Third Grade Summer Reading List

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based on 80 ratings
Updated on Apr 4, 2014

The summer before third grade is an exciting time for readers—they are able to read longer, more involved books with chapters and complex characters. Stumped on where to find engrossing books for your burgeoning reader? We've got you covered. We've combed the shelves for new summer titles.


Our 2012 Summer Reading List

Tua and the Elephant, by R.P. Harris, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. When ten-year-old Tua (“peanut” in Thai) meets an enslaved elephant named Pohn-Pohn, she begins an epic journey to free her new friend. Fortunately, Tua’s courage, intelligence and spunk serve the duo well, and Pohn-Pohn finds a new home in an elephant refuge. This charming, well-written tale is a great read-aloud to share together, or send your young reader off with on her own. (Chronicle Books, $11.43)

National Parks: A Kid’s Guide to America’s Parks, Monuments and Landmarks, by Erin McHugh, illustrated by Neal Aspinall. Got a kid who loves being outside? Nurture his love of nature with this adventurer’s guide to the great outdoors. Full of fun facts and colorful illustrations, this book features 127 of our national parks, monuments, historic sites and more. A great accompaniment to any family road trip, kids will be learning a bit of geography, U.S. history, and the importance of protecting nature and the environment. (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, $15.34)

Those Rebels, John & Tom, by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. Biography meets history in this inventive look at two very different men who forged a collaboration that changed the course of American history.  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson are depicted as wholly contradictory figures, save for a shared patriotism and desire for independence from Britain. The personalities and quirks of these historical figures are captured with wit and whimsy, and the down-to-earth narrative draws the reader squarely into the political challenges faced by the protagonists. Additional historical material at the end of the book rounds out a compelling account of this extraordinary duo and time period. (Scholastic Press, $12.23)

Earthling!, by Mark Fearing & Tim Rummel. Bud caught the wrong bus to school; a galactic mistake! This graphic novel follows 9-year-old Bud as he gets tangled up in the wrong solar system. Luckily, there’s Gort McGortGort, who takes Bud under his wing. These two likeable characters are a blast to follow from one misadventure to the next. With some great vocabulary snuck in between colorful illustrations, this one is great for reluctant readers, comic book lovers and those that just like a good space adventure. (Chronicle, $11.97) 

Our 2011 Summer Reading List

Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset by Tom Angleberger. The loosening of M’Lady Luggertuck’s corset has made it possible for something new to happen! In fact, it’s what makes the entire fiendish mystery at Smugwick Manor possible. Follow humble Horton Halfpott, and you'll see. Don't let the narrator's tongue twisters twirl you—this book's a veritable carnival ride from page to silly page, making it an outstanding chapter book to read out loud too. (Amulet Books, $10.17)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Charlie Bucket, a kind and honest boy with very big dreams and very little to eat, is determined to win a golden ticket to gain entrance into the famous Wonka Chocolate Factory. When he does, his whole world is flipped upside down as he and his grandpa take an adventure of a lifetime through Wonka's world. This award-winning classic by the beloved Roald Dahl has been reprinted with full-page color illustrations by Quentin Blake, who's been bringing Dahl's stories to life with his images for years. Dahl's fantastical plot twists and oddball characters take the reader to an imaginative world where anything's possible. Though the story's well-known, this classic page-turner is one that's worth reading and re-reading. With delightful illustrations and inspired prose, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is perfect for kids who want to get lost in a book this summer.  (Puffin, $10.87)

The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon by Ellen Raskin. This tried and true favorite by award-winning author Ellen Raskin is one most adults will remember reading as a child and one that kids today will love as well. Recently re-released by Puffin, the story of the bumbling Mrs. Carillon and her search for her lost husband Leon (or is it Noel?), and all of the adventures along the way, is still as entertaining as ever. Filled with puzzles, puns, word-play, exploding soup factories, riots, and mind-bending text-as-picture illustrations by Raskin herself, the story is a delightful read with one giant mystery (and lots of tiny ones) to solve. Perfect for inquisitive readers and puzzle-minded kids, this interactive chapter book is tough to put down and even tougher to figure out! (Puffin, $4.01)

Smells Like Treasure by Suzanne Selfors. Everyone likes a quirky protagonist. In this story, there are two: Homer Pudding, an awkward 12-year-old aspiring to become a serious treasure hunter, and his best friend Dog, an overweight basset hound whose only talent is an uncanny ability to smell treasure. In this second adventure, a sequel to Smells Like Dog, Homer and Dog embark on a dangerous quest for treasure. If he completes the mission, he’s a shoe-in for membership in the Society of Legends, Objects, Secrets and Treasure. This swashbuckler is a fun and breezy summer read for reluctant readers and book-worms alike. (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $10.43) 

The Emerald Casket by Richard Newsome. Take a seat, relax and let this book do all the traveling; move from the British countryside to the rich setting of India. Excitement and mysteries continue in this accessible adventure series. One month after Great Aunt Geraldine's murder, Gerald is now a thirteen-year-old billionaire in London, split between trying hard to enjoy a summer holiday and the mysteries left behind by her death. Like the first book, Newsome throws the action of an Indiana Jones flick in with the wonders of the book's setting–India this time–for a fun mix of culture and adventure. Add in a perfectly creepy villain and three likable, scrappy kids (Gerald, and the twins, Sam and Ruby) for hours of summer entertainment. (Walden Pond Press, $10.56)


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