10 Perfect Read Aloud Books for 2nd Grade

10 Perfect Read Aloud Books for 2nd Grade

I chose a collection of some of my favorite chapter books and picture books for second grade read alouds. Truth be told, I don’t really remember exactly what books my kids were read to in the classroom during 2nd grade. For some reason, it’s drawing a blank at our house.

Second grade at our elementary school is memorable for foreign country unit. The kids study China, Ghana and Mexico. I have the Red Envelope Crafts project (can also be used for Chinese New Year) that I presented for my son’s class, and the Mexican Crafts Party (can also be used for Cinco de Mayo).

I researched lists from 2nd grade teachers and I wanted to warn you that my list leans a little towards chapter books and multicultural picture books to reflect their country studies.

What are your favorite read aloud books for 2nd grade? Please share!


10. Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Set during the Reconstruction Era, freed slaves are finally able to go to school and Virgie, a girl, wants this privilege as well. She’s willing to walk the seven miles to school with her brothers, even though they don’t believe she can make it. [picture book, ages 5 and up]

9. Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

PickyKidPix has had a love affair with the Clementine series that started in second grade. She’s starting seventh grade this fall, but she will still ask me to buy every new Clementine book that comes out. Clementine is spunky heroine who gets in a little bit of trouble despite herself, reminiscent of Ramona The Pest, but at an easier reading level.

This is her description of Clementine:

“It’s so funny. Once you read, you keep cracking up. Once I was reading at school and I was laughing too much so I got in trouble. I read all four of the books and I recommend for 2nd grade through 5th grade.” [chapter book, ages 6 and up]

8. Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu 

In second grade at our elementary school, the students study three countries: China, Ghana and Mexico. This picture book reflects Chinese culture but is set in the United States. Sam gets lucky money for Chinese New Year from his grandparents and wants to spend it in Chinatown. It’s here that he meets a stranger and rethinks how he wants to spend his money. [picture book, ages 5 and up]

7. Boundless Grace by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Carolyn Binch

Grace’s parents are divorced and her father has remarried. She is going to visit him and his new family … in AFRICA! It’s so different from what she’s used to, but Grace learns that family is family, no matter what country you are in.  [picture book, ages 4 and up]

6. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty McDonald

I loved Mrs. Piggle Wiggle as a child so I was so happy to see that other 2nd grade teachers also use this series as a read aloud! She’s like a Mary Poppins of sorts, with a similar bag of tricks, but hers are cures for kids’ bad habits. [chapter book, ages 7 and up]

5. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

My son told me that was one of his favorite read alouds in third grade. The adventures of an arrogant and cold-hearted beloved toy china rabbit as he learns about fear, humility, and ultimately love. [chapter book, ages 7 and up]

“Somewhere between fairy tale and fable, DiCamillo spins the tale of Edward, transformed by the lives he touches. The reader will be transformed too.”
— Kirkus (starred review)

4. The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill

My son said that it was a read aloud in third grade last year, but I remember reading this with my girls in second grade as their first introduction to historical fiction. I also loved that this chapter book showed them how precious education is.

Miss Agnes arrives in a remote part of Alaska to teach kids in a one room schoolhouse. They are used to teachers leaving abruptly; it’s not the easiest place to live.

But Miss Agnes is different. She actually wants to be there and she finds a way to connect education with what life is really like for the Athabascans in Alaska during 1948. By creating materials of her own, she finds a way to teach each and every one of the kids, including learning sign language to help a hearing impaired child. [chapter book, ages 7 and up] Note that I would recommend reading this at the end of 2nd grade.

3. Matilda by Roald Dahl

My son said that they read a few Roald Dahl books in 2nd grade including Matilda and Fantastic Mr. Fox but I chose Matilda because almost every third grade kid in PickyKidPix’s class raved about it because they thought it was so funny!

