BEST Read aloud chapter books for 3rd-grade

Read aloud chapter books for 3rd gradeBest read aloud chapter books for third-grade

Watching my students' faces light up when they are hanging on every word of a read aloud is my jam. Is there anything better than visually seeing a child's love of reading right in front of your eyes?! Kids do not outgrow read alouds. Have you ever listened to an audiobook? Millions of people listen to audiobooks as adults and love it - why would a kid not love hearing a story as well? There is no reason NOT to do a read aloud with older students!

Best read aloud chapter books for third-grade
Students are bombarded everyday with technology, loud noises, and flashing colors. Hearing a book aloud allows children to be more than a passive viewer, but an active participant. They visualize the story in their mind. The grapple with a particular feeling the book creates. Reading aloud leads to higher-level thinking that are necessary for adulthood.

Below I discuss what I believe are the BEST read aloud chapter books for 3rd-grade. Are they truly the best? Well, no! I am sharing what are my personal favorite read aloud chapter books for 3rd-grade, and which ones in experience have gone over well. I also answer some questions that teachers often ask regarding read alouds. Keep reading to find out!

What are the benefits of reading aloud to older students?

Best read aloud chapter books for third-grade
Students will gain the benefits of hearing language and vocabulary, as well as getting an exposure to a new author or genre. Hearing the spoken language and the correct pauses on a comma or period is positively impacting a student and their language development. Read alouds also improve fluency for students, which is something that often suffers in older grades as we move away from guided reading.

Many of us (well- maybe all of us!) have third-grade reluctant readers. A read aloud is a fantastic way to help steer these reluctant readers toward certain books, genres, and authors. If a student gets hooked during a read aloud, then the student is more likely to pick up a similar book on their own. I have had many reluctant readers check out a similar book to one of our read alouds on their own at the library, or continue with a series that they enjoyed hearing. Children love books in a series. When they find a book that they love, all they can think about is reading another book "just like the other one!" A series can push reluctant readers to continue picking up more books and pushing them to keep (happily) reading.

 When do I find time during the day?

I get it- the day is BUSY. Finding extra time to carve out for a read aloud sounds challenging, and for some schedules seemingly impossible. However, you can make it happen! All you need is at minimum of ten minutes a day. This could be ten minutes after lunch. Ten minutes after recess as a "cool-down". Ten minutes before the end-of-the-day bell rings and students are all packed up. Just ten minutes a day will give your students enormous language and vocabulary benefits, and allow them to develop a love of literature and the spoken word. 

If you are really pressed for time or your school does not allow you to take time to do read alouds (I have heard from some teachers that their principals do not allow it after a certain grade!), you could even do read aloud as a part of your language arts block. Students could listen to the text, then fill out something on reading strategies. For example, my reading interactive notebook has tons of interactive pieces of strategies like compare/contrast, cause & effect, story elements, etc. I also have a reading strategies Google Classroom product if you want a no-prep and digital activity! Some of the digital interactive pieces including author's purpose, main idea, sequencing, asking & answering questions, and story elements. You could have students listen, then fill out a chart discussing story elements. Maybe you ask them to focus on two characters in the chapter, then to compare and contrast the actions of both. This way, students are still getting to hear a read aloud but can be practicing a particular skill at the same time. 

How can I make the read aloud book choice exciting?

Make your read aloud choice exciting and an event! Creating a hype can take an already awesome book to an AMAZING book. I also like to hype up books before reading when I do my book clubs - you can read about how I do my paperless book clubs here.  Below are two ways that you can go about "creating the hype" over reading.
Read aloud tips
This first idea I found on another teacher's Instagram account - and I LOVE it. You wrap the upcoming read aloud book up and place on the whiteboard for a week. This not only gets the kids crazy excited to see the book finally unwrapped, but it allows predictions and guesses. Sometimes kids will learn about a new book series simply because another student is guessing what might be inside the package and they are interested to read it! You could even write clues on the board.

