Published: November 4, 2022
min read
Second Grade

Three Ways to Help Your 2nd Grade Reader Shine

Lauren Sittel
Literacy Specialist

Your child will start spreading their reading wings and take off in directions you could hardly imagine when they began Kindergarten two years ago. Here's how you can really help them blossom during this phase.

This year, being your child’s at-home reading supporter may feel like just trying to keep up with their ever-growing literacy skills. Or it may feel really stressful because you’ve seen something like the well-known study that children who aren’t reading proficiently by the end of third grade have a much lower lifetime earning potential2.

But there’s good news: the window of time to help your child catch up in reading or fall in love with reading is still open at the beginning of second grade, especially if you keep these three pieces of advice in mind throughout the year.

1. Keep Calm and Carry On From First Grade

Your child now has at least two years of experience under their belt in terms of reading, so bring all your good habits from first grade into second grade - like your reading routine, reading everywhere, re-reading books, reading to your child, etc…Keep reading and building your child’s confidence with those favorite books from 1st grade.

Remember: your child should be reading books mostly at their independent reading level at home. Listen to them read a couple of pages. You can tell if a book is at their independent reading level if:

  1. They’re only making about 1-2 mistakes per page
  2. They can read at a somewhat natural pace with good fluency on the first try

And if your independent, amazing child tells you that they really want to read a book that seems beyond their reading level? Carve out some time to help guide them through the book. Think of it as a cross between you reading aloud to them and having them do all the reading.

If you’re already using Ello, the app’s reading coaching will continue to offer support to help your child read even challenging books more independently. And if Ello wasn’t part of your reading routine in 1st grade, now is a great time to use this resource to help your child finish their early elementary reading experience on a strong note.

2. Lean Into the Reading, Writing, Thinking Connection

Second grade is preparing your child to make the pivotal shift from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” That doesn’t mean your child is almost done learning to read - in fact, some educators dislike the phrase I just used because “learning to read” continues well into young adulthood2.

While your child is still growing their reading skills, by second grade, the skills they already have are strong enough to start bringing in the big guns: writing and critical thinking.

There’s a reason for the adage “good readers make good writers”: the skills used to read critically directly translate to writing. Help your child hone this critical literacy skill with fun, low-pressure opportunities like these for your child to write outside of school:

  • Ask your child to help write lists (grocery lists, to-do lists, wish lists, etc)
  • Encourage your child to write cards and letters to friends and family. Pro tip: grandparents are usually very enthusiastic pen pals
  • Make sure writing utensils are available throughout the house so your child can write whenever inspiration strikes
  • Be their biggest fan whenever they show you comic strips or stories they’re made. You can also encourage them to label or title any artwork they create
  • Read books where the characters write! Some great ones to check out are I Wanna Iguana, Dear Dinosaur, Abdul’s Story, and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type

Warning: Whatever you do to encourage writing practice, do NOT get hung up on spelling or handwriting. Your child practices that at school and with homework plenty. This is about fostering the enjoyment of writing, not about getting things perfect.

If your child asks, “How do you spell _____?” suggest they try their best to figure it out, starting with the first sound they hear. If they still want to know, model the process for them by breaking the word into sounds.

3. Give Your Child Choice Whenever Possible

Second graders are developing their own interests, preferences, and hobbies, so capitalize on what you’re already an expert in: your child.

  • Encourage them to read books about topics they enjoy
  • Let them decide whether they want to do some reading before or after school
  • Set up reading baskets in their bedroom and the family living space so that reading a book is an easy option (toss a few Ello books in so they can choose whether to read to Ello or on their own)
  • Take full advantage of the power of Google. Type in something like “Level K books about dinosaurs” and make a “to read” list

Giving your child choices around reading is a great way to counteract reading reluctance, but you also don’t want your child to become a “picky reader.” Ello helps you make sure your child is getting exposed to a wide variety of genres, topics, and themes that are still engaging for second graders, whatever their reading level and interests.

Helping your child develop an enjoyment of reading alongside the ability to read are two of your biggest priorities as the parent of a second grader, and Ello can support you in both of those critical goals.

“Ello is listening and responding, so I don’t have to feel guilty about letting my 7-year-old read without me. My son confidently reads at a higher level using Ello, supported by the program and motivated by points and prizes.”
- Kate Everson
  1. The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion. 2010. Early Warning! Why Reading By the End Of Third Grade Matters. Bal­ti­more, MD: The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Retrieved from
  2. Coch, Donna (2014). The N400 and the fourth grade shift. Developmental Science, 18(2), 254-269. DOI: 10.1111/desc.12212.
Second Grade