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My mantra lately has been “less.” I try to talk less, let my kids figure things out more. Work less, rest more. Eat less. Buy less. Worry less. Gradually, “less” of the things I don’t want is making room for more of the things I do want – time, space, energy, reading.
And as we head into the holiday season, I’m also planning to buy less. We’re experimenting with the “Want, Need, Wear, Read” model for buying Christmas gifts this year. My kids are both at the age where they see things in commercials and instantly want them. They don’t know what they are or what they do, but that commercial makes them look like so much fun! They have lists a mile long, but the toys they do get are often exciting at first and quickly forgotten.
My favorite part of Christmas shopping is the “Something to read” category. I get so excited picking books for kids, trying to give them the excitement I felt over getting the perfect book . But if you don’t read as many children’s books as I do, how do you get gift ideas for 2nd grade students when you’re holiday shopping?
Know your audience
Chapter books for second graders
At some point during second grade, most students will be ready for books with chapters. Some come into second grade already reading these, and others stick with beginning readers, graphic novels and picture books for longer. It has to do with their skills and also their interests. Here are some excellent chapter books to pick up as gifts for your second graders.
- Magic Tree House books are a popular series with many, many, many books to choose from. The main characters, Jack and Annie, magically travel all over the world and all through time, solving mysteries and problems. This set of the first 4 books Magic Tree House books is a terrific place to start for second graders ready for chapter books.
- Bad Guys is a fun series, sort of a hybrid between graphic novels and chapter books. Early in second grade, they convinced my son he really is a reader and he blew through them before I knew it! Here’s a boxed set of the first five Bad Guys books that will keep your action-loving reader busy for weeks
- Kate DiCamillo is one of my favorite authors of children’s books. And a great way to start kids off with Kate DiCamillo is to introduce Mercy Watson, the beloved pet pig of Mr. and Mrs. Watson. In this collection, Adventures of a Porcine Wonder readers will join Mercy on her first 6 adventures.
Graphic novel gifts for 2nd graders
Not all second graders have the reading stamina or patience to read chapter books independently by the time you are shopping for gift ideas for 2nd grade students. Graphic novels are a fun, valuable reading experience that can help kids bridge the gap between short picture books and longer novels that require more patience and time. Some popular graphic novels for second graders include:
- Narwhal and Jelly might be my personal favorite graphic novel series for this age. The pages are simple, the jokes are cheesy, and the characters are adorable!
- Investigators . Get this. They’re alligators and they investigate mysteries. They are INVESTIGATORS! Bad guys, gators and spy gadgets. What more could a kid want?
- Dog Man by Dav Pilkey has a bit less potty humor than the author’s Captain Underpants series, but it still appeals to kids this age because of the goofy humor and fast-moving plots.
- Guinea PI: Pet Shop Private Eye is a really funny graphic novel series by Colleen AF Venable. The first book, Hamster and Cheese tells the story of an enthusiastic hamster and a reluctant guinea pig that team up to solve mysteries in the pet shop where they live.
Books to share with your child
Second grade is a year that is all about increasing independence for many students. They become independent readers. They might start to have more homework to do on their own. They might move from more group lessons on the rug to more individual work at their desks. But it wasn’t so long ago that those big, independent second graders were little people who loved to cuddle and hear stories. Maybe it was within the last 24 hours, even!
Shopping for book gifts for 2nd graders doesn’t mean being limited to books they have to read on their own. Second graders are a great audience for rich novels and beautiful picture books that you can read to them! Here are some of my favorite read-aloud books for this age group:
- The Wild Robot by Peter Brown, along with its sequel, The Wild Robot Escapes, are excellent for reading aloud. They can be enjoyed at different levels, from younger children who appreciate the silly situations the robot gets into when she lands on an uninhabited island, to the more science-minded students who appreciate the technology and ecology learning woven through the story.
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle is a great choice for a read-aloud with second graders. Some of the vocabulary and situations are unfamiliar to young children (even before the Murry children begin their journey through a tesseract to find their father, a scientist working on a dangerous secret project). It’s the beginning of a wonderful fantasy series that I reread every few years, whether any kids want to hear it or not!
- Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is a beautiful read-aloud choice for animal lovers. It tells the tale of a young girl who is new in town. She rescues a stray dog who has gotten himself in trouble in the local Winn-Dixie supermarket and as a result, she builds friendships with both children and adults in her new home, and comes to understand her father better, too!
- Your favorite book from childhood. I’ve read my kids Little House on the Prairie, while my husband has read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and parts of The Lord of the Rings. Even for kids who can read to themselves, read alouds are a great way to expose them to new stories and expand their vocabulary and imagination!
So many books to choose from!
It’s really difficult to go into a bookstore and pick the right books for Christmas gifts for second graders. They could be anywhere from the very early stages of learning to read to plowing through novels on their own. If you’re not sure where to start, ask the kids in your life what they’ve been reading lately or what books their friends are reading. And if all else fails, a gift card always fits just right!
What was your favorite book in second grade? Comment below and let us know!