatable, this book has it all. Awesome.
A Topps League Story: Book One: Jinxed! by Kurtis Scaletta illustrated by Eric Wight
This is a story that will appeal to readers even if they don’t love baseball as much as Chad, the main character. He’s thrilled to be a bat boy for the summer but can’t understand why his classmate Dylan isn’t as thrilled. Nor can Chad figure out how to help his favorite player who can’t seem to stop all his bad luck. Is he jinxed?
Misty the Abandoned Kitten (Pet Rescue Adventures) by Holly Webb REALISTIC
Third Grade Mermaid by Peter Raymundo FANTASY
William and the Witch’s Riddle by Shutta Crum FAIRY TALE / FANTASY
I like that this book is the easier side of middle grade books and that it stars a boy in a fairy tale, not a girl princess. This boy has only his little brother, his mother is missing and his father is dead. When an evil witch named Morga gives him a riddle to solve with three tasks, he’s scared but determined to complete the tasks in order to be reunited with his mother. Helped by a garden witch, a unique gnome who changes sizes daily, a very tiny dragon, and a strange mule, he finds that his mother is asleep in a glass casket in the woods and that she’s a cursed princess. (Think Sleeping Beauty.) It’s up to him to save her. But how will he win against such a powerful witch?
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo REALISTIC
Opal’s preacher father is always too busy and her mother has been gone since Opal was three, something Opal has always wondered about. But Opal finds someone to care, a stray dog that she names Winn-Dixie, and that dog brings hope and meaning into 10-year old Opal’s life. Brilliant.
Marguerite Henry’s Misty Inn Runaway Pony #3 by Kristin Earhart MYSTERY
While their parents finish fixing up the recently purchased house to be a bed and breakfast, siblings Willa and Ben help their grandmother take care of the pony’s she’s rehabilitating. Both kids can’t figure out why the pony’s keep escaping but they do know that they’d be the perfect new owners for Starbuck, their favorite pony. Children will find this to be a well-written and easy-to-read story with an interesting plot, especially for animal-lovers. It might be fun to read one of the books which inspired these stories such as Misty of Chincioteqgue, — but have an adult read it aloud because it’s a more difficult reading level. See other books in this easy chapter book series: Buttercup Mystery #2 and Welcome Home #1.
The Vanishing Coin (Magic Shop Series) by Kate Egan and Mike Lane, illustrated by Eric Wight REALISTIC
The Philly Fake Ballpark Mysteries by David A. Kelly, illustrated by Mark Meyers MYSTERY
Not only is this a well-written mystery, I loved how the author included so much history within the story. I really enjoyed reading it and thought the mystery had a great hook. One of my top picks for early chapter books!
Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon REALISTIC
Dory’s family calls her Rascal (and a baby) because, well, she is. And proud of it. Especially when she’s playing with her invisible monster friend, Mary. Dory’s brother and sister invent a baby-stealing robber named Mrs. Gobble Gracker to try to scare Dory only it backfires. Dory is sort of scared and sort of fascinated, has a million questions about the robber, and excitedly asks her fairy godmother (who is really a gnome-like man) to turn her into a dog so the robber lady won’t see her. This book is totally hilarious and I love the child-like illustrations – it’s a favorite early chapter book for sure.
Lulu and the Rabbit Next Door by Hilary McKay REALISTIC
This is one of my favorite early chapter books this year! I loved this story of how Lulu and her cousin help their neighbor Arthur learn to love and care for his rabbit. She does this by writing George the rabbit notes and giving him gifts — not from her but from her pet rabbit named Thumper. (I also appreciate that the main characters are diverse – Lulu and her family have brown skin!!)
My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O’Hara HUMOR
Hysterical and totally believable . . . if your goldfish dies and you bring him back to life. It won’t work, your goldfish will be a zombie. One that can mesmerize you with his powerful eyes and you’ll do anything he wants. Aaaah!
Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel HUMOR
In a word: Hilarious. We all think Bad Kitty is very naughty. But, oh so funny. These books are easy to read and fun to reread.
