Best Second Grade Books for the Classroom Otesanya David March 29, 2022

Best Second Grade Books for the Classroom

Best Second Grade Books for the Classroom


Choosing second grade books is so much fun because you’ve got such a wide range of options. Laugh-out-loud picture books? Yes! Compelling narratives and fascinating nonfiction? Also yes! Early chapter books and graphic novels? Yep, those too. If you’re looking to freshen up your collection of second grade books, check out 60 of our favorite recent titles.

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Book cover for My Papi Has a Motorcycle as an example of second grade books

A young girl tells the tale of a motorcycle ride around her neighborhood with her Papi. Lean on this title for studying character traits and emotions and as a fresh, diverse mentor text for personal narrative writing.

Book cover for If You Come to Earth as an example of second grade books

The illustrations in this new title from two-time Caldecott medalist are gorgeous, as are the book’s themes of connectedness and inclusivity. Share this book to open community-building conversations or to support your social studies curriculum. Having students write their own “If you come to…” letters would be an awesome writing prompt, too!

Book cover for Your Name is a Song as an example of second grade books

When Kora-Jalimuso’s teacher and classmates can’t pronounce her name, her mother gives her the most empowering, uplifting advice of all: Tell them her name is a song. Share this affirming story at the start of the school year or to lead off conversations about celebrating identity. Every classroom needs this book!

Book cover for Norman: One Amazing Goldfish as an example of second grade books

Not Norman: A Goldfish Story is a longtime read aloud favorite. Now there’s a sequel that makes us love that glug-glugging goldfish and his endearing owner even more! The pair is excited to perform a routine of tricks at Pet-O-Rama—until an unexpected case of goldfish stage fright. The details are perfect for supporting kids’ narrative writing, too.

Book cover for Khalil and Mr. Hagerty and the Backyard Treasures as an example of second grade books

This sweet intergenerational story celebrates how simple shared experiences can bring people together. As Khalil digs for buried treasure and Mr. Hagerty digs for vegetables, the pair finds a new friendship. We also love how this title helps kids learn to define and give examples to explain vocabulary words.

Book cover for Ten Ways to Hear Snow as an example of second grade books

Lina wakes up on the morning she’s meant to visit her grandmother to help cook grape leaves, only to discover a fresh blanket of snow. Her walk to her grandmother’s house inspires a poetic list of ways to “hear” snow-capped observations for her grandmother, who is blind. Use this text to support both narrative and poetry writing, or simply enjoy it on the first snowy morning of the school year.

Book cover for Cat Problems as an example of second grade books

The Animal Problems books are awesome second grade books for their perfect balance of humor, vocabulary, and curriculum connections. In this one, a cat complains about its life indoors. Meanwhile, a squirrel outside the window reminds the cat how cushy of a life it has. Great for lessons about reading with expression or to discuss point of view.

Book cover for Skywatcher as an example of second grade books

Tamen wishes he could see the stars, but that’s basically impossible in his bright urban neighborhood. His mom surprises him with a camping trip to make his dream come true. If you need more second grade books that portray single parents, this is a good one. The back matter teaches readers about astronomy and light pollution.

Book cover for Fruit Bowl as an example of second grade books

We love a good double-duty read-aloud for our second-grade books. This one shares plenty of facts about fruits vs. vegetables but also has broader themes of inclusion and open-mindedness. Tomato lobbies for a spot in the fruit bowl even though the other fruits say he doesn’t belong.

Book cover for Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise as an example of second grade books

A misheard lesson has Little Chicken looking for elephants in stories instead of the “element of surprise” her teacher described. Just like the original fan favorite, this sequel fits well into a study of story architecture—or read it just for fun.

Book cover for What Are Your Words? A Book About Pronouns as an example of second grade books

This is an invaluable resource for talking to kids about pronouns and how pronoun choice is just one piece of someone’s identity. Uncle Lior, who prefers they/them pronouns, comes to visit and helps Ari explore the words that feel right to use.