Another favorite Dahl book of mine that is lesser know but makes a great read aloud is Danny The Champion of the World. It also has a little tie in to The B.F.G. which makes it especially fun. I read a few chapter aloud to my daughter’s 3rd grade class and they really appreciated the reference having read The B.F.G. previously. [chapter book, ages 7 and up]

2. What the Moon Saw by Laura Resau

Clara Luna’s grandparents have invited her to visit them in Mexico. The problem is that she’s never met them, never heard much about them, and isn’t sure that she wants to go to her father’s remote village. But not knowing about her father’s past as an undocumented worker who crossed the border to make a successful life for himself, her American mother, and herself is a mystery that nags at her. This chapter book tells a balanced story of what it means to cross the border and leave all that you know behind to pursue a better life. [chapter book, ages 7 and up]. I would recommend reading it after the Mexico unit towards the end of the school year.

1. Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Hudson Talbott

Woodson’s family history parallels the United State’s  from slavery to freedom. True freedom comes from literacy and after overcoming segregation. During slavery, a quilt called a “Show Way” was a secret map to point the way towards freedom. But when slavery ended, challenges still remained. From quiltmakers to wordsmiths, the Woodson women were indomitable, showing their family the way.

“This is the story of seven generations of girls and women who were quilters and artists and freedom fighters.” [picture book, ages 6 and up]

p.s. A few more lists:

26 Perfect Read Alouds for Kindergarten

19 Perfect Read Alouds for 1st Grade

10 Perfect Read Aloud Books for 3rd Grade

10 Perfect Read Alouds for 4th Grade

10 Perfect Read Alouds for 5th Grade

23 Great Picture Books for 5th Grade

90 6th Graders Name Their Favorite Book

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

10 Perfect Read Aloud Books for 2nd Grade

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I had the opportunity to interview with Hudson Talbot on his radio show. I love his books and illustrations, particularly his sense of design.

  2. Great list, personal fan of Jackie’s books and my oldest was a big fan of anything Dahl. My youngest daughter loved the book Search for Delicious in 3rd grade. Still talks about it and she’s 23 now.

  3. Jen

    Great list. Many are new to me. Much thanks. PK mom

  4. Great list. I plan on sharing it with my 2nd grade teachers (I am a principal) as well as my wife, also a 2nd grade teacher.

    One suggestion – I tried Matilda as a read aloud when I taught elementary. It wasn\’t the most popular among the students. I think the length and the large amount of dialogue made it a challenge for some of my students. Instead, check out Tumtum and Nutmeg by Emily Bearn.

    • Hi Matt,
      Thanks so much for sharing your experience with Matilda! I’ve added Danny, the Champion of the World as an alternative. I read the first few chapters aloud as a parent volunteer and the kids loved the reference in it to The B.F.G. which was a clever and fun play by Dahl. It’s also one of my favorite Dahl books that I recall reading as a kid. Thanks also for your great book recs!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Caught in the Act … of READING!My Profile

  5. I haven’t read most of these, although we own the Edward Tulane book. I love that Grace series, and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle is a favorite in our home!
    maryanne recently posted…Back to School Activities, Tips, and Resources for ParentsMy Profile

    • Hi MaryAnne,
      You have a well stocked bookshelf!! I’m glad your kids love Mrs. Piggle Wiggle too! My kids never got into them but I LOVED them as a child and I worried that they were too old fashioned for kids these days! Glad to see that it isn’t true; it’s just my kids!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Caught in the Act … of READING!My Profile

  6. My sister is reading Clementine right now! 🙂 Great list of books!
    Erik – TKRB recently posted…Review and Giveaway! The Guardian Herd Book 1 – Starfire by Jennifer Lynn AlvarezMy Profile

  7. Lovely!!! Pinning this so I remember to buy the books when my younger son gets to that level! 🙂
    Roshni recently posted…The final drastic step: remarriageMy Profile

