Year 3 children like books that entertain them and help them to understand the world around them. Year 3 teachers like to provide pupils with reading-for-pleasure choices designed to entertain and delight – as well as books that open up a host of new worlds to curious children. Books provide children of this age group with opportunities to stretch their imagination as well as to consider what life might be like in a myriad of different settings and situations.
Children in Year 3 often enjoy stories about the lives of other people, like STEM-loving Leonora Bolt or the intergenerational coastal adventure in The Puffin Keeper. Stories like this can help children to develop empathy and understand emotions, while at the same time increasing children’s language skills and vocabulary.
Animals stories are hugely popular choices in Year 3 too, and many children of this age enjoy wildlife rescue adventures like Zoe’s Rescue Zoo and Red Panda Rescue, or stories about talking animals with their own secret lives, like the classroom storytime favourite Varjak Paw.
Funny books like Charlie Changes into a Chicken are very popular with this year group, as are short chapter books with highly illustrated elements like The 13 Storey Treehouse or A Monster Ate My Packed Lunch. Many parents and teachers report that books like this, with high image-to-text ratio and plenty of humour, are the ones that first hook their Year 3 children into reading independently.
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 shared storytimes, Year 3 children can handle more complex narratives or more deeply emotive tales that can be discussed together with adults, including true classics like Charlotte’s Web or books that touch on wider social or environmental themes, like The Wild Robot.
Should children read to themselves in Year 3?
Year 3 is a great age to encourage children to be reading independently and is often considered the year when independent reading really begins to take off, as long as the right books are available.
At the ages of 7 and 8, many children have learned to read short books by themselves and begin to exercise greater freedom of choice over their independent reads at school and home. 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.
Many children looking for independent reads in Year 3 first gravitate towards highly illustrated short books like Press Start! or graphic novels like Kitty Quest, while others simply love a story with entertaining characters like Pugs of the Frozen North or Pizazz.
Every reader develops differently and some children will not quite be ready for the leap into independent reading yet. Where this is the case, keep providing plenty of opportunities to enjoy shared reading or storytime with trusted adults or older siblings is the best thing to do. Some books lend themselves brilliantly to being shared together, like the search-and-find Egypt Magnified or the fold-out non-fiction with wow factor, The Street Beneath My Feet.
Try to make available plenty of books to freely browse during independent times, too – even if the words are not all being read, remember that books can still be enjoyed in a myriad of wonderful ways.
Which are the best books for Year 3?
Year 3 children should be given the opportunity to choose from different styles, genres and formats. Make the most of library trips to find new books to read, or use our checklists and school bookpacks to help guide choices.
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 chapter book series, such as the Nothing to See Here Hotel series, the stem-themed Harley Hitch series and the Princess Rules 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 Pugs of the Frozen North or Charlie Changes into a Chicken.
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 life-changing animal-to-human friendship in The Puffin Keeper. 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 or the stunningly illustrated Ocean Meets Sky More picturebooks for this age group can be found on our separate Lower KS2 Picturebooks booklist.
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 part of a much newer series, such as the fantasy Dragon Storm series, or Jo Clarke’s macaron-filled mystery Libby and the Parisian Puzzle.
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 Yapping Away to the empowering illustrated poetry collection Courage Out Loud, penned by children’s laureate Joseph Coelho. We’ve also included some graphic novel-style stories, such as Arthur and the Golden Rope and Kitty Quest. If you are looking for a short chapter book for an ideal first step into independent reading, try Holly Webb’s sausage-dog seaside story The Beach Puppy or Ross Montgomery’s brilliantly funny Sheep School. For more ideas, be sure to check out our separate booklist listing recommended First Chapter Books.
Not everybody is ready for longer chapter book stories at this stage of Year 3 and some children will thrive on alternative formats. Take a look at our Lower KS2 Graphic Novels booklist or our selection of first chapter books featuring very short or colour-illustrated options for newly independent readers. Y3 children who have not yet caught the reading bug might like our booklist for reluctant readers aged 7-9 or our Top-Notch non-fiction booklist for more options to appeal to different types of readers. Similarly, more advanced Year 3 readers can look ahead with our list of Recommended Reads for Year 4.
For children’s books showcasing a broader range of characters, cultures and experiences, our collection of Diverse and Inclusive Books for Lower KS2 is recommended for parents and educators seeking diversity and inclusivity.