The 20 Best Chapter Books for 2nd Graders

Finding great chapter books for 2nd graders can be a challenge. You want to make sure your students have books at their reading level, but you also want to make sure they’ve got a good selection of books that will hold their interest. That’s why I created this book list for 2nd graders.

best chapter books for 2nd graders

20 Awesome 2nd Grade Chapter Books

Whether you are trying to find the perfect book for your own reader or working to fill your classroom library, these chapter books are sure to engage and excite your second-grade readers.

To help you determine which books are the best fit for your kiddos, I shared a short summary of the book and the reading level. When possible, I also shared links to a literature circle companion pack to help save you prep time. Read more about what these book studies look like here.

I know your second graders will love these great stories! 

1. Magic Tree House #1: Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne

This chapter book series is perfect for 2nd grade readers, and they’re really engaging.

In this book, readers are introduced to Jack and Annie, two kids who have discovered a magic tree house in the woods behind their home.

The treehouse transports them back to the time of dinosaurs, and they’ve got to figure out how to solve a mystery and get back before their parents notice they are gone.

2nd Grade Books - Magic Tree House
The 20 Best Chapter Books for 2nd Graders 33

This story offers so many opportunities to make connections between reading comprehension and science topics, as the book blends factual information about dinosaurs throughout the plotline. The entire chapter book series follows suit offering great ways to make cross-curricular connections to science and social studies topics.

Reading Level:

  • On-level
  • DRA: 24
  • Guided Reading: M

Get the No Prep Novel Study: Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark Novel Study

2. Katie Woo & Friends by Fran Manushkin

If you’re looking for some books for your 2nd-grade girls, check out the Katie Woo series. These short, easy-to-read chapter books are approachable for your lower-level second-grade readers.

This story follows the main character, Katie. She’s a friendly first grader who faces many of the same challenges your students experience in their everyday lives. In this book, Katie and her best friends do everything together and find ways to work through their differences to keep their friendship going strong.

2nd Grade Chapter Books - Katie Woo
The 20 Best Chapter Books for 2nd Graders 34

As a teacher, I love that this realistic fiction book has lots of illustrations and is just a few chapters. It really gives readers a great introduction to chapter books.

Reading Level:

  • Below-level
  • DRA: 14
  • Guided Reading: H

3. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Styles Gannett

Books for 2nd graders - My Father's Dragon

My Father’s Dragon is a chapter book about Elmer, who runs away to rescue a baby dragon. With vibrant details and some crazy adventures, this book captures the imagination of young readers and takes them along on Elmer’s journey.

Facing danger and braving challenges are consistent components of this story, which is presented as a story told to the narrator by his father many years ago. Using only everyday objects he has in his backpack, Elmer disarms the many dangerous animals of Wild Island on his journey.

The book has beautiful illustrations, which are great for visualizing and supporting early readers. Perfect for teaching character traits and sequencing, this story is truly a gem that will stick with your readers for years to come.

Reading Level:

  • Advanced
  • DRA: 30
  • Guided Reading: N

Get the No Prep Book Study: My Father’s Dragon Book Study

4. Keena Ford & the Second Grade Mix-up by Melissa Thomson

Exposing your students to diverse characters is important, but it can be hard to find chapter books for 2nd graders that offer that opportunity. This book is one of my favorites.

The story revolves around a girl named Keena Ford, who is a second-grader. When she finds herself accidentally thrust into adventures, a great story ensues.

This book has great black & white illustrations and a relatable main character that is sure to capture your reader’s attention and leave them wanting more.

Keena Ford - great books for second graders
The 20 Best Chapter Books for 2nd Graders 35

The good news? There’s a whole chapter book series about Keena Ford and her adventures.

Reading Level:

  • On-level
  • DRA: 24
  • Guided Reading: K

5. The Littles by John Peterson

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Imagine there were tiny people living in your house without you even knowing it. They used your things, borrowed your scraps, and made themselves right at home despite the numerous dangers the typical house presents when you’re tiny. That is the plot of The Littles.

