Recommended books to read aloud in year 3 list includes more complex traditional stories, particularly those drawn from myth and legend and reflecting diverse cultures. The shared read-aloud session is the perfect opportunity to share longer fiction that children may not yet have the stamina to read independently. It is hugely important that children at the transition have opportunities to envisage their future reading selves, which reading aloud supports so well. Books with complex themes benefit from discussion and guidance from an adult. This can help build empathy and understanding of others as well as broaden children’s knowledge of the world.
Humour is often a preference for children at this age. Funny books have many benefits, not least a bonding effect, which helps to create a community of readers. They can also help to relieve stress and create a sense of well-being.
Picture book biographies are an excellent choice for this year group too. Through reading the life stories of people who have achieved excellence or recognition in their field, children learn about the qualities that lead to success, for instance, resilience, persistence and overcoming adversity. These stories can be inspirational and develop children’s general knowledge.
While picture books remain an essential part of children’s reading repertoire, reading stories with few or no illustrations are also recommended, encouraging the children to develop imagery in their mind’s eye. Some of the books on this list are less heavily illustrated with black-and-white line illustrations that can be shared using a visualiser.
Throughout the year, you will want to read stories requested by the children, offer guided choices, and expand their reading horizons.
Our recommended poetry lists have plenty of suggestions for each year group too.
Roy Moss has written a useful blog about choosing read-alouds. for your class.
Find out which books our reviewers enjoy reading with their classes in this video, Choosing Books for the Classroom; Read Alouds.
Sonia Thompson and Ben Harris join Nikki Gamble to talk about why reading aloud to your class is so important and to advise on choosing books to read aloud
Our top picks from recent titles
Me and Mister P
By Maria Farrer. Illustrated by Daniel Rieley. Published by Oxford University Press.
“All I want is a normal family but no, I’ve ended up with the brother from Weirdsville. Liam is so embarrassing, but Mum and Dad can’t see that and give him all the attention. Leaving me with zero! Zilch! A big fat NOTHING! And I’m not really sure how an enormous, funny, clumsy polar bear is going to help with all this, but he was standing on the doorstep, so I had to invite him to stay, didn’t I?
Flyntlock Bones: The Eye of Mogdrod
By Derek Kielty. Illustrated by Mark Elvins. Published by Scallywag Press.
A priceless golden chalice has been stolen from Fergus McSwaggers, fearsome chief of the squelchy Bog Islands … and he wants it back! Can Flynn and the crew of the Black Hound solve their most dangerous case yet, battling deadly ice pirates, outsmarting squabbling clans, and facing the scariest beast of all the Seven Seas, the monstrous, cat-like MogdrodOur reviewer, Lucy Timmons writes. ‘It is full of silly, fun, stinky humour which will leave this age range both falling off their seats and gripped by the adventurous plot.’
Arthur Who Wrote Sherlock
By Linda Bailey. Illustrated by Isabelle Follath. Published by Andersen Press.
he fascinating true story of the inspiring writer Arthur Conan Doyle, and how he created the world’s most famous detective,
The Fire of Stars
By Kirsten W. Larson . Illustrated by Katherine Roy. Published by Chronicle books.
A poetic picture book celebrating the life and scientific discoveries of groundbreaking astronomer Cecilia Payne! Astronomer and astrophysicist Cecilia Payne was the first person to discover what burns at the heart of stars. Our reviewer, Tracy Parvin, writes,’The Fire of Stars is a beautifully structured book that could be shared as a read-aloud, or explored as a class text, with KS1 and lower KS2, especially if studying women’s achievements.’
The Fog Catcher's Daughter
By Marianne McShane. Illustrated by Alan Marks. Published by Walker Books.
A brave young girl rows out to meet her destiny in a lavishly illustrated original tale steeped in fairy lore, from a traditional Irish storyteller. Our reviewer writes, ‘An absolute treat for reading aloud to young children and for older readers too who can appreciate the quality of the illustrations and explore these in detail.’
The Broken Dragon
By Karen McCombie. Published by Barrington Stoke.
Tyra gets off to a tough start at her new school. She’s loud and different and nobody seems to be particularly friendly. So when her nan gives her a beautiful china snow dragon, Tyra decides to take it to school, hoping that people will think it’s interesting and talk to her. But disaster strikes and the beautiful dragon is smashed.
Our reviewer, Stephen Connor writes, ‘There are many books set in schools that put the protagonist in Tyra’s position, and often a ringleader is pushing back against the newcomer. What I really liked about this book was that this character didn’t exist: instead, children asked questions (why do you live with your nan?), and there are titters when Tyra’s jokes don’t quite work, but there is an absolute absence of cruelty.’ The themes in this book are pertinent to the lives of all children and it’s highly recommended opening for class discussion.
Blanksy the Street Cat
By Gavin Puckett. Illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan. Published by Faber.
A short rhyming story that works well as a read-aloud in either year 2 or year 3. Our reviewer, Imogen Maund says, ‘It is refreshing to read a book for children with characters who are homeless but are portrayed positively. There is certainly not a victim narrative in this story and it clearly communicates why Pete likes his lifestyle – and that it is a conscious choice. Therefore, it provides an opportunity for discussion with children about homes and how different people may choose to live.
Stories of Peace and Kindness
By Elizabeth Laird. Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. Published by Otter-Barry Books.
A collection of stories from around the world to promote thought and discussion about peace and kindness. Our reviewer, Kate Hitchings, writes ‘The pacey and dramatic stories are perfect for reading aloud. The Woodcutter and the Lion is perhaps the best of all for a classroom rendition. Children unaccustomed to the diverse conventions of folktales will benefit from hearing them read and discussing the messages and themes of each one. ‘
Classic and established favourites
The Diary of a Killer Cat
By Anne Fine. Published by Puffin.
The first book in Anne Fine’s Killer Cat series has great characterisation. There’s an opportunity here to engage children with an expressive read-aloud with character voices and good pacing to emphasize the humour. There are other books in the series that children can enjoy independently.
You're a Bad Man Mr Gum
By Andy Stanton. Illustrated by David Tazzyman. Published by HarperCollins.
Mr Gum is a complete horror who hates children, animals, fun and corn on the cob. This book’s all about him. Anarchic humour that will have children laughing their heads off
A Necklace of Raindrops
By Joan Aiken. Illustrated by Jan Pienkoski. Published by Penguin Randhom House.
A collection of eight literary fairy stories with Jan Pienkowski’s trademark silhouette illustrations. The classic storyteller voice makes this a good collection for reading aloud.