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How do I know these books work for 2nd graders? Because these are the 30 books I read aloud to my 2nd graders this year!
I hope some of these books will bring many hours of cuddled up sweetness to your family as they have to mine.
1-6. The first six books of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Sure, this series tells a dark story with humor in such a way that makes it an absolute delight for both children and adults alike, but it also appeals to the teacher in me by explicitly teaching vocabulary and idioms. Winning all around!
7. Frindle by Andrew Clements
This book makes for some interesting discussions about language and the power of words. The main character decides to call pens frindles, and the consequences of what starts as a prank reach further than he could have imagined.
8. Doll People by Ann M. Martin – MY SON’S FAVORITE
Appealing to that classic fantasy that all kids entertain about toys having a secret life, Ann M. Martin (yes, of the Babysitter’s Club!) creates a safe mystery for the residents of a dollhouse to solve.
We are huge fans of the Usborne illustrated story collections in our house. After reading the fairy tale collections many, many times through, we decided to move on to these ghost stories that are just the right amount of scary.
Since the Usborne Illustrated Greek Myths book was such a hit at our house, we read these when we learned about Vikings in history.
11-14. The first four books of the Upside Down Magic series by Mlynowski and Myracle – MY DAUGHTER’s FAVORITE
Main character Nory doesn’t have magic that fits neatly into the categories of magical powers that exist in her world. Some people call it wonky, but the polite term for her kind of magic is “upside down,” and she and her friends learn about seeing their differences as gifts in their special class with a very special teacher. I recommend this series especially if you have a child with learning differences, but it’s a story that every child will enjoy.
15. A Dog’s Life by Ann M. Martin
Our volunteer work with Reading Team at the Humane Society gave A Dog’s Life extra poignancy for us. Another Ann M. Martin selection, this book documents the life of a stray dog from puppyhood until her happy ending. I had to take several happy tears breaks to make it through the last chapter.
16. Frecklejuice by Judy Blume
A childhood classic, Frecklejuice is a short and sweet selection that’s just plain fun. Andrew just has to have some freckles, so he pays a classmate for a concoction guaranteed to produce freckles.
17. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Ill-treated orphan James goes on a fantastical adventure aboard a giant peach with a crew of insects, an arachnid, and a worm. This one had extra appeal for my bug-obsessed kid.
18. The Penderwicks Jeanne Birdsall
As wholesome as The Boxcar Children, The Penderwicks tells the story of sisters on a family trip to a sprawling estate. They meet the very lonely little boy who lives on the estate and embark on summertime adventures.
19. The Green Ember by S.D. Smith
Young rabbits Heather and Picket are living an ideal life with their family until tragic events force them to assume new lives in an animal world at war.
20. Ember Falls by S.D. Smith
The story of the Green Ember continues.
21. Socks by Beverly Cleary
Adopted as a kitten by a young, adoring couple, Socks is used to being the center of attention. When a new baby joins the family, adjusting isn’t easy for Socks.
22. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
We’ve been collecting these illustrated editions of the Harry Potter series as a new one is released each fall. We love Harry Potter in whatever edition it comes, but these illustrated books make the story even more magical.
23. Ramona Forever by Beverly Cleary
Having read the rest of the enchanting Ramona series in 1st grade, it was bittersweet to finish up the Ramona series with this book. Ramona is a little girl bursting with personality, and her antics are a genuine representation of how childhood feels.
24. Ribsy by Beverly Cleary
Henry Huggins’ dog is the best kind of dog a boy could have, so it’s crushing when Ribsy gets lost. This is the story of how he makes it back to his boy.
25. Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac
If you’ve ever tried to put together a history unit about Native American cultures, you know that sometimes the available reading selections can be a bit dry. Children of the Longhouse helped make Mohawk culture come alive for us.
26. Bunnicula by James Howe
Reading Bunnicula has become a Halloween tradition at our house. Bunnicula is a vampire (vegetarian) rabbit living with an ordinary family. Narration from the perspective of the family’s pets gives this story extra appeal to children.
27. Howliday Inn by James Howe
Another Halloween read, Howliday Inn focuses on the dogs from the Bunnicula series. Harold and Chester get left behind at Chateau Bow-wow when the humans go away for vacation. Other dogs begin to mysteriously disappear, and Harold and Chester try to uncover the sinister plot at hand. (Spoiler: this book has a sweet ending.)
28. The Witches by Roald Dahl
Lucas’s grandmother has warned him about the disguised witches living amongst us, so Lucas knows just how much danger he’s in when he finds himself in the middle of a convention of witches.
29. Superfudge by Judy Blume
Superfudge is a classic tale of sibling rivalry. Older brother Peter is endlessly annoyed by Superfudge and his hijinks. With a new baby on the way and a big move, Peter has to adjust to changing family dynamics.
30. The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling
Before you read The Chocolate Touch, be sure to read a story about King Midas. Just like King Midas, John is greedy. Being that he’s a kid, though, that greed plays out as wanting to eat chocolate all the time. Much as King Midas had some supernatural help, a mysterious man helps John learn a lesson the hard way.
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