40 Books Every 2nd Grader Should Read

Second grade is a magical year. Children become more comfortable recognizing sight words and putting words together in sentences. If an average child begins reading in kindergarten, by second grade, they will have had at least one year to become more comfortable with reading.  

They have the chance to really fall in love with books, recognizing where reading can take them. Second grade is the year where students begin to take ownership of what they read and how often.  

If kids are interested in what they read about, they will read more often. Second graders are like little sponges, soaking up whatever facts they can learn about animals or about how the world works. Offering them books to read which hold their interest is one way to help your child become a life-long learner and reader.  

It is important for a student to begin reading books that are both age-appropriate and at their reading level. If a book is too difficult for a child, it can discourage them from continuing to read. If it is too easy, the child will not feel challenged enough and can become bored or disinterested. These extremes should be avoided if possible.  

Choosing the Right Books for Your Second Grader

So, how can you select appropriate books for your child? Here is a carefully curated list of the top recommended books for second graders, complete with reading level. This list contains something for every interest and reading level, guaranteed to help your child remain interested in reading while offering the perfect amount of a challenge.

1. Magic Tree House (RL 240-550) – Brother and sister duo Jack and Annie go on time-traveling adventures through history with the help of a tree house that spins and acts as a time machine.

From the pyramids in Egypt, to prehistoric times, to the Middle Ages, your child will love these adventure mysteries, perfect for their reading level. Fiction books are paired with non-fiction fact readers which offer more in-depth details about the selected topic.

2. Boxcar Children  (RL 340-700) – This series follows four orphaned children: Violet, Henry, Jessie, and Benny. They live in an abandoned box car and tell very little information to anyone because they don’t want their hard-hearted grandfather to find them. Meanwhile, their grandfather has posted a reward for the missing children. Eventually, he finds his grandchildren and they realize that he is not cruel or mean after all.

The children enjoy living with their grandfather but miss the old boxcar. As a surprise, their grandfather restores the old boxcar and moves it into the backyard. The children use it as their clubhouse and continue to solve mysteries through the years.

3. Bad Kitty (390L) – The bad kitty series stars a delightfully naughty cat who doesn’t really mean to be “bad”… or does he?

Bad kitty goes on a number of adventures and causes a lot of trouble for his owner, keeping readers laughing and guessing what Bad Kitty will do next.

4. Flat Stanley (RL 420-620)

The Flat Stanley series features the Lambchop family and explain how their son Stanley Lambchop got flattened by a bulletin board and stayed flat. Stanley can go on a number of different adventures through the post because of his special flatness.

5. Encyclopedia Brown (RL 560-750)

This series features Leroy Brown, a detective whose nickname is “Encyclopedia” because of his amount of knowledge. Because of his head for trivia, Leroy Brown solves mysteries for the neighborhood kids with his detective agency.

6. Mercy Watson (RL 380-450)

Welcome to the life of Mercy, Mr. and Mrs. Watson’s wonder pig. She likes toast and butter. A lot. Full of comical misadventures, Mercy explores friendship and life, always chasing after a slice of hot, buttered toast.

7. A to Z Mysteries (RL 380-650)

Help Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose as they solve mysteries from A to Z in this alphabetical mystery series. Each book in the series starts with a letter from the alphabet. 

8. June B Jones (RL 250-560)

The series begins with Junie B. Jones as a Kindergartener and follows as she graduates to first grade. Junie B. Jones is scared to go to school by herself and ride the smelly school bus! Junie will keep your child laughing at her antics! This is a great first chapter book for beginning readers. 

9. Cam Jansen (RL 320-590)

Cam Jansen is the ultimate super-sleuth! She uses her photographic memory to solve mysteries with her best friend Eric. This series is perfect for anyone who is starting out reading chapter books. These books help readers transition from basic easy-readers to more middle-grade novels.

Focusing on comprehension, the storylines are sure to stick with your beginning reader.

10. Nate the Great (RL 340-560)

Nate the Great solves crimes and mysteries with his dog, Sludge. This book series is also a great one for beginning readers. 

If he’s not searching for who sent a mushy Valentine, he’s solving the mysteries around his neighborhood. This book series is especially interesting for children who love a good fact-finding mystery.

11. Frog and Toad (RL 300-400)

This series circles around the adventures and stories of Frog and Toad, two friends who stick together and take care of each other. The stories are often short and humorous and involve Frog and Toad trying to complete a task such as flying a kite or cleaning Toad’s house. 

12. Amelia Bedelia  (RL 100-570)

This is a book series about a maid, Amelia, who is hired to take care of Mr. and Mrs. Rogers house. Humor and fun ensue when she takes all the instructions literally. Children will love pointing out Amelia Bedelia’s mistakes in this comical series. 

