Wrap-Up of a Second Grade Reading Year

One of the things I love about teaching is that the books you share with students become part of the culture and common language of your class. I love being able to build that culture with my class every year, no matter what grade level I’m teaching. It was fun this year (my first year in 2nd grade after teaching 6th grade for 16 years) to choose from a delightfully rich and varied feast of wonderful books and stories, poems and plays.

Our Shared Reading: I read aloud to my class every day for at least 20 minutes, oftentimes longer. And they read their own books after every recess (our SSR time — Sustained Silent Reading). You can get through a lot of books that way! As this school year comes to an end, I thought I’d post the list of the books I read aloud to the class, and let you know which were their favorites. I also read a lot of picture books, stories (lots of fairy tales, for instance), and poems that aren’t on this list, so it’s not an absolutely complete look at our reading year, but it give you a glimpse into the culture of our classroom.

On Choosing the Books: Teachers have a very important responsibility (and privilege) to choose the right books to read aloud. This was a year of experimentation for me, being new to 2nd grade. Having taught 1st grade many years ago, I had a good base to start from, but I chose books this year that were a mix of old, new, classics, modern, too young and too old. I always read my choices first so there are no surprises when I read them aloud! Academic freedom is very important to me, but with each choice you must be able to honestly explain, if questioned, why a particular book is important to the culture of your classroom.
Some of the books I read this year, I will not choose to read to next year’s class. Some I’m already looking forward to introducing to each new group of 2nd graders I work with. And, of course, I’m always searching for wonderful new books to share with my students!

The List:

  1. Stuart Little, by E. B. White
  2. Gooney Bird Greene, by Lois Lowry
  3. The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
  4. The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo
  5. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo
  6. Helen Keller, by Margaret Davidson
  7. Louis Braille, by Margaret Davidson
  8. Mercy Watson to the Rescue, by Kate DiCamillo
  9. Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, by Kate DiCamillo
  10. Mercy Watson, Princess in Disguise, by Kate DiCamillo
  11. Mercy Watson Fights Crime, by Kate DiCamillo
  12. The Big Wave, by Pearl S. Buck
  13. The Green Book, by Jill Paton Walsh
  14. Gooney Bird and the Room Mother, by Lois Lowry
  15. The Korean Cinderella, by Shirley Climo
  16. The Egyptian Cinderella, by Shirley Climo
  17. Adelita, A Mexican Cinderella Story, by Tomi de Paola
  18. Catwings, by Ursula Le Guin
  19. Catwings Return, by Ursula Le Guin
  20. Ramona Quimby, Age 8, by Beverley Cleary
  21. Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White
  22. Call It Courage, by Armstrong Sperry
  23. The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  24. Squanto and the Pilgrims, by A. M. Andersen
  25. Jack Plank Tells Tales, by Natalie Babbitt
  26. Sideways Stories From Wayside School, by Louis Sacar
  27. Snip, Snap, Snurr and the Yellow Sled, by Maj Lindstrom
  28. Snip, Snap, Snurr and the Red Shoes, by Maj Lindstrom
  29. The Story About Ping, by Marjorie Flack
  30. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, by Dr. Seuss

The Favorites (as voted on by the class):

#1 favorite was The Wizard of Oz — which doesn’t surprise me because I saw how enthralled they were as they listened to it.
#2 favorite was Call It Courage — which DID surprise me because the language was difficult for them to understand, and it’s a book that would probably be more suited to a 4th grade classroom, a little old for second graders. But I think the incredible story transcended the older language and style of writing, and my kids really liked it.)
#3 favorite was Squanto and the Pilgrims, a very old book by A. M. Andersen. — Another surprise to me because it’s almost too outdated, but the story has a powerful impact on each class that’s listened to me read it, and we have tremendous class discussions around the ideas and issues in it.
I have never run into a class or a child that didn’t love being read to … it’s such a lovely way to connect with young people and such a powerful teaching tool. You can never read too many books!
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8 thoughts on “Wrap-Up of a Second Grade Reading Year

  1. Petunia

    What a legacy you’re leaving for your students! I wish I had had a teacher that was so enthusiastic about reading as you are.

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  2. Robin

    Thanks, Petunia. I was very fortunate to have some wonderful teachers that were passionate about literature, and I know they had a big impact on me. But I have to give full credit to my parents, who always read aloud to us, shared their own passion for reading, and were my most powerful teachers!

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  3. Nymeth

    Like Petunia, I wish I’d had a teacher as enthusiastic as you! You’ll be sure to make readers out of most, if not all, of your students. And what a great selection of books and authors that you picked!

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  4. Cath

    I was just wondering how old your second graders are? I just bought The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane for my grandaughter’s eighth birthday and wondered if the ages were similar. I have a feeling (in fact, I know) that her teacher does not read with her class as much as you do with yours. A shame. Luckily, Ruth has us, her family, who encourage her, many children are not so fortunate.

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  5. Robin

    Thanks, Nymeth. We really had a nice reading year. It’s so fun to introduce the kids to authors like Kate DiCamillo and Ursula Le Guin!

    Thanks, Cath! Second graders here are 7-8 years old, so I think your granddaughter will love Edward Tulane. She’s a lucky girl to have a family that is passionate about reading.

    Thanks, Tara. It is sort of a “kitchen sink” list, but we really enjoyed ourselves.

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  6. Nan

    Tom does this in his junior high, too, and the kids often come back and tell him that’s what they miss when they are in high school.

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  7. Robin

    Nan, I missed your comment here. The fact that Tom’s former students come back and tell him how much they miss that shared reading is a powerful statement about reading aloud to ALL age groups! I know that my love of audiobooks is directly linked to my love of being read aloud to as I was growing up.

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