"Second grade is a dynamic year of growth and minimiracles," write teachers Jane Fraser and Donna Skolnick in their book, On Their Way: Celebrating Second Graders as They Read and Write (Heinemann, 1993). Their classrooms placed heavy emphasis on reading and creative writing.
At the beginning of the school year documented in the book, Fraser and Skolnick note, "The children who enter our classes have a wide range of abilities, from avid and experienced readers to reluctant ones...The...children ran the gamut from dependent and unsure to independent and competent. They had one thing in common: they loved to listen to stories."
My second-grader has some friends who read Harry Potter and some who like beginning readers with a few sentences and plenty of white space. It's all good. Here are some books we've been enjoying at home.
Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook. Certainly the goofiest cookbook I've come across, with excerpts and illustrations from Dr. Seuss's many books. Junior was mad for Biggel-Balls (cheese balls), which are quite easy for a child to make.
An Egg Is Quiet. A beautifully illustrated picture book about all kinds of eggs, from penguins' to sea turtles' to iguanas'. Surely this one is a prime Caldecott contender.
Volcanoes & Earthquakes. A Barnes & Noble "Discoveries" picture book. My son finds it fascinating. Natural disasters and all that.
Mama. A heartbreaking and almost wordless picture book by Jeanette Winter. About a baby hippo who lost his mother in the 2004 tsunami but found a surrogate parent in an ancient turtle.
The Magic School Bus: Inside a Hurricane. A much-liked title from a favorite series that emphasizes the joy of science and learning.
If a Dolphin Were a Fish. Delphina the Dolphin imagines herself as a variety of sea creatures and birds, imparting some little marine bio lessons along the way. We laughed at the picture of a dolphin/pelican. Dolphican? Peliphin?
Dracula. An abridged early chapter book version of the Bram Stoker novel. Vampires!
Compost Critters. Another excellent book of photos by Bianca Lavies. Mold, earthworms, sow bugs up very close.
Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow. Tip-top poetry and nature lore. Each poem describes something and ends with a question like "What is it?" Children have fun guessing. The pictures and book design are first-rate as well.