13. Ready, Freddy! 2nd Grade (RL 600-650)  

Freddy is ready… to travel through first and second grade with your child! Your child will learn how to navigate beginning chapter books as they journey with Freddy through the second grade. So far, Freddy likes his new second grade teacher, but he misses his best friend Robbie because he’s in another class. Can Freddy figure out a new class and befriend the new student, Josh?

14. Geronimo Stilton (RL 410-810)

Geronimo Stilton is a fun book series about a mouse who solves mysteries and tries to save New Mouse City. This book series is very captivating for young readers because of the many colorful illustrations and maps contained within the chapters. 

15. Who Would Win? (RL 570 – 710)

This is a great book series for kids who love learning about real facts and animals. It compares two animals in a fight and breaks down each of the animal’s key characteristics and who would win in a matchup. 

16. Dog Man series (RL 210-550)

Dog Man is a combination of both dog and man after a life-saving operation is needed after a deadly crash. Now, the heroic police dog must fight crime and protect the good people of his city. This book series is great for the reluctant readers in your life because of its fun comic book style writing. 

17. Lon Po Po (RL 670)

This story is the Chinese equivalent to the story Little Red Riding Hood. Three sisters live with their mother in China. Their mother goes to visit their grandmother Po Po’s house for her birthday and tells the girls to be safe. A wolf comes to try to trick the girls, but will he succeed? 

18. Poppleton (RL 250-410)

This book series is about a pig named Poppleton who enjoys life in a small town after living in a big city. He has humorous adventures with his friends and neighbors, makes new friends, and learns new things. 

19. Judy Moody (RL 390-600)

Judy Moody is a girl in the third grade who is the queen of moods, both good and bad. Readers will see life through her eyes and enjoy her adventures, misadventures, and exaggerations. 

20. Humphrey’s Tiny Tales (RL 580-700)

This book series explores a classroom and its students through the eyes of Room 26’s class pet, Humphrey the Hamster. Humphrey gets to have a sleepover with different students each weekend, and he’s ready to have some fun! These books are the perfect companion for young readers exploring Humphrey’s days at school. 

21. Magic School Bus (RL 460-700)

Ms. Frizzle, Liz, Bus, and the whole gang take some adventurous field trips to find out about why things are the way they are. From volcanoes, to dinosaurs, to blood, to a broken bone, the class learns a few lessons they will never forget! This book series detailing non-fiction facts with a fiction story is great for readers who love facts and learning about exciting science topics. 

22. The Most Magnificent Thing (RL 550)

A little girl has an idea to invent a magnificent thing. She tries her best to make it but making this magnificent thing is not easy.

The girl gets so mad that she quits trying to make the magnificent thing. So, she takes a break and comes back to it later with a new plan and a brilliant idea to make it work. This is a great picture book for young readers to encourage them to invent, plan, and ultimately, never give up. 

23. Clementine (RL 790)

This is a book series that would be great for advanced second grade readers. It offers a challenge with humor like Junie B. Jones and a good storyline. It is a modern classic and great for readers who love Amelia Bedelia and Ivy and Bean. The first book in the series talks about Clementine’s disastrous week. 

24. Ramona Quimby (RL 750-860)

The Ramona series centers around the Quimby family and their family and friends. Ramona is a spunky youngster who loves her family and her cat, Picky-picky. The series details the life of Beatrice, Ramona, their parents, and their neighborhood friends.

A lively and curious girl, Ramona tries to make the best of every situation and not be a bother or a pest… well, mostly. She has many adventures and escapades at home and at school. Second grade students will love this series and beg for more! This may be a little difficult for independent reading, but it will make a great read aloud option for at home or at school. 

25. Pete the Cat (RL 240-600)

Pete the Cat is one cool cat. He never loses his cool… even when his favorite white shoes get dirty! This series is all about Pete and how he handles different situations. Complete with great songs and a great beat, your second graders will be bopping along with Pete’s greatest hits and learn cool mottos to remember at the same time. 

26. Sarah Plain and Tall (RL 650) – This is a great book and book series for young readers who enjoy historical books like Little House on the Prairie. It is a timeless classic that uses beautiful and rich language.

This book follows the story of Sarah who answers an ad for Caleb and Anna’s Papa. They wonder what she will be like. This story brings up themes of loss, abandonment, and love for young readers to explore.

27. Splat the Cat (RL 480-560) – Whether reading the first book as a stand-alone or in a series, Splat will surely warm your heart as you laugh along with and enjoy this funny cat. Splat has curiosities just like the rest of us – going to school for the first time, the holidays, learning to play with friends… it’s all part of growing up! Your child will enjoy reading along with Splat’s fun adventures.

