Second Grade: Best Books To Read Themselves!

To help second grade readers progress, it is crucial match those readers with a bunch of really great second grade books to read.  You can teach reading and spelling in isolation all day long, but if early readers aren't putting that new knowledge into practice by reading those words in real books, the knowledge remains superficial.  And second grade is such a FUN time to be a reader! At this point, second graders should be able to read many words on sight and have strategies for decoding unknown words. This allows popular second grade books to have more complex plot lines, more interesting characters, and more clever twists and turns.  It's no coincidence then that this is when we start to see early chapter books really take off-- like The Magic Tree House, Junie B Jones, and Judy Moody.

Please remember these are averages.  Kids progress in reading at different rates.  To find the best fit for your child, we recommend you either: (1) Try just a few books from the relevant month (in the month-by-month books lists below) and then assess if your child needs to move to easier books (in a previous list) or move to harder books (in a subsequent list). -OR- (2) Ask your child's teacher for their current "reading level."  There are four common leveling systems (DRA, Lexile, Accelerated Reader, and Guided Reading/Fountas & Pinnell).  Most teachers either use one of these leveling system or are at least familiar enough with them to know the different levels for their own grade.  Then you can just match your child's level with the lists below.

Here are some popular books for second grade kids to read in the first half of the year:

books for second grade

 We have three pages of second grade books to read for this reading level:

  • second grade books list 1
    These are the books the average first grader would have finished out first grade reading.  The average second grader may need to start the year here, just to make sure they can read most words on sight and have the basic comprehension ability of retelling the events of the story from beginning to end.

  • second grade books list 2
    These are the next level, with slightly more complex spelling patterns, sentence types, and comprehension (ie: requiring more inferencing than very early readers).  These are often illustrated chapter books. (Kids are so excited to finally be in chapter books!!)  Characters generally remain fairly constant throughout the book, which makes for easier comprehension.

  • second grade books list 3
    These books are similar to list 2 -- lots of illustrated chapter books or more complex picture books. Readers start to encounter characters that change over the course of the book, and kids need to start inferring character traits, character motivation, and plot items a little bit more in order to fully comprehend the story.

(These books are leveled as: DRA 16, 18 and 20 --or-- Fountas & Pinnell Guided Reading J, K, and L)

Then move on to these books for second grade kids to read in the second half of the year:

second grade books 2

This is when chapter books really take off, especially series of chapter books. (Think Magic Tree House, Junie B Jones, Judy Moody, Ivy and Bean...). Plots are more elaborate, there are multiple characters who can change over the course of the story, and inferring is vital to comprehension (especially in the mysteries). 

Note: It may be tempting to have kids in younger grades keep reading higher and higher levels of books if they are good at decoding words (ie: are very accurate in reading words correctly).  However, as early grades teachers we have seen countless times when a child can read a book flawlessly, but have very little comprehension about what the book was actually about. 

For example, Magic Tree House books travel back in time and to different locations throughout the world. Very young readers (like first graders who have strong decoding skills) often do not have the exposure and life experiences that would allow them to really understand a different time period (ie: the Middle Ages) or a totally different local (ie: Africa). In those cases, they can sometimes repeat what was read, but don't really understand it.  Just something to be aware of.  In those cases, instead of moving younger kids onto higher and higher second grade books to read, it's best to keep kids on a lower reading level, but have them read widely (non-fiction too!) to increase their exposure to new ideas, concepts, time periods... No need to rush it! :)

(These books are leveled as: DRA 24 --or-- Fountas & Pinnell Guided Reading M and N )

Too easy? Too hard?  Here's help:

Are these recommended second grade books too hard for your reader?

Try some of the books recommended for first graders.  Kids all learn to read at their own pace. As long as there's progress...that's cause for celebration!

Has your child progressed past the second grade level reading books listed above?

Check out our lists of books third graders can read.  Just be sure to check for comprehension often. Some kids are great a decoding words but...reading is understanding!

Got recommendations for second grade books to read?

We think the books one these lists are THE BEST books for second grade. Not only are they all second grade level reading books (ie: books they can actually read on their own!), but they also have solid storylines that will help with comprehension and help kids learn to love reading.  We hope you enjoy this list!

Have we missed one? If you know of any amazing books for second grade -- popular second grade books that MUST be on this list -- please let us know!  (Note: This website is devoted to book that kids can read THEMSELVES, not those read to them by others. So for this page, we are aiming to list only second grade level reading books.) We want this to be the best place for parents' and teachers' to go if they are looking for the best second grade books to read, so your help is so appreciated. Thank you!