Wholesome reading material for high level reading 2nd grader - Mothering Forums
The Childhood Years > Wholesome reading material for high level reading 2nd grader
mom2happy's Avatar mom2happy 10:21 AM 04-13-2011

My DD is on the third Harry Potter book and is really enjoying it. We finally found something that she doesn't whip through in 20 minutes. The librarian said the books start getting a little too old for her as they go on.

I feel like some of the  popular books these days are just miniature child oriented trashy novels.

I'm looking for safe good book choices that are similar to the early Harry Potter level that aren't "too old" for her.

Does anyone have any good authors or recommendations?

LuckyMommaToo's Avatar LuckyMommaToo 11:55 AM 04-13-2011

If you trust your children's librarian, I really recommend picking her brain. Our local children's librarian has been invaluable to me with recommendations. So much depends on what genres your daughter likes. Dragonrider by Funke might appeal to her if she likes fantasy.


DS is 7-1/2 and currently reading the fifth HP book. FWIW, it's been practically impossible for me to keep him from continuing on reading them. I have read them all myself, so we have a lot of discussions about what's happening and what may happen. For instance, he knew that an important character dies in the fifth book, and wanted to know who it was, so I told him and we discussed it.


Oh, what about Percy Jackson? DS has also really enjoyed The Lightning Thief series. We also just read (together, because it's one of my all-time favorites) From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and DS loved that one, too. Have fun! I love this stage of reading!


Daffodil's Avatar Daffodil 12:12 PM 04-13-2011

Some books I would consider wholesome and suitable for most 2nd graders:


anything by Astrid Lindgren (I especially recommend Ronia the Robber's Daughter)

anything by Beverly Cleary

anything by Eleanor Estes

Igraine the Brave

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Half Magic and other books by Edward Eager

The Doll People (and sequels)

All-of-a-Kind Family (and sequels)

The Night Fairy

the Bunnicula books

Tove Jansson's Moomin books (Comet in Moominland, Finn Family Moomintroll, etc.)

The Borrowers (and sequels)

Nim's Island

Star in the Storm

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles


My 2nd grader has had all these read to her, some recently, some when she was younger.  (Well, not everything by authors like Eleanor Estes or Beverly Cleary, but several at least.)  I'm not sure about the reading level; some may be easier than the first Harry Potter, but probably none are significantly harder. 

Chamomile Girl's Avatar Chamomile Girl 12:24 PM 04-13-2011
How about the Artemis Fowl series? Those are pretty awesome. At her age I also really liked Madeline L'Engle books (although they are considerably shorter than Harry Potter, there is some great thinking material in them).
LynnS6's Avatar LynnS6 01:34 PM 04-13-2011

I've got a 6 year year old who reads at a pretty high level (4th-5th grade) and these are things that have worked for us. She's pretty sensitive to some things ('scary'), so she won't tackle Harry Potter at all.


Almost anything written by Beverly Cleary is probably a good bet. We really enjoyed the Ramona books (Ramona and Beezus and Ramona the Pest are good ones to start with). We also liked the Mouse and the Motorcycle 'trilogy', Henry & Ribsy, Socks and probably a few that I've forgotten. Her books are about 4th-5th grade reading level, but the content works for younger kids.


My daughter just finished (and loved) the first 4 Betsy and Tacy books -- Betsy and Tacy, Betsy, Tacy & Tib; Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill; Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maude Hart Lovelace. There are more books, but Betsy is older (high school) and dd just isn't interested in the themes in that book, so she's stalled out.


My kids just finished a series of books on a classroom hamster named Humprhey by Betty Birney. The first book is The World According to Humphrey. They're really sweet and kind of funny (Humphrey says things like "On the other paw.." which tickled dd's fancy.) They're a pretty easy read (early 3rd grade level), but there are 6 of them! It took dd an hour or two to finish each them.


My daughter read Ann Martin's Main Street Series this fall. It's intended for ages probably 9+ since the major characters are 10 and 12 when the book starts. There are a few difficulty issues (the main characters' parents were killed in a car accident and they come to live with their grandmother; one of the characters has an alcoholic father), but I found them OK for my first grader.


I like a lot (but not all) of Lois Lowry's books. Dd particularly enjoyed All about Sam and the follow up books to that. (They're from the Antasia Krupnik series, which would be OK for younger kids; some of her other books have content that might be hard for a younger child).


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Great Glass Elevator are good books, and very age appropriate. I didn't care for the other Roald Dahl books, but my son liked and read them all.


Masterpiece by Elise Broach was nice.


Dd just finished Paint the Wind by Pam Nunoz Ryan. Another story with dead parents, but I was surprised at how well dd handled the difficult themes.


The Clementine books by Sarah Pennypacker are good too.


The author Avi has some interesting books -- the Secret School is a good one; Poppy is another. Again, I'd prescreen some of these books as some his books clearly have content intended for older kids.


