The Books Third Graders Are Recommending to Their Friends

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Have you noticed that when your child finds a book that they are really excited about, it’s hard to tear them away from reading? But, when they are between books or searching for that “next great book,” getting them to read the twenty to thirty minutes that their teacher assigns each night can be a real challenge?

You’re not alone. Finding a good book is hard for kids.

I talked with several 7 – 9 year olds and looked at the most popular books posted on, a kid-friendly social network for young readers, to find out what third-graders are recommending to their friends.

Here’s a list of twelve books to share with your young readers that their peers say are definitely worth the read.

Modern Classics That Make You Smile and Cry
Natalie, 8, highly recommends Because of Winn-Dixie by children’s lit Ambassador and Newbery Award winning author Kate DiCamillo. “One of my favorite books. It’s a really sweet story about a girl, Opal, who rescues a dog. It’s also about friendship and how people change each other in good ways.”

According to Liam, 8, The One and Only Ivan, a Newbery Award winner by Katherine Applegate, is “one of the best books in the world! It is about a gorilla who is trying to save an elephant’s life. If you want to learn more, read the book!”

Wonder, and the related Kindle single extras, The Julian Chapter and Pluto, all by R.J. Palacio, share the story of Auggie Pullman, a fifth-grader with a severe facial deformity who starts at a public school for the first time in his life. Anna, 9, says, “Everyone should read this book. Once you start, you can’t put it down. This book will inspire you and teaches you that it’s okay to be different from everyone else.”

Mystery Series for Young Detectives
For advanced readers, Thomas, 8, recommends The Hardy Boys. “These books are really fun. Kids who like mystery and detective stories should read these.” There’s also a version of this series for burgeoning third-grade readers.

Encyclopedia Brown is a classic series that kids still love today. Natalie, 9, says, “You can learn a lot from Encyclopedia Brown, who is smart and talented. But my favorite character in the book is Sally, because she is very tough and not afraid of anything.”

Mason, 8, loves The Boxcar Children series. “I really like how these brothers and sisters work together to solve mysteries even though they’ve had a hard life. These books are so good.”

Graphic Novels That Make You Laugh and Think
Luke, 9, thinks every third-grader should read the Geronimo Stilton series by Geronimo Stilton, which catalogs the adventures of a young mouse. “These books are super funny and good when you’re just starting to read chapter books.”

Maddie, 7, gobbled up the Newbery Honor winner El Deafo by Cece Bell in one sitting. “This book was awesome. The drawings are perfect for the story and the author’s story of growing up deaf is really interesting.”

Sisters, by Raina Telgemeier, is the true story of the author’s experiences on a cross country road trip with her sister and brother. Sarah, 8, says, “I love this book and it’s really funny. It’s just like me and my sister — fighting but always sisters.”

Tales for Adventure Seekers
And, of course, no list would be complete without books for kids who like adventure stories. While Harry Potter is still a top pick by many third-graders, here are a few other recommendations.

Devin, 8, highly recommends The Secrets of Droon by Tony Abbott to “other kids who like fantasy and adventure stories with some magic.” In this series, three friends find a hidden staircase that leads them to a magical world filled with action and adventure.

Many kids love Lauren Tarshis’s I Survived series where adventure meets history. Beck, 8, says, “These books are really exciting. I learned so much and even my dad liked reading it with me.”

Henry, 9, loves emotion-filled animal adventures like Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner. “Little Willy has to win this dogsled race to save his grandfather and his farm from being sold. I would recommend this book to people who like to have a little sadness and happiness in their books.”


Curious what books tween readers can’t get enough of? Check out this list of their favorite reads.