Book cover for I'm New Here as an example of second grade books  Book cover for Someone New as an example of second grade books

This pair of titles tells the story of three newly-arrived immigrant children and the peers who must welcome newcomers to their school community. Presenting the two books together offers a unique chance to examine an experience from multiple perspectives.

14. Hey, Wall by Susan Verde

Book cover for Hey, Wall as an example of second grade books

Ángel notices an ugly, neglected wall that spans an entire city block near his home and organizes a neighborhood effort to create a mural that celebrates their community. Inspire students with this kid-powered story of art and activism.

Book cover for How to Solve a Problem as an example of second grade books

This autobiography shares how Ashima Shiraishi became one of the world’s top rock climbers—as a teenager!  It’s an inspirational story that will wow kids (and teachers) and is a unique addition to a biography genre study.

Book cover for How to Write a Story as an example of second grade books

Follow a young writer’s illustrated thought bubbles and tips as she works through the narrative writing process from the seed of an idea to drafting, revising, and editing, and then to showcasing her work. Share this to inspire a budding author, or use it during a fiction writing unit.

Book cover for Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots as an example of second grade books

Make an important concept memorable with this fun, interactive title. The savvy robot characters also teach kids about respecting others’ opinions too.

Book cover for The First Blade of Sweetgrass as an example of second grade books

A gorgeous Own Voices story about a present-day Wabanaki girl who joins her grandmother in harvesting sweetgrass to make baskets. Add this to your growing collection of second grade books celebrating indigenous characters.

19. Abdul’s Story by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Book cover for Abdul's Story as an example of second grade books

A new favorite! If you’re looking for second grade books to inspire students as writers, you absolutely need this one. Abdul has many stories to tell, but handwriting and spelling are so hard for him. A visiting author, Mr. Muhammad, gives him the reassuring nudge he needs to shine.

Book cover for A Different Pond as an example of second grade books

A beautiful story about a father and son navigating life in a new culture.

Book cover for Room for Everyone as an example of second grade books

Who says second grade is too old for counting books? Not us, especially when it’s this vibrant and fun. A boy and his sister ride a daladala (minibus) to the beach in Zanzibar. Along the way, it stops for myriad other riders, from chickens to sugarcane vendors to divers. It’s a fantastic concrete story for talking about being inclusive. Plus, we can’t wait to make up math story problems based on the zany events.

22. Dream Street by Tricia Elam Walker

Book cover for Dream Street as an example of second grade books

On this street, “The houses and dreams inside are as different as thumbprints.” This celebration of a diverse neighborhood is based on the author’s and illustrator’s own childhood in Roxbury, MA. It would make a strong mentor text for descriptive writing. Or, a class display about students’ hopes and goals would be a perfect follow up project.

Book cover for Alma and How She Got Her Name as an example of second grade books

Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela knows her name is long, but she doesn’t know why, until her dad tells her about all the family members it honors. Get students talking about the stories behind their own names.

24. The Cool Bean by Jory John and Pete Oswald

Book cover for The Cool Bean as an example of second grade books

If you loved The Bad Seed and The Good Egg, you need to meet The Cool Bean! Who knew legumes could be such good models for how it’s “cool to be kind?”

Book cover for The Night Gardener as an example of second grade books

Every Fan Brothers book is gorgeous, but this is one of our favorite second grade books to mull over with students. One morning, William notices a mysterious topiary out his window. Soon, there are changes all over town.

Book cover for Quiet Please, Owen McPhee as an example of second grade books

From the team who created The Invisible Boy (a classroom must-have for all ages) comes this title perfect for discussions about listening. Owen McPhee talks ALL the time, but when he gets laryngitis, he learns that being quiet can be powerful, too.

Book cover for My Dog Mouse as an example of second grade books

This unsung hero title is a hushed, beautiful story about a girl who walks her neighbor’s dog. It’s filled with examples to use in narrative writing mini-lessons.

Book cover for Five Minutes (That's Not a Lot of Time) as an example of second grade books

We reference it all the time, but how long IS five minutes, really? Well, that depends on whether you’re waiting in line or playing your favorite game! Add some fun to your math lessons about telling time by sharing this little gem.

