22 Great 3rd Grade Read Alouds for the Classroom

You may be thinking that 3rd graders are too old for 3rd grade read alouds, but consider the benefits for a moment.

Kids today are surrounded by a face-paced world run by technology, which can be quite overwhelming. By sitting down with your third grade readers and laying out new ideas in a relaxed and quiet environment, you allow your class to take the perspective of various people living in very different worlds.

1. The One and Only Ivan

“The One and Only Ivan” focuses on the importance of expressing oneself.

Ivan is a gorilla who lives in a mall exhibit with some friends. He has always enjoyed creating art, but he rediscovers this hobby when a girl from the mall gives him paper and crayons. Eventually, the fate of the exhibit rests on Ivan’s ability to create desirable art.

Although Ivan’s love of art history is consistent, his surroundings change again and again. He must dig into his creative side to save his friends, for whom he cares deeply.


2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Many of us have seen the popular movie, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, which was based upon the novel written by Roald Dahl. Underneath the awe-inspiring levels of the unique factory described throughout the novel lies an important message.

While many children invited to the chocolate factory show undesirable behavior, Charlie remains true to himself. Coming from a poor family, Charlie understands the privilege of touring such a magnificent place. By being respectful and kind, he is invited to inherit the factory and save his entire family from poverty.


3. Because of Winn-Dixie

“Because of Winn-Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo is a story of growth and change.

The main character, Opal, is a young girl who moves with her father. She brings home a dog named Winn-Dixie who seems to change her life. Opal learns about her mother, who had left the family. Winn-Dixie also helps Opal meet new people in town, with whom she becomes good friends.

Through her friendships with the townspeople, Kate DiCamillo shows that people are not always what they seem. Additionally, Kate shines the spotlight on letting go of the past and moving forward, surrounded by good friends.


4. Henry’s Freedom Box

A read aloud of “Henry’s Freedom Box” to your third graders is an invitation to discuss serious issues and the history of our country. This true story of a man’s journey out of slavery is eye-opening in ways that a history book cannot be.

Henry is a boy enslaved beside his family until he is separated from them to work in a warehouse. When he grows up and creates his own family, he is devastated when they are sold at the market. Henry finally realizes that he must mail himself to the north.

This story expresses a teachable message of persistence in the face of complete despair. This is a perfect example of a 3rd grade read aloud that you can combine with 3rd grade reading comprehension activities.


5. Holes

Louis Sachar weaves a tale about the punishment given, even when it is not deserved, in “Holes”.

In a detention center, Stanley Yelnats and the other boys dig holes all day. Each is five feet long by five feet wide. This activity is said to be a character-building exercise, but Stanley becomes suspicious of the true purpose.

He focuses on finding the truth lying below the dried-up lake and learns to redeem himself along the way. Your third grade read aloud class will likely find this to be a poignant story.


6. Charlotte’s Web

“Charlotte’s Web” is a classic with which most adults are familiar. This light-hearted tale manages to tackle some tough topics, such as the effect that the death of a friend has on those still alive.

Charlotte, a spider on a farm, comes to love a pig named Wilbur. In the story, Wilbur becomes lonely, so Charlotte weaves words onto beautiful webs to express the needs of the animals to the farmer.


7. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Third graders who read “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” will discover a fantasy world that combines the reality we live in with magical elements.

Grace Lin tells the tale of a family living in poverty. A girl named Minli embarks on an adventure to find the truth behind her father’s remarkable own stories. She teams up with a dragon and other magical beings who help her find the Old Man on the Moon. She believes that this man knows how she can make her family’s life better.


8. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

A wonderful read aloud, “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” is another literary masterpiece by Kate DiCamillo. She explores the vulnerability surrounding loving and losing someone.

Edward Tulane is a China rabbit who is cared for by Abilene. She loves Edward Tulane and gives him a wonderful life. Eventually, he and Abilene are separated. Edward Tulane embarks on an incredible journey, meeting people from all walks of life. He must learn to prevail despite the loss and continue to love when it has hurt him in the past.


9. Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

Yet another hit by Kate DiCamillo, “Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures” is a light-hearted and action-packed story.

If you are hoping to brighten storytime with some laughs, this book is sure to please your third grade readers. DiCamillo tells the story of a squirrel with newfound superpowers and Flora, who is quite cynical. As their friendship grows, Flora learns to hope and love despite her expectation for bad things to occur.

This picture book uses comic-style graphic sequences and illustrations to spice up a heartwarming story, which makes it one of the most special books for 3rd-graders.


10. Clementine

“Clementine” explores many of the struggles children, even third graders, often face.

A girl named Clementine faces disappointment and anger from her principal, a friend and her mother, and even her mother. All of these disasters take place in one week. So, Clementine feels as if she can’t catch a break. She even begins to doubt whether her parents want her around.

Clementine’s voice is fun and spunky, making this story very enjoyable for third-graders.


11. Where the Sidewalk Ends

Shel Silverstein crafts a mystical world in his collection of poetry titled  “Where the Sidewalk Ends”. Students love to enter into the magical and unbelievable land where none of the rules of real-life apply. Kids turn into TVs and shoes fly, among other strange happenings.

The rhythm of the poems is very pleasing, which makes the collection an excellent selection to read aloud and get kids excited. Plus, the book was ranked among the 100 Greatest Books for Kids by Parent & Child magazine.


