Read aloud books for 3rd graders
The Cello of Mr. O
by: Jane Cutler, illustrated by: Greg Couch - (Dutton Children's Books, 1999) 32 pages.
Sarajevo is the unnamed, bombed-out setting in this somber view of wartime. The cold, famished, despairing residents enjoy brief pleasure and relief every Wednesday at 4 o’clock when Mr. O plays his cello in the square. A triumphant reminder that art can transcend the ugliness of war, with luminous illustrations.
Perfect for: Kids who like music.
Find The Cello of Mr. O at your local library.
The Wind in the Willows
by: Kenneth Grahame - (C. Scribner's Sons, 1908)
The hook: The madcap adventures of Mr. Toad, Badger, Ratty, and Mole have enchanted children for over a century in this timeless English treasure. Enjoy the flawed but loyal friendships, weasel-ly villains, exciting battles, masterful illustrations, worthy themes, and sublime descriptions of the rural Thames riverbank. Great rollicking fun to read out loud!
Want to see the movie? The 1983 made-for-TV adaptation recreates the story in charming stop-motion animation.
Perfect for: Kids who like classics and adventures.
Find The Wind in the Willows at your local library.
Where the Sidewalk Ends
by: Shel Silverstein, illustrated by: Shel Silverstein - (Harper & Row, 1974) 176 pages.
Fantastical tales and common childhood fears and habits (the dentist, snakes, nose picking, etc.) are the chosen topics here, in the best selling children’s poetry book ever. Exuberant cartoons — by the author himself — amplify the humor. Simultaneously outrageous and profound, it connects deeply with young imaginations. Delightful to read out loud over and over.
Perfect for: Kids who like wild stories, humor, or poetry.
Find Where the Sidewalk Ends at your local library.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
by: Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by: Bagram Ibatoulline - (Candlewick Press, 2006) 228 pages.
Edward Tulane is a smug china rabbit owned by a little girl who loves and cherishes him. But everything changes for the not-so-nice rabbit when he’s launched into the sea during an ocean voyage. Tulane begins a tumultuous adventure that takes him from the bottom of the sea to the busy streets of Memphis. His travels frighten him, but also show him how to love. Gorgeous illustrations enhance the moving narrative.
Perfect for: Kids who like fantasy stories.
Find The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane at your local library.
by: Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by: Marla Frazee - (Hyperion, 2006) 144 pages.
The hook: Clementine, a precocious third grader, is paying attention. Really, she is. It’s just that there are so many more interesting things to pay attention to than the teacher, like the janitor embracing the lunch lady. And she’s not skipping school because of that haircut disaster, it’s because she must have caught arthritis from Mrs. Jacobi. Clementine’s mischievous but well-intentioned antics, coupled with the lively pen-and-ink drawings in this seven-book series, will attract early readers ready for chapter books and younger readers looking for a read-aloud treat (especially fans of the Ramona books).
Perfect for: Kids entertained by a little mischief.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
by: Roald Dahl - (A.A. Knopf, 1964) 180 pages.
The hook: Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory invites five lucky lottery winners to tour the facility and observe its amazing secrets. Four of the visiting children are nasty brats who will get exactly what they deserve. Only Charlie is worthy. Wild, hysterical, irreverent but ethical — it’s a classic modern fable that ridicules greed.
Want to see the movie? Kids may be more drawn to the chaotic, colorful 2005 adaptation starring Johnny Depp, but the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), which was written by Dahl himself, is a gentler take that still stands up today.
Perfect for: Kids who like classic stories.
Find Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at your local library.
The Complete Ramona Collection
by: Beverly Cleary - (Harper, 2009)
All the delightful mishaps of impulsive Ramona are captured in this eight-book box set that tells suburban family stories from the perspective of the intrepid and endearing heroine. Wholesome, emotionally candid, funny, imaginative; ideal for adventurous and feisty girls. Deeply explores sibling relationships. Worth reading repeatedly and saving for the next generation.
Perfect for: Kids who like realism.
Find The Complete Ramona Collection at your local library.
The Name Jar
by: Yangsook Choi - (Knopf, 2001) 40 pages.
Unhei arrives in the U.S. from Korea. After she is teased because her name is difficult to pronounce, she decides to abandon it for an American name by picking from a jar filled with options like Amanda and Suzy. The happy conclusion promotes acceptance of cultural diversity.
Perfect for: Kids who like to learn about other cultures.
Find The Name Jar at your local library.
by: Sharon Dennis Wyeth - (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 1998) 32 pages.
An African-American girl in an impoverished, trash-strewn inner city is searching for the definition of “beautiful.” As she roams her neighborhood, she runs into acquaintances who identify what’s valuable and comforting in their lives. The conclusion, in the words of her mother, is lovely. With photo-realistic watercolors that enhance the heartwarming theme.
Perfect for: Kids who are philosophical thinkers.
Find Something Beautiful at your local library.
Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon
by: Ruth Stiles Gannett - (Random House, 1998) 256 pages.
This nonsensical trilogy starring Elmer Elevator and a flying baby dragon was written sixty years ago, but its appeal is still soaring fantastically. With ridiculous weapons, our 9-year-old hero subdues the fierce beasts on Wild Island. It’s simple vocabulary makes it an ideal first chapter book.
Perfect for: Kids who like fantasy stories.
Find Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon at your local library.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by: Grace Lin - (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011) 304 pages.
Minli lives with her family in the valley of the Fruitless Mountain. In the evenings, her father tells folktales, including one about the Old Man on the Moon, who holds everyone’s destiny. Inspired by her father’s tales, Minli decides to go on a journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him to change her family’s fortune. Along the way, Minli encounters magical creatures and makes new friends who accompany her on her adventure. Themes from Chinese folklore fuel this beautifully illustrated story.
Perfect for: Children who dream of mystical lands and epic journeys.
Find Where the Mountain Meets the Moon at your local library.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
by: Brian Selznick - (Scholastic, Inc., 2007) 544 pages.
Hugo is an orphan who tends the clocks in a Paris train station. He lives a lonely existence in the shadows of the station, stealing food and dodging the Station Inspector. One day he encounters a flinty old man who has even more secrets than he does. With the support of his friend, Isabelle, Hugo discovers the key to his past and the old man’s — and both find a measure of happiness. This powerful story is beautifully illustrated to create the pace and visual effects of a movie.
Want to see the movie? Check out Martin Scorsese’s 2011 Hugo, which won five Academy Awards.
Perfect for: Kids who like historical fiction.
Find The Invention of Hugo Cabret at your local library.
The Trumpet of the Swan
by: E.B. White, illustrated by: Fred Marcellino - (HarperCollins, 2001) 252 pages.
Louis the swan is born with a disability — he has no “HONK!” He learns to communicate via a brass trumpet that his father steals from a music store, then a human friend, Sam, teaches him to read and write. Uplifting, exciting tale of love and courage, with old-fashioned sepia illustrations.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 2001 animated film featuring the voice talents of Carol Burnett and Reese Witherspoon.
Perfect for: Kids who have ever felt different.
Find The Trumpet of the Swan at your local library.
I Love You, Stinky Face
by: Lisa McCourt, illustrated by: Cyd Moore - (Troll, 1997) 32 pages.
A sweet story about a boy who tests the limits of his mother’s love by turning himself into multiple slimy, stinky creatures before realizing that her love is unconditional.
Perfect for: Kids who like to challenge their parents.
Find I Love You, Stinky Face at your local library.