Find plenty of reading inspiration at just the right level on this list of the best chapter books for 2nd graders. We're sharing picks that our own kids have loved reading, because choosing books that your child enjoys will encourage them to read as much as possible!
What else belongs on our second grade reading list? Scroll down and let us know about your family's favorites!
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Magic Tree House Series
Katie G.: Mary Pope Osborne's extensive Magic Treehouse series, about the adventures of sibling team Jack and Annie, has some of the best chapter books for 1st and 2nd grade. Each book begins with the siblings going to their "magic treehouse," where they are transported to the past, the future and other novel settings to solve a mystery. The fictional stories contain plenty of non-fiction nuggets to teach kids about animals, historical figures or important events in history, and a familiar format in each story makes them easy to follow. Each book is a separate adventure so they can be read out of order.
The Boxcar Children Series
Brittany Kozielski: The Boxcar Children tells a sweet story of orphaned children who make their home in an abandoned boxcar rather than going to live with their unknown relatives after the death of their parents. While the first book focuses on the children's life in their boxcar, the subsequent books in the series follow the siblings through various adventures and solving lots of mysteries.
Junie B. Jones Series
Brittany Kozielski: Junie B. is a 6 year old girl who can be very sassy and insightful, and who touches on age appropriate issues in a hysterical way. These are the perfect chapter books for 2nd graders who are stubborn readers. They will realize how fun reading really can be!
A to Z Mysteries Series
Alexandra F.: This series by Ron Roy follows the adventures of 9-year-old best friends as they uncover and attempt to solve various mysteries in their hometown.The Absent Author begins the saga, which continues alphabetically all the way to The Zombie Zone.
Amelia Bedelia Chapter Books
Vanessa M.: The lovable Amelia Bedelia has her own series of chapter books that are perfect for emerging readers. Amelia Bedelia, who until now we've known as the maid who gets everything wrong, is a young pig-tailed girl in this fun series. The chapters are short and easy to read, with cute illustrations to draw the reader in.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Vanessa M.: The Mouse and the Motorcycle is the first book in the classic series by Beverly Cleary. Kids love reading about Ralph the mouse and all his fun adventures riding his toy motorcycle. The three book series is a great introduction to chapter books for 2nd graders.
Brittany Kozielski: These books can be a little scary and may not be appropriate for all younger readers, but they also have a lot of humor to them. The characters are always kids or teens trying to solve some creepy mystery, and since each of the books tells a different story, they can be read in any order. My 2nd grader loves all of these books!
Ranger in Time Series
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: My son loves reading the Ranger in Time series by Kate Messner. Ranger is a dog with search and rescue training that goes traveling back in time to save the day. During his travels, the reader gets to learn about moments in history with an exciting pace. Beginning with Rescue on the Oregon Trail, Ranger's escapades also take him to Ancient Rome, the South Pole, San Francisco during the Great Earthquake, New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, a Maryland plantation and more. Devon won't put these books down, even after bedtime, and shares the story with me every step of the way!
Ballpark Mysteries Series
Vanessa M.: The Ballpark Mysteries series by David A. Kelly follows cousins Mike and Kate from ballpark to ballpark as they solve baseball themed mysteries. Real historical facts, events, and baseball players are included in the books! The chapters are short, with a few pictures to keep the attention of young readers.
hope fugere: My daughter read one of Judy Blume's Fudge series with her class & one independently. I could hear her laugh out loud while reading them! And then she'd love to retell moments from the book with us. She couldn't wait to read the next chapter at bedtime each night.
Judy Moody Series
Brittany Kozielski: Judy Moody is a third grade girl who goes through lots of mood swings as minor predicaments come into her day. Very funny and entertaining series about relatable young girl topics.
Gooney Bird Greene
Alexandra F.: My daughter read this book by Lois Lowry with her second grade class, and insisted that I include it on this list as one of her favorite books of the last couple of years. Gooney Bird Greene is a new student in second grade whose eccentric way of dressing and fascinating, far-fetched stories about her life captivate her classmates and readers alike, highlighting good storytelling techniques in the process. There are six books in the series.
The Puppy Place Series
Brittany Kozielski: This is a fantastic series of chapter books for 2nd graders and can be read in any order. The series is about the Peterson family, who aren't ready for a full time dog but help take care of dogs who need a full time home. The books are simple enough to capture the attention of younger readers for multiple chapters at a time, and are great for reading out loud or on their own.
Zoey and Sassafras Series
Kelly R.: There's much to love about the Zoey and Sassafras series of early chapter books...a young science-loving heroine, positive messages, adorable illustrations, and imaginative storylines that involve magical creatures and real world science.
