Posts Tagged ‘Grade Two’

Anti Bullying Chapter Book – Jake Drake Bully Buster

Posted on February 22nd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Jake Drake offers readers ways to deal with bullying

Jake Drake Bully Buster written by Andrew Clements
Anti bullying chapter book published by Aladdin Paperbacks, Simon and Schuster

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

If everybody who works at school is so smart, how come they can’t get rid of the bullies? How come when it comes to bullies, kids are mostly on their own?

From the time he was in daycare, Jake Drake has encountered bullies of one kind or another. When he was three, a bully not only stole his cookies, he forced him off the swing. In kindergarten, Jake knicknamed another bully “King Bump” because he would shove him at inopportune moments. When Jake was a little older, he encounted yet another sort of bullying: the grade one bully liked to hit things near to Jake. Jake lived in fear of “The Fist.”

Jake has given bullying considerable thought. He has decided that he attracts bullies because of his size (he is not too big), the fact he does not have an older sibling, his unwillingness to tattle and the intellectual challenge he represents.

Jake is excited to start grade two and all is well until Link Baxter joins the class. Initially Link torments Jake by shaking his desk during a handwriting lesson. Classroom trouble soon moves to the school bus and Jake is understandably upset by the time he arrives home from school. His younger sister Abby encourages Jake to think about the bully. She points out, Its not fun to feel mean.

Overnight Jake strategizes and decides to “play it cool.” He will not react to Link’s taunting and teasing. He will not show Link that he is bothered. Jake’s plan works until Link takes his bullying to another level and pours water on the front of Jake’s pants. Jake is so angry that his hits his enemy, is sent to the office and must rethink his strategy.

Jake Drake Bully Buster will have considerable appeal for both boys and girls. Author Andrew Clements’ approach, having Jake reflect on all the bullying he has experienced and trying different responses, is very effective. Readers will recognize bullying techniques and will learn a variety of ways to effectively deal with bullying.

Jake Drake Bully Buster is an 80 page, illustrated chapter book that is best suited to children in grades two to four. There are four titles in the Jake Drake series.

Post reading questions and activities from WITS The WITS Program brings together schools, families and communities to help elementary school children deal with bullying and peer victimization.

Jake Drake, Bully Buster at

Jake Drake, Bully Buster at

No Pets Allowed – Matthew and Fred Will Win You Over

Posted on November 2nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


.Storytime Standouts write about No Pets AllowedNo Pets Allowed
Written by Irene N. Watts and illustrated by Kathryn E. Shoemaker
Generously illustrated chapter book published by Tradewind Books

When eight-year-old Matthew and his mom move from their rural home to the West End neighborhood of Vancouver, Matthew is forced to leave his beloved dog behind. Matthew’s grandparents will care for Lucky as he and his mom establish themselves in a downtown apartment building that does not allow pets. Matthew begins school and tries to adjust to city life but he misses his pet terribly. He is hopeful that, before long, they will move again and be reunited with Lucky.

One night, after settling for sleep, Matthew hears a familiar sound; he is sure there is something under his bed. Moments later, he feels a rough tongue, licking his cheek. Some refer to ‘Fred’ as an imaginary dog but, for Matthew, he is very real indeed. It is not long before the apartment landlord is convinced that Matthew is hiding a pet in the apartment.

This generously illustrated, eleven chapter book will be thoroughly enjoyed by boys and girls aged seven to nine. I particularly appreciated the realistic portrayal of the relationship between Matthew and his mother; Matthew wanting Lucky to live with the family, his mother unable to find an apartment that will allow the dog. Her nervousness in dealing with an wary apartment manager and the compassion of neighbors all contribute to making No Pets Allowed a good choice for young readers.

