50+ Transitional Books for Young Readers

3rd grade is a crucial time in the education of most young readers. Most adults don’t remember how they learned to read. Some remember being frustrated. There is a step between knowing the pronunciation of letters and words and reading sentences, paragraphs, and chapters that is difficult to teach. We are mostly expected to get it on our own. Most children have some degree of difficulty with the comprehension, so they resist reading chapters. The key factor in becoming a reader is practice. As a homeschool teacher I have watched 3 kids go through this and found it challenging to find books interesting enough to capture their attention long enough to finish the books. For a beginner the length is a stumbling block-not because he/she can’t do it, but because it takes too much time and effort. Providing books with a high level of interest can motivate the student to finish.

3rd to 6th grade is when most of us become readers (or not) because starting with 7th grade, homework increases dramatically. People who aren’t readers may not understand how important enjoying reading is. It gives the student enough practice to do schoolwork without difficulty (still a challenge but not impossible seeming).

Searching for captivating books can be aggravating, so I have put together a list that I know can be successful in kickstarting a life of reading. Every child will not like them all. Some may even do better with only nonfiction for a few years. If so, great-look at the shelves in your local library or bookstore that deal with subjects of interest to that particular child. Note: There are many series designed to give children practice. Series such as Goosebumps, Animorphs, Nancy Drew, etc. tend to lack substance. They don’t give a child an understanding of the wonder of reading. Here’s a list I hope you will find more inspiring.


Updated 10-18-12

3rd Grade Level

Poppy Series by Avi (Wortis) REVIEW

Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? by Avi (Wortis) REVIEW

Windcatcher by Avi (Wortis) REVIEW

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

The Mouse on the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

Frindle by Andrew Clements REVIEW

The Landry News by Andrew Clements REVIEW

Lunch Money by Andrew Clements REVIEW

The School Story by Andrew Clements REVIEW

Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer REVIEW

The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer REVIEW

The Magic Shop Series by Bruce Coville REVIEW

Thor’s Wedding Day by Bruce Coville REVIEW

There’s an Owl in the Shower
by Jean Craighead George REVIEW

Qwerty Stevens, Stuck in Time with Benjamin Franklin
by Dan Gutman REVIEW

Guardians of Gahoole Series by Kathryn Lasky SERIES LIST

Ben and Me by Robert Lawson REVIEW

Seven Spiders Spinning by Gregory Maguire  REVIEW

Boys Against the Girls Series
by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor REVIEW

The Orphan Train Series by Joan Lowery Nixon REVIEW

Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel REVIEW

Time Warp Trio Series by Jon Scieszka SERIES LIST

The Boy of a Thousand Faces by Brian Selznick REVIEW

The Houdini Box by Brian Selznick REVIEW

Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon REVIEW

The Legend of Thunderfoot by Bill Wallace REVIEW

Wingwalker by Rosemary Wells REVIEW

Skunk Scout by Laurence Yep

4th Grade Level – Slightly more challenging and mature but still enjoyable for 3rd graders

The Boggart by Susan Cooper

Victory by Susan Cooper REVIEW

Befiddled by Pedro de Alcantara REVIEW

The Cheshire Cheese Cat by Carmen Agra Deedy & Randall Wright  REVIEW

Pure Dead Series by Deb Gliori REVIEW

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen REVIEW

Putnam & Pennyroyal by Patrick Jennings REVIEW

Paul Revere and I by Robert Lawson

Charlie Bone Series by Jenny Nimmo REVIEW

The Rats of NIMH
by Robert C. O’Brien and Jane Leslie Conly REVIEW

Archer’s Quest by Linda Sue Park REVIEW

Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett REVIEW

The Time Hackers by Gary Paulsen REVIEW

Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park REVIEW

Riding Freedom by Pam Muñoz Ryan REVIEW

Rules of the Universe by Austin W. Hale by Robin Vaupel  REVIEW

The Ravenmaster’s Secret by Elvira Woodruff REVIEW

Sherwood edited by Jane Yolen (short stories) REVIEW

5th Grade Level – More challenging and mature but 3rd graders can read and enjoy

The Calder Game by Blue Balliett  REVIEW

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett REVIEW

The Danger Box by Blue Balliett  REVIEW

The Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood  REVIEW

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer REVIEW

Charlie’s Raven by Jean Craighead George REVIEW

The Castaways of the Flying Dutchman
by Brian Jacques REVIEW

Redwall Series by Brian Jacques REVIEW

Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones (part of Chrestomanci series) REVIEW

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery SERIES LIST

Shiloh Series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor SERIES LIST

The Kite Fighters by Linda Sue Park REVIEW

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park REVIEW

Hatchet & sequels by Gary Paulsen  REVIEW

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
by J K Rowling SERIES REVIEW

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J K Rowling

Paint the Wind by Pam Muñoz Ryan  REVIEW

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

5 Responses to “50+ Transitional Books for Young Readers”

  1. minerva66 Says:

    A friend commented that some of the books listed are difficult for the ages listed. I expect that some of the books would be a challenge, but they are also high interest. My point is that books for beginners aren’t all that interesting. I have found that kids will accept a challenge in reading if they have sufficient motivation. Beginners need to see a reason to keep reading.

  2. Timothy Grinner Says:

    i was just pondering this very same thing prior haha, excellent article

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  4. Fred Says:

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  5. minerva66 Says:

    I have less time nowadays for reviewing. That is why I don’t post as often. The reviews themselves are not too much effort if I can do it in a timely manner. The actual reading is what takes effort. I am finding less children’s books lately that I want to read, or that I feel worth the time. Have been reading some adult. Some is not appropriate for this site, and it also takes longer to read. Searching for something also takes effort. I don’t have a new books store in my area anymore, since the Borders closed.

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