When you’re choosing a book club book for your 3rd graders, give students or kids help with selection but ultimately, let them choose the book to read.
Ownership is essential.
However, you can help children by giving them choices of books, doing book talks, watching book trailers, and reading book reviews.
The suggested books on this list are in no way all-encompassing. They’ll be a place to start.
And, certainly, if you’re running a multi-age book club, you’ll want to consider readability. In other words, is the book comprehensible for all the members of the book club?
I’ve chosen books for this list of book club book ideas that will make kids think, question, wonder, imagine, and enjoy.
Book Club Book Ideas for 3rd Grade
Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Geneva B
THEMES / TOPICS: problem-solving, family, respectful elder-child relationship
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!
Jada Jones Rock Star by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton
Hamster Princess Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon
THEMES / TOPICS: bravery, helping others, problem-solving, identity
This is a HILARIOUS remix of Sleeping Beauty. In this (much better) retelling, the hamster princess realizes that since she can’t die until she’s 18, she must be INVINCIBLE–and acts accordingly with death-defying feats!!
Mac Undercover (Kid Spy #1)by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Mike Lowery
THEMES/ TOPICS: problem-solving, deductive reasoning, independence, history, vocabulary
Trapped in a Video Game by Dustin Brady, illustrated by Brady Jessee
THEMES: problem-solving, friendship, teamwork
Gamers and nongamer 3rd graders will love this exciting series. Jesse’s friend gets an early release of a video game — and while playing it, they are sucked into the game world. Inside the game, they meet a classmate who has been missing for weeks and is now a grown-up man in the game. How will they get out before they’re old men?
Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann
GENRE: Historical Fiction *some violence, not for sensitive readers
THEMES: animal cruelty, dogs, kindness, friendship, animals in movies
From his beginnings as a maltreated German police dog to subsequent adoption and new life as a beloved movie star, this suspenseful story is filled with both love and hope along with false accusations and jail time. 3rd-grade readers will zip through this heart-warming story and dog lovers will be extra impressed with this German Shepard’s incredible true story. Fantastic black-and-white illustrations throughout.
Here’s Hank: Bookmarks Are People Too! #1 by Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver
THEMES: ADHD, school, identity, learning
The Curious Cat Spy Club by Linda Joy Singleton
THEMES: Problem-solving, animal rescue, friendship
What a fantastic new book series — my daughter and I devoured it. Three kids from seemingly different social circles band together to rescue kittens they find in a dumpster — then solve the mystery of who would try to kill the kittens.
The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg
THEMES / TOPICS: deductive reasoning, friendship, honesty, persistence, military family, divorce
A fantastic Sherlock-inspired book series that is well written and tells a great story. John Watson and his mom move to Harlem where he meets a unique girl named Shelby Holmes who reluctantly allows him to tag along with her as she solves her latest crime — the mystery of who took a posh, show-dog from a classmate’s secure house.
One-Third Nerd by Gennifer Choldenko, illustrated by Eglantine Ceulemans
THEMES / TOPICS: neurodiversity, rescue dog, divorce, money, STEM, family
Lily and the Great Quake: A San Francisco Earthquake Survival Story by Veeda Bybee
GENRE: Historical fiction
THEMES/TOPICS: history, racism, earthquakes, family, immigration
In the early 1900s in San Francisco, California if you were of Chinese descent, it was illegal to live anywhere else except for Chinatown. When a huge earthquake hits California, its destruction caused fires to burn Chinatown to the ground. The earthquake’s destruction forces young Lily and her family to leave Chinatown for Oakland amidst the chaos. Throughout her story of life in Chinatown and evacuating during the fires, we see the prejudice she faces due to her looks and culture. Very well done.
Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business by Lyla Lee, illustrated by Dung Ho
TOPIC/THEMES: parent death, entrepreneurship, Korean culture, friendship, rules
Mindy and her dad recently moved to Florida after her mom’s death. When the other kids at school make fun of her seaweed snacks at lunch, Mindy and her new friend Sally start a snack business to save money for a puppy. This doesn’t go as planned yet it’s a big learning experience showing Mindy to be herself and be proud of her Korean-American culture.
Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead
GENRE: Magical realism/mystery
THEMES/TOPICS: friendship, home, identity, belonging, storytelling
In the sweetest story of friendship, 10-year-old Livy meets Bob, a green zombie-looking monster wearing a chicken costume living in the closet at her grandma’s house. He’s been waiting for her to return for the last 5 years. Only Livy can’t remember him at all. Even when she leaves the house for an errand, she forgets. But, she’s determined to help Bob find his way back home. Wherever that may be.
Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome by Sarai Gonzalez and Monica Brown
THEMES/TOPICS: entrepreneurship, family, money, cooking, collaboration
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!
Stella Diaz has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez
THEMES/TOPICS: bilingualism, immigration, identity, animals, friendship, shyness
Ada Lace is On the Case by Emily Calandrelli with Tamson Weston, illustrated by Renee Kurilla
TOPICS/THEMES: STEM, problem-solving, deductive reasoning, friendship, neighborhoods
I Survived by Lauren Tarshis
GENRE: Historical fiction
TOPICS/THEMES: history, survival, growth mindset, problem-solving
Your kids will zip through these short, fast-paced adventures. The stories always are about a young person trying to survive a historically important, life-changing event such as the Titanic, Hurricane Katrina, Pearl Harbor, Nazi Invasion, and the Hindenburg crash.
The Story of Olympic Swimmer Duke Kahanamoku by Ellie Crowe, illustrated by Richard Waldep (The Story Of series)
TOPICS/THEMES: surfing, sports, Hawaii, racism, growth mindset, grit
The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John, illustrated by Kevin Cornell
THEMES: enemies to friends, cooperation, research, problem-solving, rule-breaking
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.