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29 New and Noteworthy Narrative Nonfiction Books for 2nd Grade

Looking for the best narrative nonfiction books for 2nd grade kids? These narrative nonfiction picture books for 2nd grade students will be engaging for your students! Books with lesson plans and activities linked. Picture books about various topics such as historical figures, historical events and more for your second graders. 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!

The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver by Gene Barretta

When George Washington Carver was just a young child, he had a secret: a garden of his own.

Here, he rolled dirt between his fingers to check if plants needed more rain or sun. He protected roots through harsh winters, so plants could be reborn in the spring. He trimmed flowers, spread soil, studied life cycles. And it was in this very place that George’s love of nature sprouted into something so much more—his future.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver HERE

Looking for the best narrative nonfiction books for 2nd grade kids? These narrative nonfiction picture books for 2nd grade students will be engaging for your students! Books with lesson plans and activities linked. Picture books about various topics such as historical figures, historical events and more for your second graders. Your students will delight in these classic and brand new books!
PIN ME!

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Costeau by Jennifer Berne

Before Jacques Cousteau became an internationally known oceanographer and champion of the seas, he was a curious little boy. In this lovely biography, poetic text and gorgeous paintings combine to create a portrait of Jacques Cousteau that is as magical as it is inspiring. An excellent book for studying the ocean through the eyes of one of its most well-known explorers.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Manfish: A Story of Jacques Costeau HERE

Grace Hopper Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark

Who was Grace Hopper? A software tester, workplace jester, cherished mentor, ace inventor, avid reader, naval leader—AND rule breaker, chance taker, and troublemaker. Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English.” Throughout her life, Hopper succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly was “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys. An excellent story about a gifted computer programmer for Women’s History Month!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Grace Hopper Queen of Computer Code HERE

Selena: Queen of Tejano Music by Silvia Lopez

Selena Quintanilla’s music career began at the age of nine when she started singing in her family’s band. She went from using a hairbrush as a microphone to traveling from town to town to play gigs. But Selena faced a challenge: People said that she would never make it in Tejano music, which was dominated by male performers. Selena was determined to prove them wrong.

Born and raised in Texas, Selena didn’t know how to speak Spanish, but with the help of her dad, she learned to sing it. With songs written and composed by her older brother and the fun dance steps Selena created, her band, Selena Y Los Dinos, rose to stardom! A true trailblazer, her success in Tejano music and her crossover into mainstream American music opened the door for other Latinx entertainers, and she became an inspiration for Latina girls everywhere. In addition to being one of my favorite children’s books about women in sports and entertainment, this would also be an excellent book for Women’s History Month or Hispanic Heritage Month.

Chester Nez And The Unbreakable Code by Joseph Bruchac

As a young Navajo boy, Chester Nez had to leave the reservation and attend boarding school, where he was taught that his native language and culture were useless. But Chester refused to give up his heritage. Years later, during World War II, Chester―and other Navajo men like him―was recruited by the US Marines to use the Navajo language to create an unbreakable military code. Suddenly the language he had been told to forget was needed to fight a war. This powerful picture book biography contains backmatter including a timeline and a portion of the Navajo code, and also depicts the life of an original Navajo code talker while capturing the importance of Native American heritage.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Chester Nez And The Unbreakable Code HERE

Above the Rim by Jen Bryant

Hall-of-famer Elgin Baylor was one of basketball’s all-time-greatest players—an innovative athlete, team player, and quiet force for change. One of the first professional African-American players, he inspired others on and off the court. But when traveling for away games, many hotels and restaurants turned Elgin away because he was black. One night, Elgin had enough and staged a one-man protest that captured the attention of the press, the public, and the NBA.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Above the Rim HERE

Six Dots by Jen Bryant

Louis Braille was just five years old when he lost his sight. He was a clever boy, determined to live like everyone else, and what he wanted more than anything was to be able to read. Even at the school for the blind in Paris, there were no books for him. And so he invented his own alphabet—a whole new system for writing that could be read by touch. A system so ingenious that it is still used by the blind community today. An excellent book for studying people with disabilities.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Six Dots HERE

Knut by Juliana Hatkoff

When Knut was born, the first polar bear cub at the Berlin Zoo in more than thirty years, he was no bigger than a snowball and unable to care for himself. His mother, a rescued East German circus bear, didn’t know how to take care of Knut and rejected him. Knut would have died if it weren’t for Thomas Dorflein, a zookeeper who nurtured Knut, feeding him, sleeping with him, and giving him the love and attention Knut needed to thrive. But Thomas wasn’t the only one who adopted Knut. The adorable little polar bear captured the world’s attention, and now Knut is loved around the globe. A great story for studies about arctic animals!

Planting Stories: The Life Of Librarian And Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Denise

An inspiring picture book biography of Latin American storyteller, puppeteer, and New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian, who championed bilingual literature.

