Picking chapter books for second graders may seem like a daunting task. After all, second grade is an important time in reading development when the emphasis shifts from basic decoding to reading for meaning. Good chapter books support students’ fluency and comprehension skills, all while setting them up to become lifelong readers. That’s a high bar for a book! But these books deliver. We’ve created this list of chapter books for second graders with diverse characters, heartwarming stories, and a mix of magic and adventure to engage early readers and keep them coming back for more.
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1. Yasmin series by Saadia Faruqi
Yasmin is a smart and imaginative Pakistani American girl who shares adventures with her parents and grandparents. In four short, easy-to-read chapters, she comes up with creative solutions to the problems in her life. Filled with engaging stories about the joys and frustrations of being a kid, this one is a gem for second graders.
Buy it: Yasmin series at Amazon
2. Toys Go Out series by Emily Jenkins
Doesn’t every kid wonder what it would be like if our toys and stuffed animals came to life? This funny, endearing story of three special toys explores that magical idea and is a delight for second graders who are ready to explore longer chapter books. With accessible and entertaining writing, this series is one you and your students won’t want to miss.
Buy it: Toys Go Out series at Amazon
3. Little Bear series by Else Holmelund Minarik
Little Bear is a beloved character who is sure to charm new readers. The curious and sweet bear cub goes on adventures with his animal friends, but sometimes needs help and guidance from Mother Bear. Imaginative stories and delightful illustrations enhance this classic story and the simple word choice makes it a great selection for second graders new to chapter books.
Buy it: Little Bear series at Amazon
4. Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look
Alvin Ho is an Asian American second grader with a long list of debilitating fears, the biggest one being speaking at school. With strong characters and emotional honesty, this series tackles anxiety with humor and grace. Alvin’s trials with his siblings and friends at school will appeal to reluctant readers.
Buy it: Alvin Ho series at Amazon
5. Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo
Mercy is an endearing pet pig who loves hot-buttered toast more than anything. Her taste for toast and other delectable treats gets her and her owners into trouble. Extraordinary author Kate DiCamillo creates a cast of intriguing characters who go on outlandish adventures, with Mercy at the center. Humorous and lighthearted, these chapter books are perfect for beginning readers.
Buy it: Mercy Watson series at Amazon
6. The Princess in Black series by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
The brave Princess in Black is a superhero in secret—she has to hide her identity from the nosy duchess. Full of imagination and intrigue, this series is so much fun. These stories are also the perfect length for readers just getting comfortable with longer books, and kids will love the fresh take on princesses and superheroes.
Buy it: The Princess in Black series at Amazon
7. Sadiq series by Siman Nuurali
Sadiq is a Somali American third grader who navigates real-life challenges of friendship, family, and school. In this appealing series, Sadiq participates in many new activities with his friends, while dealing with being left out and feeling like he’s not good enough. This series showcases a diverse community while portraying the everyday experiences of being a kid.
Buy it: Sadiq series at Amazon
8. Gooney Bird Greene series by Lois Lowry
Celebrated author Lois Lowry introduces us to an unforgettable new character: Gooney Bird Greene. As the new student in her class, she causes quite a stir when she shows up wearing pajamas and cowboy boots. Through her wild imagination, Gooney teaches us the art of storytelling. Readers will relish this one-of-a-kind chapter book series.
Buy it: Gooney Bird Greene series at Amazon
9. Stink series by Megan McDonald
In this spin-off of the popular Judy Moody series, Judy’s brother Stink cannot stand being the shortest kid and does everything he can to get taller. Filled with humor and heart, these chapter books for second graders will entertain and give them something to relate to.
Buy it: Stink series at Amazon
10. Ralph Mouse series by Beverly Cleary
Some authors just don’t go out of style and Beverly Cleary is one of them. In this delightfully entertaining story, Ralph is a young mouse who lives in an old inn and finds a human friend with a toy motorcycle he can’t wait to ride. The fantastical tale of the friendship between a boy and a mouse is a perfect introduction to Cleary’s imaginative writing and compelling prose and is sure to hook many second-grade readers.
Buy it: Ralph Mouse series at Amazon
11. Absolutely Alfie series by Sally Warner
Alfie is a strong and charismatic seven-year-old, sister to the main character of the popular Ellray Jakes series. In each story, she navigates how to solve realistic conflicts with her friends and family. Relatable, funny, and honest, this series is a great choice for more advanced readers looking for longer chapter books.
