Back to School Books

I can’t believe I’m writing this, considering it is only the second full week of August, but it’s Back to School time! Some of you even started classes last week. Ugh. Starting a new school year, even if you like school, is hard. So in honor of your return to the land of learning, here are some books featuring characters heading back to school, for better or for worse. (But mostly worse.) Stop by the Library to check one out. STAY GOLD – Lizzy

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – You can only imagine what the first day of high school is like for Melinda, who called the cops on a huge high school party over the summer. Now her best friends won’t speak to her, her parents won’t listen to her, and she’s been “befriended” by a new girl who won’t stop talking. Would anyone even notice if she never spoke again?  Heartbreaking and wise and unforgettable. The movie adaptation with Kristen Stewart is also excellent. For ages 13 & up.

Tangerine by Edward Bloor – After part of Paul’s school disappears into a sinkhole (!), he chooses to attend Tangerine Middle School, which is in one of the poorer areas of town, in order to continue playing soccer. Paul, who is partially blind, slowly befriends his new teammates, but is drawn into the rivalries of his older brother, Erik, who may not be who Paul thinks he is. This one is strange and dark but an all-around good read. It’s in both the YA and Juvenile collections. For ages 11 & up.

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar  – “Keep away from seniors. Keep away from juniors. It’s probably a good idea to avoid sophomores, too.” This is one of Scott’s notes of advice to his new baby sibling, who he is trying to educate about the ways of the world. Unfortunately, Scott isn’t having the best time starting high school, with all the bullies, tough classes, and girls who are hot all of a sudden. Amusing and accurate. For ages 12 & up.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – 14-year-old Junior has always gone to school on the Spokane Indian Reservation, until he decides to enroll in the rich-kid school in town and ends up being the only Native American there besides the mascot. Not good. As Junior learns new things about his friends, his family, his new community, and himself, he draws cartoons for us to see. Easy-going but packs a punch. For ages 14 & up.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins – The main characters in this book actually go to a boarding school in France, which only adds to the romance swirling between seniors Isla and Josh. So what will happen when the two teens, so destined to be together, break up? Hm, I think the title gives you a clue. Fun and sweet. For ages 14 & up. Try Stephanie Perkins’s other books in this “series” if you like this one: Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door.

Winger by Andrew Smith – Ryan Dean West’s coming-of-age story is anything but ordinary, as he returns to a prestigious Oregon boarding school as a 14-year-old junior. (You read that right.) Ryan Dean tries to balance maturity and immaturity in a typical boy-narrator kind of way, and ends up having to grow up much faster than he ever anticipated. Brash and wild and sad. Start of a series. For ages 15 & up.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins – Sophie has known she was a witch for a few years, but it’s not until she ends up ruining prom with one her spells that she’s sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for the magically gifted. Immediately labeled an outcast, it doesn’t help that students are disappearing and Sophie’s only new friend is a suspect. What’s a witch to do? Read this if you miss Hogwarts and want to visit a supernatural school with some interesting characters and mysterious secrets. Start of a series. For ages 14 & up.

Also try:

  • The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban … if you’re in the mood for something dark and mysterious, with forbidden love and intrigue (for ages 13 & up) 
  • Spy School by Stuart Gibbs … if you want something silly to read with your younger sibling (for ages 9 & up, in Juvenile)
  • Schooled by Gordon Korman … if you were homeschooled before attending public school (for ages 11 & up, in Juvenile)
  • Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell … if you live on a goat farm but just want to be NORMAL (for ages 13 & up, only at Augusta County)
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