When she came to America in 1921, Pura Belpré carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular retellings into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and storytellers continue to share her tales and celebrate Pura’s legacy.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Planting Stories: The Life Of Librarian And Storyteller Pura Belpré HERE

You can get a free lesson and activities for Planting Stories here:

Energy Island by Allan Drummond

At a time when most countries are producing ever-increasing amounts of CO2, the rather ordinary citizens of Samsø have accomplished something extraordinary―in just ten years they have reduced their carbon emissions by 140% and become almost completely energy independent. A narrative tale and a science book in one, this inspiring true story proves that with a little hard work and a big idea, anyone can make a huge step toward energy conservation.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Energy Island HERE

The Man Who Walked Between The Towers by Mordicai Gerstein

The story of a daring tightrope walk between skyscrapers. In 1974, French aerialist Philippe Petit threw a tightrope between the two towers of the World Trade Center and spent an hour walking, dancing, and performing high-wire tricks a quarter mile in the sky. This picture book captures the poetry and magic of the event with a poetry of its own: lyrical words and lovely paintings that present the detail, daring, and–in two dramatic foldout spreads– the vertiginous drama of Petit’s feat.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Man Who Walked Between the Towers HERE

The Boy Who Grew a Forest by Sophia Gholz

As a boy, Jadav Payeng was distressed by the destruction deforestation and erosion was causing on his island home in India’s Brahmaputra River. So he began planting trees. What began as a small thicket of bamboo, grew over the years into 1,300 acre forest filled with native plants and animals. The Boy Who Grew a Forest tells the inspiring true story of Payeng–and reminds us all of the difference a single person with a big idea can make. Sometimes to solve a problem, it takes a little bit of effort over a long period of time. A great book for Earth Day or Arbor Day.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Boy Who Grew a Forest HERE

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni

Fifty years after her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus, Mrs. Rosa Parks is still one of the most important figures in the American civil rights movement. This tribute to Mrs. Parks is a celebration of her courageous action and the events that followed.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Rosa HERE

Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood

Ada Ríos grew up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. She dreamed of playing the violin, but with little money for anything but the bare essentials, it was never an option…until a music teacher named Favio Chávez arrived. He wanted to give the children of Cateura something special, so he made them instruments out of materials found in the trash. It was a crazy idea, but one that would leave Ada—and her town—forever changed. Now, the Recycled Orchestra plays venues around the world, spreading their message of hope and innovation.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Ada’s Violin HERE

For the Right to Learn by Rebecca Langston-George

She grew up in a world where women were supposed to be quiet. But Malala Yousafzai refused to be silent. Discover Malala’s story through this powerful narrative telling, and come to see how one brave girl named Malala changed the world.

Get the lesson plan and activities for For the Right to Learn HERE

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Wilson Bentley was always fascinated by snow. In childhood and adulthood, he saw each tiny crystal of a snowflake as a little miracle and wanted to understand them. His parents supported his curiosity and saved until they could give him his own camera and microscope. At the time, his enthusiasm was misunderstood. But with patience and determination, Wilson catalogued hundreds of snowflake photographs, gave slideshows of his findings and, when he was 66, published a book of his photos. His work became the basis for all we know about beautiful, unique snowflakes today. A really interesting biography picture book for the winter months!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Snowflake Bentley HERE

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca

When young Temple Grandin was diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, the determined visual thinker did just that. Her unique mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe!

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Girl Who Thought in Pictures HERE

The Girl Who Ran by Frances Poletti

When Bobbi Gibb saw the Boston Marathon her mind was set-she had to be a part of it. But when the time came to apply for the marathon, she was refused entry. They told her girls don’t run, girls can’t run. That didn’t stop Bobbi. This picture book tells the true story of how she broke the rules in 1966 and how, one step at a time, her grit and determination changed the world. A really heroic part of women’s history.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Girl Who Ran HERE

Storm Run by Libby Riddles

In 1985, Libby Riddles made history by becoming the first woman to win the 1,100-mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race. This brand-new edition of Riddles’s timeless adventure story is complete with updated narrative details, sidebars on all aspects of the race, photographs, and all-new illustrations by beloved illustrator Shannon Cartwright. An inspiration to children and adults everywhere, this is a compelling first-hand account of the arctic storms, freezing temperatures, loyal sled dogs, and utter determination that defined Riddles’s Iditarod victory.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Storm Run HERE

Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbins

Margaret Hamilton loved numbers as a young girl. She knew how many miles it was to the moon (and how many back). She loved studying algebra and geometry and calculus and using math to solve problems in the outside world. Soon math led her to MIT and then to helping NASA put a man on the moon! She handwrote code that would allow the spacecraft’s computer to solve any problems it might encounter. Apollo 8, Apollo 9, Apollo 10 and Apollo 11. Without her code, none of those missions could have been completed. An excellent book about women in STEM!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Margaret and the Moon HERE

Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe

Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe’s vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat’s own introduce young readers to the powerful message that art doesn’t always have to be neat or clean–and definitely not inside the lines–to be beautiful. This is the most memorable narrative nonfiction books for 2nd grade, especially if you’re studying art and artists.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Radiant Child HERE

Danza!: Amalia Hernández And Mexico’s Folkloric Ballet by Duncan Tonatiuh

As a child, Amalia Hernández saw a pair of dancers in the town square. The way they stomped and swayed to the rhythm of the beat inspired her. She knew one day she would become a dancer.

