5 Chapter Book Series That Turned My 3rd Graders from Reluctant to Ravenous Readers (with a Freebie)!

Third grade teachers spend a lot of time guiding their students towards being independent readers. Some of our friends come to us with an intrinsic love of reading, and would love nothing more than to curl up in a cozy corner of the classroom and read all day. However, there are other kiddos who find reading about as exciting as going to the dentist. What do you do to get ALL your to love to read?

For your students who are coming to you lacking the interest and stamina for independent reading time, the most important thing you can do is get the right books into their hands. It's magic when it happens- the moment when a child "clicks" with a book and all of a sudden can't get enough!

How do you help your students find books they'll love? One way is to find book series that grab their interest. Series are a great way to hook your reluctant or newly independent readers. The following list contains series that have been wildly popular in my classroom recently.*

(Want to build up your library but don't know where start? Ask your students! There's a FREEBIE Book Request form at the bottom of this post!)

1. Mercy Watson Series

Although I love Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux (because who doesn't??), I had not heard of Kate DiCamillo's series for younger readers until recently. The adventures of Mercy are hilarious and the illustrations make the books extremely enjoyable. These are definitely for "younger" third-graders but they have been PERFECT for some of my boys and girls as an introduction to independently reading a chapter book.

To check out the first book in the series, click here: Mercy Watson to the Rescue

2. My Weird School Series

Is there a better opening line than, "My name is AJ, and I hate school"??? What kid isn't going to be hooked after that! The Weird School books are exactly as advertised- weird and funny things happening to a group of elementary school students, with enough mentions of the word "butt" to keep your most reluctant readers on task! These are quick, easy reads...and again, perfect for students who are beginning to navigate the world of chapter books. These have been a hit in my classroom for years and years, and make great read alouds, too! You can never go wrong with Dan Gutman.

For a closer look at the series, you can click here: My Weird School Series

3. Dr. KittyCat Series

This is not the type of book series I would normally select for my library, but some of my girls grabbed a few of these during our school book fair and became hooked! In these books by Jane Clarke, Dr. KittyCat and her mouse assistant help various animals with their medical maladies. The illustrations are unique, and there's some high-level vocabulary sprinkled throughout the book to provide a little bit of a challenge. If you have any students who love animals, this might be the series that gets them hooked on reading!

Here's the first book in the series: Posy the Puppy (Dr. KittyCat #1)

4. "Who Was..." Series

These books are always a hit in my classroom and I love that they keep coming out with new titles-the "Who is..." and "Where is..." books are awesome, too! Biographies can be a hard sell to students who are just starting to read on their own, but this series makes each historical figure so interesting and relatable. I would highly recommend any books from this series for any elementary classroom!

Here's a title I'm looking to add to my collection: Where is Mount Rushmore?

5. I Survived Series

The Great Chicago Fire, Nazi invasions, the sinking of the Titanic...this highly engaging series puts students right in the middle of all kinds of historical events. Lauren Tarshis does a fantastic job of gripping readers by showing the strength and resilience an ordinary boy or girl can show when faced with an extraordinary event. It is pretty much impossible for me to keep these books on my shelves once they are discovered!

I love to use I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001 to teach about 9/11. I've found it to be a fantastic way to explain the events of the day as well as show how the country came together in the aftermath.

It's so important to have a well-stocked library in your classroom. You don't want to have a student get excited about reading and then not have any books available! I love using Scholastic to stock up on books at a great price, and I have colleagues that have been very successful at finding books at secondhand stores and garage sales. To make sure I'm selecting books my students will want to read, I have them use this Classroom Library Book Request Form. This way I use my money wisely and know that I'm buying books that aren't just going to sit and collect dust!

How do you encourage independent reading in your classroom?

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