This fantasy novel is awesome because it has a clear, well-developed plot. There are many opportunities to discuss critical reading comprehension skills as the Littles work to navigate the world at their size.

Considered by many to be a must-read classic, I’ve included it on my list because it is the first of a whole series of books about this miniature family. As you can probably tell, I love it when there’s a whole chapter book series because it means I’ve opened a whole new book list for second-grade students just by introducing them to this one novel.

Reading Level:

  • On-level
  • DRA: 24
  • Guided Reading: M

Get the No Prep Novel Study: The Littles Novel Study

6. Hi! Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold

I’ve already shared some great chapter books for girls, but this one is a perfect 2nd grade chapter book for the boys in your class.

Hi! Fly Guy is a hilarious fiction novel that uses a lot of great sight words and easily decoded vocabulary. The story follows Buzz as he enters a fly into a pet talent show. His parents and the judges aren’t quite sure about a fly as a pet, but Fly Guy steals the show.

Fly Guy is just gross enough that kids love him, and you’ll love watching your readers devour this chapter book. This is another great book series to add to your 2nd grade collection.

Reading Level:

  • On-level
  • DRA: 16
  • Guided Reading: I

7. Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

This somewhat silly mystery was a favorite of mine back in the day, and now I love sharing it with students.

The story revolves around Nate the Great and his hunt for Annie’s missing picture. Nate’s detective skills have helped him find lost balloons, books, slippers, and more so he’s sure he can find Annie’s picture. Students follow Nate’s quest for clues, as he works to unravel the mystery.

The book has a fun ending and is a great introduction to mystery books for 2nd grade students. It is truly a must-have for your book collection.

Nate the Great - Chapter Books for 2nd Graders
The 20 Best Chapter Books for 2nd Graders 36

Reading Level:

  • On-level
  • DRA: 18
  • Guided Reading: K

Get the No Prep Book Study: Nate the Great Book Study

8. Henry & Mudge – The First Book of Their Adventure by Cynthia Rylant

Cynthia Rylant i is an amazing author, and this book is perfect for your second-grade students.

Your kiddos will love to watch Henry and Mudge’s relationship develop and see how Henry’s loneliness vanishes when he finds the companionship of his new 180 pound best friend.

A great way to build in literature circles for your barely on-level readers, this story is great for animal lovers and offers a whole series of engaging stories.

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Reading Level:

  • On-level
  • DRA: 16
  • Guided Reading: J

9. Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo is an amazing author! I am a huge fan of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and Because of Winn-Dixie and was so excited to see that she wrote books for younger readers.

Mercy Watson is a pig, but to his owners, he’s not just any pig. He’s AMAZING! Everything is great until Mercy decides to get some snuggles by hopping into bed with them. When the bed breaks, his owners find themselves in trouble. Mercy heads to get the fire department, but they worry he’ll get sidetracked and they might be stuck forever.

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Mercy is such a great character, and your kiddos will love this book.

Reading Level:

  • On-level
  • DRA: 18
  • Guided Reading: K

10. Ivy & Bean by Annie Barrows & Sophie Blackall

Another great chapter book for your classroom, Ivy & Bean is the story of an unlikely friendship. On the outside, the girls couldn’t be more different, but once they get to know each other, they become the best of friends.

Books for 2nd grade readres - Ivy and Bean

With a fun and engaging storyline and characters who could be classroom peers, Ivy & Bean is perfect for getting readers hooked on a new series.

There are lots of great opportunities to discuss cause and effect in the story, and the storyline lends itself to introducing problem and solution.

Reading Level:

  • On-level
  • DRA: 24
  • Guided Reading: M

Get the No Prep Book Unit: Ivy & Bean Book Study

11. Cam Jansen: The Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds by David Adler

Another great mystery book for 2nd grade, Cam Jansen is sure to be a winner in your classroom. Relatable characters and great adventures follow Cam as she works to solve crimes and unravel mysteries.

