What are the best book series for 3rd graders? Here are good chapter book series that not only are just right for third graders but that they’ll LOVE to read.
(For those of you not in the U.S., third grade is generally 8-year olds.)
–> ALL book recommendations for 8-year-olds (3rd grade) here.
Book Series That 3rd Graders Love to Read
Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Geneva B
When Jax’s mom drops him off with an irascible old lady named Ma, he learns that she helps magical animals travel between worlds. In this case, three dragons. But, he and Ma accidentally travel back in time instead of to the world of magic, and Ma gets stuck there. It’s up to Jax to rescue Ma and deliver the dragons to where they belong. The only problem? Besides finding the transporter, one of the dragons is missing– stolen by his best friend’s little sister, and they’re growing bigger. Get this book and its sequel, The Dragon Thief, together so you don’t have to wait to find out what happens with the stolen dragon…I listened to both on audiobook and adored the talented narrator who made this exciting fantasy story come to life.
Cat Kid Comic Club by Dav Pilkey
My writing teacher heart adores this book about encouraging kids to write their own comics! Plus, it’s totally hilarious. Cat Kid teaches a class for the tadpoles about making their own comic books…which doesn’t go well until the tadpoles get excited about failure and get started writing and drawing. If you like a lot of silliness (including potty humor) with great messages about writing, creativity, and persistence, read this book next.
Pizazz by Sophy Henn
Illustrated with cartoons and fun fonts, this superhero story is perfect for readers transitioning into middle-grade novels but not quite yet… Not only is Pizazz embarrassed by her name but she’s also embarrassed about her superpower. Also, Pizazz grumbles that her superhero duties of saving the world are always inconvenient AND she still has to go to school! (So unfair.) At school, she is assigned the job of eco-monitor which she doesn’t like either until a classmate helps her see that they might be able to save the park…without superhero powers. 100% fun, relatable, and entertaining.
A to Z Mysteries: The Absent Author by Ron Roy
The A to Z Mysteries books are the best! 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 more than once, they are that good.) In this story, the famous writer who is coming to the bookstore doesn’t show up. Dink and his friends Josh and Ruth Rose must find out what happened to the missing author. Box set here.
Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel
In a word: hilarious. Kids think Bad Kitty is very naughty but, oh so funny. These books are addictive to read and fun to reread. Illustrated with minimal text on every page. Bad Kitty has an attitude. She makes life difficult for her owner, Uncle Murry, puppy, and so on and so forth. Boxed set here.
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
HUMOR / GRAPHIC NOVEL
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 while trying to save her friend from kidnappers and save the universe.
Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon
Hysterical! I couldn’t stop laughing! This is a fantastic series for 3rd graders about Danny Dragonbreath and the crazy adventures he has with his friends. Boxed Set HERE.
Ninja Kid: From Nerd to Ninja by Anh Do
Nelson is a nerdy and likable main character who wakes up on his 10th birthday with perfect vision and… ninja moves! (How cool is that?) His mum and grandma explain that like his missing fisherman dad before him, Nelson is the LAST ninja in the world — and he’s actually destined to SAVE the world. Action-packed, funny, appealing illustrations, and likable characters, this book has it all. You won’t want to stop with book one either because there’s a bit of a cliff-hanger…
Into the Game (Minecraft Woodsword Chronicles) by Nick Eliopulos
First in one of the BEST Minecraft book series published, this adventure follows five players who are transported inside the game– and it’s real and they’ll have to use all their survival and problem-solving skills to stay alive. BOXED SET of Books 1 – 4 HERE.
Who Would Win? Whale vs. Giant Squid by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Rob Bolster
Teachers say that their students can’t get enough of the Who Would Win? books. This particular title pits two ocean carnivores against each other. First, you’ll learn facts about a sperm whale, then you’ll learn about the giant squid. Finally, read what happens when these two creatures face-off. Can you predict who will win? See all the addicting informational books in the Who Would Win series.
