Summer is generally a time of fun and freedom for kids, but it’s also important to keep their minds sharp. Reading is a great way to keep kids thinking and growing while school is out, and they might just have some fun along the way.
It always amazes me how much learning happens from the time kids start kindergarten to the end of first grade. These books were chosen to continue that pattern of learning and growth, and prepare readers for even more exploration when they enter second grade.
Check out all of our Summer Reading Lists!
It’s important to remember that recommended grade levels on books are only guidelines; each child learns at their own pace. Take this list as a suggestion, not an indicator of where your child should be! The best books for your child are the ones they can read and enjoy, no matter the suggested age or grade level.
Summer Reading List for 2nd Grade
Dragons and Marshmallows by Asia Citro
Zooey and her cat Sassafras have an amazing ability: they can help magical animals in their backyard barn. In the first book of the Zooey and Sassafrass series, Zooey must help a sick dragon who comes to her to figure out what’s wrong. I love this book because it features a strong and smart young girl who uses science to solve problems. It’s a great combination of reading and STEM!
Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen by Debbie Michiko Florence
Jasmine Toguchi is a spunky eight-year-old who loves flamingoes. Jasmine is excited to celebrate the new year, but upset that her sister Sophie gets to help make the mochi, while Jasmine is forced to hang out with her younger cousins. Jasmine hatches a plan to involve herself in the celebration in a special way that no girl has tried before!
Meet Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi
This upbeat book follows the adventures of Yasmin, a second-grade girl from a multi-generational Pakistani-American family. Yasmin loves exploring her creative side through fashion, art, building, and exploring. She uses her imagination to find creative solutions to the challenges she faces.
Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins
Naima wants so badly to be able to help her parents out financially, but in her Bangladeshi culture, girls are not allowed to work. When Naima accidentally breaks her father’s rickshaw, she knows she has to find a way to make money for her family. She decides to disguise herself as a boy and paint alpanas to help her family get by. Will she be able to pull off her deception and help her parents?
Book Uncle and Me by Umi Krishnaswami
Yasmin is a nine-year-old girl living in India. Every day, she stops to borrow a book from Book Uncle and his free lending library he’s set up next to her apartment building. But one day, Book Uncle has to pack up the library. The mayor says Book Uncle must have a permit to run his library, and Book Uncle cannot afford it. Yasmin teams up with people in her community to help save Book Uncle’s Lending Library, and she learns what it means to be an activist, and how regular people can change a community for good. This is one of my favorite early chapter books!
The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case by Alexander McCall Smith
When a piece of cake goes missing from Precious Ramotswe’s classroom, everyone thinks that a a boy in her class is responsible. But Precious isn’t so sure. She sets out to find the truth and learns much about investigating and asking the right questions.
First Day in Grapes by L. King Perez
Chico and his family are migrant workers, moving all over California to harvest different types of crops. They’ve moved to a new town to harvest grapes, and Chico has enrolled in the third grade. He’s not particularly excited to go to school; he’d rather be working alongside his family. His first day of school is tough, but he is able to use the math skills he’s learned to best the bullies he encounters and build his confidence.
The Buried Bones Mystery by Sharon M. Draper
Ziggy, Rashawn, Rico, and Jerome love playing in their clubhouse and solving mysteries. The four boys call themselves the Black Dinosaurs. When the boys find a box of bones buried behind their clubhouse, the investigation begins. Who buried the bones, and why?
Freddy Ramos Takes Off by Jacqueline Jules
Freddy Ramos comes home to find a strange package on his doorstep. What’s inside? Magical shoes that give him super speed! The shoes allow Freddy to do heroic things and help his friends and his neighborhood. Is Freddy really ready to become a super hero?
Ada Twist and the Perilous Pants by Andrea Beaty
Ada Twist has lots of questions, and her favorite is, “Why?” When Rosie Revere’s Uncle Ned floats away in his helium pants, Ada is determine to figure out just how far he can float and the best way to get him down. Asking “Why?” helps lead Ada to the answers.
The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng
Making friends can be hard. Anna Wang would much rather turn to books for company; they are always there for her when she needs them. But while books are a fine companion, they can’t provide the same support that a real friend can. But how can Anna learn to make friends? She finds the answer in kindness.
Moldylocks and the Three Beards by Noah Z. Jones
First name: Princess. Last name: Pink. Princess Pink doesn’t like pink or princesses, but she does like mud puddles, bugs, and monster trucks. Kids will love her crazy adventures in the Land of Fake-Believe! In this story, Princess Pink meets up with Moldylocks, who is very hungry. They go to the house of the Three Beards for a snack, and hilarity ensues. What will the Three Bears think when they find the girls in their home?
Caravan by Lawrence McKay
Jura is excited to accompany his father for the first time on a caravan through the mountains of Afghanistan. The ten-day journey is difficult, but the reward is great — his father will be able to trade for the grain their family needs to survive. Along the way, Jura learns much about his father, trade, and the beauty of his surroundings.
Louis Sockalexis: Native American Baseball Pioneer by Bill Wise
Louis Sockalexis fell in love with baseball at the age of 12, but he was told over and over again that there was no place for him on the field. Louis’s father wanted Louis to devote himself to life in the Penobscot tribe. Teams and players thought baseball was for white men only. Louis faced obstacles at every turn, but facing off against a famous pitcher, he was finally able to show the world that baseball was for him, too.
In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco
This sweet book is told by the adopted child of two mothers, recalling life as she grew up in her diverse family. The things she remembers will sound familiar to most of us: holiday celebrations, shared meals, and lots of love. And when she brings her own children back to Meema and Marmee’s house, the love grows even more. This book is a beautiful reminder that love is what makes a family.
For more book ideas, sign up for our weekly newsletter:
I was so sad to hear of the passing of actor Chadwick Boseman, best known for his role as King T'Challah in the Marvel Black Panther films. Boseman died at the age of 43 after a battle with...
We have a VEEP! Presidential candidate Joe Biden has just announced that his vice-presidential running mate is Senator Kamala Harris. Senator Harris is the first Black and first South Asian...