12. My Father’s Dragon

“My Father’s Dragon” is narrated by the son of Elmer Elevator. He tells the story of his father as a child who ran away with a cat and visited Wild Island. There, Elmer and the cat discover an exploited baby dragon.

Elmer teamed up with pink lollipops, rubber bands, chewing gum, and a comb to take down other beasts that inhabited the island. In the end, their teamwork saved the dragon.


13. The Phantom Tollbooth

Over 50 years ago, Norton Juster introduced the world to Milo in “The Phantom Tollbooth”.

Milo believes that life is boring until he drives through a magical tollbooth. In the Lands Beyond, imagination comes to life. The other characters and locations are named to create a play on English words and phrases. In the end, Milo learns to find joy in the simple things in life.

These situations provide the perfect opportunity to sneak vocabulary lessons into your read alouds.


14. Beezus and Ramona

Beverly Clearly captures the essence of sibling relationships in “Beezus and Ramona”. Beezus is only nine years old, and she feels that she is constantly tormented by her four-year-old sister, Ramona.

Beezus struggles with her responsibility of watching Ramona, not to mention the embarrassment of having an outspoken sibling. Nonetheless, she loves Ramona and feels guilty for becoming frustrated with her.

This story about the importance of family follows the two sisters as they learn to lean on each other in tough situations.


15. The Boy at the Back of the Class

“The Boy at the Back of the Class” is a touching story of empathy and friendship, ideal as a wonderful read aloud.

Ahmet is an eight-year-old refugee from Syria. In the process of fleeing the war, Ahmet is separated from his family and placed in foster care in the UK. He is often bullied and has trouble making friends.

A group of classmates decides to befriend Ahmet. They plan to help reunite him with his family, even if they have to risk getting into trouble for it. They understand the importance of a kind gesture for a friend in need.


16. The Name Jar

In “The Name Jar”, Yangsook Choi explores the difficulties that immigrants face when beginning their new life in the United States.

When Unhei shows up on the first day of school, she does not introduce herself with her given name because she knows that it will be difficult for Americans to pronounce. Her classmates fill a jar with potential names, but she finds that none of them feel right.

In the end, she introduces herself with her Korean name, despite the fear of facing judgment from her classmates. Unhei’s journey shows that students should be true to themselves.


17. My Pen

Christopher Myers takes a unique approach with his book, “My Pen.” Although there is not much of a story, kids can be inspired by the author’s words.

Throughout the book, Myers describes many of the wonderful things a pen can do. For example, it can make an elephant fit into a teacup and tell stories with symbols on a page. He encourages even the most reluctant readers to use the pen to create new worlds.


18. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

“The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate” follows an 11-year-old girl living in 1899. She is a curious girl living in a time when women did not receive much respect.

Alongside her grandfather, Calpurnia Tate explores the natural world, wondering how things came to be the way they are. The readers get to see Calpurnia’s chaotic home of six brothers.

Calpurnia’s story proves that people do not need to make themselves fit into the box society created for them.


19. Something Beautiful

Sharon Dennis Wyeth brings a message of hope with her story “Something Beautiful.”

In a city filled with trash and graffiti, a young girl becomes disheartened. She wants to find beauty, but she doesn’t believe that such a grim place could be home to anything beautiful. Soon, city dwellers open up to her about the places where they find beauty.

Eventually, the little girl learns that there is beauty in many things, including friendship.


20. More to the Story

“More to the Story” follows Jameela Mirza, one of four Muslim sisters living in Georgia.

Jameela has big dreams of being a famous journalist, and she believes she is close when she is named feature editor of the middle school newspaper. However, disasters threaten her ability to write. Her father moves away for work, and her younger sister gets sick. By working so hard on a story, Jameela may also lose a new friend.

At the end of this 3rd grade read aloud, Jameela has to decide what is most important.


21. The Magical Reality of Nadia

Bassem Youssef tells a story inspired by his experiences in “The Magical Reality of Nadia”. Nadia is a 6th grader who has immigrated from Egypt. She had always fit in at school until a new kid teased her about her heritage.

Suddenly, her ancient hippo amulet begins to glow. She hopes to use the amulet’s secret to stand up to her bully and win a contest to design a museum exhibit. Such sweet stories are perfect for reading aloud to a third grader.


22. How to Be Cool in the Third Grade

Third graders will relate to many of Robbie York’s struggles in “How to Be Cool in the Third Grade”. He tries to find his place in his third grade class by becoming cool.

Robbie believes that his struggles stem from his superhero underwear and his mother kissing him in public. To reinvent himself, he plans to change his name, get jeans, and avoid the class bully.

Betsy Duffey allows the readers to confront their insecurities as they follow Robbie York in How to Be Cool in the Third Grade.


Final Thoughts

Children have active imaginations, and these stories allow them to exercise their creative sides while opening their eyes to real issues. Even if independent reading is difficult and frustrating for some students, they can immerse themselves in new worlds just by listening or enjoying chapter books.

Reading aloud engages all of the students and allows the teacher to discuss difficult topics on an elementary-school level. With this guide on hand, you will have a great collection of books to introduce to your students.

Last Updated on May 12, 2022 by Emily

Emily/ author of the article

Emily is an active mother of two and a dedicated elementary school teacher. She believes the latest technology has made a huge impact on the quality of early learning and has worked hard to upgrade her classroom and her own children’s learning experience through technology.
She created this blog to make it easier for other teachers to take advantage of some of the best devices out there to upgrade their classrooms without having to do the research themselves. She loves to hear your tech-based problems and share her extensive experience :)

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