Unicorn Academy: Sophia and Rainbow by Julie Skyes, illustrated by Lucy Truman
Well-written and charming, this unicorn book series is sure to entrance many young readers. In this story, Sophia arrives at Unicorn Academy and is paired with the lovely Rainbow. But, she feels guilty for making a new friend and leaving her best pony, Clover, back at home. On top of that, the unicorns’ magic is wonky because the lake is being poisoned. When someone accuses Sophia, she and her new friends decide to investigate.
Whatever After by Sarah Mlynowski
FANTASY / HUMOR
Once upon a time, a regular girl and her brother accidentally are transported into a fairy tale story. And mess it all up. (Whoops.) Now they have to fix the story before the ending gets changed. My kids and I love all the books in this series!
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 the first 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 8-year-old readers for hours.
Get to Work, Hercules! (Myth-O-Mania) by Kate McMullan
Hades narrates the “TRUE” stories of the Greek Myths with panache and humor. Apparently, his younger brother Zeus is a big fat liar and edited all the myths to make himself look good. In this updated myth, Hades watches over his young, not-too-smart nephew, Hercules whom Hera has it out for. Your kids are going to LOVE these books! My library can’t keep them on the shelves.
My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O’Hara
Hysterical and totally believable, right? Find out what happens if your goldfish dies and you bring him back to life. Only you messed it up and your goldfish becomes a zombie that can mesmerize you with his powerful eyes, making you do anything he wants. Aaaah!
I Survived by Lauren Tarshis
Your kids will zip through these short, fast-paced adventures. The stories always are about a young person trying to survive the historically important, life-changing event such as the Titanic, Hurricane Katrina, Pearl Harbor, Nazi Invasion, and the Hindenburg crash. You’ll probably want to get a box set so your kids can immerse themselves in this excellent series.
The Haunted Library by Dori Hillestad Butler
My 3rd-grade daughter and I loved this entertaining mystery series about a boy ghost, Kaz, who is blown away from his family and into a new haunt — a library. In this first story, he and his new friend, Claire, decide to be detectives. They want to discover the secret of the other ghost haunting the library plus find his missing family.
Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon
Princess Harriet is the COOLEST heroine in this Sleeping Beauty 2.0. She’s thrilled to know she’ll fall into a deep sleep when she’s twelve because that means she can do anything crazy and dangerous without dying. In fact, she searches out danger and the results are hilariously entertaining. The other books in this fairy tale series with a twist series are just as remarkable. You’ll love the quirky humor.
Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Get ready to laugh along with these charming young friends who won’t stop until they find the best way to solve their perplexing troubles, no matter how many ideas they must try. A fantastic series for third graders. Boxed Set HERE.
Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce
The funny plots are about Nate’s life at home and school are totally relatable to any kid, especially boys. Some, like this one, are written in a combo of text and comics while others are straight graphic novels like Big Nate Welcome to My World. Box set here.
Dolphin Rescue (Animal Planet Adventures #1) by Catherine Nichols
Siblings Maddie and Atticus can’t figure out who is dumping trash everywhere. And when they rescue a baby dolphin entangled in trash, they know they must get to the bottom of this mystery. Full-color photographs with information about dolphins, marine life, and more add in bonus nonfiction information for readers.
Doodle Adventures: The Search for Slimy Space Slugs! by Mike Lowery
These books invite YOU the reader to help solve the mysteries with your own bravery, heroism, and imaginative drawing. Yes, drawing. For example, in this story, 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! and The Rise of Rusty-Robo-Cat!.
Trapped in a Video Game by Dustin Brady, illustrated by Brady Jessee
Gamers and nongamers alike who love exciting and dangerous stories won’t want to miss this excellent series. Jesse’s friend gets an early release of a video game — and it sucks in both boys. They’re literally trapped. Inside the game, they meet a classmate who has been missing for weeks, now a grown-up man in the game. Because there’s no way out.
The Year of the Book by Andrea Chang
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 & love the diversity of the main character.
