For our final back to school blog, Crystal and I wanted to feature books that deal with the dreaded topic of high school.
Reluctantly Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Reluctantly Alice is about a girl named Alice starting junior high. She has one goal starting the seventh grade: She wants everyone to like her. She doesn’t need to be popular, but she want everyone to think well of her. Unfortunately that is going to be harder than she thought with Dennis Whitlock hating her. This book is filled with all the dramas of staring middle school. Reluctantly Alice is told in a realistic way that makes it relatable and entertaining.
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Eliza and Her Monsters is a great read about a girl named Eliza, who in school doesn’t fit in, doesn’t talk to anyone, and is dreaming of the day she gets to go off to college and never look back. Eliza online however is LadyConstellation, the anonymous maker of the comic Monstrous Sea. Her friends are online. Her story is online, and her life is online. She doesn’t see what the big draw of the real world is until she meets Wallace Warland. He is the new kid in school and an avid writer of Monstrous Sea fanfiction.
This book definitely has strong language and touches on some serious issues such as depression and suicide. It also has the parents in the book talking casually about sex.
Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks
Evil Genius is a book about Cadel Piggott, a genius, who at seven already knew how to hack into computers and through some devious tutoring he learns all sorts of mischief and how to not getting caught. When he is fourteen he is invited to study at Axis Institute to earn his world domination degree. He studies classes for embezzlement, forgery, misinformation, and infiltration, but when he meets a girl online, a girl outside of his evil genius life, he starts to question what he is doing. Evil Genius is a really great read with humor, a few twists, and a bit of a dark side.
While it doesn’t go into a lot of detail, the book does have violence to look out for, and strong language.
Alive by Chandler Baker
Alive, when you read the back seems like just another teen romance, but it end up taking a bit of a twist that made it a really surprising read. The main character Stella has been waiting of the list for a heart transplant for years. She is running out of time and starting to think she won’t reach 18, when it finally happens. She gets a new heart and throws herself into her new life. She meets a new boy named Levi and has never been so drawn to anyone as she is him. She literally aches when he is away. Her recovery is complicated however by hallucinations and recurring pain and soon leads to some unsettling complications.
This book, while sounding mild and cute, has thrilling moments and darkness to watch out for.
Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Anything but Typical is a wonderful story about a twelve year old boy named Jason Blake. Jason has autism and the story is a first person narration of his struggles to understand and fit in a neurotypical world, and of him finding his first friend through on online site where he posts his writing. Throughout the story you see the world through Jason's experiences, and his difficulty with interacting with people, his family, and at school, and it really endears you to the character. It is really a worthwhile read.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobosky is a love letter to teens who feel like they don’t quite fit in (who among us hasn’t at one point, especially in high school?). Throughout the schoolyear, former shy kid Charlie is taken under the wing of an eccentric group of older friends who help him to be less afraid of being himself and all the good and trickier parts that come with that. (This book deals with abuse and suicide, but with an ultimately positive outcome).
Scrawl by Mark Shulman goes beyond the typical behind the bully narrative to delve into what life is truly like Todd “pops” Munn. With humor, wit, and laugh out loud vivid description, this unique book is perfect for anyone who wishes that others would take more time to get to know their real story.
Other High School Reads:
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Yearbook by Ally Condie
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins
Monster High by Lisi Harrison
As school begins, and the time to start working on AR reading goals begins, Crystal and I wanted to cover some of our favorite picks in chapter books for the pre-high school crowd.
Ready for Kindergarten Stinky Face? By Lisa Mccourt with illustrations by Cyd Moore, Early Reader Books: Green Level
As Stinky Face tells his mom the wildest worries he has about starting school, his mom helps him come up with solutions proving that if he can handle something as outrageous as sinks that only have grape juice than he can totally handle the normal newness of kindergarten.
Cam Jansen and the First Day of School Mystery by David A. Adler with illustrations by Susanna Natti, 3rd Grade Reading level
Cam and Eric are pretty sure they know what to expect on their first day of school but it doesn’t take Cam long to be in the center of another mystery when their new teacher is arrested! Fortunately for Ms. Benson, star student and top detective Cam Jansen is on the case and has proved her teacher’s innocence by the final bell.
