The second grade class I read to each week is so smart! The students are doing double-digit addition, with re-grouping. "Get out!" I said. "Re-grouping, too?" One girl nodded, then whispered that they could do triple-digit addition, too. She raised her eyebrows as she said it, knowing I'd be impressed. I was. Back in the day, that was third-grade stuff, at least.
In terms of read-alouds, lions have been very popular. I should definitely take in Jerry Pinkney's The Lion & the Mouse; the kids could pore over the visual details in the 2010 Caldecott winner.
Meanwhile, they loved Library Lion, written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, in which a lion becomes a story-time regular until some rules are broken. More text-heavy than the usual picture book, it's perfect for the second grade.
What surprised me, though, was the reaction to Lions, a nonfiction title from Hodder Wayland's "In the Wild" series. I'd tossed it into my bag, thinking, if I have time, I'll read this one. You could have heard a pin drop as the class listened intently. I had forgotten that what lions eat, how the mama carries the cubs, what a mane looks like, etc., were all very interesting things to consider. Sometimes a straight-up informational book is just what you want to hear. That's why in the next few weeks I'll be searching for good ones on snakes, whales, dolphins, and iguanas, all requested. Suggestions welcome!