No Pets Allowed at

No Pets Allowed at

Canadian Flyer Adventures Time Travel Series for Grade Two

Posted on September 13th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


image of cover art for Canadian Flyer Adentures Beware, Pirates

The exciting Canadian Flyer Adventures time travel series for grade two has all the elements needed for success – action, adventure and fun. Generously illustrated, readers will be captivated while learning history

Canadian Flyer Adventures series written by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Dean Griffiths
Time Travel Series published by Owlkids Books

When young friends Emily and Matt climb a rickety spiral staircase, they discover an intriguing room filled with wonderful treasures. They are excited to imagine where and when each originated. When they sit on an old red Canadian Flyer sled, their time travel adventures begin.

In Book One of the Canadian Flyer Adventure series, they are transported to the Far North circa 1577. They find themselves aboard Martin Frobisher’s pirate ship and later help to rescue an Inuit man.

In Book Two, they face dangers during the time of dinosaurs.

image of cover art for Canadian Flyer Adventures Danger, DinorsaursI read and enjoyed both books. Likely intended for children who are reading at about a grade two to three level, the series is generously illustrated and quite exciting. Extra features include additional facts, an interview with the author and a preview of the next book in the series for grade two. It is great to see a series like this. The Canadian Flyer Adventure series will be enjoyed by young readers everywhere but will have a special appeal for Canadian children and those who gravitate toward history or time travel.

OwlKids Books’ Canadian Flyer Adventures website includes teacher resources and a map

Beware, Pirates! at

Danger, Dinosaurs! at

Beware, Pirates! at

Danger, Dinosaurs! at

Grade Two Chapter Books – Mermaids Everywhere

Posted on September 9th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Mermaids Make a Splash Storytime Standouts Shares Grade Two Chapter BooksThe long weekend meant travel for our family. It was a perfect opportunity for me to check out a number of new titles for young readers. I chose to read six books intended for children who are between the ages of six and nine and are reading grade two chapter books. At this reading level, we find many series for newly independent readers to enjoy. Most grade two chapter books are generously illustrated. Series like Mermaid Rock and Mermaid S.O.S. are great because they draw children into reading multiple books. Keep in mind, at this stage, our priority is to have children to gain confidence and experience reading independently and to want to read.

Grade Two Chapter Books - Mermaids Everywhere including Spooky Shipwreck Mermaid RockMermaid Rock Spooky Shipwreck is one of four Mermaid Rock undersea adventures that will appeal to young, female readers. Generously illustrated (in colour) the book is divided into three chapters. Most of the text is easily decodable. There are a few challenging words. ‘Skulked‘, ‘chiselling‘ & ‘daydreaming‘ add to a pleasant adventure tale.

Mermaid Rock at

Mermaid Rock at

Grade Two Chapter Books - Mermaids Everywhere including Misty to the RescueS.O.S. Misty to the Rescue is part of a six-book grade two chapter book series. Beautiful Coral Kingdom is protected by magic crystals. Six courageous young mermaids have taken on an important challenge; they must locate six replacement crystals and deliver them to Queen Neptuna before the Merfolk loose strength.

The Mermaid S.O.S. website includes downloads and other extras for fans to enjoy.

Mermaid S.O.S. – Misty to the Rescue at

Mermaid S.O.S. – Misty to the Rescue at

Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride – Delightful Reading for 6 to 8 Year olds

Posted on September 4th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride - Delightful Reading for 6 to 8 Year oldsMercy Watson Goes for a Ride written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Chapter Book Series for Kindergarten to Grade 3 published by Candlewick Press

What could be better than expertly buttered toast? Not much, especially if you are Mercy Watson. She loves hot buttered toast almost as much as she enjoys adventure.

Author, Kate DiCamillo and illustrator, Chris Van Dusen have teamed up to create a delightful series of blue ribbon pig tales. Perfect for boys and girls, aged 6 to 8, each book is generously illustrated with bold and humorous depictions of Mercy’s hilarious escapades.

Whether attempting to drive a car or capturing a thief, Mercy is one very special pig. Read aloud or independently, this series is definitely one you’ll ‘toast.’

