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Year 3: 50 Recommended Reads (2021)

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best books for y3

Best Books for Y3 (Ages 7-8) in 2021

We’ve selected a range of recommended books for children aged 7-8. Find the best books to top up your Y3 reading collections with our carefully selected list of storytime chapter books, independent reads, funny stories, picturebooks, poetry collections, non-fiction texts and more. There’s something for all tastes, but keep an eye out for ninja cats, adventuring polar bears, intrepid explorers and the odd exploding dragon poo here and there, too…

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Sam Copeland
 & Sarah Horne
Chapter book
Charlie McGuffin has an incredible secret . . . He can change into animals. All sorts of animals: a flea, a pigeon, even a rhino. Trouble is, he can’t decide when – it only happens when he gets worried. And right now, Charlie has quite a lot to worry about: * His brother (who is in hospital) * His parents (who are panicking about it) * And the school bully (who has Charlie in his sights) And even though every kid wants a superhero power, Charlie isn’t keen on changing into a chicken in the middle of the school play. So with the help of his three best friends, Charlie needs to find a way of dealing with his crazy new power – and fast!
Ted Hughes
 & Chris Mould
Chapter book

As you’d expect from a former Poet Laureate, this story about a mysterious metal giant who befriends a farm boy is gorgeously written and hauntingly strange. The origins of the Iron Man are never fully explained – he just arrives one night, starts feasting on farm equipment, and after some initial misgivings is accepted into the local community. The book was retitled The Iron Giant in America (so as not to confuse the readers of Marvel comics), and was later turned into a really lovely animated film.

Steven Butler
 & Steven Lenton
Chapter book
Welcome to The Nothing to See Here Hotel! A hotel for magical creatures, where weird is normal for Frankie Banister and his parents who run the hotel. When a goblin messenger arrives at The Nothing to See Here Hotel, announcing the imminent arrival of the goblin prince Grogbah, Frankie and his family rush into action to get ready for their important guest. But it soon becomes obvious that the Banister family are going to have their work cut out with the demanding prince and his never-ending entourage, especially when it turns out the rude little prince is hiding a secret… The first book in a fabulously funny series by bestselling author Steven Butler, with a host of whacky characters brought to life with illustration from the wonderful Steven Lenton !
Andy Shepherd
 & Sara Ogilvie
Chapter book

The first in a series, this hugely entertaining adventure about a small boy and his pet dragon would make a super read-aloud for lower KS2. Tomas is busy in the garden with Grandad, planning which fruits to grow that might be turned into delicious jams or tarts. When Tomas stumbles across a strange tree with curious-looking fruit, he never expects that what might emerge from the fruit is a real live dragon! This is an adventure that is humorous at every turn, but also full of heart. Tomas is a great positive role model for showing how young people can apply curiosity and creativity to the process of growing and nurturing plants and see ‘magic’ in the course.

SF Said
 & Dave McKean
Chapter book
This cat must learn to fight! Varjak Paw is a Mesopotamian Blue kitten. He lives high up in an old house on a hill. He’s never left home, but then his grandfather tells him about the Way – a secret martial art for cats. ‘There are Seven Skills in the way of Jalal,’ whispered the Elder Paw. ‘We know only three of them. Their names are these. Slow-Time. Moving Circles. Shadow-walking.’ Now Varjak must use the Way to survive in a city full of dangerous dogs, cat gangs and, strangest of all, the mysterious Vanishings. With stunning illustrations from acclaimed graphic artist Dave McKean, this much-loved story won the Smarties Prize Gold Award and has become a modern classic.

Guidance: About the Year 3 Booklist

Reading for pleasure in Year 3 can provide entertainment and delight as well as opening up a host of new worlds to children. Books provide children of this age group with opportunities to stretch the imagination as well as to consider what life might be like in a myriad of different settings and situations. Stories about the lives of others can help children to develop empathy and understand emotions, while at the same time increasing children’s language skills and vocabulary. Furthermore, research shows that reading for pleasure in childhood is a more powerful indicator of future educational attainment than parental socioeconomic status. In order to facilitate the enjoyment of reading, getting the right book into the right child’s hands at the right time is the key. At the age of 7-8, many children have learned to read short books by themselves and begin to exercise a greater freedom of choice over their independent reads at school and home. Funny books are very popular with this age group, as are short chapter books with illustrated elements and visually appealing non-fiction texts. In addition to independent reading, story time with adults remains important and treasured in Year 3, too – both at home and in the classroom.

With these factors in mind, our team has carefully selected a range of books especially picked for encouraging reading for pleasure in Year 3, both as independent book choices and for texts to be read aloud by an adult. Some of the stories in the collection will be especially appealing to children looking for an illustrated chapterbook series, such as the Nothing to See Here Hotel series, Laura Ellen Anderson’s Amelia Fang stories and the very popular 13-Storey Treehouse books, which all have memorable characters and frequent visual elements to break up the text. A number of stories in the collection are brilliant choices for making children laugh out loud, like the storytime favourite Charlie Changes into a Chicken or the inimitable Mr Gum.

Other stories chosen for our Year 3 booklist are more tender-hearted and thought-provoking. We love Andy Shepherd’s story The Boy Who Grew Dragons, all about a young boy who finds a baby dragon hatching from a ‘dragon-fruit’ tree in the garden, or Peter Brown’s popular storytime choice The Wild Robot, which explores themes of technology and nature. Animal lovers will be drawn towards the feline world of Varjak Paw or to Michael Morpurgo’s poignant story of a whale that swims up the Thames in The Morning I Met a Whale. Not all of the stories on the list are longer reads – for excellent picturebook choices suitable for Year 3, we recommend the completely magical Leon and the Place Between, the stunningly-illustrated Oceans Meets Sky or the inspiring story of Wangari’s Trees of Peace. 

If you are looking for classic stories, you’ll find on our list some real favourites suitable for children aged 7-8, like Ted Hughes’ thrilling and mysterious story of The Iron Man or the poignant farmyard tale of friendship, courage and loss in Charlotte’s Web. Other stories in the collection are thoroughly modern in their themes, such as the eco-mystery in which we find STEM-loving Harley Hitch, or the video-game inspired illustrated adventure, Knights and Bikes.

You’ll find a variety of genres and formats included on our recommended Year 3 reading list, from poetry collections like Joshua Seigal’s giggle-worthy I Bet I Can Make You Laugh to the impressive nature poetry anthology Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright, which contains a poem for every day of the year. We’ve also included some graphic novel style stories, such as Arthur and the Golden Rope and Hilda and the Troll, which has recently seen increasing popularity since its launch as a Netflix series. If you are looking for a short chapter book for an ideal first step into independent reading, try the humorous intergalactic mystery Space Detectives or Malorie Blackman’s Ellie and the Cat, or for more ideas, be sure to check out our separate booklist listing recommended First Chapter Books.

We have also selected a handful of illustrated non-fiction texts that are particularly well-suited to readers aged 7 and 8,  from the award-winning comic-style fact book A Day in the Life of a Poo, a Gnu and You, to DK’s inspiring anthology of stories about real life Explorers, to Yuval Zommer’s beautifully illustrated The Street Beneath My Feet, which provides a real wow-factor to shared reading experiences with its 2.5 metre fold-out spread. If you are looking for books themed around a particular topic, head over to our KS2 topic booklists.

Where to purchase:

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50 Recommended Reads Year 3 (2021)

Year 3 Checklist (2021)

 

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