Secrets of the Manor: Claire’s Story, 1910 by Adele Whitby HISTORICAL MYSTERY
I loved this beginning chapter book — it’s a captivating story about an orphan girl who moves to France to live with friends of her family. She befriends a servant girl and the duo realize there are mysteries that must be answered — like what happened to the daughter of the manor and why did her parents send her to this family. Excellent first book in a new series for early readers!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney HUMOR
Greg’s mom petitions the town to take a break from electronics, Greg goes to wilderness school, and grandpa moves in. This is another funny story to add to your ever-growing Wimpy Kid chapter book collection.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams
So much more than a book about farm animals, this story is a beautiful tribute to friendship that incorporates love and death as well. It’s a classic for a reason and one of the best written children’s books in existence.
The Olympians series by George O’Connor MYTHOLOGY
I’m a big fan of all these graphic novels by O’Conner – and my kids love them. I highly recommend them and they’re great for reluctant readers.
Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon HUMOR
Hysterical! I couldn’t stop laughing! A fantastic read for 8-year olds.
Star Wars Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown SCI- FI (series!)
Engaging from the first page, this is a relatable graphic novel adventure story about a young boy, Roan, who dreams of becoming a pilot . . . but gets into Jedi school instead. He’s the oldest new student, everyone else started long before him. Roan has ups and downs, as one does at a new school, but finds his place at the school and new friends. Highly recommended!
The Loch Ness Punster by Kate Klise, illustrated by M. Sarah Klise HUMOR
The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg MYSTERY
What a lovely surprise this Sherlock inspired book is– it’s so well, written and tells a great story that kids will enjoy as much as me. John Watson moves with his mom who has recently left both the military and John’s dad to Harlem. There he meets a very unique girl named Shelby Holmes who reluctantly allows him to tag along with her as she solves her latest crime — who took a posh, show-dog from a classmate’s secure house.
Lucy & Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown HISTORY / HUMOR / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Little funny stories about the life of a neanderthal family are intermixed with factual information about the actual history — hunting practices, size of large cats, that sort of thing — in this graphic novel from the author of the Jedi Academy series.
I Survived by Lauren Tarshis – HISTORICAL FICTION / ADVENTURE
Wow – these are one of my favorite discoveries this year! They’re excellent, fast-paced adventures set during significant historical events. Your kids will zip through these fascinating adventures. The books always are about a young boy trying to survive the historically important, life-changing event.
The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John, illustrated by Kevin Cornell REALISTIC / HUMOR
My daughter read this first and begged me to read it immediately. It’s SO funny! And, you can learn some valuable cow trivia. But, it’s mostly the hilarious adventure of two pranksters who eventually work together to pull off the biggest prank of all time — a prank that will ensure they get April Fool’s Day off from school.
Sammy Feral’s Diaries of Weird by Eleanor Hawken FANTASY
Sammy’s entire family is bit by the family puppy – who happens to be a werewolf. Sammy must lock up his snarling family in one of the zoo cages (they own a zoo) and keep them there until the full moon passes and then figure out how to cure them. If that’s even possible.
STAT: Standing Tall and Talented: Home Court by Amar’e Stoudemir, illustrated by Tim Jessell SPORTS
Based on the real story of Amar’e Stoudemire, this is the story of when he was 11, a skateboarder, a basketball player, and a worker with his dad’s landscape company. When other kids start trash talking his friends, he uses his intelligence and basketball skills to find a solution.
The Year of the . . . book series by Andrea Chang REALISTIC
Growing up is challenging and in the first novel, The Year of the Book, Anna turns to books for company while she learns how to make friendships in real life. The subsequent books in the series are just as realistic and well-written. I highly recommend them.
Spirit Animals by various authors FANTASY
Our main characters are some of the rare children who when of a certain age, can summon a spirit animal. These heroes must use their new bonds with their animals and each other to save the world from a dark and evil force. I haven’t read this series but my kids say it’s awesome.
Ranger in Time #1: Rescue on the Oregon Trail by Kate Messner, illustrated by Kelley McMorris HISTORICAL FICTION
Ranger, a golden retriever trained for search-and-rescue, travels back to the Oregon Trail to help a family in need. It’s a good fictional introduction to the ups and downs of traveling on the Oregon Trail.
The World According to Humphrey by Betty Birney
Class pet, Humphrey, is a hamster who travels to a students’ home on the weekends and has lots of adventures. One of the best books series for 7- year old kids.
