Inside: Looking for books to read with your second grader? Check out our top 10 read aloud books for 2nd grade, from picture books to chapter books!
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).
Top 10 read aloud books for 2nd grade
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 a 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 aloud 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 chapters 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:
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.