Book cover for A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars as an example of second grade books

This story tackles the mind-boggling concept of huge numbers. A wonderful book for science, math, or read-aloud.

Book cover for Planting Stories as an example of second grade books

Storyteller and author Pura Belpré was the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City. Treat yourself and your class to this gorgeous and inspirational biography that offers just the right amount of detail for a classroom read-aloud and discussion. (Plus, motivate your students to explore other Pura Belpré Award titles!)

Book cover for Now You Know How It Works as an example of second grade books

How often do we stop and think about how things we use every day, like soap or screws, work? This title explains it all, with labeled diagrams perfect to teach students about using nonfiction text features for reading and their own writing.

Book cover for Otis and Will Discover the Deep as an example of second grade books

In 1930, Otis Barton and Will Beebe made the first-ever deep-sea dive in a contraption they invented themselves. How cool is that?

Book cover for Fungus is Among Us as an example of second grade books

How much do you actually know about fungi and their role in our environment? Learn alongside your students with this engaging nonfiction romp. The “Meet a Mycologist” section at the back may incite new career aspirations for science-buff students, too.

Book cover for Seeds Move! as an example of second grade books

Did you ever think of seed dispersal as involving “hitchhiking,” “catapulting,” or “parachuting?” Robin Page’s fresh, informative text and collage illustrations will get students thinking about grade-level science concepts.

35. We Move Together by Kelly Fritsch and Anne McGuire

Book cover for We Move Together as an example of second grade books

Everyone deserves to be able to move through their world with ease. This is one of our favorite all-ages books to open discussions about social justice and disability. It’s especially suited to second graders who are eager to connect to others and make the world a more fair place.

36.  Money Math by David Adler

Book cover for Money Math: Addition and Subtraction as an example of second grade books

Content-area book guru David Adler addresses money identification and beginning addition and subtraction. Break out the piles of change!

Book covers for examples of The Disgusting Critters series as an example of second grade books

This series combines science, silly humor, and just enough gross facts to delight any young reader.

Book cover for Hidden Figures as an example of second grade books

This book tells the story of four mathematicians who played a critical role in NASA’s early space launches.

Book cover for Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing as an example of second grade books

Told by the artist’s sister, this story follows Keith Haring’s rise to fame as a pop artist.

Book cover for Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality as an example of second grade books

Ruth Bader Ginsberg overcame discrimination against Jews, women, and working mothers to become one of our country’s most inspiring symbols of justice.

Book cover for The Boy Who Grew a Forest

Share this biography of an Indian environmental activist with students when you talk about the role of plants in an ecosystem. After reading, go outside and plant some native plants in your own habitat!

Book cover for Big and Small and In Between

Three whimsical chapters make poetic observations about the world based on size. This book invites readers to notice things like how big the quiet feels when it’s your turn to perform, the “in between” of a wiggling tooth, and how small you feel when you stare at the ocean. Add this title to your second grade books for Poetry Month or launching a poetry unit of study.

Book cover for On Duck Pond

We still read Owl Moon every single year, but we also love Jane Yolen’s more recent nature offerings as one of our favorite second-grade books. Here, her signature poetic and precise language chronicles the brief moment when a child walks a dog past a pond.

Book cover for Once Upon a Star

An explanation of the Big Bang is tricky when explaining to children. But, packing it into artfully-illustrated and eloquent verse? That’s impressive.

Book cover for A Place to Start a Family

As anyone who has studied a bird’s nest up close knows, animal structures are amazing. Each poem describes how an animal creates a home for its young.

Book cover for Gone Camping: A Novel in Verse

Read about a family’s camping experience, as described by different members. This fun title also includes a handy guide for teaching kids about different forms of poetry. Check out Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse  starring the same characters, as well.

Book cover for Meet Yasmin!  Book cover for Yasmin in ChargeBook cover for Yasmin the Teacher

Yasmin has plenty of spirit and a talent for looking on the bright side. This early chapter book series starter adds to the small-but-growing list of kid lit-titles starring contemporary Muslim Americans.