The delightful Mercy Watson website

Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride was a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book in 2007

Ms. DiCamillo has written several notable chapter books for older readers Because of Winn-Dixie (a Newbery Honor book), The Tiger Rising (a National Book Award finalist), and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. She won The Newbery Award for The Tale of Despereaux. I can’t pick a favorite, I’ll just look forward to the next.

Picture Book A Camping Spree With Mr. MageeMr. Van Dusen wrote and illustrated two picture books I frequently recommend; A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee and Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee.

Chris Van Dusen’s website

Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride at

Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride at

A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee at

A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee at

Grade One Chapter Book: Being friends is better than being famous

Posted on August 31st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


When my boys first ventured into reading grade one chapter books, they were delighted to discover Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel. Featuring a wonderful friendship and many happy adventures, the Frog and Toad series has been a favourite with young readers for decades.

James Howe’s latest book, Houndlsey and Catina is very reminiscent of the Frog and Toad series. Howe is famous for Bunnicula (Today Vegetables… Tomorrow the World). Houndlsey and Catina will appeal to younger readers who prefer shorter, generously illustrated chapters and less text. It will likely suit a child reading at a mid to late grade one level.

Grade One Chapter Book: Being friends is better than being famous Houndsley and CatinaHoundlsey and Catina written by James Howe and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Chapter book series for kindergarten – grade three published by Candlewick Press

Illustrated beautifully by Marie-Louis Gay, Houndlsey and Catina tells of Catina’s desire to write a prize-winning book and Houndleys’ wish to win a cooking contest. Together, they help us see that being friends “is better than being famous..” This is a lovely tribute to friendship.

Houndsley and Catina at

Houndsley and Catina at

The Frog and Toad Collection Box Set (I Can Read Book 2) at

The Frog and Toad Collection Box Set at

Grade Two Chapter Book – Why Nate is Really Great

Posted on August 28th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


When looking for a special grade two chapter book, you can’t go wrong with Nate the Great

Grade Two Chapter Book – Why Nate is Really GreatNate the Great written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and illustrated by Marc Simont
Published by Yearling

Nate likes pancakes and syrup almost as much as he enjoys solving a perplexing mystery. Nate and his canine sidekick, Sludge, are called upon to solve all sorts of cases; locating lost paintings, disappearing dogs and, in one case, a missing key.

With an appearance that is often reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, Nate is all business – except if pancakes are on the menu. Along with with Annie and Rosamond, our hero cracks each case with solid detective work.

Nate the Great is a series that has been delighting young readers for more than thirty years. Suitable for children who are reading at about a grade two level, some of the stories are divided into chapters. Generously illustrated, the text is perfect for young readers who are ready to take on a meatier story (than typically found in easy readers).

Series like these are great because beginning readers often decide they want to read every single one of the Nate the Great books. This is just what we want, a child who is motivated to read by fun stories and a delightful cast of characters.

Nate the Great at Random House includes printable activities plus author information.

TeacherVision Nate the Great summarizing activity

Nate the Great at

Nate the Great at

Emergent Readers Captivated by Drama and Mystery

Posted on August 24th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Check out this series for emergent readers

I spent a fair amount of time in a dentist’s chair today and was reflecting on my recent experience with a grade one student. I’ve been working with him for a while. His older brothers have had some difficulty with reading so I spend half an hour, once a week with this youngster. Yesterday he read from the Oxford University Press Read at Home series. He is familiar with these books and knows the characters; Floppy, Chip, Kipper and Biff.

During our session, I suggested he try one of the Level 4 stories. He eagerly selected, Trapped! text by Cynthia Rider, illustrations by Alex Brychta. It was delightful to hear him read confidently but what was even more special was his reaction to the book. Clearly, he saw this story as different from others he has read independently. There was more text – about three sentences per page. There were letters and hidden keys to locate within the illustrations. But, most surprising, there was drama – when Grandma was briefly trapped in a castle – and mystery – why was there face at the castle window?

My emergent reader was thrilled to read Trapped – he likened it to the kind of books his older brothers read. He felt competent, confident and intrigued. If only all books for young readers could replicate this winning combination.