Jada Jones Rock Star by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton
REALISTIC / STEM
Jada starts the school year hoping to find new friends, hopefully, ones that love rocks like she does. She misses her best friend but feels excited when her class studies geology. Unfortunately, one bossy girl in Jada’s group project makes fun of Jada’s interest in rocks. This is a well-written STEM story that shows the challenges of getting along with others and staying true to yourself.
Little Guides to Great Lives Nelson Mandela by Isabel Thomas, illustrated by Hannah Warren
This is another new biography series that I highly recommend for elementary-age readers. Written like a narrative story, these little books are fast-paced and informative. This particular title is about one of the world’s most admired activists and leaders, Nelson Mandela. Little Guides to Great Lives series contain perfect text to picture ratio, captivating illustrations, informative content, and just-right pacing. Plus, they’re very well-written.
Franny K. Stein by Jim Benton
HUMOR / SCI-FI
Franny is not a normal kid but a mad scientist. We love these stories that are wacky and laugh-out-loud funny sharing the many unfortunate antics of Franny.
Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Book 1: A Scare of a Dare by Herobrine Books
Short sentences with witty observations on life from the perspective of a Minecraft zombie will crack you up. These diaries are entertaining, funny reads. Nothing scary and perfect for any Minecraft enthusiasts.
Star Wars Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown
SCI-FI / HUMOR
Engaging from the first page, this is a relatable (and funny) 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 because the other kids started long before he did. Roan has ups and downs, as one does at a new school, but finds his place at the school with new friends.
Ada Lace is On the Case by Emily Calandrelli with Tamson Weston, illustrated by Renee Kurilla
MYSTERY / STEM
Ada moves to a new neighborhood where she observes everything that happens out her window. She and a new friend notice a distraught neighbor whose dog is missing and they determine to solve the mystery. Along with another neighbor boy, they use science and technology to solve the mystery of the missing dog.
The Bad Guys #1 by Aaron Blabey
Bad Guys is a hysterical book and a favorite series for many boys especially. Mr. Wolf invites other bad guys to a meeting in hopes they will join him in being good. Lots of drawings and minimal text make this a sure bet for beginning readers who like irony and humor. (Note: If you don’t like potty humor, this is not the book for you. I will admit, after a few books, I was DONE with it.)
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
Old school humor at its best! These goofy books describe a wacky school with crazy teachers and even crazier events. Be ready to laugh.
Mrs. Frogbottom’s Field Trips I Want My Mummy by Nancy Krulik
Welcome to 4th grade with a teacher who isn’t like any other teachers…mostly because of her magic map that transports the entire class all over the world. In this story, Mrs. Frogbottom takes the class to Egypt — and our narrator, Tony, does not like it one bit, not the black cat following them, not that his friend Sofia disappears and not that Aiden wanders into a tomb where the friends get trapped! Camels, too much sand, pyramids, tombs, and an actual mummy make this terrified student very glad to go back home. This educational adventure series is off to a great start. Next stop, Scotland.
Jasmine Toguchi Mochi Queen by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Eliazbet Vukovic
Jasmine is so jealous that the older kids in her family have important jobs on the mochi making day — she wants to do what the older boys and men are doing, pound the mochi rice. Her understanding father figures out a way for Jasmine to join in. And even though it didn’t work out how she wanted, her family is proud of her and decide it’s okay to break some rules like who gets to pound the rice. Not only is the story’s message sweet, Jasmine’s Japanese-American culture and warm family community shine through.
The Story of Olympic Swimmer Duke Kahanamoku by Ellie Crowe, illustrated by Richard Waldep (The Story Of series)
Well-written like all of the books in this series and totally fascinating! Kids will love learning about cool but lesser-known people like Duke, a famous Hawaiian who is known for his dominance of the sport of surfing as well as being an Olympic swimmer. Helpful informational insets give readers background on topics covered in the biography such as how surfboards are made. Love it.
