Advice on buying books for a second-grade girl

The granddaughter of a coworker of mine doesn’t have a lot of folks to give her Christmas gifts. She lives with her grandparents(long story) and they are great people, so she has some gifters. I don’t have grandkids, because I didn’t have kids, but I like getting prezzies for kids.

I’m told she’s really into reading now, above her grade level even. I always thought that giving books at least a little above their age, just enough to challenge, was a way to make them want to dive into literature even deeper.

What books, either current or classice, would folks recommend for a smart kid? I’m told she has the first Laura Ingalls Wilder book, Little House in the Big Woods, what about the set?

A couple years down the road I’m looking at Narnia, or Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain.

Harry Potter books are wonderful for that age. ‘Because of Winn Dixie’ was one the lil’wrekker liked a lot in grade 2. If she likes Wilder she might like ‘Anne of Green Gables’ by L.M. Montgomery. Or ‘Little Women’ by Alcott.

I read the entire Little House series between first and second grade.

You can’t go wrong with The Chronicles of Prydain, which were my favorite books for many years.

I’m old, so my recommendations aren’t the most up-to-date, but they are classics. Most of them are recommended for ages 8-12, so they may just challenge her enough. These are the books that turned me into the prolific reader I am today.

E.B. White: Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web

E.L. Konigsburg: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth

Robert O’Brien: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Zilpha Keatley Snyder: The Velvet Room and many, many others

Patricia MacLachlan: Sarah, Plain and Tall

There’s also the true classics for young girls: Heidi, Black Beauty, A Little Princess, Alice in Wonderland

The Wind in the Willows

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Lookingglass

Personal anecdote: in second grade we got a star on the board for every book we read. I read 20000 Leagues Under the Sea. Kelly Tackas read twenty Dr Seuss books in the same time. I learned about “gaming the system” on that day.

You really can’t beat walking through a bookstore with her to gauge her tastes. Better, an art museum bookstore!

Andrew Clements has some nice books, like “No Talking”. (That might be a bit older, set in a fifth grade class).

The Sammy Keyes books were much loved by my daughter, but again, this might be upper grade school age, I’m not sure.

I should say something like that to her grandmother.

I forgot Charlotte’s Web! I blush to admit it, but one of my favorite characters was Templton the rat.

Thanks for all the suggestions. What I might do is give her a card to Barnes and Nobles. Maybe I could go with her and her grandmother, my coworker. I also have a boxed set of the Little House books I could give her. They aren’t brand new but they are in good shape.

No specific suggestions here, but if your town has a local library with a youth section, the employees there would be THRILLED to offer all manner of suggestions. My daughter is a youth librarian and LOVES helping kids and parents find books. Moreover, they will have a good idea of what is CURRENTLY popular, they’ll likely know what might complement the local schools’ curricula, and they benefit from viewing SEVERAL kids’ preferences rather than just their own.

Good luck - and good on you for gifting books.

And I strongly urge that you consider giving books rather than a gift card. With an inscription inside. My granddaughter’s current favorite book is The Big Red Barn. Every time I read it to her, I’m thrilled to see my mom’s near-illegible chickenscratch from when she gave it to MY daughter at about the same age. I think the Ingalls-Wilder boxed set would be wonderful. Saying “I hope you enjoy these as much as I did…”

Dinsdale, thanks as well for your idea. Oddly enough, I work in a library, although I am not employed by it. I’m a baker in the cafe, a seperate business. So it would be no great problem to go over to the youth section.

I once read Spider Robinson’s story of how he got hooked on books and reading. At sixe years old the librarian gave him a copy of Rocket Ship Galileo, one of Heinlein’s juveniles. He read it in a day, and then said he went back and asked anxiously if there was any more of this? He said "The librarian smiled. They are a little like crack dealers when getting a child hooked on books."

Nancy Drew mysteries?

If she’s very advanced, then Watership Down. My favorite book as a kid, and one I read again and again from about age 9 to age 14 or so. Might be a tad bit much for even a very advanced 2nd grader, but she’ll be ready for it pretty soon, IMO, at worst.

NOT WATERSHIP DOWN! I love that book, but any book that has a death cult of bunnies and another murderous slavekeeping fascist bunny society, not to mention poison gas genocide of bunnies
is not a good gift for yer average kid. I’m really wide open about what I let my own kids read, and like I say Watership Down is one of my favorites, but it’s gonna wait till they’re tweens at the least.

I’m reading Taran Wanderer to my 9yo now, and she’s a powerful reader, but even at this age there’s a fair amount of advanced vocabulary, and I’m occasionally explaining what a jerkin is or the like. I recommend against Prydain Chronicles until they’re a little older.

One amazing series: Redwall. Okay, they’re not “amazing” like “great literature,” but I’ve definitely seen advanced second-graders reading them.

There’s also The Tale of Despereaux, accessible at this age for strong readers. And if the grandparents are willing to commit to a long read-aloud, I cannot praise The Girl Who Drank The Moon highly enough. That’s another book with a lot of advanced vocabulary (on this my fourth read I’m noticing how much the author loves “undulating”), and a complex multilayered plot involving at least one unreliable narrator, but it’s simply gorgeous, and it allows for a lot of conversation.

Pretty much describes my daughter to a T! :smiley:

The Incredible Journey.

I first read this when I was 7 or 8. Loved it then, still love it now. I always tear up a little bit when I get to the ending.

Asking my own daughter–now almost 10–she said she loved Junie B. Jones in second grade. They’re not complicated or challenging for an advanced reader, but they’re super fun.

I think it was also around that age that she first got introduced to Choose Your Own Adventure. The line of CYOA books has been relaunched, and they’re just as fun as you remember them being. You can buy a boxed set of them.

The True Meaning of Smek-Day is the book on which the movie Home is based. The book is hilarious. Everything I’ve read by Adam Rex has left me cracking up (including the amazing answer to There’s a Monster at the End of this Book, Are You Scared, Darth Vader?).

Around that age I remember liking the Boxcar Children and Charlie and the Chocolate factory.

Julia Donaldson’s books are aimed at younger kids (I read them to the Firebug when he was a toddler), but they’re fun for all ages. My favorites of hers:

The Gruffalo (of course!)
The Gruffalo’s Child
The Fish Who Cried Wolf
(Tiddler in the UK)
Room on the Broom
The Princess and the Wizard
Tyrannasaurus Drip
What the Ladybug Heard
(What the Ladybird Heard in the UK)
A Squash and a Squeeze

The whole Ramona series, by Beverly Cleary, is pretty solid. She also had the Henry Huggins spin-off featuring his dog, Ribsy. Even better IMHO, she did a one-off book written entirely from the P.O.V. of a housecat. “Socks.”

I loved all the Roald Dahl books. BFG and all.

Julie B.Jones books are beloved.

I agree with some folks that certain stories may be somewhat advanced for the kid, but what she can read may prod her into figuring unknown items out. And the very first book I remember getting as a child(and I mentione this in the first remembered present thread) was an unabridged version of Robinson Crusoe. I couldn’t even read yet, but the free gifts my dad’s employer was giving out had been picked over already. It did have pictures, and I so wanted to know what they were about. Much battered, I still have that book.