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23 New Back to School Books for 2nd Grade

Looking for the best back to school books for 2nd grade? These back to school books for 2nd grade are great for the first day of school, learning names, teaching classroom rules and expectations and more! Picture books chosen for second graders with lesson plans and activities linked for teachers and librarians. Your students will delight in these classic and brand new books!

If you’re a member of the Picture Book Brain Trust Community, you already have access to EVERY lesson plan and activity for these books! Just click on the Lesson Plans button in the menu!

FIRST DAY JITTERS

Ruby the Copycat by Peggy Rathmann

It’s the first day of school, and Ruby is new. When her classmate Angela wears a red bow in her hair, Ruby comes back from lunch wearing a red bow, too. When Angela wears a flowered dress, suddenly Ruby’s wearing one, too. Fortunately, Ruby’s teacher knows a better way to help Ruby fit in–by showing how much fun it is to be herself!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Ruby the Copycat HERE

Looking for the best back to school books for 2nd grade? These back to school books for 2nd grade are great for the first day of school, learning names, teaching classroom rules and expectations and more! Picture books chosen for second graders with lesson plans and activities linked for teachers and librarians. Your students will delight in these classic and brand new books!
PIN ME!

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Giraffes Can’t Dance is a touching tale of Gerald the giraffe, who wants nothing more than to dance. With crooked knees and thin legs, it’s harder for a giraffe than you would think. Gerald is finally able to dance to his own tune when he gets some encouraging words from an unlikely friend. This is a great book for back to school time in bilingual classrooms.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Giraffes Can’t Dance HERE

The Pigeon Has To Go To School by Mo Willems

The Pigeon is about to get SCHOOLED. Do YOU think he should go?

Why does the Pigeon have to go to school? He already knows everything! Well … almost everything. And what if he doesn’t like it? What if the teacher doesn’t like him? I mean, what if he learns TOO MUCH!?! What kid doesn’t love the pigeon? For back to school time, this is definitely near the top of my favorite September read alouds especially for primary grades.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold

In our classroom safe and sound.
Fears are lost and hope is found.

Discover a school where all young children have a place, have a space, and are loved and appreciated.

Readers will follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where students from all backgrounds learn from and celebrate each other’s traditions. A school that shows the world as we will make it to be. As students come back to school, they need to know that they’re safe, making this another one of my favorite September read alouds!

School’s First Day Of School by Adam Rex

It’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone’s just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him?

The school has a rough start, but as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he’s not the only one going through first-day jitters.

Get the lesson plan and activities for School’s First Day Of School HERE

CLASSROOM RULES AND EXPECTATIONS

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

“I am the queen!”

Lilly loves all sorts of things. She loves school, she loves dressing up, she even grows to love her stinky baby brother, Julius. In fact, Lilly loves everything! But when Lilly brings her purple plastic purse to school and can’t wait until sharing time to show off the purse and her movie star sunglasses, her teacher, Mr. Slinger, has to take away her prized possessions.

Lilly’s fury leads her to draw a mean picture of her favorite teacher. It isn’t until Mr. Slinger gives her belongings back to her with a kind note and snacks that Lilly realizes she owes Mr. Slinger an apology. A great book for back to school!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse HERE

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

Officer Buckle knows more about safety than anyone in the town of Napville. But whenever he tries to share his safety tips, nobody listens – until the day the Napville Police Department buys a police dog named Gloria, who has her own way of demonstrating safety tips. A book so beautifully illustrated that it won a Caldecott Medal!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Officer Buckle and Gloria HERE

Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller

Mr. Rabbit’s new neighbors are Otters.
OTTERS!
But he doesn’t know anything about otters. Will they get along? Will they be friends?
Just treat otters the same way you’d like them to treat you, advises Mr. Owl.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Do Unto Otters HERE

Frederick by Leo Lionni

Winter is coming, and all the mice are gathering food . . . except for Frederick. But when the days grow short and the snow begins to fall, it’s Frederick’s poems that warm the hearts and spirits of his fellow field mice. With this also being a winner of a 1967 Caldecott Honor, how could Frederick not be a favorite September read aloud?

Get the lesson plan and activities for Frederick HERE

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

What happens when you can’t control your actions? It’s the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can’t wait to meet her classmates. But it’s hard to make human friends when they’re so darn delicious! That is, until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all. This is one of those hilarious and fun September read alouds that will have any kid in stitches!

Get the lesson plan and activities for We Don’t Eat Our Classmates HERE

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson

Teach kindness, courtesy, respect, and friendship: It was the perfect summer. That is, until Jeremy Ross moved into the house down the street and became neighborhood enemy number one. Luckily Dad had a surefire way to get rid of enemies: Enemy Pie. But part of the secret recipe is spending an entire day playing with the enemy! In this funny yet endearing story one little boy learns an effective recipe for turning a best enemy into a best friend.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Enemy Pie HERE

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

It’s homework time for the little red chicken, who has just learned about something every good story should have: an elephant of surprise. Or could it be an element of surprise (as her amused papa explains)? As they dive in to story after story, looking for the part that makes a reader say “Whoa! I didn’t know that was going to happen,” Papa is sure he can convince Chicken he’s right. After all, there are definitely no elephants in “The Ugly Duckling,” “Rapunzel,” or “The Little Mermaid” — or are there? Elephant or element, something unexpected awaits Papa in every story, but a surprise may be in store for the little red chicken as well.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Interrupting Chicken HERE

Oliver Button Is A Sissy by Tomie DePaola

Oliver Button is a sissy. At least that’s what the other boys call him. But here’s what Oliver Button really is: a reader, and an artist, and a singer, and a dancer, and more. What will his classmates say when he steps into the spotlight? A great anti bullying book.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Oliver Button Is A Sissy HERE

What If Everybody Said That? by Ellen Javernick

What if everybody chose to be kind?

