Books For Second Grade Readers

Your Guide to Reading and Books for Second-Grade Readers: Everything you need to know to support your second-grade reader.

Books For Second Grade Readers

Everything You Need to Know to Support Your Second-Grade Reader

If first grade is all about mastering the basics of written language, then second grade is when you really start to see that hard work paying off as students transition from decoding to reading for meaning. While readers at the kindergarten and first-grade levels are usually more focused on identifying letters and phonemes, blend sounds, and recognize sight words, by the end of second grade, most students should be more focused on deciphering the meaning in whole words and sentences.

For this reason, the second-grade reading level is a crucial stage for many young readers. Solid instruction, supportive engagement, and access to a wide and rich variety of reading experiences at this stage are the best ways to help young readers become life-long readers. What’s more, the focus on comprehension at this reading level will help students come to see reading as not just a skill to learn, but an activity to enjoy and become excited about.


Supporting a Second-Grade-Level Reader’s Growing Reading Comprehension Skills

According to the common core standards, students in the second grade should be transitioning from decoding to fluency: the ability to read quickly and accurately. Books for readers at this level can feature more complex language and content, including multi-syllable words, irregularly spelled words, and expository (informational) text as well as narratives.

To help your second-grade level reader progress at this stage, support home and educational reading with activities and discussions that build comprehension and introduce the concepts of critical thinking and research. Encourage your reader to discuss plot, character, and lessons in what he or she reads and to support his or her opinions with evidence from the text. Provide opportunities for building on existing comprehension through questioning and further research.

Because your reader will, at this stage, be able to focus more on comprehension than at previous reading levels, you may find your reader showing more independence in terms of the topics and stories he or she is interested in reading. Now is a great time, therefore, to start introducing a wide variety of text types and genres, to help your reader explore what he or she likes and enjoys.


Choosing Fiction Books for Second-Grade Readers

Although readers at the second-grade level are more able to handle nonfiction books, fiction remains a firm favorite with most readers, and most fiction reading at this level will consist of a mix of adult reading and child decoding.  With this in mind, you can choose more challenging narratives to explore with readers at this level.

Many classics of children’s literature are accessible to readers at the second-grade level, who will enjoy stories like C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and P. L. Travers’ Mary Poppins. Just remember that, if you do decide to enjoy these classic texts with your child, you should engage in intentional discussions about our changing perceptions of inclusivity and diversity, and the omissions these texts may make.

The following picture books stand out as enjoyable texts offering plenty of character development and moral subtext for discussion: My Papi has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero and Could You? Would You? by Trudy White. Or the chapter book My Dad’s a Birdman by David Almond.


Choosing Non-Fiction Books for Second-Grade Readers

With their growing comprehension abilities, second-grade readers will benefit from an introduction to the wide range of available non-fiction texts as well. Look for non-fiction texts that provide interaction and plenty of visual stimulation as well as reading-level-appropriate text. Biographies are a great option for this reading level, combining the familiar elements of narrative with a nonfiction approach. Look for biographies of famous figures from history, beloved sports players or celebrities, and scientists and inventors—whatever sparks your reader’s interest.

Readers at this level may also enjoy forms of reading that stretch beyond traditional books: websites, magazines, podcasts, audiobooks, and graphic novels can all help engage new readers and grow alternative forms of literacy at the same time. When choosing magazines, podcasts, and websites, in particular, make sure you go with a well-known publisher, organization, or authority figure to ensure the information your reader is exposed to is accurate and credible.


Supporting Diversity and Inclusion in Book Choices for Second-Grade Readers

This early stage of reading comprehension is an important time to normalize concepts of equality and diversity for young readers. Children who become used to seeing positive, empowering representations of diverse characters from diverse authors are more likely to understand diversity as the norm rather than the exception. Thankfully, there is a huge range of diverse books for readers at this level, and the selection is growing by the day.

Of the many good options available out there, Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke stand out as texts that offer hope and positivity to readers. Mary Hoffman’s Amazing Grace and Meg Medina’s Mango, Abuela, and Me are both celebrated as classics of diverse literature. From recent publications, Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade by Lyla Lee, Just Like Me by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, and Vote for Our Future by Margaret McNamara stand out as fantastic stories that teach important lessons about diversity.


More Standout Books for Second Grade Readers

Standout Audiobook Recommendations for Kids Ages 8 to 12

5 Great Kids Biography Books

I Survived Graphic Novel Series Review

Do Graphic Novels Qualify as Books?

The Best Kids Chapter Books and Novels

If you are a book lover and feel that we must know about one of your favorite books for second-grade readers, send us suggestions through Twitter, and share your most distinguished books on Instagram or Facebook with #thechildrensbookreview. In the meantime, keep turning pages out there.

Buy books for second-grade readers in our affiliate book store. And if you’re lucky enough to have a favorite hometown bookstore, they can always place a special-order, or it might just be on their shelf.

This article, Books for Second Grade Readers, was written by Dr. Jen Harrison.

Books For Second Grade Readers