Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Second Grade

Reading books with children at a young age not only helps them better prepare for school, but it also opens their minds to new cultures and experiences. Exposing children early to both “mirror” and “window” books – that is, books in which they can see themselves, and books in which they can learn about others- is the best way to create engaged readers and support social and emotional growth.

Lee & Low Books offers hundreds of great books for second graders. Our books include English, Spanish, and bilingual titles; books about many different cultures; books that span a wide range of subjects and themes; and both fiction and nonfiction. Browse our prek-2 classroom collections to see what we offer, and check out our other book lists by grade:

Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for Preschool

Our 8 Favorite Multicultural Books for Kindergarten

Our 10 Favorite Multicultural Books for First Grade

While we have hundreds of titles to choose from, here are 10 of our absolute favorite diverse books for second grade! our favorite multicultural books for second grade
1. A House by the River by William Miller, illus. by Ying-Hwa Hu and Cornelius Van Wright:

a house by the river cover

As the worst storm in years approaches, Belinda wishes more than ever that she and her mother lived in town, where the houses are on high ground, safe from the rising river. But what Belinda discovers through the long night of the storm is that her house is made of more than wood and brick—it is also fortified by her family’s love. See the Teacher’s Guide.

2. First Day in Grapes by L. King Perez, illus. by Robert Casilla:

first day in grapes

Chico’s first day in third grade turns out to be different. His teacher likes him right away, and she and his classmates are quick to recognize his excellent math skills. When the fourth-grade bullies confront Chico in the lunchroom, he responds wisely with strengths of his own. See the Teacher’s Guide.

3. Willie Wins by Almira Astudillo Gilles, illus. by Carl Angel:

willie wins

When Willie’s dad gives him analkansiya, a bank made out of a coconut shell from the Philippines, he reluctantly takes the bank to school, knowing he will be teased by his classmates for having such an unusual bank. In this heart-warming story, a boy gets beyond peer pressure and comes to appreciate the depth of his father’s love.  See the Teacher’s Guide.

4The Can Man by Laura E. Williams, illus. by Craig Orback:

the can man

Tim’s birthday is just a week away, and more than anything he wants a skateboard. As Tim ponders how he might earn money for a skateboard, he hears The Can Man down the street collecting empty soft drink cans. The clang of the cans in the homeless man’s cart gives Tim an idea. He will collect cans too, and cash them in for the redemption money. By the end of the week, Tim has almost reached his goal—until a couple of chance encounters with The Can Man change everything. See the Teacher’s Guide.

5. Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic by Ginnie Lo, illus. by Beth Lo:

auntie yang's great soybean picnic

Unique illustrations painted on ceramic plates lend a quirky charm to this lighthearted intergenerational story about a family that decides to have their first ever soybean picnic. See the Teacher’s  Guide.

6. Selvakumar Knew Better by Virginia Kroll, illus. by Xiaojun Li:

selvakumar knew better

This true story of a courageous and clever dog who saved a boy’s life during the devastating tsunami of 2004 in India is sure to touch the hearts of readers of all ages. See the Teacher’s Guide.

7. No Mush Today by Sally Derby, illus. by Nicole Tadgell: 

no mush today

Nonie’s had enough of mushy mush and her crying baby brother! So she goes off to live at Grandma’s house. After a day away from home, Nonie reconsiders her move. She misses Momma, Daddy, and her baby brother. Maybe she can make a deal about breakfast! See the Teacher’s Guide.

8. The Wakame Gatherers by Holly Thompson, illus. by Kazumi Wilds:

wakame gatherers

Nanami has two grandmothers: Baachan, who lives with her family in Japan, and Gram, who lives in Maine. When Gram visits Japan for the first time, Baachan takes her and Nanami on a trip to the seaside to gather Wakame, a long, curvy seaweed that floats near the shore. By the end of the day, Nanami’s two grandmothers discover that they have much in common despite being from countries that fought in the war they both remember vividly. See the Teacher’s Guide.

9. Mamá the Alien/Mamá la extraterrestre by René Colato Laínez, illus. by Laura Lacámara:

mama the alien

When Mamá’s purse falls on the floor, Sofia gets a peek at Mamá’s old Resident Alien card and comes to the conclusion that Mamá might be an alien from outer space. Sofia heads to the library to learn more about aliens. But Mamá looks like a human mother! Could she really be an alien? See the Teacher’s Guide.

10. The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen by Thelma Godin, illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton: 

the hula hoopin queen

A spunky African American girl has a hula-hooping competition with her friends in Harlem, and soon everyone in the neighborhood—young and old alike—joins in on the fun. See the Teacher’s Guide.

Further Reading

Bebop Books: Guided Reading Book Sets for the Classroom

Building Classroom Community in Second Grade

Also check out our amazing PreK-Second Grade collections:

Diverse Background English Collection for PreK-2preschool classroom collections image

Asian American English Collection for PreK-2

English Fiction Collection for PreK-2

Poetry Collection for PreK-2

Diversity Starter Pack Collection for PreK-2

Family Diversity Collection 

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