Tag Archive for second grade

The Visit: The Origin of the Night before Christmas

Written by Mark Kimball Moulton
Illustrated by Susan Winget

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In this new edition of the story behind the beloved Christmas poem, Moulton and Winget create a beautiful keepsake. Written from the oral history provided by Clement Moore’s great-great-great-granddaughter, Ms. Dinghy Sharp, Moulton captures the spirit and wonder of “The Night before Christmas” through poetry similar in rhyme and meter to the original. Moore wrote the original as a gift to his sick daughter. He never dreamed it would become the beloved classic that it is. The author begins with Ms. Sharp’s firsthand memories of her grandfather, then has the grandfather relate his memories, and on back. Much of the language in the original is outdated, and Moulton deftly explains terms like “coursers” and why Papa needed to tear open the shutters and throw up the sash. Moore himself was known as Papa and was sought out to tell stories to children. Why did everyone hang the stockings by the chimney? The description of Saint Nicholas and the sleigh came directly from Moore’s neighbor and the sleighs used of the time. Winget’s gorgeous illustrations make the book a memento. Readers will feel part of the worlds of 1936 and 1822 and can spend hours looking at the details in the pictures.

The book works well as a read aloud for small children and as an independent reader for late second to early third grade readers. Possible reading activities include learning about the first Saint Nicholas, a poetry unit, and discussing family oral history. The author’s website (http://www.markkimballmoulton.blogspot.com/) highlights this book and his other work.

  • VisitTitle: The Visit: The Origin of the Night Before Christmas
  • Author: Mark Kimball Moulton
  • Illustrator: Susan Winget
  • Publisher: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2013
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 54 pages
  • Genre: Picture book, Holidays, Christmas, Poetry, History, Creative Nonfiction
  • ISBN: 978-0-545-03532-3

Caleb’s Hanukkah

Written by Lisa Bullard
Illustrated by Constanza Basaluzzo

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Caleb has been practicing, and this year he is going to win at the dreidel! As schools seek to teach about diversity and tolerance, it is essential that students learn about holidays that span the many cultures of America and beyond. Caleb’s Hanukkah is a fantastic book for introducing a young elementary class to the basic principles of Hanukkah. Second graders will find this book easy to follow and comprehend. It is structured in a short chapter format, and on each page, there is information that relays Caleb’s story and Hanukkah traditions, but each page also has notes in tabs that offer detailed explanations about various aspects of Hanukkah. The storyline of this book would be well-suited for reading aloud, but the information tabs are better for individual reading. I love that this book introduces the Jewish history behind Hanukkah and not just the ways that contemporary Jews practice Hanukkah.
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They’re Coming!

Written & Illustrated by Timothy Young

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They’re Coming! They’re Coming! They’re Coming! Who’s coming? When are they coming? How are they coming? Where are they coming? To find the answers, follow the “monster” type characters that shamble across the countryside on each double-page:  a zombie, a werewolf, a witch and a bat, a mummy, and even the headless horseman. A luminous moon provides just sufficient light to silhouette each “monster.”  Yellow green eyes stare from the monsters helping create a creepy mood. . The illustrations are digitally created and printed on heavy high gloss paper.

A rich selection of eerie adjectives describes each ghoul followed by the phrase, “They’re coming!’ That phrase will quickly be repeated by the children in a story hour setting.

The book is similar to the old story joke “The Viper is Coming,” in which the viper turns out to be the “vindow vasher.” Here the surprise ending involves a party.

Kids and adults like to be scared just a little bit; we also like a bit of tension in a story. They’re Coming meets both requirements. Currently the entertainment media’s interest and promotion of monsters, paranormal, spooky, walking dead, etc. have touched even preschool and primary age children. This title fulfills that interest and need.

This book is appropriate for inclusion in a Halloween story hour even though Halloween is not mentioned. However, once the secret about who is coming and where they’re going, is out, the book may not be as effective in a story hour. The title is also appropriate for schools that don’t celebrate Halloween, but the kids still enjoy a spooky story.  Share the old rhyme “I’m Not Scared of Monsters” (I’m not scared of monsters, No monsters ever scared me, For I know that all monsters are only make believe) in that story hour.

Author/illustrator Timothy Young has had a long career in a variety of artistic endeavors from animation to sculpting, from toy design to book illustration and design.


  • Theyre ComingTitle: They’re Coming
  • Author and Illustrator: Timothy Young
  • Publisher: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 2012
  • Reviewer: Marion Mueller
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 9780764342257
  • Genre: Fantasy picture book
  • Lexile: 370L

Over in a River: Flowing Out to the Sea

Written by Marianne Berkes
Illustrated by Jill Durbin

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It is a rare gem for parents and teachers of elementary students to find a book
that is entertaining, educational, and fun but Over in a River fits the bill. Second grade level readers will enjoy the rhyming text while younger children will enjoy the counting activity in each stanza. Second graders can manage the text independently but the lively picture book will be a great group story for a science lesson in the first or second grade classroom or read aloud to younger children.

