You may attest that finding the best 2nd-grade chapter books can be challenging. At this age, these young readers need books that spark and hold their interest as they develop their fluency in reading. Besides, they need exposure to new themes and vocabulary.
This is why we have compiled this book list for 2nd grade. It includes picture books, read-alouds, graphic novels, early chapter books, mystery stories, poetry books, and more.
Let’s get started.
1. Double Bass Blues by Andrea J. Loney
First on the book list for second grade is Double Bass. Andrea Loney uses colorful illustrations and simple text to capture the attention of an eight-year-old. Nic enjoys playing the double bass at school, but he always has trouble commuting with his big instrument.
2. Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne
The Magic Tree House Series tells the tales of Annie and her elder brother Jack who discover a magical treehouse in the woods that takes them back in time. Mary Pope Osborne introduces second graders to the time of ancient pyramids, dinosaurs, treasure pirates, and medieval castles.
3. If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen
Fantasy stories are among the best books for 2nd graders. Jack has a fantasy of designing an ultimate car. This young boy draws inspiration from trains, old planes, Cadillacs, and zeppelins.
4. Atomic Ace: (He’s Just My Dad) by Jeff Weigel
Atomic Ace is a suitable read because it tells the story of a young boy with a superhero dad. The dad can shoot nuclear blasts with his fingertips, fly, and fight crime.
5. Once Upon a Time by Niki Daly
Some beginning readers have trouble reading and may find themselves stuttering and stammering. This second-grade book can be of help since it features a relatable character. Sarie has difficulty reading. With the help of her school friend and an old lady, she soon develops her self-confidence.
6. Norman: One Amazing Goldfish by Kelly Bennett
This is another second-grade book that will help early readers develop their confidence. Norman is a unique goldfish capable of entertaining a crowd. Unfortunately, Norman gets stage fright while on stage, but his owner helps him.
7. How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock Climbing Champion by Ashima Shiraishi
Ashima Shiraishi is a professional rock climber. Through this inspirational story, she teaches young kids that they can overcome any obstacles and difficulties. This wonderful book motivates second-grade kids to learn from failures and focus on their goals.
8. Unicorn Academy: Sophia and Rainbow by Julie Sykes
Unicorn Academy is perfect for young kids who enjoy adventure stories. Sophia’s best friend is a unicorn. However, the unicorn’s color starts to change, and it is up to Sophia to save its magic. Sophia’s adventures do spark the interest of reluctant readers.
9. Come On, Rain by Karen Heese
The summer heat is scorching plants and vines and waving off tar roofs in the alleyway. Tess wishes for rain, and when it rains, she dances in the puddles with her friends and mother. Second graders who love the rain will relate to Tess’s joy.
10. Actual Size by Steve-Jenkins
Second-grade kids are generally inquisitive about how big or small some animals are. This picture book depicts animals with their actual size. It makes comparisons between the human body and animals, which makes it easier for an eight-year-old to understand.
11. Bartholomew and Oobleck: (Caldecott Honor Book) (Classic Seuss) by Dr. Seuss
This Honor-winning picture book narrates the story of King Derwin of Didd. He is tired of the rain, snow, and sunshine and asks his royal magicians to create a new exciting element to fall from the sky. Green goo is what he gets, and it causes chaos in his kingdom.
12. My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero
This picture book is a young girl’s love letter to her hardworking dad. Daisy happily hugs her dad when he gets home and hops on the motorcycle for an evening ride around the neighborhood. Young readers can identify with Daisy’s emotions and character traits.
13. Dear Max by Sally Grindley
Dear Max is a touching story about a young boy who wants to write his own stories. He writes letters to his favorite author seeking her help, and they strike a relationship. Second graders can draw inspiration from Max and write their own stories too.
14. Ivy and Bean’s Treasure Box by Annie Barrows
Funny stories are also part of the best books for second graders, and Annie Barrow’s writing is a perfect fit. She talks about the friendship between Ivy and Bean, two girls with opposite dispositions. The girls’ antics are entertaining, and more than often, Ivy and Bean become favorite characters for 2nd graders.
15. The Judy Moody Most Mood-Tastic Collection Ever by Megan McDonald
The Judy Moody series is a fantastic collection for beginning readers. The 12 books have different plots, including mystery-solving, saving the world, controlling emotions, and predicting the future. This collection will surely keep an eight-year-old entertained for days, if not months.
16. Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot Series by Dav Pilkey
Beginning readers can also enjoy this graphic novel by Dav Pilkey. Ricky Ricotta is a tiny mouse without a best friend. However, he rescues Mighty Robot from a mad scientist, and the two become great companions. The series has a total of nine books.
17. Cam Jansen by David A. Adler
Cam Jansen has a photographic memory that she uses to solve mysteries. The setting of each of the 33 books in the series feels familiar to second graders. Independent readers enjoy finding the vital clues that Cam uses to solve a mystery.
18. The Notebook of Doom by Troy Cummings
Another interesting series for independent readers is the Notebook of Doom. The books revolve around Alexander, a young boy facing different monsters like the nightcrawlers, the shadow smashers, and the bumpy mummy. The text is easy to read and commands attention.
19. Henry and Mudge First Book by Cynthia Rylant
The storybook about Henry and his pet dog Mudge is available in most classroom libraries because it helps second graders become independent readers. Children love reading about Henry’s fun childhood adventures.
20. How to Save Your Tail by Mary Hanson
Who knew telling fairy tales could save a rat’s life? Well, a rat called Bob does. He avoids becoming a snack for the Queen’s cats by sharing fairy tales about magic spoons, hairy chimney trolls, and snout-wart wolves.
21. Science Verse by Jon Scieszka
Science Verse is great for 2nd-graders because it features rhyming verses and fun pictures. This picture book teaches science poetically and humorously. With it, science lessons become more fun.
22. Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey
Mr. Wolf, Mr. Shack, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Piranha act as bad guys. But they want to change the narrative and become good guys. The 16 graphic novels explore the adventures of this gang that make readers laugh aloud.
23. Snow Wonder (Step into Reading) by Charles Ghigna
There is little text in this second-grade book, which makes it perfect for early readers. Readers can read aloud the simple, rhyming words about the two children who enjoyed playing in the snow.
24. Poppleton in Winter by Mark Teague
This chapter book is easy to read aloud, particularly for early readers. It is about Poppleton, a pig with odd ideas and behaviors. The author adds humor and beautiful illustrations to communicate effectively with second-grade kids.
25. Planet Omar Series by Zanib Mian
This chapter book is crafted to promote independent reading. Some 2nd-grade kids relate to Omar’s problems. His parents move houses, and he is yet to adapt; he moves to a new school and has to make new friends, and he has to follow family traditions. Nevertheless, he deals with his problems in fun, silly, and sensitive ways.
26. Dog Man by Dav Pilkey
The hero in this story is a half-dog, half-man, canine cop. He uses his hybrid abilities to solve crimes. The book exposes second-grade kids to positive themes such as kindness, empathy, perseverance, and believing in themselves.
27. Real Pigeons Fight Crime by Andrew McDonald
The story of crime-fighting pigeons is also on the 2nd-grade reading list. The pigeons crack cases open to solve mysteries and fight the bad guys. Each book has three silly but hilarious mysteries for a second-grader.
28. Mia Mayhem Is a Superhero
Written in easy-to-read text, this book is suitable for beginning readers. An ordinary eight-year-old discovers she is not like other kids. She comes from a family of superheroes and as the newest member, she has to learn how to use her superpowers.
29. The Rat: The Disgusting Critters by Elise Gravel
Elise Gravel writes a series of disgusting critters for a young reader’s mind. This book features a black rat. It discusses factual information about a rat’s long tail, unique teeth, and ability to eat anything, all useful lessons for a second-grade child.
30. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Florence and Richard Atwater
This children’s book narrates the hilarious adventure of Mr. Popper, a house painter who dreams of exploring the world. He receives a surprise penguin from an explorer and later pairs it with a female from the aquarium. Before long, Mr. Popper finds himself with 12 penguins.
31. Soupy Saturdays with the Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume
Soupy Saturdays are about Abigail (The Great One) and her younger brother Jake (The Pain). The stories accurately describe the constant rivalry between siblings. It also teaches how both parties should relate to each other.
32. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia) by C. S. Lewis
There is a magical world called Narnia behind the wardrobe. A White Witch has frozen the land in eternal winter, and it seems all hope is lost. However, the Lion Aslan, Lucy, Peter, Edmund, and Susan work together to free the magical world. This classic fantasy captivates these early readers with its unforgettable characters.
33. The Case of the Missing Cheetah by Veronicah Mang
Three little girls have to solve the mystery of a kidnapped pet cheetah. They have to work with mysterious women who worked as spies. The book is full of fun, adventure, and unforgettable characters.
34. Mac Undercover (Mac B., Kid Spy) (1) by Mac Barnett
This fast-paced chapter book is about a Mac B, a secret agent. The Queen’s crown jewels are missing, and it is up to Mac to find the lost treasure. This book is the first of the six adventure series by Mac Barnett.
35. My Dog Is Better Than Your Dog (Crimebiters! #1) by Tommy Greenwald
The title of this story commands children’s attention at this reading level. It prompts a young reader to find why the dog in the book is better than theirs. By doing so, they learn of Jimmy’s dog, who has unusual habits.
36. Rise of the Earth Dragon: A Branches Book (Dragons Masters #1) (1) by Tracey West
Children at different reading levels love reading about mythical creatures, particularly dragons. These chapter books feature dragons, dragon masters, magic, a wizard, a king, and an eight-year-old who becomes a dragon master. The easy-to-read text promotes independent reading among second graders.
37. Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
The story about the powerful friendship between the frog and the toad makes it on our list of best books for second grade kids. The book’s engaging stories, high-interest text, and longer sentences make it perfect for a classroom library or a book club.
38. Clover’s Luck (The Magical Animal Adoption Agency, 1) by Kallie George
This beautiful story about Clover helps young readers improve their comprehension and problem-solving skills. Clover stumbles upon a magical animal adoption agency and is hired as a summer helper. But she has to protect the magical animals from a sneaky witch.
39. A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman
What better way to cure a second grader’s curiosity than use colorful illustrations? Through this picture book, Seth Fishman explains the biggest numbers through simple text and colorful pictures. The book promotes imagination and common sense among 2nd graders.
40. Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look
This humorous story takes second graders through the life of Alvin, who is too scared to speak at school but is a loud superhero at home. It helps eight-year-olds overcome their fears and is perfect for beginning and reluctant readers.
41. Space Station Mars (Clubhouse: TV Tie-In Books) by Daniel San Souci
Seven young boys work together to create extraordinary adventures after they find a meteor supposedly from ‘Mars.’ They use their imagination to find ways to contact the ‘Martians’ and give back the meteor, but the ‘Martians’ come knocking first.
42. What Presidents Are Made Of by Tapa Blanda
Tapa Blanda uses collage illustrations to explain the personalities of 18 of America’s presidents. The creative illustrations and anecdotes make it easy to teach history to a second-grade class as well as presidential facts.
43. Seeds Move! By Robin Page
This storybook also uses beautiful collage illustrations to teach science concepts about seeds to second-grade kids. The author explains seed dispersion in a fresh yet creative perspective for young readers to understand.
44. Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
Since games are an integral part of 2nd-graders, we had to feature this book among the best second-grade books. Peter and Judy find a game that, when started, a player has to reach the Golden City. If this does not happen, the game goes on forever.
45. We Are Best Friends by Aliki
Robert and Peter are best friends. Sadly, Peter moves away, and each boy has to find a new best friend. When they reunite, they discover they are still the best of friends despite the distance.
46. Frog and Toad Together (I Can Read Level 2) by Arnold Lobel
Written in short chapters, this I Can Read Level 2 book aims at helping a 2nd grader become a better independent reader. It features a humorous yet sensitive writing style and includes themes such as love and friendship.
47. Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal
Anna is a little girl with six names. She gets curious and asks her dad. Anna learns she carries the names of her family members and feels proud about it. 2nd graders may want to know more about their names after reading the book.
