Second Grade Reading List

What to read in Second Grade, Second Grade Bookshelf

 

Sparking interest in reading has always been right at the top of my To Do list as a parent.  Not only because it’s great for knowledge, memory, focus, concentration, mental stimulation, and vocabulary, but because books are a great bonding experience.  Being together in the same house or even in the same room doesn’t always mean being on the same page.  Reading and talking about the same books is an easy way to learn what kids have on their minds and I’m often struck by where our conversations lead us.  I know that when my kids are teenagers they are not miraculously going to open up to me every time I feel like it.  Right now is the best time to develop a habit of talking.
As any dedicated bookworm will attest, recommending the books one is excited about is part of the fun and we are no exception.  About a month ago I asked my seven year old to make a list of books he would like to tell other seven-year olds about and he liked the project.  He came up with a list with over one hundred books!  Of course, we needed a more manageable number.  There was a lot of discussion about what books were going to make a list and which ones we would have to save for other posts.  We also talked about what particularly he liked about the books that made the list and what lessons he learned from them.   Believe me, we had lots of fun putting this post together!

 

Looking at our list, you might wonder where are the classics like Charlotte’s Web, Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins?  We figured
everybody knows about the classics.  We wanted to talk about less known books that rocked my second grader’s world.  This list also doesn’t include my son’s favorite books about sharks (Shark Post) and airplane books (Airplane Post) because they already have their own pages.
For the longest time I walked past graphic novels considering them an inferior kind of books.  How can a bunch of drawings with a few words like “grunt,” “sniff,” and “boom” have any literary merit?  When my friend Violet with a very smart and well-read 7-year old recommended Zita, I was skeptical, but curious.  I got the books and discovered that there is space for graphic novels on the book shelves of even the most discerning readers.
 First of all, graphic novels are not to be confused with comic books.  Graphic novels tell a complete story.  They take readers from the starting point through some logical developments to a definitive end, just as Proust does, maybe even more so.  In this story, reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz, a girl falls into a different worlds and tries to get back home.  I love some other universal themes explored in this book.  Deception (appearance versus reality, who is a real friend to Zita), duty (did Zita have
a duty to save her friend because she pushed the button that started it all), the value of good decision (but also the importance of learning from mistakes), hopelessness (finding hope after a major seatback) and self-motivation (finding strength within to keep going), survival (this is currently my son’s favorite topic, here we have Zita’s wits against dark forces, human beings against
robots), etc.
Second, combining text with art not only ads variety, but engages mind in a new way.  I think our minds are built to hear a narration.  When the words are not provided, mind fills in the gaps.  I hear my son explaining the book to his siblings, “Look!  She is surprised to see this guy.  He was not supposed to be here.  He looks friendly enough, so he might actually be a friend but you will find out later …. ”
Finally, in a good graphic novel face expressions and body language seem to be a story of its own.  Expressions of surprise, anger, and pain might be exaggerated but offer a great opportunity to talk about what characters are thinking and how they feel.
We now discovered that many of our favorite series have graphic versions too, books by Scieszka and Disney fairies collection.  And most importantly we discovered Nicolas Flux’s graphic adventures in history.
A fear of shocking hard core Harry Potter fans is not going to stop be from being honest.  I didn’t expect much of Harry Potter.  I was utterly bored by the first movie when it came out and flipping through the pages at a bookstore didn’t lead to a purchase of the book.  I was completely caught by surprise to discover that this story of an underdog who came on top bewitched my whole family, including me.  (Never judge a book by its movie!)  I think this story is so gratifying because almost everyone at least at some time or situation in their life felt like an underdog.   An orphan living with wicked relatives, abused, ignored and powerless discovers one day that he is in fact a talented wizard who defeated the dark Lord Voldemort in infancy.  What follows is an extremely imaginative tale of witches, potions, dark forces and beautiful friendships all narrated with an elements of style, suspense, humor, drama, heart-racing action and (for my kids) even horror.  Author’s imagination is a thing of wonder.  And I loved that there were so many wonderful discussion points (choices we face in life, fundamental need for love, motivation, etc) that we could talk about for days after the last page was closed with my kids.  Thanks Shelley for recommendation.
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg 
If you are only familiar with a Jumanji movie, you are loosing out.  The book is great and is totally worthy of its Caldecott medal.  Chris van Allsburg is an extremely talented writer and illustrator, who is also well known for Polar Express, his other Caldecott win.  If I could say just one thing about this author I would say he has one hell of imagination.  How excitingly inventive is the idea of a board game coming to life!  And if I could add one more thing I would say that he is a brilliant illustrator.  I recently took a series of drawing classes and I have a new sense of appreciation for illustrations made with a pencil.  If you look at the illustrations closely you will be astonished by intensity of expression and vivid, realistic shapes of people and animals Chris van Allsburg achieved with a few pencil strokes and some masterful shading.  And did I mention there is no color!  That’s right; everything comes alive with no color.  This book really lets imagination go wild!  And very little known fact is that Jumanji has a sequel.  At the end of the book two new children pickup the board game and carry it home with them.  The sequel called Zathura, written 21 years later, is about these boys.  My son who is pretty excited about space liked Zathura, but not as much as Jumanji.
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
My friend Violet recommended this book as her childhood favorite and I’m so glad she did.  It’s an amazing story and I’m not surprised that it sold 5 million copies and got numerous awards, including Newberry Honor Book medal.  My daughter loved the book, but it’s my son who is absolutely obsessed with it.  How can it not be titillating to read about adventures of a 13-year old boy who – following a crash landing in Canadian wilderness – has to figure out how to survive on his own, with only his instincts and a hatchet?  The book touches many important themes and stimulates hours of discussion. I really went to town with the power of positive thinking because it is one of my pet subjects to talk about.  If you are looking for some ideas check out Spark Notes or online study guides.  We started a notebook of favorite quotes with kids with the best quote from this book, “You are your most valuable asset.”
 
