Before you start browsing this category, I strongly suggest you go to my lists for 1st graders (Books my son read in 1st grade, Books my daughter read in 1st grade, Other good books for first graders) under the category 5-6 and up. My kids are advanced readers so a lot of books recommended for the age 7 are in the previous category. I also posted books from the previous category in a separate list From my 1st Grade List. For more tips on great books, see also the list under Listening 5 – 6 and up. A lot of the books listed in that category should be perfectly fine for a good reader in 2nd grade.
As my daughter entered 2nd grade, she started reading books that fall into the 8 – 12 years category. That was a bit tricky for me because some books were perfectly appropriate for her at the age of 7 but some were too hard. Sometimes I’d check out a book at the library only to take it back because she did not enjoy it. She was probably not ready for it.
I will list books she read and enjoyed in a separate category (My Daughter in 2nd Grade). Don’t let the fact that she is a girl discourage you from that category if you have a boy. She has never been into princesses and fairy tales, she always liked stories with kids so most books she read are great for both girls and boys. I will not list the same books here. The books in that list are a great. Don’t miss them, especially books by Andrew Clements.
Important update: My son just started 2nd grade so don’t forget to check the category My Son in 2nd Grade. I will not list the same books here.
If you are looking for more tips, I suggest you visit the section for 8 and up because the titles there might fall into this category just fine. My daughter either read them at the end of 2nd grade or in 3rd grade. I have no way of knowing if she would have enjoyed the books she is reading now half a year ago when she wasn’t quite 8 yet but it is very likely that she would have. I will have more information on books for second graders when my son gets there (in 2015).
Books by Roald Dahl are an excellent choice. Both parents and kids love them and it seems they are popular with a wide range of kids. I have read several to my kids who are two years apart and they both loved them. The first longer book my daughter read in her life (at the end of 1st grade) was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Here are some other ones:
The Twits We read this book together when my son was in 1st grade.
The Minpins We read this book together when my son was in 1st grade.
Danny the Champion of the World I would choose this one closer to the end of 2nd grade because it is long.
The Big Big Big Book of Tashi I have this book in my son’s list in 1st grade but I was afraid you could miss it so I am posting it here too. Don’t miss this book especially if you have a little boy! I’ve read about girls being excited about it too! This looks like a very thick book for older kids but don’t let it fool you. Each page has a big picture and only a few sentences. There is a picture of a map at the beginning of the book and my son constantly follows Tashi’s journey there (Dragon’s Cave, Giant’s castle, Mountain of White Tigers etc.). The stories about Tashi’s adventures are available in separate books. I just chose one that contained more stories together. For a complete list o f books in Tashi series click here. I also discovered a website about Tashi books.
The Indian in the Cupboard My son read it at the end of 1st grade and loved it.
Dog Diaries: Secret Writings of the WOOF Society For young dog lovers (it contains some violence though so read the reviews first before you decide)
Cat Diaries: Secret Writings of the MEOW Society For young cat lovers.
Just Grace My daughter was not really fond of this series, she probably read only one book but it has good reviews and seems to be popular with girls. For a complete list of books in this series click here.
Stone Fox (a bit sad story)
Emma and the Blue Genie My son read this book in 1st grade.
Beast Keeper #1 (Beasts of Olympus) My son tried this book in March in 1st grade but he did not like it—he said not much was happening. I think he either needs to mature a bit more for this book or it was not his cup of tea.
Kelsey Green, Reading Queen (Franklin School Friends)
8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel / 1 Dog = Chaos I read this book to my kids last year and they liked it. Very easy.
Treasure Hunters For a list of books in this series click here.This book is geared toward lower level middle school. However, I’ve seen many reviews of 7-year-old reading and enjoying this series. If you are not sure, I suggest to read a few reviews to decide whether the book is appropriate for your child (death of parents implied, some violence, etc.). My son read the series sometime in winter in 2nd grade.
Phineas L. MacGuire . . . Erupts!: The First Experiment (From the Highly Scientific Notebooks of Phineas L. MacGuire)
The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse: A Chet Gecko Mystery To read reviews and see all books in this series click here.
Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters For a list of books in this series click here.
A Matter-of-Fact Magic Book: No Such Thing as a Witch For a list of books in this series click here. (stand-alone adventures)
Big Nate: In a Class by Himself (funny, probably the second half of 2nd grade because of the interest level, not reading level)
Stuart Little I read it to my kids when they were 6 and 8.