The Oxford University Press Read at Home series is excellent from beginning to end and includes dozens of great titles for emergent readers.

Read at Home: More Level 4c: Trapped! at

Read at Home: More Level 4c Trapped! at

Read at Home: Level 4, Pack of 6 at

What is your favourite series for readers at this level? Please share your ideas and suggestions.

Finding a Balance – Looking at a Child’s Reading Level and Maturity When Selecting Books

Posted on August 3rd, 2011 by Jody


Finding a Balance - Looking at a Child's Reading Level and Maturity When Selecting Books

As a teacher and a mom, I want to see kids succeed. I want to see them achieve success and push past it to the next level, particularly in reading. When getting kids to fall in love with reading you have to keep a couple things in mind:
a) You have to (help them) find books that interest and appeal to them
b) You need books that they can read and understand independently without frustration

Once you have done both of these things, the chances of success in reading, and in turn, the love of reading, increase greatly. My favourite moment is when it clicks~ they understand what they are reading and they want to read more. It’s been an absolute pleasure to watch our eight year old develop not only a love of reading and books, but to become a strong reader. However, she is now reaching a difficult stage; one I didn’t expect to encounter even though I have watched her excel in reading. What happens when children know what interests them but what they are capable of reading academically and independently surpasses what they should be reading emotionally?

Striving for independence, my daughter recently convinced me to let her go to our school book fair alone, with her own money to make her own choices (By on her own, I mean I didn’t go into the book fair with her but since I work there, I was close by). When she showed me what she had chosen, I knew I was stuck with a dilemma. She had chosen a book that dealt with adolescent friendship, middle school, and a crush on a boy. She used my ‘a/b’ theory and found something that appealed to her and was within her reading range. For some kids though, like my daughter, what she is able to read and what she should be reading are two entirely different things.

While we are ecstatically proud that she is reading at a grade six level in grade two, it does present some problems, even if the grade level and ability level gap is smaller. An author’s goal is to speak to their audience; to engage and captivate them. They build their plots and characters based on their (anticipated) audience. Therefore, an author writing books for the typical grade two/three student would appeal to their developmental stage. Some great books in this age range (at least for my girls) are the Daisy Meadows Rainbow Fairies collections, the Nancy Drew Clue Crew series, or the Bailey School Kids. These books appeal to this audience with their age appropriate characters solving problems, working on mysteries, and going up against mythical or magical figures. In grades two and three, the problems our kids are facing (hopefully) include getting out for recess fast enough, snagging one of the three skipping ropes available, or not being it for tag. It’d be nice if problems could stay this simple, but they don’t and as kids mature, so do the books that appeal to them.

A grade six student, by contrast, is caught up in an entirely different world that includes best friends that come and go, crushes on boys, and dealing with self-image. Accordingly, books that appeal to this age range deal with these issues. Coming of age classics like Little Women by Louisa May Alcott or Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume perfectly highlight some of the trials girls this age face. And while I truly want my daughter to read these books, or even the one she chose from the book fair, I’m not ready for her to wonder about these ‘issues’. So, I’m faced with deciding whether or not to let her read books past her maturity level to accommodate her ability level.

I suppose it’s like anything else with parenting; I take a look at her choices and make the best judgement call I can. For me, I’m hoping that keeping the conversation doorway open is the answer to finding balance. Discussing what your child is reading is a key to helping them develop as fluid readers. So, while I don’t want her to have a crush on a boy, I’m fine (so far) with explaining what it means and talking to her about the issues her characters are facing. Perhaps it’s a plus that right now she’s hooked on the Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams. I don’t think I’ll have to worry about any boys from the Underworld popping up with their three headed dog any time soon.

A Pleasant Diversion But Lacks a Realistic, Empowering Solution: How to Outplay a Bully

Posted on April 16th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


How to Outplay a Bully – written by Nancy Wilcox Richards and illustrated by David Sourwine
Anti bullying chapter book published by Scholastic Canada

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

“I sat down on the bench next to him. He didn’t even look at me. but I was so mad I had to say something. “Why didn’t you pass the puck?” I yelled. “I could have scored! I was right in front of the open net.”