If you tell someone that they can’t play with you, there’s no harm done, right? But what if everybody said that? What if everybody forgot to be kind―and made fun of other kids’ artwork at school, or told a fib, or refused to share with a person in need? The world wouldn’t be a very nice place to live. But what if everybody thought before they spoke, so the world would be a kinder place? Kids need to learn to be kind to each other which is why this is one of the first September read alouds I do during social emotional learning time!

Get the lesson plan and activities for What If Everybody Said That? HERE

You Are Special by Max Lucado

In the town of Wemmickville there lives a Wemmick named Punchinello. Each day the residents award stickers―gold stars for the talented, smart, and attractive Wemmicks, and gray dots for those who make mistakes or are just plain ordinary. Punchinello, covered in gray dots, begins to feel worthless because of these bullies. Then one day he visits Eli the woodcarver, his creator, and he learns that his worth comes from a different source.

Get the lesson plan and activities for You Are Special HERE

What Do You Do With A Problem? by Kobi Yamada

This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn’t so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared.

What Do You Do With a Problem? is a story for anyone, at any age, who has ever had a problem that they wished would go away. It’s a story to inspire you to look closely at that problem and to find out why it’s here. Because you might discover something amazing about your problem… and yourself.

Get the lesson plan and activities for What Do You Do With A Problem? HERE

BOOKS TO LEARN NAMES

Teach Us Your Name by Huda Essa

Embracing the diversity of our names is one of the first steps we can take to show our appreciation of diversity and inclusion. Everyone has a name and every name has a story. Teach Us Your Name focuses on the many stories and ways we can all connect by helping children take pride in their many identities and to utilize the opportunity to learn from others. This book lends itself to countless invaluable discussions about cultural norms, languages, unconscious bias, and much more. Most of all, Teach Us Your Name is focused on showing respect for ourselves and all others.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Teach Us Your Name HERE

Alma And How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

What’s in a name? For one little girl, her very long name tells the vibrant story of where she came from — and who she may one day be.

If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all. One of my favorite Caldecott Medal winners that is also available as a Spanish picture book.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Alma And How She Got Her Name HERE

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

A heartwarming story about the new girl in school, and how she learns to appreciate her Korean name.

Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what happens when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious about fitting in. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she decides to choose an American name from a glass jar. But while Unhei thinks of being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, nothing feels right. With the help of a new friend, Unhei will learn that the best name is her own.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Name Jar HERE

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie

Thunder Boy Jr. wants a normal name…one that’s all his own. Dad is known as Big Thunder, but little thunder doesn’t want to share a name. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he’s done like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder.

But just when Little Thunder thinks all hope is lost, dad picks the best name…Lightning! Their love will be loud and bright, and together they will light up the sky. Also an excellent book for Native American Heritage Month!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Thunder Boy Jr. HERE

My Name Is Yoon by Helen Recorvits

Yoon’s name means Shining Wisdom, and when she writes it in Korean, it looks happy, like dancing figures. But her father tells her that she must learn to write it in English. In English, all the lines and circles stand alone, which is just how Yoon feels in the United States. Yoon isn’t sure that she wants to be YOON. At her new school, she tries out different names – maybe CAT or BIRD. Maybe CUPCAKE!

The Good Egg by Jory John

Meet the good egg. He’s a verrrrrry good egg indeed. But trying to be so good is hard when everyone else is plain ol’ rotten. As the other eggs in the dozen behave badly, the good egg starts to crack from all the pressure of feeling like he has to be perfect. So, he decides enough is enough! It’s time for him to make a change. A great book for dealing with pressure that students put on themselves and perfectionism.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Good Egg HERE

The Bad Seed by Jory John

This is a book about a bad seed. A baaaaaaaaaad seed. How bad? Do you really want to know? He has a bad temper, bad manners, and a bad attitude. He’s been bad since he can remember! This seed cuts in line every time, stares at everybody and never listens. But what happens when one mischievous little seed changes his mind about himself, and decides that he wants to be—happy? A great book for showing students that they can make a change and to not always believe what others say to create self-fulfilling prophecies.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Bad Seed HERE

Best Back to School Books for 2nd Grade

What are some of your favorite back to school books for 2nd grade Are there any must read back to school books for 2nd grade that I left out? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!

If you’re a member of the Picture Book Brain Trust Community, you already have access to EVERY lesson plan and activity for these books! Just click on the Lesson Plans button in the menu!

Looking for the best back to school books for 2nd grade? These back to school books for 2nd grade are great for the first day of school, learning names, teaching classroom rules and expectations and more! Picture books chosen for second graders with lesson plans and activities linked for teachers and librarians. Your students will delight in these classic and brand new books!
PIN ME!

Other Great 2nd Grade Read Aloud Stories

Looking for other great 2nd grade read alouds? Here are a few more to explore:

50 Best Read Aloud Books For 2nd Grade

Realistic Fiction Books For 2nd Graders

22 Earth Day 2nd Grade Books

Summer Reading List for 2nd Grade

24 Black History Month 2nd Grade Books

29 Narrative Nonfiction Books for 2nd Grade

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Hey there! I’m Josh from Picture Book Brain here to share only the best literature for you to use with your students. If you are looking for a specific book, use the search bar below to check my archives. Glad you’re here, and glad to help you!

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