We Recommend: Nonfiction for a 2nd Grade Girl

It’s We Recommend! In which we post a request that's been sent to us, and do our best to get that person the right book. Do you know a kid who needs a book to read? Send us (thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com) his or her likes, dislikes, favorites, quirks, and any other reading information that might be helpful, and we will think on it, and pose it to our oh-so-helpful readers. And look in the comments—all the best recommendations are there.

Hello again! Remember me? How was your break? How is your new year? I haven't seen you in so long!

I can tell you a few things: My Brilliant Friend is pretty arresting, especially for lovers of Little Women. (I'm thinking this lovely lady will like it most of all, but you never can tell.) I'm liking Tinkers more than I thought I would. Chestnut is currently doing her first stint as a reviewer (!) for a friend's manuscript, and is taking her role very seriously, as she should.

Now onward, to our first challenge (of the noble, book-finding sort) of the new year.

My seven-year-old daughter is in second grade, and an enthusiastic reader. She's read and loved Harry Potter, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Charlotte's Web, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Nanny Piggins, Half Magic, The Fairy Realm books, etc. She likes lead girl characters but isn't in the fluffy sparkly stage anymore–like, she likes Merida from Brave better than any of the Disney princesses.

Her teacher has told the class that, after the holidays, everyone has to bring in nonfiction for independent reading time, and I'm a little stymied about what she might enjoy. Her older brother (aged twelve) has recommended the Horrible Histories series and lent her one to try, and maybe she'll love them, but I'm worried they might be a little middle-grade-boy-gross for her taste. If these don't take, any suggestions to try? She likes stories, she likes funny, she'd like something not too dense but not too babyish.

And that's not all! I took so long to respond, a follow-up email came!

An addendum: the teacher is now asking the kids to 'avoid biographies'. 

Which is a pity, because she's really been enjoying "Lives of Extraordinary Women: Rulers, Rebels, and What the Neighbors Thought", which I heartily recommend to anyone looking for good biography for an elementary schooler. 

But now we're in a real quandry! Non-biographical non-fiction she might enjoy?

Wow. They really know how to stick it to a person. No biographis? But stories? Hmm. I'm thinking that we have to go to the natural world here. I mean, I have heard wonderful things about the Horrible Histories, and…wait a second! History! Who likes (loves) history? Chestnut! What did she love when she was this age (and not into gross-out boy humor so much?)? This!


I know I have waxed enthusiastic about this book before, but…it's just so good! And there's a series, so if she has to keep reading them, she can! Oh, I sort of can't believe how much I hope this works for her.

OK, but that's enough from me, don't you think? Tell me how you are! How's your new year? What have you been reading? And what can this kid bring in to school that will fit into this slot? Put it in the comments, please!

15 thoughts on “We Recommend: Nonfiction for a 2nd Grade Girl

  1. Perhaps this teacher is hoping to put these kids off reading for good? No, of course I am kidding. But still, I wonder why such a restrictive approach?
    Well, here I am going to out myself as a foreigner by suggesting A non-fiction book from the far away land of Canada. 🙂
    Island Kids by Tara Saracuse is a great little book of true stories about kids who have lived on Vancouver Island, British Columbia (see, a little geography too!) in various time periods from early First Nations up to 2009. There are some great stories of events and experiences these kids have lived through, and some archival photos too. Two great things about this book? They are all short stories and the stories are all about kids. How great is that?
    Given that it is a book from the far away land of Canada, I did check to see that it is available on Amazon (US):


  2. I’m with Diamond and Justine on this one. Seriously, what is this teacher thinking?
    How about Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan? The book is out of print but a charming story about kids who foil the Nazi’s plan to take the town’s gold. Very good read.
    Is Island of the Blue Dolphins Fiction or Non-Fiction?
    Finally Endurance by Lansing. I loved that book as a kid. It made me never want to visit Antartica!
    Good luck and let us know what she chooses!


  3. And I should add, yes it is odd to have the word “charming” in a sentence with “Nazi” but you’ll see if you read the book, which is non-fiction!
    Happy new year.


  4. The Jean Fritz books, perhaps? They are sort of a combo biography + science? “What’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?” etc.
    I’m very disappointed about the kibosh on biographies. The Childhood of Famous Americans series are perennial favorites. Plus, the older ones are delightfully politically incorrect (Jane Addams: Little Lame Girl!)


  5. Hi! I’m the one who asked the question; thank you all so much for the suggestions. She likes history, so I think I’ll start her off on one of the ‘if you lived…’ books, and then move on through the list. We appreciate the help!


  6. James Herriot’s children’s books are based on real animals so not sure if they are non-fiction. His adult books are considered to be. So maybe James Herriot’s Favorite Dog Stories?


  7. Oh another one- Jenkins, S. (2009). Never smile at a monkey: and 17 other important things to remember.
    Eighteen different animals are featured and for each some quirk of biology or behavior is identified and how to deal with it, or what to avoid, is mentioned. The book has cut and torn paper collages that form the animal pictures accompanying the text.


  8. That IS a great idea! Isn’t there a book called The Incredible Journey? About a cat and two dogs making their way back to their home?


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