Best Books For Second Grade Boys

Have you ever wanted to know what your students or your children were thinking?

I especially wonder what my one-year daughter is thinking, since she can’t communicate to me yet. I want to ask her, “Why is chewing on the bottom of a Swiffer mop appealing to you?” I seriously caught her doing that today as I was cleaning. I imagine she would say, “Mama, I’m teething. Leave me alone.” She is the Sunny Baudelaire of our house these days. (If you know, you know.) 

With my eight-year-old son, I simply ask him what he’s thinking when I am wondering about it. Being a kid, honest answers always pour out.

I took him on a mommy-and-son date to the movies recently, and we got on the topic of our “favorites.” Favorite color, favorite movie, and even favorite books…which got me to thinking.

I loved hearing what his favorite books were. It was so interesting. He chose some that surprised me, and he chose some that didn’t surprise me. 

Anyway…this all got me to thinking: Have you ever asked your students their favorite books? I do from time to time. Many answer with a genre. Only a couple really know their favorite book by title. It is so informative and imperative to know our students’ favorite books or even their favorite genres. 

It can help us better choose books for units, read-alouds, and for our classroom libraries.

Since summer is all about reading, I thought it would be helpful for any 2nd-4th grade teacher to hear what my son’s top five books are. His favorites could very well be your students’ too. It could also give you some ideas on what to put in your classroom library.

Number 1: Dog Man by Dav Pilkey 

Dog Man is a graphic novel about a part-man, part-dog who battles crime and suppresses his dog-like desires. With interesting illustrations and on-purpose grammatical errors, it appeals to elementary kids. Dog Man goes on adventures to fight crime and gets himself into a lot of mishaps. Dog Man fights animal villains and makes readers laugh in the process.

Dog Man has ten books in the series. 

Liam says, “I like Dog Man because it’s funny. It’s about people saving the world. I like that the dog is half-human.“

Number 2: Blackbear the Pirate by Steve Buckley 

Blackbear the Pirate is a picture book. The title is a pun on Blackbeard, but the main character is actually a black bear. The pirate crew is made up of a variety of animals who are out on an adventure to find Bearfoot, the Pirate, on the island of Bearataria.

The repetitive lines make it fun for kids to read along in a sing-song way. At the end, the reader learns that it’s not the destination that matters the most, but the journey.

Liam says, “I like it because the parrot is funny, and I like how they talked in the book. I really liked all the animal characters.”

This book would be perfect for “International Talk Like a Pirate Day,” which is September 19. We have a cute resource for this day or for any pirate-themed lesson.

Number 3: Pig the Star by Aaron Blabey 

Pig the Star is a picture book all about well…a pug dog named Pig. Pig is very competitive and likes to be in the spotlight. In the end, however, he learns it’s best to give others the chance to shine. Pig definitely has a big personality and when he isn’t the star, it makes for some funny antics and outrageous remarks. When reading this book aloud, it is best read dramatically.

Pig the Star is part of a series that originated with Pig the Pug. It is a six book series. 

My son says: “It’s hysterical. All the Pig books are great! I like it because the pig is always competitive.”

In addition to these fictional books, my son loves a good non-fiction book. In fact, a couple of blogs ago, I explored how most children, according to recent data, love non-fiction more than fiction. 

So, he paid a nod to two of his most favorite non-fiction books:

Number 4: Smart Kids: Space written by Sarah Powell

Filled with accurate and colorful photographs of the planets, easy-to-understand facts about the solar system, and fun and interesting information, any child would enjoy this book. In fact, my son found this book in my elementary teaching bin. I used it quite frequently when I taught third grade. It was a favorite among the students. Its layout and design is appealing to both kids and adults. 

Liam said, “I like the space book because learning about the planets is neat. It has lots of interesting facts. It even talks about the Milky Way. I used it for my school project.”

Number 5: Who Would Win? By Jerry Palotta

These non-fiction books match up animals into pairs and explains all the fascinating facts about each of them. Then, it essentially determines who would win in a battle between the two, while comparing and contrasting them. It is seriously scientific, with readers learning about brain structures, skeletal systems, and abilities, among other amazing findings. 

Who Would Win is a large book series. Liam’s favorite is Book 13: T-Rex vs. Velociraptor.

“I like all the animals they put against each other. They give you facts, what they eat, their skeletons, what they bite through…what they hear and smell. It’s neat.”