Another way to create excitement over a read aloud is to give students a voice and vote in the book choice. You could give students three titles, read the summary of each, then allow students to vote on the book choice. This automatically creates student interest because the students themselves chose the read aloud! I would definitely recommend giving them the titles though and veering away from allowing them to brainstorm by themselves, otherwise you will get books that they most likely have already read.

Should I stick with classic books for third-graders?

I am a big believer in picking books that are less popular for a read aloud. For example, I would not do Diary of a Wimpy Kid as a read aloud chapter book. Why? Because students are more likely to pick this up and read on their own. I want to get a read aloud book that draws them in and is unexpected - something to make them hooked on a new genre, author, or series. Of course, it is totally up to you and your classroom what books that you choose!

What are the BEST read-aloud chapter books for third-grade?

Here is a list of the BEST read-aloud chapter books that your third-graders will LOVE and beg to listen to at the end of everyday! Please note that the following are Amazon Affiliate links, but you can easily pick these up at your local bookstore!

best read aloud chapter books for 3rd grade
This by far is my FAVORITE read-aloud chapter book! I start every school year with this book. It is full of humor, excitement, and fantastic cliff-hangers. It is about a boy, Stanley Yelnats, who was falsely accused of a crime that he did not commit. He is sent to a juvenile delinquent facility where every day the boys must dig a hole in the ground to "build character." However, he soon discovers that there is another reason for digging holes and that the warden is not as she seems. This is also a good book to read because there is a sequel, so reluctant readers always try to snag it at the library. This fantastic book has multiple timelines and is a fantastic read, this is my number one must-read pick!

best read aloud chapter books for 3rd grade
Man, another one that makes me cry! Wonder is FANTASTIC if you are pushing character education and kindness in your classroom, because it fits in as a puzzle piece perfectly. I love using Wonder as an example when we talk about kindness or hurting other students' feelings, because the little boy in the story goes through so much. He has a facial deformity, and learns to cope with it in life. You also get to read other points of view, such as his sister, who is in his shadow her whole life. It is easy to discuss empathy with this book, I highly recommend it near the end-of-the-year as students sometimes start getting not-so-nice to one another.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

best read aloud chapter books for 3rd grade
Prepare to cry- and see your students cry. This bittersweet tale of a China bunny and his movement through various owners breaks my heart every time. However, the language is beautiful and is a song for the ears. This one is a must for vocabulary development, especially if you are doing any sort of writing unit on author's voice. 

best read aloud chapter books for 3rd grade
A total classic! This is a quick read, so it's perfect if you only have a couple weeks before break and need to start a read aloud! Matilda is a gifted child living in a tough world. A world where her parents don't care about her, and the headmaster at school is actually evil. This is a silly book and kids will enjoy Matilda's tricks.

best read aloud chapter books for 3rd grade
I read this with my gifted third-grade class and they go crazy for it. It starts off a little slow, but turns into a fast-paced roller coaster. This one is also part of a series, so you will definitely see kiddos start checking out the other ones at the library. 

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

best read aloud chapter books for 3rd grade
This relatively new book has become an absolute read aloud classic. It is about a silverback gorilla . named Ivan who lives in a cage at the mall. Ivan is a painter. Students develop empathy hearing about the absolute pain, suffering, and love that all the characters go through. This one is actually based on a real story, so after reading you can show kids picture of the real Ivan and his journey!

Need more third-grade read-aloud ideas?

Have you read all of these before or don't find any of them interesting? I asked my fellow teachers on Instagram for more read aloud suggestions- and boy, did they deliver! Below are more read aloud ideas that you may be interested in (again, Amazon Affiliate links).


best read aloud chapter books for 3rd grade
What read aloud books do you read in your classroom? I love getting new ideas, please share in the comments section! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to add them to my list. Happy reading!

Resources featured in post available at Glitter in Third on TPT


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The best third-grade read alouds

1 comment

  1. Your blog and TPT products have been so helpful and inspiring. I've been secular homeschooling my kids for 10 years. My youngest is in third grade this year. Where will I find Glitter in Fourth? You're gonna be tough to replace. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm and skills.