28. Julian’s World series (RL 460-640) –  Julian has a great imagination and can tell some great stories… even stories that his friends and brother will believe. Follow along with Julian and the gang as the stories end them in a big mess and trouble that Julian will need to talk his way out of.

29. Stellaluna (RL 550) – This is a stand-alone story about a fruit bat named Stellaluna. She becomes separated from her mother during an owl attack but is adopted by a family of birds. She learns their behaviors and begins to act just like them. Readers will follow her journey as she meets other bats and becomes reunited with her own family.

30. Fly Guy (RL 170-470) – This is a great high-interest, low-level book series for emerging readers. Your child will fall in love with Fly Guy as he conquers new challenges. The bright artwork adds to the story and kids will have so much fun listening to the punny things Fly Guy says.

31. Henry and Mudge (RL 180-600) – This series is a timeless classic that has helped many young learners fall in love in reading. Henry was looking for the perfect pet… and decided to bring home Mudge, a 180-pound dog!

They are best friends and do everything together. Kids will love reading about their adventures to different places with Henry’s family and friends. The two friends always face their problems together. Sometimes, Mudge even saves the day!

32. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (RL 410) – If you give your child this book… they’ll want to read more! This book is a classic and explores a circular tale. If your child does want to read more, there are more books like this one about a cat, a moose, and a pig.

33. Wayside School (RL 440-460) – The Wayside School series has a quirky curriculum and unique architecture. The setting of the books takes place on the thirtieth floor of Wayside School. The kids and teachers at Wayside School are not ones you’ll forget any time soon.

34. Charlotte’s Web (RL 680) – A timeless classic, Charlotte’s Web is the perfect independent book or read aloud novel for any second-grade student. Detailing the hardships of farm life, we meet Wilbur, a livestock pig, as he forms an unlikely friendship with Charlotte, a barn spider.

We meet Fern Arable and the Arable family as she nurses the runt of the little back to health. Life is not always easy on the farm, and Charlotte and the animals must put their heads together to save Wilbur’s life. Can they do it?

35. Mr. Putter and Tabby (RL 490-540) – Mr Putter and Tabby is the perfect reading companion as your child begins their first chapter books. Easy and simple to read, this series tells the tale of Mr. Putter and Tabby, two elderly, aging characters. Mr. Putter picked up Tabby from an animal shelter, and his life has never been the same since!

Both with thinning hair and creaking bones, these two characters are bound to stick with each other through it all, magnifying the best friendship of all time.

36. Ivy and Bean (RL 440-580) – Ivy and Bean are as different as two people can be. Their differences keep them from becoming friends until one day, Bean needs help and Ivy comes to her rescue. Sometimes, the best of friends do not really have much in common at all. Your child will enjoy many books in this Ivy and Bean series.

37. Gooney Bird (RL 580-660) – Gooney Bird Greene is unlike any other student who’s ever gone to Water tower Elementary School. If it’s not her unusual clothes combination, it’s her “absolutely true” stories that keep her teachers and classmates at the edge of their seats. Your child will love Gooney Bird and her unique personality!

38. The Littles (RL 590) – The Littles series is a book series about a tiny family who lives within the walls of the Biggs’ house. In the first book, the Biggs family goes away on vacation and a messy family moves in, bringing mice and cats with them. The Littles must protect what is theirs!

39. Little Bear’s Friend (RL 470) – This book series is perfect for beginning readers and tells the adventures of Little Bear and Mother Bear. Little Bear is a timeless character that millions of kids have grown up reading.

As an “I Can Read” book, these books are filled with sight words, short sentences, and common phrases to support students as they begin to read. This book series has also been adapted into a successful television series.

40. In Aunt Lucy’s Kitchen (RL 670) – Lily, Tess, and Rosie are the Cobble Street Cousins. They are sharing an attic bedroom in Aunt Lucy’s house on Cobble Street for the summer.

They’re dreaming up ways to earn a little money during their stay for the summer and a cookie business might be the perfect way to do it. And, the perfect way to meet their neighbors too! This series is the perfect way to get your emergent reader ready for their first chapter books.

Setting your kids up for reading success should be fun and simple and hopefully it’s just a little easier and less daunting after reading through our recommended book list. Encouraging kids to read is one of the best ways to set your child up for success in the future.  

To cultivate a love of books, include a chapter book or novel in your routine at home before going to sleep at night or as you start the day. Do you have multiple children in the family? Have everyone take turns choosing a different read aloud to enjoy together.  

Is reading part of your nightly routine with the family? Instead of reading to your child, have them practice reading to you. It’s a helpful way to wind down from the day and spend intentional time together.

I can promise you this: you will not regret reading together as a family! Have fun choosing the books your child will love. Dr. Suess said it best: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Happy reading!