When a new adult moves into his neighbourhood, Tony Dunphy has an opportunity to learn hockey skills from him. When the neighbour tells Tony’s mom about a used hockey equipment store, Tony is very excited to get hockey equipment and join the Bayfield Blazers Hockey Team partway through the season. Unfortunately, it is not long until Berk, the team bully, notices Tony’s well-worn gear and chooses Tony as his victim. Berk is relentless with his verbal and physical abuse of Tony. He calls him ‘Tony Baloney’ and makes life miserable on the ice and in the dressing room. Tony is the only player excluded from the team chant. When the two boys become linemates, Tony is frustrated when Berk won’t pass to him.

The Bayfield Blazers’ coach is aware that his team is not getting along well. He knows that some of his players need to learn about good sportsmanship so he arranges for a NHL player so visit the team. Tony is shocked when his neighbour is introduced. He has no idea that his neighbour is former NHL player, Bob MacMillan. With a message that, ‘Success is about more than winning. Good sports are winners,” Bobby encourages the entire team to make better choices.

How to Outplay a Bully is a fun read for young hockey players. Having said that, I am concerned that How to Outplay a Bully relies on a ‘magical solution’ to solve the problem of bullying. Rather than have Tony seek and obtain help from an adult (his mom or his coach) or his teammates (the ‘bystanders”), he is essentially forced to cope with the bullying throughout half a season of hockey. The problem is really only resolved when the Bully discovers that Tony has a friend who used to play in the NHL. In my opinion, this story will be a pleasant diversion for a young hockey player but it will not help a youngster dealing with a bully.

Note: not available at
How To Outplay A Bully at

Earth Smart How to Take Care of the Environment, A Green Resource for Independent Readers

Posted on February 10th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts writes about Earth Smart How to Take Care of the Environment
Earth Smart How to Take Care of the Environment written by Leslie Garrett
Beginning to Read Book published by Dorling Kindersley

Part of Dorling Kindersley’s DK Readers series, Earth Smart is appropriate for children aged 7 to 9. Generously illustrated with photographs, it is rated “Level 2, Beginning to Read Alone.” Introducing ways we can help to look after the environment, content touches on recycling, a look at a landfill, disposing of toxic substances, reducing energy consumption, dangers of pollution and global warming, the benefits of enjoying local produce and ways trees help us.

Leslie Garrett’s Blog The Virtuous Consumer.

Earth Smart at

Earth Smart at

Be sure to visit our page highlighting
picture books about caring for our environment,
ecosystems, recycling,
reducing our environmental footprint and more
Terrific resources for Earth Day and Arbor Day.

Wasim’s a ‘Rising Star’

Posted on November 27th, 2007 by Carolyn Hart


Having finished reading The Alchemist’s Dream, I decided to take a look at some chapter books for younger readers. this week I read three books and enjoyed them all. Let’s begin with…

Wasim One-Star written by Chris Ashley, illustrated by Kate Pankhurst
Chapter book for primary to middle grade readers published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Wasim can hardly wait to pass a school swimming test and become a One-Star swimmer. Unfortunately, on the day of the test, Wasim finds himself in trouble. His concern for a new classmate whose English is not good causes him to speak more loudly than he should. Wasim is heartbroken when he is sent (untested) to the pool changing room because of his loud voice.

Wasim’s concern that Wayne’s poor English could cause him to get into difficulty is justified. Fortunately, Wasim is watching and responds quickly when Wayne gets in over his head.

Wasim is a great character – in fact, I’d call him a ‘rising star.’ His desire to pass the swimming test and his concern for a classmate are both genuine and admirable. I particularly liked the dynamics between the students, the swim instructor and the teachers. Recommended for boys and girls, aged 6 and up.

Wasim One-Star at

Wasim-One Star at

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