Best Reading Books for 2nd Grade Students

37 Best Reading Books for 2nd Grade Students

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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.

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Keena Ford and the Second-Grade Mix-Up by Melissa Thompson

This is a great book that second graders will love reading! 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.

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Magic Tree House Boxed Set 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.

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Judy Moody Was in a Mood by Megan McDonald

This is an ideal read for any school aged child that is having a difficult time finding their niche. This first book in the series starts out a new school year for Judy. She isn’t thrilled about all the changes. She won’t be in the same class as her best friend. She is destined to get in trouble for passing notes. And she is positive she will be placed in the front of the class so the teacher can watch her every move.

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Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

Nate the Great has a new case! His friend Annie has lost a picture. She wants Nate to help her find it. Nate the Great must get all the facts, ask the right questions, and narrow the list of suspects so he can solve the mystery.

This popular series has some of our favorite chapter books that young children love! It's a good choice for kids who love a little mystery and problem solving (perfect for keeping their attention!).

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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.

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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.

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Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings 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.

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The Random House Book of Poetry for Children by Jack Prelutsky and Arnold Lobel

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.

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Smarter Than Squirrels by Lucy Nolan

This is 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.

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The Absent Author (A to Z Mysteries) by Ron Roy

This is 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.

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Junie B. Jones's First Boxed Set Ever! (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.

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Dog Man: A Graphic Novel 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).

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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.

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The Puppy Sister by S.E Hinton

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 by the author of The Outsiders.

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Flat Stanley: His Original Adventure! 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.

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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.

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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.

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Hello, Nebulon! (Galaxy Zack book 1) 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.

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Lola Levine Is Not Mean! by Monica Brown

A 4 book series about Lola Levine, who is half Jewish and half Peruvian, inspires young readers to be kind and consider others feelings. In the first book, Lola gets the reputation of being mean when she accidentally hurts one of her classmates during a recess soccer game. She would never do such things like that. With the help of her family and best friend, she makes everything right again.

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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.

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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.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

The magical world of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory is interesting, exciting, and will keep the kids on the edge of their seat waiting to see what happens next. Five lucky children have won a chance to experience the land of chocolate, but four of those kids just can’t seem to obey the rules. Charlie, our favorite character, however, is kind and honest. His reward is well deserved.

This is one of my FAVORITE Roald Dahl books - right there with James and the Giant Peach!

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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?

Be sure to check out the rest of the series with Diary of a Spider and Diary of a Fly. If you find that you like these book, definitely check out other Doreen Cronin books too. They are some of our favorites!

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Related: The FUNNIEST Books to Read Aloud To Your Kids

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!

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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!).

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?!

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The Berenstain Bears' Seashore Treasure by Jan Berenstain

This is just 1 of 280 classic Berenstain Bears' picture books! 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. 

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As a mom of 4 kids (and the oldest of 4 kids herself), Amanda has over 30 years of parenting experience. A former special education teacher, Amanda has a Master’s degree in Special Education and a second M. Ed. in Educational Leadership.

When she’s not working, Amanda enjoys DIY projects, exercising, photography, and long walks through Target.

You can find Amanda on all social media at @parentingnestblog and @amandaseghetti

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