Wednesday, July 1st, 2015...1:29 pm

Summer Reading for 2nd Graders – What Nora’s Reading

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The books are stacked high next to her bed these days. And when it’s quiet in the house in the few weeks we have at home together a fair guess is that she’s in her room reading. She read in the car for hours last week on our road trip – making me jealous since reading in the car makes me car sick. I watch her and I return to the summer days I remember as a kid, on my brother’s top bunk or curled up in a chair reading whatever my dad had given me for that summer’s stack.

She’s an avid reader whose skill surpasses her maturity. Last year I wrote about her favorite chapter books as a beginning reader – the books perfect for her age, Ivy and Bean, Cam Jansen, Magic Treehouse. She loved those. So our challenge has been finding books that aren’t “too easy,” that she won’t just finish in one sitting, that still have content that fits her age.  Lately we’ve found some good ones.

What Nora Reads

Earlier in the year, as her teacher encouraged her to read some non-fiction, she wasn’t too excited. We went in search of a biography for her to read since I was pretty sure she’d love learning about some interesting historical figures. She’s now read three or four from the Who Was series of biographies. These books are pretty perfect for this age level and they have a pretty good selection of people to read about – from the traditional ones I remember reading as a kid to some modern men and women with interesting stories.

When I like an author, I want to read everything they’ve ever written. Nora has the same tendency so far. This year, she’s read – both as in-school read-alouds and at home books – all of Beverly Cleary. Watching her read through the Ramona series and on to Henry Huggins and then into the animal books, I had a new appreciation for Cleary’s amazing power to harness childhood. She hit with perfection the moments that matter to seven year olds and she wrote them in a writing style still suited for young readers. As much as Nora loved Ramona (she read Ramona Forever three times at least), she loved Socks even more. The cat and the new baby and all the moments as only Cleary can say it.

Another author she loves is Annie Barrows, writer of the Ivy and Bean series that still tops Nora’s list of favorites. We tried reading Barrow’s new series, The Magic Half, together as a read-aloud. It was poignantly written and just complex enough to keep both of us interested each evening. We haven’t yet read any other books in the series, but I know Barrows is an author we will return to.

One thing that sort of surprises me about Nora’s reading is that she doesn’t at all fit the “girls only” reader profile. I’ve always liked books with female protagonists and girl power aspect, but she is drawn right now to all kinds of books – including ones I wouldn’t have suggested for her but that she found on her own. She loved the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series so much and read all nine in just a few months. After closing the page on book 9, she had her first series let down. It was over and she couldn’t imagine a series she’d ever like as much.

So we went shopping for more books (one of our favorite things to do… surprise surprise). She found two more series that have lifted her sadness of finishing Wimpy Kid. The first is Big Nate. Like Wimpy Kid, these books have a boy at the center who has many frustrations and a great sense of humor. There are also the illustrations from the comic he draws, giving it a similar feel to Wimpy Kid.  She’s read three of these so far and gives them a firm thumbs up.

The other series she found was one she keeps gushing over. It’s the best ever, she says. And from what she’s told me about the story of the human turned mermaid and the forbidden love between humans and mer people, I sort of want to read it myself. This book is the biggest reading stretch for her – it is her first with smaller type and 16 longer chapters. I knew she could do it – her reading skills were up to it – but at first she was intimidated by it. When it was finally the only thing left to read on our vacation, she reluctantly picked it up and then refused to put it down. “Just a little more reading, PLEASE!” is the best sentence I ever hear and when she found out there are six more books in the series, she jumped for joy. The Tail of Emily Windsnap is probably her number one summer reading pick.


I have a whole shelf of books waiting for her when she gets just a bit older. But this middle place is proving pretty awesome too. She’s finding the power of stories and reading all different things. Nothing makes me happier than an open book in the hands of my kids.

What are your kids reading? What should I add to Nora’s summer reading pile? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!

2nd grade summer reading
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