The Guide to 3rd Grade: Reading and Writing

Review reading and writing curricula for third grade, including what to expect and how to support learning.

By Scholastic Parents Staff
Aug 13, 2020



The Guide to 3rd Grade: Reading and Writing

Aug 13, 2020

Your child has mastered the fundamentals in 1st grade and 2nd grade, and is now ready to thrive through 3rd grade! But it’s not just another year: This grade is a very important time in your child’s education, because it’s when students transition from what are often known as the “lower grades” to the “upper grades.” It is a crucial period in students’ learning as they become more independent and mature learners.

In 3rd grade, students progress from practicing basic skills to mastering them, and move on to develop more complex skills. 

Read on for what to expect this year, and shop all books and resources for third grade at The Scholastic Store

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Reading in 3rd Grade 

After mastering literacy skills in earlier grades, 3rd graders become better and more independent readers. Third grade reading focuses on teaching kids how to think and talk about what they read in deeper and more detailed ways. Students read longer texts, and most read fictional chapter books.

Many reading lessons in 3rd grade are dedicated to writing and talking about the meanings, lessons, and important ideas in texts. Third graders are encouraged to develop their own points of view about books they read, and to discuss their ideas about a text or characters. Series books are important in 3rd grade, because they allow students to make connections between different books and talk about how certain characters develop. As 3rd graders explore a greater range of books and longer texts, they become more fluent readers and learn to read, define, and pronounce complex words.

To build reading skills, your 3rd grader:

  • Reads multi-syllable and grade-appropriate, irregularly spelled words (ask your child’s teacher for a list of these words).
  • Reads grade-level text with appropriate pace, accuracy, expression, and understanding.
  • Self-corrects mistakes and re-reads when necessary.
  • Talks about and answers questions about a text using specific examples from the text and connects different parts of a text.
  • Reads a variety of texts including, fiction, non-fiction, fables, and poetry, and understands and talks about their main ideas and lessons.
  • Begins to understand the difference between literal and non-literal text such as metaphors and analogies.
  • Uses the text and context to determine the meaning of words.
  • Is able to express their own point of view about characters or a text.
  • Makes comparisons between books written by the same author and books in series that are about the same characters.

Third Grade Reading Activities

Get Serious About Series: Find a series that interests your child and begin to read it together. You can read to your child, your child can read to you, or they can read a chapter independently. You can even interview each other as you read — ask about main ideas, events, and thoughts you each have about the books and characters.

Look It Up: When your child encounters a word they don’t know the meaning of, look up the meaning together. Use a grade-appropriate tool like the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary — or you can even keep your own family dictionary, recording words and their definitions. Use the word yourself, or encourage your child to use that word in a sentence sometime during the day.

Learn About an Author: As your child develops favorite authors, look online for that author’s website. They can email or write a letter to the author (under your supervision).

Writing in 3rd Grade

Third graders continue to practice writing the pieces they learned to do in 2nd grade, but now also write longer ones with more detail. What’s more, 3rd graders learn increasingly sophisticated language, using phrases and terms to provide examples and make connections within their writing.

More time is spent on planning, revising, and editing texts in 3rd grade — and as a result, your child learns the “writing process” authors go through. Students may spend a long period of time (say, a few weeks) working on one piece. They also practice writing pieces in shorter periods of time in class and through homework. Third graders continue to use and become comfortable with technology as they employ computers for writing pieces and doing research.

To build writing skills, your 3rd grader:

  • Writes a variety types of texts including:
    • Opinion Pieces: Students introduce their opinions, note the reasons for those opinions, and provide a conclusion.
    • Narrative Pieces: Students write about an event, using descriptive details, feelings, and proper order — and ultimately provide a conclusion.
    • Informative/Explanatory Pieces: Students introduce a topic and use facts, definitions, and, if helpful, illustrations to further explain the topic, eventually leading to a conclusion.  
  • Uses terms such as: becausesince, for example, also, another, and but to elaborate on and make connections in their writing. 
  • Plans, revises, and edits their writing, going through the same process that most writers do.
  • Uses digital tools (under the guidance of the teacher) to publish their writing and interact and communicate with others.
  • Begins to take notes and do research for short research projects.
  • Spends various amounts of time writing a piece, ranging from a short period of time (such as 30 minutes) to working on one piece over the course of a few weeks.

Third Grade Writing Activities

Write About Your Lives: When your family experiences an enjoyable or important moment, you and your child can write about it together in a narrative piece. Describe the events that occurred using details and emotion, then send the piece to family members or friends to share the event and the writing.

Get Technical: Help your child use a computer to research a topic or communicate with friends and family. Your third grader can also use the computer to write their own pieces or pieces you write together.

Learn How to Do Something New: Pick something fun you and your child want to learn how to do, like drawing cartoons. Research the topic online or in a book together and create an informative piece, explaining the subject. You can then do the project yourselves or teach another family member or friend using the piece you and your child wrote.  

Shop the best resources for second grade below! You can find all books and activities at The Scholastic Store

Explore other grade guides: 

Your 3rd Grade Book Checklist

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