Continuing my theme of story-telling resources through the grades, here are my suggestions for second grade.
The theme for second grade is two-fold — saints and fables, or animal stories. A teacher one time described the second grader to me as one of those cartoon characters who has a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. The second grader is constantly pulled between these two polarities — the upright human being of the saint, and the more base, drive-driven animal. The stories of the saint ennoble and enlighten, the stories of the fables acknowledge the inclination to act on instinct alone.
Second graders can live into a good story in a wonderfully enthusiastic way. While first graders live into fairy tales in a dreamy, soulful way, the second grader can become quite animated about the amusing stories of the fables and the inspiring stories of the saints. This makes it an absolute joy to tell stories to second graders!
Aesop’s Fables — This is a great edition of Aesop’s Fables. The illustrations are lovely and can yield wonderful ideas for chalkboard drawings (as well as main lesson book pages.) One caution about the fables, though, do not, I repeat, do not, tell the children the little summary that is included at the end of every fable. These little summaries give the “moral” of the story in a very conscious, awakening way. It is far better for the children to be able to live into the stories and arrive at the moral themselves, rather than being “taught” the moral of each story.
Stories of the Saints by Siegward Knijpenga — By all accounts this is the saints book to have on your shelf. It goes through the stories of the saints and gives a bare-bones skeleton of the story, which is just what you want when it comes to memorizing a story to retell to children. My approach to story-telling has always been to memorize the basic plot of a story, think through a couple of the images that I want to come most strongly to the children, and then rely on that magical symbiotic relationship that exists between storyteller and listener to help with the rest of the details. I’ve found that if I watch the responses of my audience those details flow easily and all of us become immersed in the story. This book will help with that, as it leaves the details to you to create.
The King of Ireland’s Son by Padraic Colum — The King of Ireland’s Son is the perfect second grade read-aloud story. The story twists and turns and though it appears to be a series of separate stories the stories are all linked by being stories within the same story. My older children raved about this book and the images live with them still (even for my 14 year old!). It is rich and beautiful — not to be missed.
Dragon Boy — by Donald Samson — I’ll confess I have not read this book myself, but my second grade son’s teacher is reading it to the class and they are loving it. This book is the reason my son gets out of bed some mornings. It has taken over his imaginative play (in a healthy way) and when I ask about his day, this book is what I hear about. I have no doubt that the images in this story will live in him his whole life. It’s not everyday you find a book like that.
Do you have any great second grade stories? Share them in the comments.