Buy it: Absolutely Alfie series at Amazon
12. Rainbow Magic series by Daisy Meadows
Fairies, rainbows, and unicorns—what’s not to love? The fantastical series is perfect for independent readers who want to get lost in the magical world of books, maybe for the first time. With over 200 books in the series to choose from, readers can immerse themselves in the mystical world of fairies again and again.
Buy it: Rainbow Magic series at Amazon
13. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
The classic story of Charlotte’s Web is one of our all-time favorite chapter books for second graders. Fern is a young girl who befriends a special pig named Wilbur on her uncle’s farm. Can one precocious spider save the life of a pig? Heart-wrenching and profoundly beautiful, this story will evoke compassion and wonder in its readers.
Buy it: Charlotte’s Web at Amazon
14. Juana & Lucas series by Juana Medina
Juana is a spunky girl who lives in Bogota, Colombia, with her dog and best friend Lucas. She loves many things about school and life in her city but dreads learning English—that is until her abuelo promises to take her on a special adventure to the United States if she can do it. Author Juana Medina weaves in rich illustrations and Spanish words throughout the story, bringing this relatable chapter book to life.
Buy it: Juana & Lucas series at Amazon
15. Henry and Mudge series by Cynthia Rylant
Henry is lonely without a sibling or friends on his block, so he asks his parents for a dog. From the moment Henry meets his new dog Mudge, the two of them are inseparable. This sweet series is perfect for readers who are just ready to explore chapter books. The sentences are simple but the characters are full of heart. Kids will enjoy the friendship between a boy and his dog and the many adventures they take together.
Buy it: Henry and Mudge series at Amazon
16. The Bad Guys series by Aaron Blabey
Hilarious and eye-catching, these graphic novels are the perfect choice for independent readers who aren’t quite ready for longer books. The quick, fun series hits the mark with silly jokes and entertaining adventures that will engage even the most reluctant readers.
Buy it: The Bad Guys series at Amazon
17. Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne
This wildly popular series had to make our list. Siblings Jack and Annie discover a tree house full of books that sends them back in time. Full of adventure, suspense, and magic, these chapter books for second graders are an excellent choice for your classroom. We’ve seen so many new readers get hooked on them, and with 38 books in the series, your students can time-travel and explore history all they want.
Buy it: Magic Tree House series at Amazon
18. The Cobble Street Cousins series by Cynthia Rylant
Cynthia Rylant’s charming series tells the story of three cousins who start a cookie business, write a newspaper, and get involved in all sorts of other creative endeavors. Readers will enjoy the appealing characters and lighthearted stories in these second grade chapter books that are reminiscent of an older, simpler time.
Buy it: The Cobble Street Cousins series at Amazon
19. Press Start! series by Thomas Flintham
A great read for beginning readers who also love video games. Telling the story of characters embarking on video game adventures, this graphic novel series makes the reader feel like they are transported into the game. Eye-catching illustrations and simple yet compelling text will keep kids coming back for more.
Buy it: Press Start! series at Amazon
20. Diary of an Ice Princess series by Christina Soontornvat
Princess and Windtamer Lina has special powers but still wants to go to school with “groundlings” and her best friend, Claudia. Fans of Frozen will love these tales full of magic and adventure, which also grapple with the desire to fit in and be just like everyone else. Attractive pink and black illustrations and honest diary entries will appeal to kids who are looking for quick, enjoyable reads.
Buy it: Diary of an Ice Princess series at Amazon
21. King & Kayla series by Dori Hillestad Butler
Kayla’s dog King narrates this charming and entertaining series. Funny, sweet, and compelling, it’s a must-read for readers who are becoming more independent. These transitional chapter books are great for supporting fluency while engaging readers.
Buy it: King & Kayla series at Amazon
22. Zoey and Sassafras series by Asia Citro
Filled with investigative science and a touch of magic, Zoey and Sassafras is an informative and engaging chapter book series. Equipped with a scientific journal and her “thinking goggles,” Zoey comes up with hypotheses to solve problems with the help of her trusty sidekick cat, Sassafras. The unique combination of scientific inquiry and storytelling makes this a perfect choice for any reader who wants to read to learn and have fun too.
Buy it: Zoey and Sassafras series at Amazon
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Plus, check out these second grade classroom ideas for more inspiration.