I haven’t actually tried this one with 3rd graders, but I think it would be really neat and probably even more appropriate for 4th or 5th grade. You assign reading groups a section of a book to read. All chapters/sections must be assigned to pairs or groups of students. Each group reads their assigned section and writes down 4-5 questions they want to know about characters, setting, plot, etc. I would have each student read a page and continue in that fashion until their section is read. If a group has the middle of the book, they obviously didn’t read the beginning and didn’t get any background information for the book, so they may want to know who a character is or why that character is upset/happy/sick etc...Students may need alot of support the first time they do this so just hang in there! I know you'll be surprised at the outcome!
After each group has read their assigned part and written their questions, you hold a question and answer session. In theory, students should get all of their questions answered because another group should have read that part.
We actually did this at a training class this summer and it was really neat. You will be surprised at all of the questioning going on in your classroom! They will be experts by the end of this activity! It’s kind of cool because you can read/learn the whole novel in an hour and know what the book was about without having actually read the whole thing!
I think this will also generate student interest in the novel. Some students won’t be satisfied with just the answers. It’s a great way to get kids reading!