Series books are a staple in most students' reading repertoires. They motivate young readers and help them build positive experiences with books. While this motivation is critical in the development of young readers, it is also important for students to experience literature from a wide variety of authors and genres.
It can be difficult for young readers to move away from the comfort of a favorite series. They may need your guidance to choose books that will hold the same motivation and appeal that the series provides. Listed below are six high-interest, appealing series for grades two and three that will help build reading excitement in your classroom. Following each series, you will find a list of “bridge” books which can be used to guide your students to new authors and books.

Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
High-spirited Junie B. Jones faces kindergarten and first grade with humor and imagination. Set at both school and home, the stories include Junie B.’s interactions with parents, teachers, and classmates. Children will enjoy the role of knowing better than Junie B, laughing at her dilemmas with an “I’ve been there” thrill of experience.

Readers who relate to Junie B.’s indomitable character will also enjoy these books featuring spunky heroines:

  • Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
  • Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
  • Happily Ever After by Anna Quindlen
  • JoJo & Winnie by Marilyn Sachs
  • Just Grace by Charise Mericle Harper
  • Lady Lollipop by Dick King-Smith
  • Runaway Radish by Jessie Haas
  • Soupy Saturdays with the Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume
  • The Next-Door Dogs by Colby Rodowsky
  • Ark in the Park by Wendy Orr

Horrible Harry series by Suzy Kline

Harry loves everything horrible, according to his best friend Doug, who narrates this series about their adventures in second and third grade. Harry’s curious and fearless spirit leads to humorous exploits and the occasional bit of trouble. With a focus on school experiences, this series is particularly relevant to young readers who are developing their own identities and independence in a school setting. Horrible Harry fans will connect with the likable boys in these realistic fiction books:

  • How to Be Cool in Third Grade by Betsy Duffey
  • I Hate Books by Kate Walker
  • Say What? By Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Snowed In With Grandmother Silk by Carol Fenner
  • The Chalk Box Kid by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • The Hero of Third Grade by Alice DeLaCroix
  • The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo by Judy Blume
  • The Seven Treasure Hunts by Betsy Byars
  • The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron
  • Tippy Lemmey by Patricia C. McKissack

Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne

Jack and his sister Annie travel to exciting times and places from their magical tree house, accomplishing tasks for Merlin the Magician and Morgan le Fay. Each of these easy to read, high-interest stories has a historical or geographical theme, providing a perfect segue to non-fiction text. Magic Tree House fans will savor the adventures in these exciting books:

  • My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
  • Sailing for Gold by Deborah Hopkinson
  • The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh
  • The Dragonling by Jackie French Koller
  • The Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth by Jean L.S. Patrick
  • The Magician’s Boy by Susan Cooper
  • The Sword in the Tree by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • Travels With My Family by Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel
  • Wingwalker by Rosemary Wells
  • Digory the Dragon Slayer by Angela McAllister

The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Four orphaned siblings, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden make a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar before being reunited with their grandfather. After the first book, the series continues with the Alden children setting out on adventures and solving mysteries. There is a strong sense of family in this series, with the older siblings taking care of the younger ones and the children working together.Readers who enjoy the resourcefulness and independence of the characters in this classic series will also appreciate these books featuring clever and capable heroes and heroines:

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Mom For Mayor by Nancy Edwards
  • Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr
  • Roxie and the Hooligans by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • Shoeshine Girl by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • The Elevator Family by Douglas Evans
  • The Not-Just Anybody Family by Betsy Byars
  • The SOS File by Betsy Byars, Betsy Duffey, and Laurie Myers
  • The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill
  • The Silver Spoon of Solomon Snow by Kaye Umansky

Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey

Tricksters George and Harold hypnotize their principal, turning him into the ridiculous superhero, Captain Underpants. Silly scenarios of good versus evil depict George and Harold triumphing against bumbling antagonists. The underlying theme highlights the merit and intelligence of kids who are often perceived as troublemakers. The comic illustrations, short chapters, humor, and simple plots entice even the most reluctant readers.Captain Underpants enthusiasts will enjoy this collection of books that include lovable mischief-makers, humorous school situations, and a few characters who are almost superheroes:

  • Sideway Stories From Wayside School by Louis Sachar
  • Punished by David Lubar
  • Fourth Grade Weirdo by Martha Freeman
  • Jake Drake, Class Clown by Andrew Clements
  • Seven Wheels of Power by Dawn Barnes
  • Otis Spofford by Beverly Cleary
  • Society of Super Secret Heroes by Phyllis Shalant
  • The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog by John R. Erickson
  • Dexter the Tough by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Fourth Grade Fuss by Johanna Hurwitz
  • I Was a Rat by Philip Pullman

My America series

This historical fiction series, written in diary format, offers compelling stories about American history that keep students engaged. Presented as sets of short books, this series is manageable for third graders but is appropriate for older students as well. The stories include major topics in American history, such as Westward Expansion and the Revolutionary War, and feature both boy and girl main characters. Fans of My America will also enjoy these novels with historical themes:

  • Grace’s Letter to Lincoln by Peter and Connie Roop
  • Kate Shelley: Bound For Legend by Robert D. San Souci
  • Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen
  • Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  • The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
  • The Last Safe House: A Story of the Underground Railroad by Barbara Greenwood
  • The Mouse of Amherst by Elizabeth Spires
  • Gold Cadillac by Mildred D. Taylor