Second grade is an exciting time for parents as they watch their children consolidate the literacy learning of kindergarten and first grade and become more and more fluent readers. As the whole world of literacy opens up to children, it can be tempting for them to want to read what older siblings or friends are reading. This is a time when parents play an important role in guiding their child’s reading choices. It is vital that children read at home regularly throughout their school years, but it is just as vital that the reading be appropriate. Children do not improve their reading by reading material that is too difficult for them or by reading material that is beyond their social and emotional understanding.
I address here the phenomenon that occurs in second grade called Harry Potteritis. The popularity of the Harry Potter novels and the subsequent movies has caused a frenzy of desire to read these books. For the most part this is a good thing; I am all for inspiring kids to read. But I am concerned that second grade children would make Harry Potter the books of choice for independent reading. The Harry Potter books are all at approximately a seventh grade level (Level V in the formulation we use at school). This is beyond the independent reading level of the vast majority of second graders. Even for those few second graders who could read the words of Harry Potter, they will have difficulty with understanding the world of this book that is pitched socially and emotionally at older children.
May I suggest that there are a vast number of outstanding fantasy books for young readers that will meet their need for challenging material, yet are accessible to the minds and hearts of second graders. You might want to work to guide your child’s choices toward some of the fantasy titles listed below. One of the really good ways to get your child interested in these books is to show an interest yourself and to use these books as a read aloud. Research consistently shows that you, the parent, are the greatest influence in your child’s reading choices.
Fantasy for Second Graders
The Littles Series John Peterson
The Borrowers Series Mary Norton
The Poppy Series Avi
James and the Giant Peach Roald Dahl
Charlotte’s Web E.B. White
Stuart Little E. B. White
The Indian in the Cupboard Lynne Reid Banks
Russ Walsh, Director of Language Arts
Montgomery Township School District
1014 Rte. 601
Skillman, NJ 08558
(609) 466 - 7601 ext. 7231