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.
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 who 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 storybooks, 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.
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.
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!
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