Included in the wonderful rhyming story are fun filled facts about each species and
their natural habitats. The illustrations are engaging and fun for students of all ages while the text is filled with facts about nature, animals and animal babies. Second grade readers will have so much fun reading, counting, and playing I spy with the colorful illustrations they will not realize how much they are learning along the way.

The author also includes several extra pages of activities and lesson ideas for second grade teachers and parents. There is information about rivers, animals, and habitats but there is so much more. Also included are activities that incorporate music, singing, and dance for second grade readers. The illustrator chimes in with many ideas about drawing animals and how to make collages. All of these fabulous ideas will appeal to second grade readers and enhance any lessons brought to the classroom increasing both second grade
reading interest and comprehension.

  • Over in a RiverTitle: Over in a River: Flowing Out to the Sea
  • Author: Marianne Berkes
  • Illustrations: Jill Durbin
  • Publisher: Dawn Publications, 2013
  • Reviewer: Terri Forehand RN
  • Genre: Juvenile fiction, nature,
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-330-7

Noisy Frog Sing-Along

Written & Illustrated by John Himmelman

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Frogs sing when they are together, but did you know that only the male frogs sing? Second grade readers will be thrilled to find out this and other fun facts about frogs and their loud singing voices. Second grade level readers will be able to read Noisy Frog Sing-Along independently yet the book will be enjoyed by younger readers who have it read

Second grade teachers and parents will appreciate the scientific facts that will enhance lessons in the second grade classroom. The author also includes several activities that can be used to compliment lessons on frogs, nature, and the environment. More information on this book and other nature books by this author is available to parents and teachers at www.johnhimmelman.com  which includes a list of books and programs on singing amphibians and insects. What second grade teacher doesn’t appreciate additional information to enhance a lesson plan?

Noisy Frog Sing-Along is more than a silly picture book about frogs making throat noises. It is a great addition to any second grade classroom or home school collection. The text is
simple, the illustrations are interesting and engaging, and the additional scientific facts make this a great book for the second grade reader.

More information: www.nature@dawnpub.com

  • Noisy FrogTitle: Noisy Frog Sing-Along
  • Author/Illustrator: John Himmelman
  • Publisher: Dawn Publications 2013
  • Reviewer: Terri Forehand
  • Genre: Picture Book, Creative Nonfiction
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-339-0

Trouper: Based on a True Rescue Story

Written by Meg Kearney
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis

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The story starts with Trouper, a stray three-legged dog running with a pack of dogs on the streets until they are all captured and loaded up in the dog catcher’s truck.

The dog in this true story was taken first to a kill shelter, then rescued by another shelter. There is no mention of the kill shelter in the children’s book. It is only in the preliminary material so can be shared with readers, but doesn’t have to be. The full color illustrations show him as he waited and waited for someone to choose him and take him home.

Children will love this story of how dogs and puppies watch for new owners to come and pick them out.

This lovely book was developed together by the award winning poet, Meg Kearney and Caldecott Honor winner, the illustrator E.B. Lewis.

Second grade readers will be able to read the short text individually and will be able to use their newly developed literacy skills of context clues, predicting outcomes, and realizing the related cause and effects.


  • TrouperTitle: Trouper: Based on a True Rescue Story
  • Author: Meg Kearney
  • Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press, New York, 2013
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-545-10041-0
  • Genre: Nonfiction

The Favorite Daughter

Written and Illustrated by Allen Say

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Yuriko is a Japanese name that causes embarrassment to a little girl at school when her new teacher pronounces it incorrectly. She wishes she has a plain regular name and decides to change her name for a day or two. During the story, though, she finds out why her name is part of who she really is. This is a wonderful story for all children to find out more about names.

The children tease and bully her about her name and the fact that Japanese dolls all have black hair, while the hair on her doll and on her head is blonde. It is a wonderful multi-cultural story about how we can all fit in while still being different.

As a read aloud, it will strength understanding of how some families have different backgrounds from our own. It will give an opening for parents, teachers and librarians to discuss how we treat those who might have a different name or different kind of family than our own.

Second grade and third grade readers will be able to read this story independently while younger ones will need to have it read aloud. It has beautiful illustrations and an interesting parallel story line about an art project that the author uses to strengthen the idea of individualism.

The core curriculum requirements for many areas can be met using this book. It compares Japanese bridges with the Golden Gate in illustrations, the use of chopsticks, eating sushi and differences between languages with the illustration of Japanese ink painting.

Extras: This book could be used in a geography or culture class when students are studying Japan and Japanese customs. The art project about the golden gate bridge can be changed to include any important structure in any community. The illustration of the Japanese ink painting can be used to spark projects of research or painting. There are also a couple of expressions in the Japanese language to intrigue students for future exploration.

