Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Third Grade

Reading books with children at a young age not only helps them better prepare for school, but it also opens their minds to new cultures and experiences. Exposing children early to both “mirror” and “window” books – that is, books in which they can see themselves, and books in which they can learn about others- is the best way to create engaged readers and support social and emotional growth.

Lee & Low Books offers hundreds of great books for third graders. Our books include English, Spanish, and bilingual titles; books about many different cultures; books that span a wide range of subjects and themes; and both fiction and nonfiction. Browse our 3-6 classroom collections to see what we offer, and check out our other book lists by grade:

Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Preschool

Our 8 Favorite Multicultural Books for Kindergarten

Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for First Grade

Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Second Grade 

While we have hundreds of titles to choose from, here are 10 of our absolute favorite diverse books for third grade! Favorite Multicultural Books for Third Grade

1. The Crane Girl by Curtis Manley, illus. by Lin Wang:

the crane girl

Lyrical storytelling deftly interwoven with original haiku create a magical adaptation of a popular Japanese folktale about a boy who rescues an injured crane, only to have a mysterious girl arrive at his home the next night. An inspirational story of friendship and the power of kindness to transform lives. See the Teacher’s Guide.

2. My Very Own Room/Mi propio cuartito by Amada Irma Pérez, illus. by Maya Christina Gonzalez:

my very own room

Five little brothers, two parents, and a house full of visiting relatives make a young Mexican American girl feel crowded. She loves her family, but how can she get a little space of her own? See the Teacher’s Guide.

3. Richard Wright and the Library Card by William Miller, illus. by R. Gregory Christie:

richard wright and the library card

As a young black man in the segregated South of the 1920s, Richard Wright was hungry to explore new worlds through books, but was forbidden from borrowing them from the library. This touching account tells of his love of reading, and how his unwavering perseverance, along with the help of a co-worker, came together to make the author of Native Son and Black Boy‘s dream a reality. See the Teacher’s Guide.

4Mama and Papa Have a Store by Amelia Lau Carling:

mama and the papa have a store

From the clip, clop of the milkman’s mule in the early morning to the clacking of her father’s abacus at night, a young girl brings us into her home, which is also her parents’ store. Located in Guatemala City, the store is filled with the colorful textures of cloth, threads, buttons, and things from her parents’ homeland in China. As people come and go throughout the day, the girl hears several languages—Spanish, Chinese, and Mayan. See the Teacher’s Guide.

5. Crazy Horse’s Vision by Joseph Bruchac, illus. by S.D. Nelson:

crazy horse's vision

Crazy Horse is among the best known Native American heroes. Yet many people do not know his boyhood name was Curly, inspired by his curly hair. Renowned Abenaki author Joseph Bruchac tells a gripping and compelling story of how the dedicated young boy, Curly, grows into the brave warrior Crazy Horse. See the Teacher’s  Guide.

6. Sweet Music in Harlem by Debbie Taylor, illus. by Frank Morrison:

sweet music in harlem

C. J. needs to act fast. A photographer from Highnote magazine is on his way to photograph Uncle Click, a well-known jazz musician, but Uncle Click’s signature hat is missing. Now it’s up to C. J. to hunt down the hat in time for the photo shoot. Little does C. J. know that his whirlwind search through Harlem sets in motion the making of a magical moment of friendship and music. See the Teacher’s Guide.

7. Xochitl and the Flowers/Xóchitl, la Niña de las Flores by Jorge Argueta, illus. by Carl Angel: 

xochitl and the flowers

Miles away from their home in El Salvador, Xochitl (SOH-cheel) and her family make a new home in the United States, but nothing is the same. Selling flowers on the street soon provides more than income for the Flores family: they begin to make friends with local storeowners and neighbors. But it is not until the family decides to start a nursery in its backyard that Xochitl begins to learn the true value of community in their adopted country. See the Teacher’s Guide.

8. Aani and the Tree Huggers by Jeannine Atkins, illus. by Venantius J. Pinto:

aani and the tree huggers

One day Aani is resting against her favorite tree when she hears the unfamiliar roar of trucks. She alerts the village women, the eldest of whom says the sounds are made by men from the city who have come to cut down the trees. As the cutters move closer, Aani acts with quiet, instinctive heroism to save not only her special tree, but also the village’s beloved forest. Based on a true event in northern India, this book presents an enduring message of environmental action. See the Teacher’s Guide.

9. Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki, illus. by Dom Lee: 

baseball saved us

Shorty and his family, along with thousands of Japanese Americans, are sent to an internment camp after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Fighting the heat and dust of the desert, Shorty and his father decide to build a baseball diamond and form a league in order to boost the spirits of the internees. Shorty quickly learns that he is playing not only to win, but to gain dignity and self-respect as well. See the Teacher’s Guide.

10. As Fast As Words Could Fly by Pamela Tuck, illus. by Eric Velasquez: 

as fast as words could fly

When a civil rights group wins a school desegregation case, Mason learns that now he will be attending a formerly all-white high school. Despite his fears and injustice from the students and faculty, Mason perseveres.  And when he competes in the county typing tournament, Mason decides to take a stand, using his skills to triumph over prejudice and break racial barriers. See the Teacher’s Guide.

Further Reading

What Does Close Reading Look Like in Third Grade?

Using Dual Language and Bilingual Books in Third and Fourth Grade

Also check out our amazing Grade 3-5 collections:

kindness and compassion collectionAsian/Asian American English Collection Grades 3-5

Black History Collection Grades 3-6

Realistic Fiction Grades 3-5

Pedro Noguera Diverse Collection Grades 3-5

Kindess and Compassion Collection

Cinderella Around the World Collection