Second graders are so full of imagination and their brain is at a stage where it just absorbs knowledge at such a fast pace, especially if the child is interested in the subject. Here, I have put together a large list of the best reading books for 2nd grade students.
There are lots of great chapter books for second grade readers. Some books revolve around real life events, but tone them down to where our early readers can understand. Many of these books are full of great adventures and funny stories.
The perfect opportunity to expand a young reader’s mind is to give them a large book list of subjects. Let them learn that feelings and emotions are normal, and these beloved characters are here to walk them through what they all mean.
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Best Chapter Books for Second Graders
Here are some of the favorite chapter books that my kids have loved, as well as many of my students when I was a classroom teacher. And while I am sharing these as chapter books for 2nd graders, there are definitely 1st grade students who may be ready to enjoy these books (either on their own or with you reading to them). Some students may not be ready for these until closer to the end of 2nd grade, so keep your child’s interest and reading level in mind when choosing the perfect book.
The Flyer Flew: The Invention of the Airplane by Lee Sullivan Hill – This book is based on the true story of the Wright brothers and their journey to inventing the airplane. Great for showing young readers the importance of creativity and perseverance early in life.
Keena Ford and the Second Grade Mixup by Melissa Thompson – This three book series is about a young girl who seems to always find trouble, unintentionally. The goal of these books are to help children understand emotional honesty.
Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne – This 28 book fantasy series has been labeled the #1 best selling children’s chapter book series! Great books to start a child out with their first adventure. A great way to introduce them to early chapter books.
In this set, the brother and sister duo experience the ‘Winter of the Ice Wizard’, ‘A Goodnight for Ghosts’,’A Crazy Day with Cobras’ and much much more.
Judy Moody was in a Mood by Megan McDonald – Judy Moody was one of my favorite books to read with my daughter in first and second grade. This series is a great way for new chapter book readers to improve from their lower reading levels. These are an easy read due to the large print and creative writing.
These books go to show that life goes much smoother when Judy Moody makes the best of situations, instead of getting upset.
Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat – Nate the Great books have been popular and well-loved by many kids! This child version of Sherlock Holmes teaches kids to use logic and problem-solving. A 28 long chapter series that is sure to keep the kids thinking.
Katie Woo and Friends by Fran Manushkin – This 52 book series features the main character Katie Woo and her two best friends, Jojo and Pedro. These three friends are constantly making mistakes and learning from them. A great series for many grade levels.
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Styles Garrett – This is a story of a big hearted young boy that learns about a dragon that is held captive on an island and being forced to shuttle the island animals from place to place. A Newbery Honor book that your child is sure to love.
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein – This book contains 130 poems that even the most reluctant readers will enjoy. It was one of my favorite books as a child. Over four and a half million copies of this awesome book have been sold.
Definitely one of the best book recommendations that I would put at the top of my list. Every child should experience the magic that this book brings.
The Random House Book of Poetry for Children by Jack Prelutsky and Arnold Lobel (Caldecott Medal winner) – A poetry book filled with 572 classic and new age children’s poems, along with over 400 one-of-a-kind and beautiful illustrations.
This is a perfect book for little girls and boys who want reading time to be full of different subjects and emotions.
Smarter than Squirrels by Lucy Nolan – The first of a four book series (Down Girl and Sit). These two dogs are great at protecting their master and guarding the garbage can, however, when Here Kitty Kitty moves in next door, they get a bit confused on what is right and what is wrong.
This series of chapter books helps us see the point of view from man’s best friend and see how things aren’t always as easy as we think.
Related: 26 Best Children’s Books About Dogs
The Absent Author by Ron Roy – Book #1 of 26 in the series of A-Z Mysteries. Dink and his two best friends, Josh and Ruth Rose, solve mysteries starting with every letter of the alphabet. These thrilling chapter books are sure to hook any elementary school child who loves reading mystery books.
Junie B. Jones: Books 1-4 by Barbara Park – I started reading Junie B with my daughter last year and we are loving this entire series! Starting out with book 1 of 28, “The Stupid Smelly Bus”, Junie B. Jones is going to school for the first time. She is a new kid, experiencing sitting with a whole class and learning new rules. This is a great series of books for children to understand that everybody experiences all types of new things when they start growing up.
Parent’s note: At the risk of sounding like “that mom,” I will say I was NOT a fan of Junie B with the first book. I didn’t like the attitude or the name calling (like “that mean Jim I hate” for one example) – BUT my daughter loved the books, and there’s usually a lesson to be learned in each book. I’m glad we stuck with it, and I really just used Junie B’s poor choices to point out what types of things we don’t do in our family.
Dog Man by Dav Pilkey – This series of graphic novels will instantly grab any kids attention and is great for beginning or reluctant readers. This part man, part dog who is a cop will help your child understand the importance of empathy, friendship, and having a good heart. There’s a fair bit of potty humor in this series – usually funny for kids (especially boys).
Soupy Saturdays with The Pain and The Great One by Judy Blume – This series of books is told through the eyes of Abigale and Jake. Abigale, The Great One, is the older sister, and Jake, The Pain, is her younger brother. These stories show children what it is like growing up with siblings.
The Puppy Sister by S.E Hilton (also wrote The Outsiders) – A cute and funny, laugh-out-loud book about a family with an only child, Nick. His family adopts a puppy named Aleasha, and she decides life would be more fun if she were human.
Any child with a fun imagination will really enjoy this easy-to-read book.
Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown – Stanley Lambchop is the big brother of Author Lambchop, who was the one to discover that Stanley had been squished flat, overnight, by the bulletin board that their mom bought them.
No worries, though. Stanley wasn’t hurt. In fact, this series of chapter books shows that even through Stanley’s mishaps, he is still a great hero.
Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry – Gooney Bird Greene starts this journey in second grade at a new school. Her fellow students are captured by her unique sense of style and attitude.
For story time, the students want to hear more about Gooney Bird Greene, which is perfect for Gooney. She enjoys telling tales that are ‘sure to be true’. This series of books will enlighten children to embrace the fun of storytelling.
Life According to Og the Frog by Betty B. Birney – The new class pet in room 26 is Og the Frog. He does miss his life at the pond, but here, he has a furry friend, lively kids to feed him an endless supply of crickets, and all the time he wants to write songs.
There is talk of taking him back to the pond, but Og is torn between missing his old life and loving his new life. This book is filled with fun facts and told from the perspective of an amphibian.
Hello, Nebulon by Ray O’Ryan – Book 1 of the 17 book Galaxy Zack series, Zack is nervous about leaving Earth and starting his new school year in Outer Space. He has nightmares about how awful things could be.
Fortunately, when Zack arrives in Nebulon, things aren’t that bad. It’s actually a pretty cool place.
Lola Levine Is Not Mean by Monica Brown – This book is perfect for the elementary school age group. This series of books focus on making a situation better. People are not perfect. We all make mistakes. What is important is how we handle ourselves in these situations and build great character from our mistakes. Lola Levine can help show the children how easy it is to turn a bad moment into a great moment.
Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo – This is a six book series. Mercy, the rescue pig, who has a love of sweets and is easily distracted by them, is also a humorous hero. Children will enjoy the funny pictures throughout the books and are sure to keep laughing at this silly pig.
The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling – This book, fun enough for even the most reluctant readers, is about a boy who just loves chocolate more than anything. He gets his wish that everything he eats turns to chocolate… but after so much chocolate, he starts to miss real food.
It teaches us that even the food we love, is good in moderation, or we stop liking it as much.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl – A sweet and fast paced story about a group of children who won a trip to the magical chocolate factory. The naughty, greedy children can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves and find themselves in some rather “sticky” situations. Charlie, however, is kindhearted and honest, and is the last remaining contestant.
This is one of my FAVORITE Roald Dahl books – right there with James and the Giant Peach!
Best Picture Books for Second Graders
Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin – This is a cute picture book series that is followed by the Diary of the Spider and the Fly. Seeing life through the eyes of an earthworm can be rather silly. No need to take a bath, no need for a dentist, because they don’t have teeth. A downfall is that no matter how hard they try, their face will will always look like their rear. Funny huh?
If you find that you like this book, definitely check out other Doreen Cronin books too. They are some of our favorites!
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish – These books are part of a picture book series based on a housekeeper who takes all of her orders literally. These books are silly and great for teaching children literal vs figurative languages. I don’t know if you remember these from your childhood, but I do and they are still hilarious!
Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor – Your child might be familiar with the TV show, but of course Fancy Nancy was a book first! This 19 book collection is about a young girl who loves dressing up and being fancy. Her family, however, is the opposite.
These books teach children about the importance of self expression and how important family is (plus a little vocabulary and some French too, oui!).
Dear Children of the Earth by Schim Schimmel – This wonderful book helps teach our children the importance of all living things on Earth. They will learn about respecting wildlife and help prevent pollution in order to help Mother Earth.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – This classic picture book is an all time children’s favorite. A story of a young boy, named Max, who throws a tantrum and gets sent to bed.
From there his imagination takes him to a place where he can be as wild and rambunctious as he wishes… however.. The smell of his mothers cooking summons him back to reality, with the magic of a parents love.
I am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer – This is 1 of 30 books in the series ‘Ordinary People Change the World”. True stories based on the life of Martin Luther King and his love for people. With engaging illustrations and interesting facts, children will enjoy learning about important figures in history.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen – This is a very good book that is a great fit for children who are waiting to be old enough to do certain things with their older family members. In this case, a young girl is finally old enough to go owling with her dad. A Caldecott Medal winner with beautiful illustrations.
What Presidents are Made Of by Hanoch Piven – This fact filled book explains many interesting facts about many of the Presidents of the United States, Including Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama.
The portraits of the described presidents are constructed with something that helps symbolize the subjected president, in a way that will be attention-grabbing for even an easily distracted reader.
Recycle! A Handbook for Kids by Gail Gibbons – This nonfiction book shows young children where all the trash goes when we throw it away. It explains how it takes the Earth a long time to break down many materials, which is why it is so important to not litter. Throwing certain items in a recycle bin helps us reuse materials, such as plastic bottles that can be remade into something else.
Smart About George Washington Carver, The Peanut Wizard by Laura Driscoll – This is a child version of the biography of George Washington Carver. This man was born into slavery, but proved to the world that with a lot of work, he proved that he could be somebody, if he was just given the smallest chance.
With interesting illustrations using a style similar to graphic novels, the Smart About History series is definitely worth checking out for second grade readers.
Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie by Peter Roop – This book is filled with beautiful watercolor pictures to accompany these easy to read pages that depict a true story. Abby Burgess was responsible for keeping the lighthouse lights burning. A big storm was coming across Maine, and many people’s lives depended on those lights.
This story gives children a look at a child who was brave in real life, and because of her, many people made it out alive.
Brave Norman: A True Story by Andrew Clements – This is one of the best books for beginner readers who are animal lovers. This is a true story about a blind dog named Norman, who rescues a girl from drowning! How awesome is that?!
The Berenstain Bears’ Seashore Treasure by Jan Berenstain – 1 of 280 picturebooks! 280! The Berenstain Bear books are short books full of adventures. Easy to read for young children. This bear family will keep children asking for another book and another and another. Full of funny situations and also bringing life lessons to a level that children can understand.