The gist of the story is: Cam Jansen and her friend, Eric, team up to help free an innocent man who’s been accused of robbing Parker’s Jewelry Store. The pair takes matters into their own hands as they search for clues to discover who REALLY took the missing diamonds.

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Reading Level:

  • On-level
  • DRA: 20
  • Guided Reading: L

12. Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel

We haven’t talked much about classic books for 2nd grade students, but that ends now! Frog & Toad are Friends is a classic story that is an easy independent read for your barely on-level readers.

The story takes place in April, as Frog tries to wake his best friend Toad from his long winter nap. Once he finally awakens him, the pair have a year full of amazing adventures and continue to build their wonderful friendship. When Frog is feeling sick, Toad is there to help. When Toad is sad because he never gets mail, Frog’s there to lend a hand.

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While the illustrations are pretty bland, this award-winning book is great for your beginning readers.

Reading Level:

  • On-level
  • DRA: 18
  • Guided Reading: K

13. Super Narwhal & Jelly Jolt by Ben Clanton

My list wouldn’t be complete without a graphic novel, and Super Narwhal & Jelly Jolt is the perfect superhero book for your second graders.

The story contains three mini-plotlines. In the first story, Narwhal reveals his alter-ego and asks his buddy Jelly to help him discover his superpower. Then the pair then head off to help a lost friend. The final story is all about Narwhal cheering up Jelly.

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With fun plotlines that center on the theme of friendship, even your reluctant readers will feel confident tackling this superhero graphic novel.

Reading Level:

  • On-level
  • DRA: 24
  • Guided Reading: M

14. Junie B. Jones & the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park

This realistic fiction series of chapter books for 2nd graders has relatable characters and situations your students might have experienced themselves, making it perfect for independent reading.

The main character, Junie B. Jones, is preparing to start kindergarten when she discovers she’ll have to ride the bus. This news makes her mad, and the situation only gets worse when she actually experiences the bus for the first time.

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Things get better once she arrives at school. That is until Junie finds herself in a predicament that ends with a call to 9-1-1. This text is another great one for conversations about problem and solution. You might also consider using it to discuss appropriate school behavior!

Reading Level:

  • On-level
  • DRA: 24
  • Guided Reading: M

15. Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown

After being flattened by a bulletin board, Stanley wakes up to discover he is FLAT! While this predicament has its downsides, the positive is he can be rolled up, easily mailed anywhere, and even used as a kite on a windy day. His situation also makes him a hero when he thwarts some art thieves.

This original Flat Stanley book is a quick, easy read that you can connect with so many cross-curricular projects. This is a great chapter book for 2nd graders to use when working on friendly letters!

Chapter Books for 2nd Graders - Flat Stanley

Perfect for literature circles at the end of your school year, this story offers opportunities to teach many important reading comprehension skills in an engaging format that lends itself to an engaging discussion.

Reading Level:

  • On-level
  • DRA: 24
  • Guided Reading: M

Get the No Prep Book Study: Flat Stanley Book Study

16. Horrible Harry in Room 2B by Suzy Klein

My introduction to the Horrible Harry series came when my team decided to use Horrible Harry & the Holidaze to teach about different winter holidays. These realistic fiction books are simple to read and have relatable storylines.

Horrible Harry in Room 2B is the first in this series, which will appeal to both the boys and girls in your classroom. The main character, Harry, is a bit of a troublemaker which leads to some interesting conversations with students.

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The plotline revolves around Harry and his best friend, Doug. Despite his troublemaking ways, Doug sees the best in Harry and recognizes him as a true friend. This book is great for character traits discussions, as well as making comparisons between characters. The whole series is a great choice if you’re looking for chapter books for 2nd graders.