The Little House series My daughter has never read this series, I am still trying to persuade her. I made the mistake of letting her watch the DVDs when she was sick once and now she feels she would not enjoy it. I hope she will give in to me eventually and at least try.
A friend of mine has told me about this series—abridged and retold classics. I was not sure if I’d like the idea of my kids reading an abridged version (sometimes retold) and not the original but it is true that kids can read a lot of the classics only when they are older because the originals are either long or difficult in vocabulary. I think I would run into one problem with my kids—they would not want to read the original later if they already knew the story. Since I studied literature, I myself would not be prone to offering these to my kids as long as there are other books they can enjoy.
However, if you view the abridged versions as a stepping stone to the originals or you’d like to introduce the classics to your kids at a younger age, give them a try. There are many adventures stories boys would love (Treasure Island, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Three Musketeers, etc.) and many stories girls would enjoy (Heidi, A Little Princess, Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden etc.)
I have looked for the reading levels of these books but it varies (2nd grade and up, some kids read them in 1st grade). However, although the reading levels might be higher on some websites, it looks like the books are not hard reads (from what people say). So just give them a try and see. I have found some information about the reading levels of this series here. At least you can choose from the least difficult ones.
For a list of books in the Classic Starts Series click here.
Betsy-Tacy Read more about Betsy-Tacy series here. The beginning books are in simpler language, then they have more complicated vocabulary as Betsy gets older. You can read an article in New York Times here. For a list of books click here.
For animal lovers (especially girls):
Animal Ark For a complete list of books in this series click here.
Puppy Place For a complete list of books in this series click here.
Saddle Club The stories in this series revolve around three girls at a horse riding school. It is more appropriate for older girls (probably the end of 2nd grade and up). For a list of books in this series click here.
Dragon Rider My son listened to the audiobook when he was 6 and he LOVED it.
The Monster’s Ring To see a list of the books in this series in order click here. Check out also Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher. We listened to the audio books but I think a good reader wouldn’t have a problem with these books in 2nd grade.
The Story of Doctor Dolittle I read it to my son when he started 1st grade and he loved it. My daughter (in 3rd grade) was not interested in listening, it bored her. I guess you have to like a certain type of books to enjoy this one.
Princess Tales by Gail Carson Levine If your daughter likes fairytales, this series is apparently very popular with a lot of girls (e.g. The Fairy’s Mistake, The Princess Test and others). My daughter is not interested in princess stories but she was good reader in 2nd grade and would have been able to read these books (she started reading Harry Potter books at the end of 2nd grade). Many Moms read these stories to their five-year-olds so if your girl is fond of fairytales, you may want to try them.
Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies Lots of fun silliness that will appeal to fans of writers like Dav Pilky and Jon Scieszka. I can imagine that my son would love this book.
The Water Horse We listened to the audio book. It is a nice story.
There are two series that I have seen mentioned several times but our libraries don’t carry them. I decided to order both of them used and will let my son read them. I will give you an update when he does. To see the amazing ratings that led me to buy the series click on the link provided. I will probably read the books to my kids soon and will let you know how we liked them.
Gooseberry Park This book might not be for everyone, it is for animal lovers. Parents read it also to younger kids.
The Familiars For a list of books in this series click here. I read the first 2 books to my kids last year. My son really wanted to read the third one on his own in September but I think it was a bit too difficult for him. Maybe it would be better in the second half of the school year. Update: He read the rest of the series toward the end of 2nd grade with no problem.
Half Magic For a list of 7 books in this series click here. I read the first 3 books to my kids in the past two years and they loved them. I think this series would be more suitable toward the end of the school year for independent reading.
Tales from the Odyssey A great read-aloud for kids 5 or 6 and up. People loved the CDs too. For other books in this series click here. We listened to the audiobook. For independent reading, I’d say, the end of 2nd grade or later.
The Iron Man The title was changed to The Iron Giant, to avoid confusion with the Marvel Comics character Iron Man. This book is not just for boys. Read more about it here. This books is probably best read aloud together with your child.
If you are still looking for more recommended books for 1st and 2nd graders, check out the following links to some comprehensive summer reading lists:
2014 Notable Children’s Books The reading list from the Association for Library Service to Children of the American Library Association includes the current Newbery, Caldecott, Belpré, Sibert, Coretta Scott King, Geisel, and Batchelder Award winners and Honor books, among other notable books.Sharing is good karma: