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Second-Grade Accomplishments

The Committee for the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children has compiled detailed lists of literacy accomplishments for children of different ages. Find out what the typical child can do in second grade.

Below is a set of accomplishments that the successful learner is likely to exhibit. This list is neither exhaustive nor incontestable, but it does capture many highlights of the course of literacy acquisition that have been revealed through several decades of research. The timing of these accomplishments will to some extent depend on maturational and experiential differences between children, and upon the particular curriculum provided by a school.

  • Reads and comprehends both fiction and nonfiction that is appropriately designed for grade level.
  • Accurately decodes orthographically regular multisyllable words and nonsense words (e.g., capital, Kalamazoo).
  • Uses knowledge of print-sound mappings to sound out unknown words.
  • Accurately reads many irregularly spelled words and such spelling patterns as diphthongs, special vowel spellings, and common word endings.
  • Reads and comprehends both fiction and nonfiction that is appropriately designed for grade level.
  • Shows evidence of expanding language repertory, including increasing use of more formal language registers.
  • Reads voluntarily for interest and own purposes.
  • Rereads sentences when meaning is not clear.
  • Interprets information from diagrams, charts, and graphs.
  • Recalls facts and details of texts.
  • Reads nonfiction materials for answers to specific questions or for specific purposes.
  • Takes part in creative responses to texts such as dramatizations, oral presentations, fantasy play, etc.
  • Discusses similarities in characters and events across stories.
  • Connects and compares information across nonfiction selections.
  • Poses possible answers to how, why, and what-if questions.
  • Correctly spells previously studied words and spelling patterns in own writing.
  • Represents the complete sound of a word when spelling independently.
  • Shows sensitivity to using formal language patterns in place of oral language patterns at appropriate spots in own writing (e.g., decontextualizing sentences, conventions for quoted speech, literary language forms, proper verb forms).
  • Makes reasonable judgments about what to include in written products.
  • Productively discusses ways to clarify and refine writing of own and others.
  • With assistance, adds use of conferencing, revision, and editing processes to clarify and refine own writing to the steps of the expected parts of the writing process.
  • Given organizational help, writes informative well-structured reports.
  • Attends to spelling, mechanics, and presentation for final products.
  • Produces a variety of types of compositions (e.g., stories, reports, correspondence).


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Excerpted from: Snow, C. E., Burns, S. M., & Griffin, P. Editors. (1998). Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences. Courtesy of National Academy Press. Reprinted with permission.

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