  8. Mia this is a fantastic list. There are a couple of books I haven’t seen before and look forward to reading them.

  9. Ann

    Very diverse list! We read Clemintine on your recommendation and enjoyed it. I’d really like to read What the Moon Saw.
    Ann recently posted…Fairytale Printable PlayMy Profile

  10. My boys and I loved Mrs. Piggle Wiggle! So funny and educational. Great list! 🙂
    Michelle Caskey recently posted…Through My Child’s Eyes ChallengeMy Profile

  11. What an awesome list! We just made our first trip to the library for this school year and had such a hard time picking books on my oldest’s 2nd grade level. Now I can go back with this in hand and feel more successful! Thanks for sharing…
    Tiffany recently posted…My New Addiction: Polyvore !My Profile

    • Thanks so much Tiffany! It makes me so happy that my list helps! The list can be slightly high for 2nd graders as it’s meant as a read aloud but if you are reading to your child or doing shared reading, it’s fine. (Or if your child reads at a high level than grade level).
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Caught in the Act … of READING!My Profile

  12. Thanks for sharing such a great list. I love “Show Way” and “Virgie goes to School with us Boys.” I wrote reviews of them on my own blog for Perfect Picture Book Friday.
    Clara recently posted…WriteOnCon 2014My Profile

  13. This looks like a wonderful list. We’ve read a few of the books on your list, but we’ll have to check out the others for sure 😉
    Mrs.AOK recently posted…{Wordless Wednesday} Faith in HumanityMy Profile

  14. I have not read Danny – thanks! I don\’t think Dahl wrote a bad book. Matilda probably is fine as a read aloud – maybe I just had finicky class that year. :-)My wife has a few of your suggestions as potential read alouds in her 2nd grade classroom, highlighted on my blog Reading by Example. Thank you again for taking the time to share your thinking.
    Matt Renwick recently posted…Create a More Connected ClassroomMy Profile

  15. So sorry I could not find your email or Show Way on my blog either. But here is Virgie Goes to School With Us Boys. I Loved that book!!

    Comment could not go through with url. But my search showed it. 🙂
    Clara recently posted…WriteOnCon 2014My Profile

  16. I love Jacqueline Woodson’s books, especially “The Other Side” and “Each Kindness.” Ironically I’ve not read “Show Way.” I see second grade as a transition year, because kids still are reading PB. I think of book like the Magic Treehouse series as beginning chapter books for that age group. Of course kids read at all levels. “The Paper House” by Lois Peterson may fit that group. But, my favorite anti-bullying books for this age group is by Erin Frankel (Weird, Dare and Tough).
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…Oh No, School!My Profile

    • Hi Patricia,
      I loved that anti-bullying series too. I thought I covered them on my blog but I can’t find the link. I guess not.

      I need to read Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson and I agree with you that The Magic Treehouse, Bailey Street Kids, A to Z Mysteries etc are a rite of passage for kids to transition to early chapter books.

      I’ll have to find The Paper House too!

      Thanks again for your great book recommendations!!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Goodnight Ark GIVEAWAY and Kid Lit Blog HopMy Profile

  17. What a great collection of books for 2nd graders just in time for the new school year. My daughter loves the Clementine books. Thank you for sharing!

  18. Mrs. Pigglewiggle would make a good classroom read aloud because it is silly and the chapters read like little individual stories. Great list. I have a second grader, and I am always looking for suggestions.
    Jenny recently posted…#30BooksforPeace Part 3- If there is to be peace in the world…My Profile

  19. This is an amazing book collection. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle is a favorite at my house. What a Thank so much for adding it The Sunday Showcase link up!
    JDaniel4’s Mom recently posted…{Free Printable} Word Games- Sight Word Scarecrow GameMy Profile

  20. Renee MDBR

    Many of these I haven’t seen before so thanks for sharing. We do love Clementine though! She’s awesome! Thanks for sharing in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Pinning!!
    Renee MDBR recently posted…SIGN-UPS * Book Review Blitz: Frizzy the S.A.D. Elf by Dorothea JensenMy Profile

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