Second graders will be responsible for reading longer, more complex stories.
Second graders will be responsible for reading longer, more complex stories.

For students to be successful readers in second grade, it is important that they are synthesizing different aspects of reading in order to tackle longer, more complex texts. Since the Common Core State Standards Initiative has taken effect, text complexity, as well as a child's ability to make meaning from text have become increasingly important. By taking a look at the skills demanded by the Common Core of a second grade reader, you can evaluate your own child's readiness.

Phonics and Word Recognition

According to the Common Core Standards, second grade students should know and be able to apply grade-level appropriate word analysis skills to decode unknown words. These skills include distinguishing between long and short vowel sounds, understanding common vowel teams like oa, ea, ou and ai, using simple prefix and suffix knowledge to decode unknown words and identifying words with inconsistent, but common spelling-sound correspondences, like the ou in your. High frequency word recognition is important at this level.


By second grade, students are becoming more fluent readers. They should read grade-appropriate texts with ease, only slowing down when decoding unknown words. Expression and phrasing should start being emphasized as students work to understand the meanings behind the words they read. The Common Core sets forth expectations of high reading accuracy, generally considered above 95 percent, and expects second grade students to use context clues to confirm or self-correct decoded words.

Literary Texts

The Common Core Initiative breaks the Literature standard into four separate categories: Key Ideas and Details, Craft and Structure, Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, and Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity. The hallmarks of these standards in second grade include the ability to answer who, what, when, where, why and how questions about a fiction text, to retell the main events of a story sequentially and to describe how characters in a story react to major plot events. They must also be able to identify rhymes and repeated lines as well as describe the overall structure of a story, including how the beginning acts as an introduction while the ending brings closure to the action. Comparing and contrasting different versions of the same story is also a Common Core requirement for second graders.

Informational Texts

The Informational Text standard within Common Core is also broken down into the same four categories as Literature. Within these categories, students are expected to ask and answer who, what, when, where, why and how questions, identify the main topic of a nonfiction text and describe the connection between events in a text. In second grade. students should be familiar with text features like captions, headings, glossary and index, and should be able to explain the purpose or why the author wrote the informational text. Students should become comfortable finding details within the text that support specific ideas. This skill will carry them through subsequent grades as it becomes an important tool in research.