Amalia studied ballet and modern dance under the direction of skilled teachers who had performed in world-renowned dance companies. But she never forgot the folk dance she had seen years earlier. She began traveling through the Mexican countryside, witnessing the dances of many regions, and she used her knowledge of ballet and modern dance to adapt the traditional dances to the stage. She founded her own dance company, a group that became known as el Ballet Folklórico de México. A great book for Hispanic Heritage Month!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Danza!: Amalia Hernández And Mexico’s Folkloric Ballet HERE

The Poppy Lady by Barbara Walsh

When American soldiers entered World War I, Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia, knew she had to act. Some of the soldiers were her students and friends. Almost single-handedly, Moina worked to establish the red poppy as the symbol to honor and remember soldiers. And she devoted the rest of her life to making sure the symbol would last forever, most notably on Memorial Day. Thanks to her hard work, that symbol remains strong today.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Poppy Lady HERE

Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows In The Bronx / La Juez Que Crecio En El Bronx by Jonah Winter

Before Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor took her seat in our nation’s highest court, she was just a little girl in the South Bronx. Justice Sotomayor didn’t have a lot growing up, but she had what she needed — her mother’s love, a will to learn, and her own determination. With bravery she became the person she wanted to be, and with hard work she succeeded. With little sunlight and only a modest plot from which to grow, Justice Sotomayor bloomed for the whole world to see. This is one of my favorite bilingual children’s books as well if you teach in a bilingual classroom.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows In The Bronx / La Juez Que Crecio En El Bronx HERE

Paper Son by Julie Leung

Before he became an artist named Tyrus Wong, he was a boy named Wong Geng Yeo. He traveled across a vast ocean from China to America with only a suitcase and a few papers. Not papers for drawing–which he loved to do–but immigration papers to start a new life. Once in America, Tyrus seized every opportunity to make art, eventually enrolling at an art institute in Los Angeles. Working as a janitor at night, his mop twirled like a paintbrush in his hands. Eventually, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime–and using sparse brushstrokes and soft watercolors, Tyrus created the iconic backgrounds of Bambi. One of my favorite narrative nonfiction books for 2nd grade about a lesser known Asian American.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Paper Son HERE

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson

When Carl Sagan was a young boy he went to the 1939 World’s Fair and his life was changed forever. From that day on he never stopped marveling at the universe and seeking to understand it better. Star Stuff follows Carl from his days star gazing from the bedroom window of his Brooklyn apartment, through his love of speculative science fiction novels, to his work as an internationally renowned scientist who worked on the Voyager missions exploring the farthest reaches of space.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos HERE

Frida by Jonah Winter

This stunning picture book is the perfect gift for art enthusiasts of all ages. When her mother was worn out from caring for her five sisters, her father gave her lessons in brushwork and color. Later, polio kept her bedridden for nine months, drawing saved her from boredom. When a bus accident left her in unimaginable agony, her paintings expressed her pain and depression – and eventually, her joys and her loves.

Over and over again, Frida Kahlo turned the challenges of her life into art. A playful, insightful tribute to one of the twentieth century’s most influential artists. Viva Frida!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Frida HERE

Conclusion: Best Narrative Nonfiction Books For 2nd Grade

What are some of your favorite narrative nonfiction books for 2nd grade? Are there any must read narrative nonfiction 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!

Remember: You to get a free narrative nonfiction books for 2nd grade lesson plan and activities for Planting Stories here:

Looking for the best narrative nonfiction books for 2nd grade kids? These narrative nonfiction picture books for 2nd grade students will be engaging for your students! Books with lesson plans and activities linked. Picture books about various topics such as historical figures, historical events and more for your second graders. Your students will delight in these classic and brand new books!
PIN ME!

Narrative Non-Fiction Books

Here are some of my favorite narrative non-fiction books for kids. If you’re looking for more ideas for specific grade levels I have great narrative nonfiction book lists for each grade level. Check them out here:

Best Narrative Nonfiction Books

15 Narrative Nonfiction Books for Kindergarten

21 Narrative Nonfiction Books for 1st Grade

37 Narrative Nonfiction Books For 3rd Grade

42 Narrative Nonfiction Books for 4th Grade

40 Narrative Nonfiction Books For 5th 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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