Parent picks: What second- and third-graders are reading for the holidays

Whether it's reading about ever-exciting elementary school life or getting as far away from it as possible through elaborate fantasy worlds, there are a whole host of options for curious second- and third-graders this season. Here are some of the standouts.

By GreatSchools Staff

Duck! Rabbit!

Duck! Rabbit!

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Chronicle Books (March 2009), $17

Is it a duck? Is it a rabbit? Were those duck sounds or rabbit sounds? “It’s totally a duck.” “It’s for sure a rabbit.” In this unusual book, Amy Krouse Rosenthal uses an ambiguously drawn animal to play with our expectations. It’s imaginative, full of humor, and almost as amusing for adults as it is for children. Exercise your eyes with this visually witty book.

The Magician's Elephant

The Magician's Elephant

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
Candlewick (September 2009), $17

Gargoyles, illusionists, an elephant that falls from the sky when a magician’s trick fails, and a 10-year-old orphan comprise the cast of characters for Kate DiCamillo’s new novel. Full of magical events and narrated in an equally captivating voice, this tale of hope, darkness, and illusion is brought to life by Yoko Tanaka’s haunting black-and-white artwork. All in all, it would be hard to go wrong with The Magician's Elephant.

All the World

All the World

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon
Beach Lane Books (September 2009), $18

All the World is the deceptively simple story, told in rhyme, of a family’s day at the beach. They visit a farmers market, a park, a restaurant, and their grandparents' house. Marla Strazee decks out poet Liz Garton Scanlon’s text with her vintage illustrations. This is a captivating story that captures the pleasures of everyday life.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Little, Brown Young Readers (July 2009), $17

Grace Lin, the author of The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat, presents an adventure-filled story about a young girl named Minli and her journey to find the Old Man on the Moon. Drawing on the rich tradition of Chinese folk tales, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a gripping twist on a classic, and Lin’s story is embellished by her beautiful color illustrations.

The Steel Pan Man of Harlem

The Steel Pan Man of Harlem

The Steel Pan Man of Harlem by Colin Bootman
Carolrhoda Books (November 2009), $17

In The Steel Pan Man of Harlem, Trinidadian-born Colin Bootman offers a historical retelling of The Pied Piper of Hamlin set during the Harlem Renaissance. When Harlem is overrun by rats, a man with a steel pan drum arrives with a promise to drive them out using his musical prowess. But there's a price. Bootman’s illustrations capture a vibrant moment in the life of this prominent African American neighborhood.

Dog Days

Dog Days

Dog Days (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #4) by Jeff Kinney
Amulet Books (October 2009), $14

In Dog Days, the latest in the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, beleaguered Greg Heffley faces the horrors of summer vacation. There’s great weather and everyone’s playing outside, but he just wants to stay indoors and play video games. How will his summer turn out?

The Fudge series

Fudge box set by Judy Blume
Penguin (2007), $30

Revisit Peter Hatcher; his little brother, Fudge; his baby sister, Tootsie; and his archenemy, Sheila Tubman. This Judy Blume box set collects all five Fudge books in one package: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Super-Fudge, Fudge-a-Mania, and Double Fudge. Or check out the audiobook version, narrated by Blume herself!