Cam Jansen Series
Tracy Snyder Molina: Cam Jansen has a special talent that makes her a superb junior detective; a photographic memory! She uses her super skill to help her solve all sorts of zany mysteries with the help of her friends. My son really enjoyed these short chapter books that helped develop his reading skills in a fun way. Great for independent reading and reading aloud together.
The Chicken Squad Series
Kelly R.: Four chicks team up to solve barnyard mysteries in the funny Chicken Squad series from Doreen Cronin, author of favorite silly animal stories like Click, Clack, Moo!
Critter Club Series
Shila: The Critter Club series is about a group of young friends who absolutely love animals- so much that they form a local animal rescue shelter. Their adventures center around true-to-life situations at school and around the community. With easy-to-read sentences and cute illustrations to adore, these are great chapter books for 2nd graders.
Rainbow Magic Series
Kristy Pepping: This is a great series of chapter books for 2nd graders. They are still easy to read with vocabulary a younger child can understand. Each book features another colorful fairy who faces a problem, which she and her friends solve as your reader goes through the book.
The Bad Guys Series
Kelly R.: My son and daughter both loved The Bad Guys series as young readers, with an illustration-heavy graphic novel/chapter book style that serves as a great step between picture books and chapter books for 2nd graders. The funny stories about a group of "Bad Guys" who want to be good are great at helping kids love to read for fun!
Bad Kitty for President
Vanessa M.: My 2nd grader loves Bad Kitty chapter books by Nick Bruel, and to be honest, I do too! They are laugh out loud funny, and can actually be educational as well. My 7-year-old learned all about the democratic election process, for example, reading Bad Kitty for President, as well as some real-life cat facts from Uncle Murray. I highly recommend this series for hesitant readers! Lots of illustrations and silly kitty antics will keep kids entertained.
Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures Series
Katie G.: The Flat Stanley Worldwide Adventures Series is a set of nine books following the adventures of Stanley Lambchop, a boy who is flattened to 1/2" thick from a billboard. Each book follows Stanley on a different adventure around the world from Mexico to China and Egypt to Australia. Readers not only get to enjoy the adventures of Stanley, but also learn a little bit about the country he is visiting. The easy to read chapter books include occasional illustrations of Stanley and his adventures.
Heidi Heckelbeck Series
Erika Roh...: This is a great series of chapter books for 2nd grade. Heidi is a young girl who is secretly a witch. The books follow Heidi on her adventures starting school, navigating friendships, teachers and family...all while trying not to use her magic to stay out of trouble. Even though Heidi always finds herself in a predicament, each book teaches a lesson about staying true to yourself and treating others with kindness and respect.
Ready, Freddy! Series
Tracy Snyder Molina: The Ready Freddy series was recommended by my younger son's teacher when he was in second grade. They were easy enough for him to gain confidence in his reading skills while reading out loud to me. Even better the story lines kept him interested and wanting to read more.
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
Alexandra F.: This kids fantasy book by Julie Andrews (yes, THE Julie Andrews of Mary Poppins fame!) is one of the first my daughter will recommend to elementary school kids who ask her for reading recommendations. She read it in second grade and was totally captivated by the fantastical story of three children and their search for the legendary Whangdoodle, a kind and wise creature who lives in a secret land.
The Haunted Library
Kelly R.: In The Haunted Library series, a girl and her ghost friend work together to solve a variety of mysteries. This is a fun one for young chapter book readers who enjoy spooky stories!
Ivy and Bean
Sarah C.: This fun book about two friends, Bean and Ivy. They play jokes, have fun and show how neighbors who didn't think they would be friends can get along! Great for a book for your 2nd grader read alone or to read with a parent. It also is a Netflix series, so fun to read the book then watch the show that corresponds.
Shila: Purrmaids are part cat, part mermaid - and there's an adorable friendship squad living under the sea taking on aquatic quests and enjoying fun adventures! In book #4, they even go on a pursuit to find a real mermicorn. :) These fantastical characters capture the playful spirit of 2nd graders well. The storylines are short and lighthearted, too.
Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream
Kelly R.: In this sweet and funny story, Korean American Clara Lee dreams of being chosen as Little Miss Apple Pie at her town's upcoming festival. This was a great pick for my second grader as she gets more comfortable with reading longer chapter books.
Katie Kazoo, Switcheroo Series
Shila: Katie Kazoo, an ordinary 3rd grade kid, can switcheroo into other people and animals! Follow Katie's playful and problem-solving adventures in these clever chapter books for early readers. The books are short in length, and they contain easy-to-blend words for 2nd graders to sound-out independently or alongside a parent.
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