Books for a picky third-grade reader

My Tiger Lily is a great reader, but I've never met a pickier one. She has walked out of the library before complaining that there's nothing to read in there.

This year, as she started third grade, I was frustrated that she was still reading (mostly re-reading, actually, as she'd already read them all) simple, formulaic series books like A to Z Mysteries and Thea Stilton. She could tear through one of them in about 20 minutes, a sign to me that she needed something a little more challenging.

Now, three-quarters of the way through the school year, she's finally moved on. I am starting to understand her reading tastes a little better (and they're similar to mine, if a lot narrower). She likes girl heroines, siblings, good friends, not too scary, and a little bit of magic (especially dragons).

Here are some of the books that have gotten her reading this year. Now that you know her tastes, do you have any recommendations for her?


The Dragon Slippers series by Jessica Day George. Tiger Lily just tore through these books, ordering me to the library when a new one was required.

Ellen Tebbits and Otis Spofford by Beverly Cleary. I'm so glad she was able to see the everyday magic in Beverly Cleary's books.

The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull. She tore through this one in a day, but she didn't want to read the sequel: it was a little too scary for her.

The Tuesdays in the Castle series by Jessica Day George. I know that Tiger Lily will like this series, as she likes the author, and I think it is even more age-appropriate for her than the Dragon Slippers books. She's just started it and is enjoying it so far. Getting her to even start a book is half the battle.

The Doll People series by Ann M. Martin. Featuring illustrations by the celebrated Brian Selznik, Tiger Lily has really enjoyed the books from this series that she has read.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate. This is a book that Tiger Lily's teacher read to her, and I keep hearing about it, so it must have been good.

The Oz series by L. Frank Baum. These books have been hit and miss with her: there a few she adores, and others it's been harder for her to get into.

The Where the Mountain Meets the Moon series by Grace Lin. I adore this series and I couldn't be happier that Tiger Lily loves it too.

The 100 Dresses series (starting with If the Magic Fits) by Susan Maupin Schmid. These books are filled with cuteness, and magical dresses, perfect for Tiger Lily.

And, just for my own reference, here are some books I think she would like, if I can get her to try them.


The Dealing with Dragons series by Patricia C. Wrede. She loved the last dragon books she read, and I think she would like these, too. I love the sense of humor in these books.

The Twins at St. Clare's series by Enid Blyton. I'll admit that this series is a bit shallow and didactic, but it's fun, and I think Tiger Lily would enjoy it.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly. Every girl should read this book, and luckily it's no chore.

The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. She has actually already read the first two, and tolerated them, but I know she would like the next two in the series better since she is closer to their age.

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. Perfect for a little girl who loves to write.

The Rose Legacy by Jessica Day George. This one is coming out soon, and we have pre-ordered it. She's a fan of the author, and it has a horse on the cover. One look at the cover and she wanted to read it.


  1. I found a “tiny free library”. They’re rare here, due to HOA’s, but they must be legal in the suburb I was in. Island of the Blue Dolphins was there. Anna loves it. I was always hoping she would.

  2. I find it so hard to fet my fourth grader to read books more than kid friendly graphic booka. I read aloud to them "meaty" books but to get him to read certain books is an act of congress. I heard good things about
    Tuesday in the Castle.