Dd also likes the Animal Ark series and the Boxcar Children. She whizzes through them pretty quickly, but they still take an hour or so.


doubledutch's Avatar doubledutch 03:58 PM 04-13-2011

i know an early reader who burned through all the laura ingalls wilder books (when she was 6 to 7 years old).  i think i was in third grade when i fell in love with little women and the frances hodgson burnett books (the secret garden, the little princess).  the required me to read with a dictionary nearby . . . which is good!

Vermillion's Avatar Vermillion 05:06 PM 04-13-2011

A Wrinkle in Time, and the rest of the books in that series! They were my favorite around that age (and I still love to reread them every few years as an adult!) love.gif

FarmerBeth's Avatar FarmerBeth 06:55 AM 04-14-2011

The Dark is rising series by Susan Cooper is wonderful (classic good versus evil modern day meets Arthurian fantasy for kids).  My daughter also read the Narnia series in grade two (like your daughter, she was reading Harry Potter at the time as well).  The Narnia books are excellent in that they explore great ideas but have no inappropriate material.  the Anne of Green gables books are really nice when not in a fantasy mood, and take longer to get through and have more complexity than the "Little House in the Prairie" books (although these are great, too).  Some of the older fashioned children's mysteries, like Nancy Drew and Enid Blyton's adventure series are both appropriate and at a higher reading level.  Roald Dahl's books (Charlie and the Chocolate factory, James and the Giant Peach) and EB White's books (Charlotte's Web, Stewart Little, etc) are at Harry Potter level, and appropriate.  My daughter also likes Spiderwick (fantasy) and a Series of Unfortunate Events.  I read some with her and there is no sign of "trashiness", but they are very quick reads and will not occupy as long.


Sorry for going on.  Family reading time is a favorite activity in our house, and my daughter was reading chapter books at the start of primary, so I'm used to having to keep up with the reading!

SeekingSerenity's Avatar SeekingSerenity 12:57 PM 04-14-2011
THANK YOU for all these! I am not the OP but I have an 8-yo, 2nd grader who just really started to love reading. He taught himself to read during homeschooling, and can read at a very advanced level, but up until he got into public school, he was a sluggish reader at best. He COULD read advanced books, but typically chose not to. Recently, he switched to his 3rd second-grade class in his 3rd public school (we've been a family in transition, LOL, but he has been extraordinarily lucky with teachers), and as a going-away present from his 2nd teacher he got a "Magic Tree House" book. It took some prodding but when he finally read it, something about the story ignited a passion for reading (boy after my own heart, although I needed no prodding by his age). Now he wants the whole series, but the issue is that I really feel they are too easy for him. They are geared directly at his age group, but he slams through two books a night when he has them. They're only 80 pages each.

He has a copy of "Eragon" that he got for Christmas, but I think that one may still be just a leeeeetle bit too thick for him. He's intimidated by the size of it more than anything. I had forgotten about Beverly Cleary, but wow, by his age I had read every single book she ever wrote. Thank you for all these suggestions!
flightgoddess's Avatar flightgoddess 02:03 PM 04-14-2011

Look into the 'classics' your grandparents had! Mr Popper's Penguins, The 5 little Peppers and how they Grew were fun. Anything by Marguerite Henry (horses!!) Black Beauty. Rudyard Kipling stories.

If she like NIHM, then there is Watership Down.

More modern tastes? Lemoney Snicket series.

cappuccinosmom's Avatar cappuccinosmom 07:02 AM 04-15-2011

My 7 (almost 8) yo is *loving* the Redwall series.  When I was a kid there weren't nearly so many of them, lol.  Now there are enough to keep him busy for a few months. :)  They aren't "magic" like HP magic, but still, talking animals having adventures is pretty magical.  One thing ds liked was to hear some of the stories on CD, so he could get a better feel for the dialog when he reads them. 

cappuccinosmom's Avatar cappuccinosmom 07:04 AM 04-15-2011

My dad recently read "The Mushroom Planet" to the boys.  That would be great for a good reader--sci fi, but at kid level and I think originally published decades ago, so nothing inappropriate.



MJB's Avatar MJB 08:45 AM 04-15-2011

I have a 2nd grader and a kindergartner who are both at about a 4th-5th grade reading level. They have pretty different tastes but here's what they've been reading lately:

Beverly Cleary (one read Ramona and the other read the Mouse ones)

The Guardians of Ga'Hoole

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh

Magic Schoolbus picture books (these are easy but educational and they love 'em)

The Secrets of Droon series (they both LOVE these)

Black Beauty

Treasure Island

The Indian in the Cupboard

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Secret Garden

A Wrinkle in Time (we are all reading this one together)

Narnia series (my second grader read the first 3 but tired of them... what a weirdo!)

