chapter books for girl, 2nd grade books for girls, 2nd grade chapter books

Best Books for 2nd Grade Girl but No Animals Talking, Fantasy or Adoption Themes

Best Books for 2nd Grade with Some Stipulations

I remember how difficult it was to find great books for kids once they’ve moved to chapter books but are not quite ready for Newbery books.

From TongguMomma,

Hi there. I’m sure you get requests all of the time, but I thought I would throw out my need.  I’m sure there are other readers are in the same situation. I have a seven-and-a-half year old in second grade.  She’s been reading since the fall of kindergarten, so she’s run through a lot of material already.  We continue to try to supplement with story books, bridge books, etc, but she is a voracious reader, often rereading favorites 10-20 times.  She’s read and reread several series in their entirety, including: Magic Treehouse, Clementine, Ivy and Bean, Judy Moody, Ruby Lu and Ramona.  She’s also read many books within the Puppy Place series, but found them boring a few books in.  She showed no interest in Junie B. Jones, the Rainbow Fairies series, etc.  We are reading aloud together the Little House series, since many of the concepts are a bit hard for her (churning butter, anyone?).

I’ve found a few gems that are not part of any series, including “Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream” (found that from your site – thank you!) and “It’s Raining Cupcakes!”  My big problem is that she is beyond most of the books that are geared for her social/ emotional age.  I’m all for her reading Bink and Gollie, and other assorted books, but she is bored by them and shows little interest.  She is also very concrete in her thinking still, so sci-fi/ fantasy books, such as those by Roald Dahl, are above her head, and she doesn’t yet get the whole “animals can talk” books like “Young Fredle.”  She’s also an adoptee and point-blank refuses to read any books talking about orphans – which I completely understand – but that means that series such as the Shoe books, the Boxcar Children, etc. are out for us.

Do you have any ideas or lists for accelerated readers?  I don’t want to introduce books that contain themes about death, divorce, dating, etc.  And I know that many second and third graders are still very concrete in their thinking, so sci-fi/ fantasy/ animal books are challenging for them.  I also don’t want the books to be too short, since she whips through those in less than an hour.  (Her school’s reading specialist is trying to get her to slow down, but she reads over 200 words a minute.)  The librarians keep pointing me to tween books.

Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated.


My 9 year old daughter just started her own blog. She has two posts of her favorite books.

Both my girls at this age loved the All of a Kind Family series which has 6 books and is set at the turn of the century in the Lower East Side, New York City. The family is Jewish and the Rebecca doll from American Girl Dolls is based on this series. Only the first book is in print (though I am lobbying hard to bring the rest back) but I found the rest of the books at my public library. What is great about this series is that each chapter reads like a separate short story.


My oldest also enjoyed the American Girl Doll series of books which I thought were excellent and weave in history with dolls and accessories. I would match up time periods with your daughter’s interests, but I found the entire collection of books to be excellent.
Meet Rebecca: An American Girl (American Girls Collection: Rebecca 1914). Set in Lower East Side New York City at the turn of the century, Rebecca is Jewish and modeled after the series  All of a Kind Family.
Meet Addy: An American Girl 1864 (The American Girls Collection Book 1). This series is sad as Addy is a slave whose family is planning an escape during Civil War times.
Meet Josefina, an American Girl (American Girls Collection). Josefina Montoya is growing up on a rancho near Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1824. Ever since Mamá died a year before, Josefina and her three sisters have been struggling to carry on without her.
Meet Felicity: An American Girl : 1774 (The American Girls Collection, Book 1)
Meet Marie-Grace (American Girl) (American Girls Collection). Marie-Grace Gardner has just arrived in New Orleans in 1853, and she hopes she never has to move again. The lively city is full of music and masquerade balls! But Marie-Grace is shy, and starting school reminds her how hard it is to make friends and fit in. Can an unexpected adventure help her feel as if she belongs in New Orleans?
Meet Kirsten: An American Girl. She’s a nine-year-old — they’re all 9! — who moves with her family to a new home on America’s frontier in 1854.
Samantha’s Boxed Set (The American Girls Collection/Boxed Set). Set in Victorian New England, Samantha is an orphan who lives with her wealthy grandmother.
Meet Kit: An American Girl 1934 (The American Girls Collection, Book 1). Kit is one of my favorites, a scrappy 9-year-old set during The Great Depression.
This series is great but will might be a tad on the easy side for her: The Cobble Street Cousins by Cynthia Rylant. It’s a 6 book series.

