Walter Dean Myers writes several grade-level appropriate adventure stories such as Looking For the Easy Life, and the Dragon Takes a Wife, but the majority of his and Paulsen's books have reading levels above 3rd grade. I would recommend The Magic Tree House series, Diary of Wimpy Kid series, Goosebumps series, Louis Sachar, Jerry Spinelli, and Andrew Clements. Also, many of my "reluctant readers" lean towards nonfiction books. They love to choose a book based on an interesting subject we are studying in science or social studies. These books are often less intimidating to them because of the photographs, and thinner spines. They are also able to draw connections with prior learning and share their new knowledge with me. Try taking him to the school library and helping him select one fiction and one nonfiction book that catch his interest.
Of those choices, Gary Paulsen is definitely the best choice. All are fantastic, but the first two will not appeal to every child. It depends on the book. Judy Blume did write some books for boys, including the Fudge series. Beverly Clearly also wrote some books about boys and dogs. Walter Dean Myers is more appropriate for older readers.
Walter Dean Myers or Gary Paulsen would be my choice for a 3rd grade boy who is reluctant to read. Paulsen would be the top choice. His books use many different settings, but most of them have characters who end up learning they can survive and achieve anything. Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume are both wonderful authors, but Gary Paulsen would be more relatable to a younger male reader.
Gary Paulsen would be the best bet. I would say that I am constantly surprised by how some children are able to rise to the challenge of more complex texts even when their reading level is perhaps slightly lower. If the story grabs them, they will read it, no matter how high the reading level. They would perhaps need a little support in vocabulary etc. though.
From your list I would plump for Gary Paulsen, but I agree the texts may still be a little challenging. I would try the Zac Power series by H.I. Larry. They come in a very simple big print 'Test Drive' series reading age 5-7 and then a standard text with reading age 7-9.
Last point: my son was a reluctant reader and is now a 'torch under the bedclothes' reader thanks to Zac!
I had a third grade male student who loved the Geronimo Stilton adventure books. He was a reluctant reader and could not get his hands on them quick enough. Like editor #5's son, this student read every one in the series.
From there he moved to the Encyclopedia Brown books. There are lots of short stories in those so he felt like he was really making progress when he got through them. He also enjoyed the create your own adventure series. At the end of most of the pages the reader has to make a choice. Depending on the choice made, the reader will go to different pages in the book. The child can read the book multiple times and each time have a different ending.
I agree with the above posts -- especially the concern over reading level. A reluctant 3rd grade boy may like the Geronimo Stilton series of novels. There is interesting graphics and text-types. The pictures help support the text of the story. The characters are established in the early books, but are drawn clearly enough in each book that the novels can be read in any order. The novels are mysteries, and also have a healthy use of humor. Once my son started these, he read them all!
I agree with post #2. You might also consider the Artemis Fowl books. The author is Eoin Colfer. The adventure stories are about a young genius who teams up with fairies and other mystical creatures to go on adventures and solve mysteries. The reading level is third and fourth grade, and your son will most likely enjoy reading about these fun characters.
Beverly Cleary is known for the Romona books, which might not be considered adventure, directly, but certainly the shenanigans Ramona finds herself in could be considered adventurous. Another famous Cleary book, The Mouse and the Motorcycle would certainly be appropriate for a 3rd grader who likes adventure.
Gary Paulsen was first successful with Hatchet and then continued in a series of books that focused on the main character, Brian Robeson, and his success surviving in the wilderness with nothing more than a hatchet and the land. I first taught this book to a group of gifted talented 5th graders, so while Paulsen clearly writes adventure, I think his books would be too difficult for this student.
Judy Blume writes most particularly for a young female audience. Her books focus more on relationships and growing up and less on adventure. Walter Dean Meyers has written several books that revolve around sports and relationships, which makes them very suitable to boys. He also frequently focuses on kids who are growing up in poverty, or with only one parent. The reading level and subject matter of his books are probably too mature for this 3rd grade student.
I think your best choice is Beverly Cleary.
In my opinion, Gary Paulsen would be the best choice of author for a third grade boy. My only concern would be that the reading level might be a little high for him, but that is often difficult to determine without just allowing him the chance to try reading the novel. A little bit of encouragement could make all of the difference.
Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume are female authors who direct their writings more toward a female audience, rather than male. Clearly might not be a bad choice, but if the young man really likes adventure, she might not be what he's looking for.
Walter Dean Myer does write adventurous stories, but his writings are more appropriate for teenagers than a third grader. Paulsen's books are adventurous and interesting, so I believe they might really encourage him to read.
I'm honestly not sure any of these authors are the best choice. You didn't say what this little ones reading level was like. I'm assuming that he is not up to reading grade level because he is a reluctant reader. In this light, I also thought of the Magic Treehouse series. Love this series!!! I've had success with boys and girls in 2nd and 3rd grade introducing this series. Then they are much more interested in moving to other books of interest. Another series that may be an idea are the Star Wars books. There are many and though they may be a higher level than this young man is right now, it may be something to introduce in the near future! Best wishes and great job on wanting to help this little boy become interested in reading!!
As a Third Grade Teacher, Gary Paulsen would be my choice for a male reader. His books allow his readers to really know and relate to characters. I have read Hatchet aloud, but I had to reinforce vocabulary. My boys love the Magic Tree House series. They love the settings and tend to want to learn the true history behind the story. Hope this helps!