Get to Work, Hercules! (Myth-O-Mania) by Kate McMullan HUMOR MYTH
This book got us hooked on the Myth-O-Mania series. It’s so hilarious! Hades narrates the TRUE stories of the Greek Myths with panache. (Apparently, his younger brother Zeus is a big fat liar and edited all the myths to make himself look good.) In this story, Hades watches over his young, not-too-smart nephew, Hercules whom Hera has it out for — since he’s the son of Zeus from another woman. LOVE it!
Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater FANTASY
If you like mythical creatures, independent thinkers, and mysteries, you’ll love this first book in the Pip Bartlett series as much as me. Pip’s world is just like ours except for one significant difference — magical creatures exist and often are pets!
The Perilous Princess Plot (Buckle and Squash) by Sarah Courtlauld HUMOR FANTASY
Very sarcastic and funny humor will keep you entertained throughout this book about a silly sister obsessed with princes and her more reasonable sister who ends up rescuing her from a kidnapping plot. Also, the great illustrations will help beginning readers enjoy this funny chapter book.
The Curious Cat Spy Club by Linda Joy Singleton MYSTERY
What a fantastic new book series — my daughter and I devoured this first book. (She’s currently enjoying the 2nd.) Three kids from seemingly different social circles band together to rescue kittens they found in a dumpster — and solve the mystery of who would try to kill the kittens.
Your Grandparents Are Zombies! by Anson Montgomery CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
If you give your parents a potion that turns them into zombies, they’ll do whatever you say. It sounds good but will work out how you think?
Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 1: A Scare of a Dare by Herobrine Books SCI-FI
Short sentences with witty observations on life from the perspective of a Minecraft zombie that will crack you up. I was surprised to say the least that this was such an entertaining, funny read. Nothing scary. Just fun. Especially for Minecraft enthusiasts. (These are FREE for Kindle Unlimited subscribers!)
Darling Dimple is thrilled to be moved from a kitchen scrubber to an upstairs dress presser for the princess. One day, she discovers a special closet of enchanted dresses. When Darling suspects a plot against the princess she uses dresses magic to help her investigate. Who is trying to free the dragons? Who wants to take over the kingdom? This lovable heroine and charming magical plot will enchant readers.
Secret Agent, Jack Stalwart by Elizabeth Singer Hunt MYSTERY
In this action-packed new series, nine-year old secret agent Jack Stalwart travels the globe in search of his missing older brother Max while solving international crimes for the Global Protection Force.
Nanny Piggins and the Runaway Lion by R. A. Spratt, illustrated by Dan Santat ADVENTURE
I can’t believe I missed this series until now! It’s totally charming and entertaining. This is another adventure about a family with children whose dad detests the children and tries to get rid of them (to Nicaragua in this case) but their amazing nanny (who is a pig) always figures out how to outsmart the dad. I love Nanny Piggins!
Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab by Science Bob Pflugfleder and Steve Hockensmith MYSTERY
Siblings Nick and Tesla are shipped off to live with their mad-scientist Uncle Newt for the summer while their parents are . . . doing something with soy beans in Uzbekistan. When left to fend for themselves, they discover something very suspicious happening at the old mansion down the street, more than just losing their rocket in that yard. Fun and adventurous!
Marty McGuire Has Too Many Pets! by Kate Messner, illustrated by Brian Floca
Just like her mother, 3rd grader Marty loves animals. She wants to “adopt” a chimp in the chimp sanctuary. To raise money, she decides to pet sit. Soon she gets more pets than she and her friends can handle including a trash talking parrot, a python who escapes, and a gerbil who might just be that big bulge in the snake. Luckily, Marty’s cool grandma helps save the pet-sitting business from total disaster. A well-paced adventure that kids will enjoy.
The Case of the Claymore Diamond Math Inspectors by Daniel Kenney and Emily Boever MYSTERY
Viva math! These friends love math and are proud of it — in fact, they’re sure they can use their math skills to solve crimes. This first mystery is about a jewelry store robbery. And they do solve it by finding clues that the police miss, freeing an innocent man. This is a delightful easy chapter book series.
More Chapter Books for 8 Year Olds
Nonfiction Books for 8 Year Olds