48. The Random House Book of Poetry for Children by Jack Pelutsy
The Random House Book of Poetry contains 572 poems. These poems are broken into sections, with some being long, short, humorous, thought-provoking, silly, or serious. Some second graders have fun reading the poems independently, but some could use the help of an adult.
49. Julian, Secret Agent (Julian’s World) by Ann Cameron
It is non-stop action with three secret agents, Julian, Huey, and Gloria. Huey is Julian’s younger brother, while Gloria is their best friend. The team dreams of catching a real robber, and a post at the post office kick starts their quest.
50. A Different Pond (Fiction Picture Books) by Bao Phi
This beautiful story resonates with immigrant families, diverse families, or those facing struggles. Phi uses simple words and illustrations as well as poetic language to teach complex topics like war, loss, diversity, and family.
51. Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
The best second-grade books should include a motivational piece, and this story is precisely that. Jamila feels frustrated that her classmates and teachers keep mispronouncing her name.
Her mother teaches her the beauty behind her name. This new knowledge empowers her to go to school the next day. The story is a perfect read-aloud at the start of a school year to motivate 2nd graders who dislike school.
52. Dogku by Andrew Clements
Dogku introduces 2nd graders to haiku poetry. Young readers have a fun time reading about a stray dog and counting the syllables in the poem.
53. Roger, the Jolly Pirate by Brett Helquist
Jolly has a soft and jovial personality that makes him different from the other pirates. He is constantly sent away during pirate missions. But Jolly Pirate is about to save the day.
54. Get Ready for Second Grade, Amber Brown by Paula Danzinger
It’s a new school year. Amber Brown is excited and nervous at the same time. But she feels ready for second grade. 2nd-graders can compare and contrast their feelings by reading about Amber Brown. Plus, they can emulate her attitude and have her as a role model.
55. Detective Camp (A to Z Mysteries Super Edition, No. 1) by Ron Roy
Josh, Dink, and Rose are in a detective camp that teaches the science of solving crimes. But they find themselves with a real crime. They now have to follow the clues and use common sense to solve them.
56. Gooney Bird Greene (6 Book Series) by Lois Lowry
The book helps second-grade kids develop their storytelling skills. Gooney Bird Greene goes to school in unique dresses and carries unusual lunch. Her classmates are curious about her and request their teacher to have Gooney narrate her story during storytime, which she does.
57. Khalil and Mr. Hagerty and the Backyard Treasures by Tricia Springstubb
Tricia Springstubb explores the beauty of intergenerational friendships and intercultural bonds. The book shares how two different neighbors strike a new friendship. A young boy and elderly neighbor bond over small things as they spend time in the shared backyard.
58. The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
This book is an excellent read-aloud for eight-year-olds since it is written in short chapters. Mildred Hubble is definitely the worst witch. She is mixing her spells, constantly crashing when riding her broomstick, and the teacher’s pet can seem to like her.
59. Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
This book will make 2nd-graders giggle as they read it. Amelia Bedelia is the new maid. She keenly follows Mrs. Roger’s instructions in a literal context, but the results are different from what is expected.
60. Jada Jones (5 Book Series) by Kelly Starling Lyons
The Jada Jones stories are about a science-loving young girl who has to find her ground after her best friend moves away. Each story is written in simple vocabulary, short chapters, and compelling art to suit 2nd graders.
61. Toys Go Out (3 Book Series) by Emily Jenkins
Emily Jenkins talks about three toys, the stuffed buffalo, the stuffed stingray, and plastic, who does not know what character she truly is. They share unforgettable adventures, including exploring the basement, surveying the washing machine, and facing dogs.
Jump In: Complement your 2nd-graders with another set of more fun books to read! Check out the list I created on my blog here — 27 Imaginative and Award-Winning Books to Read to 2nd-Graders.
The above are the best books for 2nd graders. These children’s books are crafted to suit the creative thinking of eight-year-olds, address their challenges, teach new concepts, or simply provide enrichment.
Many readers are still developing their reading fluency, learning vocabulary, improving their comprehension skills, and working their way into early chapter books. With these 2nd grade books, your young reader will be on their way to reading success.
How about you grab a few stories for your second grader now!
Last Updated on July 22, 2022 by Emily