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (this one is iffy but I am okay with my 2nd grader reading it)


Honestly, I would let my 2nd grader read all of the Harry Potter series. I've read them all, and we've all seen the movies. I know my son could handle it. I think he'll probably get to the HP books over the summer. If my kindergartner decides to read them, I'll reread them first but I think they'd be okay. 

mom2happy's Avatar mom2happy 09:13 AM 04-15-2011

ooooooh goody goody!

So much good stuff here. Thanks everyone. I am making a list. DD is hard to keep up with.


lucysmom's Avatar lucysmom 11:28 PM 04-16-2011

The Guardians of Ga'hoole series actually has 15 books so that will occupy a kid for a while.  There is a spinoff series by the same author (Kathryn Lasky) about wolves that is awesome (Wolves of the Beyond) that she seems to be still completing (two books are out so far). 

chaimom's Avatar chaimom 07:01 AM 04-17-2011

Regarding Eragon-- my 8-year-old just read it and we wish we wouldn't have let him.  If I had a do-over I would wait until 10 at least.


Great suggestions here-- I would also add:

The Benedict Society

The Penderwicks



I'll have to look through his bookshelves and see what else he's read lately.  It's so hard to keep him in books that are interesting and age-appropriate!


FarmerBeth's Avatar FarmerBeth 03:52 PM 04-17-2011

I've got two more to add:


The Seeker series (about bears, kind of a fantasy) and the Warrior series (about cats) both by Erin Hunter.

chattyprincess's Avatar chattyprincess 07:57 PM 04-17-2011

Brian Jacques redwall series is a great seris of books.

velochic's Avatar velochic 08:54 AM 04-18-2011

Going to 2nd or 3rd the Redwall series.  It's exciting, but tame.  My dd is a sensitive person, so I had similar issues of finding books that were fun and exciting, but not too mature for her age.  She's 9 and will still not read HP -simply too scary for her.


Dd loved the book mentioned above "From the Mixed up Files..." and she still loves the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books... for the 3rd year in a row.  She STILL re-reads these.  She's read Percy Jackson several times and it sparked a keen interest in mythology that has led to her reading a bunch of non-fiction books about mythology... of all cultures, not just Greek or Roman.


I am not a children's librarian, but work in a library.  I think the important thing to remember is that kids just need to read.  They don't always have to be reading books that you can brag about... just reading anything is the important thing.  So, if it sparks an interest, then that's the appropriate book, even if it's way below their level or way above their level.  Re-reading the same thing over is not a bad thing either.  She may just want to read HP again.  I think the best thing to do is carve out a few hours a week to learn the fine art of BROWSING at the library.  That's how most people find their new "favorite" author.  The most satisfied patrons at our library are those that spend time randomly picking books off of the shelves and reading a few pages before making a decision or moving on.  Recommendations are good, but it doesn't replace simply browsing.

chattyprincess's Avatar chattyprincess 03:12 PM 04-18-2011

I thought I would throw in that I love to re read things. My dh things im nutty but I have many many books that I have happily reread 5-10 times. Every time it seems I discover a different nuance or little something that Imissed before!


staceychev's Avatar staceychev 07:25 AM 04-25-2011

What about The City of Ember books? I've read them recently, and there's nothing in them that wouldn't be appropriate for a younger kid. The protagonists are a little older (14, I think) but they're pretty tame. 


Also, just to throw this out there: Scholastic.com has a book finder tool where you can put in a book and find similar books and skew the reading level. So you could actually (I think) put in Magic Treehouse and pull the reading level slider up a bit.

catnip's Avatar catnip 02:38 PM 05-06-2011
I'd suggest the Circle of Magic books by Tamora Pierce. Her Tortall books are a little more maturely-themed, though your comfort level may vary with those, I read the first of them aloud to my then 4 year old, the Circle books are good for younger kids.
jesrox's Avatar jesrox 07:30 PM 05-06-2011

I loved the Little Women series as a child- rereading them as an adult they are still great. I second the rats of NIMH and the Little House on the Prarie books- they are wonderful and so immersive. I loved the chronicles of narnia- great message and a strong female role model in Lucy. Charlotte's web was also a favorite at that age. I remember also loving Harriet the Spy but I'm unsure of the intended age of that one.

Daffodil's Avatar Daffodil 07:55 PM 05-06-2011

Another old and very wholesome one my 8 year old loved when I read it to her recently: The Wind Boy by Ethel Cook Eliot.  She also loved The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (one of my favorite authors when I was a kid.)  It should be suitable for most 2nd graders, but it does feature a child murderer.  (Though that part of the plot isn't nearly as scary as it sounds.)


ETA: George's Secret Key to the Universe is another good one.

Doodlebugsmom's Avatar Doodlebugsmom 08:54 PM 05-12-2011

Anything by Roald Dahl...Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits, etc.