Anh’s Anger by Gail Silver
Unless you are a Buddhist monk (and if you are, thank you for reading my blog) you get angry from time to time.  Most people were not taught what to do with their anger.  I wasn’t.  I used to feel so guilty for feeling angry.  “If only I was a better person, I would not feel angry,” I would tell myself.  This book teaches that anger is not a bad emotion.  It’s just one of the emotions on a large
spectrum of human feelings.  This is an important message for kids and their parents alive.  So, if you are like me, and need help
teaching your kids how to accept their emotions and deal with them, or if you have a child that can benefit from some new anger management techniques this book is for you.
Anh is a little boy who gets angry when his grandpa tells him to stop playing because it’s time for lunch.  After an angry outburst Anh is sent to his room where he meets his anger.  The illustrations complement the story.  Each page is a vibrant multi-colored textured collage.  Anger is represented as a rug-doll monster.  It gives a physical depiction to something kids can’t see – their feelings.  The monster is not scary and it will not scare children.  In fact, all my kids love the monster.  It’s as if they meet a long lost friend who moved to another town.
After any kind of quarrel or disconnection I always try to come up with some peaceful activity that seals the peace and bring us on the same loving page.  So one day, after both of my older kids got in trouble for fighting over a toy, I came across a pile of mail by the front door and had an idea of using store catalogues to make a collage of their anger.  My kids loved it and now it’s a regular exercise.  I asked my son’s permission to post a photo of his collage here but he said it was private.
Don’t expect kids to immediately drop their comfortable and automated response to anger just because you read this book a dozen times.  Just aim to put the necessary information into their emotional tool belts and don’t forget to model the behavior you want
to see.  It took my kids at least half a year to start sitting comfortably with their anger, but it’s so worth the wait.
This again came into our house on a friend’s recommendation and I’m so grateful for my bookworm friends.  Granted it is not what you would normally expect to find on a boy’s bookshelf, but that’s the benefit of having siblings.  My daughter came down with a fairy fever and my son caught it from her.  In this collection there are a total of a few dozen books, including some graphic novels.  We are about half way into the stack and having a blast.  If you are thinking, what can possibly a bunch of fairies teach my kids, I’m here to tell you that apparently a lot!  Each book in this series is full of important themes like conformity (Trouble with Tink), alienation (Rani in the Mermaid Lagoon), sense of self, power, friendship (in each one), … Not only I can always find a nice topic to talk about with my kids, but also I can wrap any math or science lesson in a fairy dust and they will take it with a thank you.  One thing, among many others, that I like about this collection is that fairies have different talent, which means we can talk about different professions, what it takes to do each job and explore their own interests and talents.  Right now they are mostly in the Tinker stage and they like all the tinkering projects I can throw their way.  But yesterday my son said, “I want to try to be a cooking Talent today and bake muffins.”  And he did (with minimal supervision, if I might add braggingly).
Second Grade Bookshelf

 