Reading Level:

  • On-level
  • DRA: 20
  • Guided Reading: L

17. A to Z Mysteries: The Absent Author by Ron Roy

Ron Roy writes mysteries that draw young readers in making this a great series of chapter books for 2nd graders. In this book, Dink Duncan and his best friends discover that their favorite author, Wallis Wallace, has gone missing, and they’re on the hunt to find him…even if the police don’t believe their story.

As they hunt down clues and get closer to the kidnapper, they discover the unexpected.

This is a great mystery that your students can follow along with and track the clues right along with Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose. The whole series is really interesting and the book titles progress from A to Z – hence the series title, A to Z Mysteries.

Books for 2nd grade readers - A to Z Mysteries by Rob Buyea
The 20 Best Chapter Books for 2nd Graders 37

Reading Level:

  • Advanced
  • DRA: 30
  • Guided Reading: N

Buy the book: A to Z Mysteries: The Absent Author

Get the No Prep Book Unit: A to Z Mysteries: The Absent Author Book Unit

18. Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

As the second superhero book on the list, this story by celebrated author, Dav Pilkey, is a great story for your advanced readers. If your readers are itching to read Captain Underpants, they’ll love this graphic novel.

The main characters George and Harold create a new kind of superhero, and this one is half-man and half-dog. With a human body and canine head, this unlikely hero fights to defeat his archnemesis, Petey the Cat.

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A great chapter book for reluctant readers, this book is perfect for boys in your classroom.

Reading Level:

  • Advanced
  • DRA: 38
  • Guided Reading: P

19. The Real Slam Dunk by Charisse K. Richardson

A lot of books for this level focus on topics of interest to girls. Between female main characters and storylines that revolve around girls, it can be hard to find some great chapter books for 2nd graders who are boys. The Real Slam Dunk is a great chapter book for the high-reading boys in your class

This book revolves around Marcus, a boy who wants to be a pro basketball player when he grows up. When his class is about to meet a real-life professional basketball player, Marcus can barely contain his excitement. However, when the day comes, he learns some unexpected lessons about both school and sports.

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Another great story with diverse characters, you’ll love the lessons this book can provide to your reluctant or disengaged learners.

Reading Level:

  • Advanced
  • DRA: 30
  • Guided Reading: N

20. Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry

Want a funny book for second graders that will keep your students talking? This is it!

Written by the award-winning author of The Giver, Gooney Bird Greene is the story of a girl who loves to be the center of attention. A natural storyteller with a unique fashion sense, Gooney Bird wants to be in the middle of everything.

Problems arise when Gooney Bird’s desire for attention keeps her from realizing her peers deserve to share, too.

This funny series of chapter books for 2nd graders has so many great lessons, and it is such an engaging story.

Reading Level:

  • Advanced
  • DRA: 30
  • Guided Reading: N

Ready to Plan Your 2nd Grade Novel Study?

Now that you’re here, grab your favorite chapter books for 2nd graders and my free novel study planning roadmap to get step-by-step support to plan a high-quality literature unit for your second-grade students whether you’re in the classroom or homeschooling.

Whether you’re a planning your first novel study or just looking for new ideas for using chapter books to teach reading, you’ll love this great tool.


Looking for more great chapter books to add to your library?

If you’ve got a broad range of reading levels or are trying to diversify your classroom library without spending a ton of money, here are some of my favorite books for other reading levels.

If you’ve already filled your book list for 2nd grade, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered. Check out the links below to access more great novels and chapter books for other grade levels.

Books for 6th Graders
The 20 Best Chapter Books for 2nd Graders 38
Novels perfect for your 4th grade readers. Get ideas for your next book club or literature circle and find new books to add to your classroom library.
The 20 Best Chapter Books for 2nd Graders 39
3rd Grade Novel Ideas
The 20 Best Chapter Books for 2nd Graders 40
Best Novels for 5th Graders
The 20 Best Chapter Books for 2nd Graders 41

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