  • Favorite DaughterTitle: The Favorite Daughter
  • Author/Illustrator: Allen Say
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine, Scholastic, 2013
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover/32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-545-17662-0
  • Genre: Fiction, social studies, culture

My Crocodile Does Not Bite

Written and Illustrated by Joe Kukla

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My Crocodile Does Not Bite is a fun picture book for children ages 5-9 and second grade readers should be able to master reading the story independently with some practice on the difficult words like “obviously” and “disagreement”. Although not all the words are on the list for second grade readers, the text is easy to sound out and second grade readers will be successful because the plot will keep them engaged.

The book offers many types of discussions when read in the classroom setting. The conflict resulting in bringing a crocodile to school is funny yet can be compared to other activities where students experience conflict and emotions offering many subjects to discuss.

The story also allows teachers and parents who homeschool the second grade reader a great opportunity to discuss fiction versus nonfiction, make believe and truths, and what is silly and what is dangerous. Putting your head in the mouth of a real crocodile for instance is dangerous but in the story it is part of the truth that the pet doesn’t bite; the crocodile swallows Cindy Lou whole instead.  And the story can encourage second graders to dream big when writing their own story, another activity that can enhance reading a book like this.

The illustrations are wonderful and give the second grade reader information on the page to encourage reading the text. They also add additional comprehension for the second grade reader who may get caught up in the words and forget the rest of what was just recently read.  My Crocodile Does Not Bite is a fun book to add to any second grade classroom library or elementary school library shelf. It will keep kids reading.

Overall the book is entertaining for the second grade reader and will help to encourage them to use imagination and comprehension skills when talking about the story.

  • my crocodileTitle: My Crocodile Does Not Bite
  • Author/Illustrator: Joe Kulka
  • Publisher: Carolrhoda Books 2013
  • Reviewer: Terri Forehand
  • Genre: Juvenile fiction ages 5-9/Picture Book
  • ISBN: 978-0-7613-8937-8
  • Lexile: 360




King of the Zoo

Written by Erica S. Perl

Illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic

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Everyone wants to be king of the zoo, but no one more that Carlos the chameleon. The funny cartoon animals are visited by a young girl and her grandmother following the map at the front of the zoo. Many of the animals claim to be king, making Carlos get more and more upset.

It never says so in words, but diligent observers will see their friend changing colors on page after page. They will feel sorry for him and then cheer for him. Carlos has wonderful facial expressions that children will be anxious to copy.  The beautiful watercolors are stunning as well as entertaining.

The animals might not be able to agree on exactly who is King of the Zoo but the zoo guest and her grandmother know by the end of the story. This story is on a second grade reading level. Picture clues will add to their comprehension of what is going on and what special gift makes Carlos a very special animal.

Literacy skills of dialogue and narration can be identified in the text as well as sequencing in discussing which animals were visited first, next and last. Preschoolers as well as first and second grades will enjoy having this story read aloud.

Extras: visit the author at www.ericaperl.com and meet the illustrator at www.jackieurbanovic.com

  • king of the zooTITLE: King of the Zoo
  • AUTHOR: Erica S. Perl
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Jackie Urbanovic
  • PUBLISHER: Orchard Books, Scholastic, 2013.
  • REVIEWER: Elizabeth Swartz
  • FORMAT:  Hardcover/32p.
  • ISBN:  978-0-545-46182-5
  • GENRE: Fiction, Zoo Animals, Chameleons


Chickens on the Family Farm

Written by: Chana Stiefel

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In this virtual field trip to a family farm, readers will learn how farmers keep and care for chickens. Part of the “Animals on the Family Farm” series, this book is a great introduction to farm living and animal science.

On a family farm, everybody wakes up early to pitch in. The chickens need to be fed. The coop looks like a large tent on wheels. It has to be big enough to house the birds, but easily moveable so they can graze different parts of the field every day. The coop also protects chickens from predators like foxes or hawks, although a rooster will sound the alarm if he senses danger. Children will enjoy the fun facts sprinkled throughout the book. Did you know that some chickens lay blue or green eggs? Did you know that certain breeds are used for eggs while others are used for meat? A farmer can collect 150 eggs in a day. And, of course, a book about chickens isn’t complete without pictures of adorable baby chicks.

With eye-popping colors and oversized headers, each page layout is a digestible “chapter,” a few sentences long, perfect for second grade readers. Crisp, full-page photographs help to illustrate the text and keep the reader engaged. The “Words to Know” section, table of contents, and index will also assist with their comprehension.

Other books in this series (which feature cows, goats, sheep, pigs, and turkeys) can be found on the publisher’s website: www.enslow.com. Additional reading resources and reputable websites are also listed.

  • chickens on the farmTITLE: Chickens on the Family Farm
  • AUTHOR: Chana Stiefel
  • PUBLISHER: Enslow Elementary / Enslow Publishers, Inc.
  • REVIEWER: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • FORMAT: Paperback: 24 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-4644-0351-4
  • GENRE: Non-Fiction / Science
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