Everything by Jon Scieszka is a big hit in my house.  I’m so happy we got to meet him when he visited Chicago on a book tour.  He was as funny in person as you would expect from his humorous books.  My two older kids were surprised that he looked just like “a real person.”   All my kids love TruckTown series.  And for both my older kids these were the first books they were able to read on their own.  Scieszka’s wacky fairy tales is our other love.  In The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, this classical tale is told from the wolf’s perspective.  I really credit these kinds of stories with the fact that my kids consider an issue from many angels.  For example, recently when I asked my 7-year old what is the morale of Little Red Hen, I expected him to say something along the lines of “if you don’t work, you don’t eat.”  Instead, he said, “morale of the story is communication problems.  I think hen is not a good communicator.  If he explained to animals that they are not going to get bread unless they help, they would have helped.”  My jaw
dropped.  I read Little Red Hen five thousand times, and never once I thought about communication problem!
After fairy tales my kids graduate to Time Warp Trio series.  The set up is perfect.  Three boys from New York travel back and
forth in time and find themselves in all kind of wild adventures.  In the first book we read called Summer Reading is Killing Me boys find themselves in a wacky world surrounded by characters from books on their summer reading list.  Many of the characters were familiar to my kids and it only added to excitement.  All of the books in this series are great.  The jokes and mishaps keep things interesting and the story goes really fast.  Growing up as one of six boys and a public school teacher of every grade between 2nd and 8th, Jon Scieszka really gets kids and what makes them tick and his stories appeal to kids’ sense of humor.
What do you think about graphic novels for kids?  Are you a Harry Potter fan?  What are your favorite book recommendations
for elementary grades?
Disclaimer: This post contains amazon affiliate links. If you click on my link and purchase something, I will receive a small percent of your purchase at no extra cost to you.

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26 thoughts on “Second Grade Reading List

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  2. 1 month ago – Shared publicly

    Being a Harry Potter fan myself, I felt so happy seeing the book in your list. My elder (now third grader) had already enjoyed several books in the list. Will try the others too, hoping he had not grown that much from a second grader. Thanks.

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  3. 1 month ago – Shared publicly

    Oh how I LOVE reading! I just upgraded my kindle too, however there is NOTHING like the feel of a good book. Instilling the love of reading at an early age is awesome!

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  4. 1 month ago – Shared publicly

    My 7th grade class read Harry Potter when it first came out because of its popularity. I didn’t realize it was a 2nd grade reading level, but its awesome to spark some HP love in the kiddos early! This is a great list of books!

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  5. 1 month ago – Shared publicly

    I love the suggestions! My little one isn’t old enough yet to enjoy these but instilling an interest in reading with her has always been at the top of our lists as well.

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  6. 1 month ago – Shared publicly

    I got the opportunity to look at the first Zita book before its launch, and the series looks really cool! I love that she is such a strong, honest character. Kids can definitely relate.
    Also, anything with Harry Potter or Chris Van Allsburg or Jon Scieszka is great, in my opinion. We never did hatchet, we did My Side of the Mountain, but if you want something funny, have you ever considered the Wayside School series?

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    Kid Minds 1 month ago

    We do like funny! Wayside School sounds like a perfect choice for us. I just put it on hold at the library. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Kid Minds 2 weeks ago

    Just finished our first Wayside School book. We laughed out loud on more than one occasion. Thank you, Nicole! And how cool that got to look at Zita book before it’s launch. 

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  7. 4 weeks ago – Shared publicly

    Great list of books. I could never get into the Harry Potter books; although, my daughter loves them. This list could span many years, all the way to high school. Thanks for sharing on Literacy Musing Mondays.

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  8. 1 month ago – Shared publicly

    Great suggestions here! And a couple I haven’t heard of before 🙂 We are currently reading “The Candy makers by Wendy Mass, and my kids love it! My 7 year old more than my 5 year old 🙂 And I am absolutely a Harry Potter fan…a bit obsessed actually! I’m hoping that my kids will be interested in them sooner or later, they haven’t been engaged with them yet, unfortunately!

    · Reply

    Kid Minds1 month ago

    Just put the Candy makers on hold at the library! Thanks for the recommendation! 

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  9. 3 weeks ago – Shared publicly

    With a huge focus on learning french this year, we haven’t had as much time to read as I like. This is a great list tho, and I like that it is different then the traditional classics. The Disney fairies collection, Hatchet and the graphic novels look great to me. I also would not have thought of a graphic novel as a great reading, but I will take your suggestion and introduce my daughter to the idea.

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  10. 1 month ago – Shared privately

    Kids love that True Story of the Three Little Pigs and Harry Potter of course. My kids also loved the Time Warp Trio. Great suggestions!

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