If your students are interested in animal facts, we have a resource that includes non-fiction passages about different animals and various questions accompanying them. It also includes scientific notes graphic organizers. 

Conclusion:

Ask your students what their favorite books are or their favorite genres. Chances are you’ll get a wide array, such as what my son showed me. From non-fiction science books to hilarious fictional stories, a perfect classroom library is comprised of diverse books to appeal to a variety of students. 

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Love Bud, Not Buddy, But Looking For More?

Do you love Bud, Not Buddy, but are looking for more? If so, this blog post is definitely for you.

Do you love Bud, Not Buddy, but are looking for more?

Life is too short to read horrible books. That’s a motto I try to stick to with any books I choose for my classroom and for any I read during my free time. It can be hard to choose various read-aloud novels, book club books, and units that a variety of students will enjoy. Every child is different with diverse interests and hobbies. It can be a challenge finding just the right book.

During the summer, I love to take the time to read for myself and for my classroom. My favorite pleasure books are Elin Hilderbrand and any book from Reese Witherspoon’s book club list. If I start a book and immediately don’t connect with it, I put it down…because life is too short to read horrible books, of course.

As far as reading for the classroom during the summer, I pick out books I’m thinking about teaching as units or for read-aloud novels. I am so blessed that my school allows me the autonomy to choose the novel units for my classes. My most recent discovery, Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis, was a book I couldn’t put down.

Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis, was a book I couldn’t put down.

I was drawn to it because Christopher Paul Curtis, the author of Bud, Not Buddy wrote it. My mother, the elementary librarian, recommended Mighty Miss Malone to me as I was thinking of teaching Bud, Not Buddy to my sixth graders, but needed a book with a female protagonist. We had recently read two books with male main characters, and I wanted to have a female as the protagonist to connect with my girl students.

When I read Mighty Miss Malone and saw how Curtis also connected The Great Depression and WW2, I was sold. As a sixth-grade social studies teacher, as well, I was excited to connect it to my history class, which would be learning about those two topics at the same time.

I highly recommend Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis for any fourth to the seventh-grade classroom. If teaching fourth grade, I recommend it as a read-aloud.

Mighty Miss Malone is about a young girl, Deza, who is the genius of her family. Both of her parents are blue-collar workers, but her father was recently laid off during the Great Depression. Her older brother, Jimmie, is a wonderful singer, but is short in size and not as bright as Deza.

The novel takes the reader on a journey of Deza’s family moving from Gary, Indiana to Flint, Michigan to find work. The novel explores how the Great Depression affected individuals and towns. It explores how racism and segregation made the Great Depression even harder for Black families. It deeply explores the poverty of the Great Depression, with how rotten Deza’s teeth are, how the family must pick bugs out of their oatmeal, and how they have to live in a shantytown as well as ride the rails.

If you are looking for a book that is a true historical fictional novel, Mighty Miss Malone is it. It weaves real-life events into the story, such as the famous boxing match between Black-American boxer Joe Louis Barrow and the German boxer, Max Schmeling. Curtis thoughtfully and carefully explains how Barrow’s boxing match loss deeply affected Americans, especially as they were about to enter WW2.

The reader will also be connected to Deza, the female protagonist, who is a young girl with phenomenal writing talent. Though often oblivious to the depths of her family’s poverty, she slowly becomes enlightened on their journey to Michigan. She also slowly understands and experiences racism more and more as she enters into a de-segregated school.

Deza, the female protagonist, is a young girl with phenomenal writing talent.

Mighty Miss Malone is also a story of how a father’s presence deeply affects a family and of the deep love between Deza’s parents. It tells of how Jimmie, Deza’s brother, although not really given much credit at the beginning of the book, slowly becomes a pivotal character.

Curtis takes such heavy topics, both historically and in relation to the characters, and still makes it appropriate for upper elementary to younger middle schoolers.

He has added elements of light-heartedness, comical moments, and innocence as the story is told from Deza’s point of view. Yet, there is still enough tragedy and depth that it makes this novel so moving.

All of my students loved this book. Mighty Miss Malone spurred on so many discussion points that connected right back to history and related to current events.

Conclusion

It was hard to put this book down. I enjoyed this book even just as an adult and I believe I would have loved it, even if I weren’t a teacher. Mighty Miss Malone, a historical fictional novel, written by Christopher Paul Curtis, is the perfect addition to any 4th-7th grade classroom.

For more information and for a wealth of resources, please visit Christopher Paul Curtis’ Resource Page.

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