She might also like this very old fashioned book series called Betsy-Tacy.

Pinky and Rex by James Howe is a great series about a girl and boy who are best friends and break stereotypes. Rex is a girl who loves dinosaurs. Pinky is a boy whose favorite color is pink. I really love how this series addresses social issues that kids in 2nd-4th grade actually experience like bullying, going to camp, having a best friend who is the opposite sex, etc.

I know that you said no fantasy but I thought My Father’s Dragon series was great and most 2nd graders I know seemed to love it.

Grace Lin has some books that I think she’ll enjoy. The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat are roughly based on Grace’s own childhood. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is wonderful but is more of a fantasy in the vein of Chinese Folk Tales and won a Newbery Honor Award. My 3rd grade daughter read it and loved it.

The Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins  is also excellent and set in Bangladesh. It’s realistic fiction that is both uplifting and also lets your child experience a different part of the world.

The Courage of Sarah Noble is historical fiction but is not too difficult and won a Newbery.

If she can read Ramona, I would try The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall with her. My girls and I (and every kid we know) LOVE this series. The dad is a widower and the mother has died when the oldest is about 5. In the first book, the oldest is 12 ish… so maybe that would work? The first book won a Newbery and the latest third book is widely expected to win again.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

We also loved The Doll People series but my girls read this in 3rd grade so that might be for next year but the content is fine for her thought The Meanest Doll in the World has a girl bully character in it.


Great books for later when she understands the animal “talking” thing:

This is a very sweet series by Toon Tellegan that won the Marsh Award. It’s animal stories but my middle daughter’s book club read this in 2nd grade and they all enjoyed it. The animals “talk” here so this might be for later.

My daughter loved Gooseberry Park. I remember that my middle child’s first grade teacher read Gooseberry Park aloud to her class. It has great vocabulary!

A Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

Let me know how these work out and I can steer to you more. Thanks for your email! I LOVE finding the right books for kids so the pleasure was all mine!

To view any book more closely in Amazon, please click on image of book.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I have come back to look at this list several times. Thank you so much for your efforts. It is much appreciated, by my daughter most of all.

    • To Tonggu Momma,
      Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m glad it’s helpful! Let me know what your daughter thinks. I’d love to know what she liked (and disliked!).

  2. Laura Franz

    A lovely, thorough list. My daughter has also run through most of the regular series. We are reading Boxcar Children now, though she finds them a bit old fashioned. Your list has given us so many more books to look for at our library. Thank you!

    • Hi Laura,
      Thank you so much! There is a Boxcar Children pre-quel book that is lovely! My daughter in 7th grade read it because she liked the series when she was younger.

      By Patricia MacLachlan
      Cover by Tim Jessell
      Available August 2012!

      Before they were the Boxcar Children, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden lived with their parents at Fair Meadow Farm.

      Although times are hard, the Aldens are happy—“the best family of all,” Mama likes to say. One day, a blizzard hits the countryside, and a car is stranded on the road near their farm. The family in the car needs shelter, and when the Aldens take them in, the strangers soon become friends. But things never stay the same at Fair Meadow Farm, and the spring and summer bring events that will forever change the lives of the Alden children.

      Newbery Award–winning author Patricia MacLachlan pays loving tribute to the classic novel by Gertrude Chandler Warner in this story of the Alden children’s origins and the challenges they faced before their boxcar adventures.

      Your daughter might like that. It’s beautifully written too! It was a little hard for me to read since they are a happy family and you know something sad is going to happen but it didn’t bother my daughter.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Meeting Grace Lin at Book Club for Kids EventMy Profile

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