Amelia Bedelia Unleashed by Herman Parish, illustrated by Lynne Avril
I’ve been enjoying these updated Amelia chapter books by the original author’s son. In this story, Amelia searches for the perfect puppy in her charming, Amelia Bedelia way.
Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Secret Admirer by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser
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! BOX SET
Galactic Hot Dogs: Cosmoe’s Wiener Getaway by Max Brallier, illustrated by Rachel Maguire and Nichole Kelley
SCI-FI / HUMOR
If you like non-stop action, 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, then this series is for you. Plus, it has loads of cartoon illustrations throughout and hilarious writing with a kazillion exclamation marks!!!! (If you like this, you’ll want to read book 2, The Weiner Strikes Back.)
Dying to Meet You (43 Old Cemetery Road) by Kate Klise, illustrated by M. Sarah Klise
Written in letters, drawings, newspaper articles, and other unique texts, accompanied by illustrations, you’ll find this is a mesmerizing series about an old man named Ignatius B. Grumply and the ghosts that live in his home. Surprisingly not scary and quite punny, this was a favorite series for my 3rd grader.
Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere by Elise Gravel
If you like kooky books, this book fits the bill. Olga finds an unusual, unknown creature whom she names “MEH” after the sound that it makes. She uses her deductive reasoning to figure out what it is (something new!) and what it likes to eat (olives)! But what will she do when Meh disappears? Here’s what I love about this book… One, the illustrations rock! Two, the narrator’s voice is believable and funny. Three, the plot includes mean girls who aren’t so mean after all.
Kristy’s Great Idea Babysitter’s Club #1 by Ann M. Martin, illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
REALISTIC / GRAPHIC NOVEL
We’re loving these updated Babysitter’s Club graphic novels by the uber-talented Raina Telegemeier who wrote the highly-acclaimed Smile and Sister. I recommend starting with book one since the stories are told in a specific order with details from previous stories. These are funny and fun to read, maybe even more than once. BOX SET HERE.
Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfleder and Steve Hockensmith
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 soybeans 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. If you like science, technology, and adventure, this is the series for you. (Also read: STEAM and STEM Chapter Books for Kids)
Ranger in Time #1: Rescue on the Oregon Trail by Kate Messner, illustrated by Kelley McMorris
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 Ranger books are all set in a different historical event.
Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome by Sarai Gonzalez and Monica Brown
A warm-hearted, sweet story about a Latinx girl who’s an entrepreneur and devoted daughter and granddaughter. When her grandpa (tata) tells Sarai Gonzalez that his rental house is being sold, she determines to help by selling more cupcakes than ever. Even her sisters join in to help and so do her cousins. A darling start to a new series inspired by Sarai’s own life!
Here’s Hank: Bookmarks Are People Too! #1 by Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver
Hank’s brain freezes up when he talks to people — and also when he tries out for his class play. That’s why he gets the bookmark role. But, when the lead actor flubs his lines, Hank jumps in to save the play from disaster. I love Hank’s relatable character to whom learning doesn’t come easily
Stick Dog by Tom Watson
Stick Dog is hilarious. Why is he called Stick Dog? Because our author/narrator can’t draw. And also, because he likes sticks. The funny cartoonish illustrations make this story of stray dogs easy to read and very entertaining series for kids.
Beatrice Zinker Upside-Down Thinker by Shelly Johannes
3rd grader Beatrice is a divergent problem solver. So when her best friend Lenny comes back from camp a changed girl and seems to have a new best friend that is NOT Beatrice, Beatrice decides to get her friend back. Kids will be cheering Beatrice on as she tried to figure out how to reconnect with her former best friend. Cute!
Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater
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!
Judy Moody Was in a Mood by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Want to get your kids reading a great series? Try Judy Moody. She’s a relatable third grader with a big personality, an annoying little brother, and humorous antics.
Secrets of the Manor: Claire’s Story, 1910 by Adele Whitby
This is 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 realizes 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. An excellent first book in a new series for 3rd graders.
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