Book cover for Diary of an Ice Princess: Icing on the Snowflake

Second graders love this fantasy series about a princess who lives in the clouds and wields a ton of cool weather-related powers. And teachers shouldn’t be discouraged by all the pink! The series has diverse characters and relatable themes to discuss with kids.

Book cover for Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol book 1 Book cover for Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol book 4Book cover for Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol book 8

Desmond stays busy investigating paranormal activity in his town. His friend Andres admires his bravery but prefers less excitement. This engaging and funny illustrated series is great for hooking new chapter book readers.

Book cover for Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen Book cover for Jasmine Toguchi: Flamingo Keeper

Told in the context of her Japanese-American culture, Jasmine’s challenges reflect those of many eight-year-olds, like proving she’s as capable as an older sibling, trying to find her unique talents, or convincing her parents to fulfill her biggest wish.

The Bad Guys series box set

Your students will love the hilarious tales of these characters who look and smell like bad guys but are trying to change their image.

52. Mighty Meg books by Sammy Griffin

Best Second Grade Books - Mighty Meg

These stories about a girl-turned-superhero are both engaging and accessible to second-grade readers. Meg is nervous about using her newfound powers, but her desire to help others gives her courage.

Book cover for Lola Levine is Not Mean! Book cover for Lola Levine and the Vacation Dream

We love how Monica Brown highlights feisty, bicultural female characters. Lola Levine encounters her share of everyday kid challenges and navigates them with grace and spunk.

Book Cover for Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters  Book cover for Sofia Valdez and the Vanishing Vote

Favorite characters continue their STEM adventures in chapter book format. If you love sharing Andrea Beaty’s picture books about second-graders in Miss Lila Greer’s class, you’ll definitely want these spin-offs for your students to enjoy independently.

Book cover for Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box TooBook cover for Geraldine Pu and Her Cat Hat Too

Geraldine Pu has lots of relatable school experiences and is proud of her family’s Taiwanese culture. These are the perfect second grade books for introducing kids to reading graphic novels. Each one has a “How to Read This Book” tutorial to teach kids about speech and thought bubbles and how to read panels left to right and top to bottom.

Book cover for Tally Tuttle Turns Into a Turtle

Mrs. Norrell’s second grade class seems normal, but kids learn in unusual ways. Each student gets the chance to turn into an animal for a day, giving them an interesting perspective! Relatable themes with an appealing fantasy twist make these excellent second grade chapter books.

57. Classroom 13 series by Honest Lee and Matthew J. Gilbert

Book cover for Classroom 13 Book 1

Spark those 7-and-8-year-old imaginations! These second grade books work well as fun class read alouds, book club picks, or independent reads. Each short chapter stars one student in Classroom 13, where plenty of wacky things happen.

Book cover for Mac B. Kid Spy book 1 Book cover for Mac B. Kid Spy Book 2Book cover for Mac B. Kid Spy Book 3Book Cover for Mac B. Kid Spy book 4

Mac Barnett tells his childhood story—as a spy for the Queen of England. It’s a spoof, of course, but there are real themes here, too. This series would be a great fit for advanced but reluctant readers or as fun read alouds (especially if you’re a kid of the 80s and treasured your Gameboy as much as the author).

Book cover for Planet Omar Accidental Trouble MagnetBook cover for Planet Omar Unexpected Super Spy

Omar is a fun-loving and imaginative kid navigating relatable kid challenges like starting at a new school and trying to earn money. These fast-paced illustrated chapter books work well as read alouds or as independent reading. You’ll especially want to check them out if you’re working on incorporating more literature featuring Muslim characters into your classroom library.

60. Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

Best Second Grade Books - Bob

If you’re looking for a mesmerizing chapter book read aloud, consider this tale of Livy and Bob, the mysterious golem living in Livy’s grandmother’s closet who just wants to find his home.

Which second grade books have you discovered recently? Let us know in the comments!

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