American Girl School Books by Various Authors, 3rd to 4th Grade Reading level
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to go to school as a pioneer, on the prairie, or as a servant girl at the turn of the century, then these books are for you! Each book takes on what it would be like to attend school in a different era highlighting the differences (learning how to drink tea properly instead of use multiplication) but also the things that are familiar to the reader such as having good friends.
Wayside School Series by Louis Sachar with various illustrators, 3rd grade reading level
The Wayside School books by Louis Sachar are probably the funniest, weirdest, and silliest books about school. The fact that Wayside school is thirty stories high isn’t the only thing wacky about this school where you can have ice cream that tastes like your friends and naughty kids get turned into apples.
Middle School is worse than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff by Jennifer L. Holm with illustrations by Elicia Castaldi, 4th grade reading level
Middle school is a year full of changes and challenges for anyone but poor Ginny seems to have been given an extra helping of bad luck along with the dreaded cafeteria meatloaf. Told through notes, detention slips and cringe worthy school pictures, this book will have you laughing out loud.
Juv Level books for Middle Schoolers
Report Card by Andrew Clements, 4th grade reading level
Clements has written so many great books about school that it was hard to pick just one to feature and while the others are certainly worth checking-out (library pun intended), Report Card is a standout. Nora is a gifted genius but doesn’t want anyone to know because that would mean being obviously different than her classmates and going to a different class than her friends. Like many kids, Nora also feels that everyone is too worried about grades and wants to prove it by bringing home a report card full of C's and D's. Chaos ensues as everyone learns that letter grades aren’t always what determines how smart a person is and that we should all be less afraid of showing what makes us different.
The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Middle School by Robin Epstein, Ben Winters, and David Borgenicht
This middle school survival guide is a great nonfiction book that I found on Hoopla, to help calm those pre-class jitters. It is an informative guide full of tips and tricks to help juggle the new issues that come with lockers, multiple teachers, and homework coming from every class. It even has suggestions for how to handle new problems with friends, finding new interests, and the embarrassment of changing in the locker room.
Reading level 6th grade
From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot
From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess is a story about Olivia Grace, the long lost half-sister of Princess Mia. Olivia is in the 6th grade going about her business like usual, dreaming of being a wildlife illustrator, when out of nowhere she gets the news of her princess title from a very jealous friend turned bully. She is suddenly in a school where everyone wants to sit next to her, even if they have never spoken to her before, and meeting the family she has always wanted. It is a really cute book and the start of a new series.
Reading level 5th grade
Middle School: Get Me Out of Here by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
Middle School: Get Me Out of Here is the story of a boy named Rafe who is just starting 7th grade in a new town and a new school. He is accepted into the Cathedral School of Arts and finds out that getting in was the easy part. The school has the students reapply after every year! He needs to keep up good grades, make great art, and keep out of trouble to be able to come back next year. That could be easier said than done. This book is told in an entertaining way and is full of great drawings.
Reading level 5th grade
Geeked Out by Obert Sky
Geeked Out is a dystopian middle school book. The world has gone to ruin after a dreadful movie adaptation led to a revolt, and the revolt led to the collapse of governments, and life was never the same. Unfortunately, even with the mess society has become kids still have to go to school. The main character is Timothy Dover (Tip). He and the rest of the AV Club start out attempting to get revenge against the jocks and end up getting super powers. This book is a funny one with lots of illustrations.
Reading Level: 5th grade
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
The School for Good and Evil is a story about two girls that were picked to attend the fabled School for Good and Evil to be trained to be fairy tale heroes or villains. The main characters, Sophie and Agatha, thought they knew what sides they were destined for but are taken by surprise when Sophie, with her pink dresses and glass slippers, is sent to the school for evil, and Agatha, who dislikes nearly everyone is sent to the school for good.
Reading Level 5th grade
Other fun school Books:
Mama Don’t go by Rosemary Wells with illustrations by Jody Wheeler, Early Reader Books: Red Level
According to Humphrey series by Betty G. Birney, Reading level 3rd to 4th grade
Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson, Juv collection, 3rd grade reading level
All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson, YA Graphic Novels, 3rd grade reading level
Looking for some inspiration on what to read next? Who better to ask then the people who work around books for a living!? Each month we will post a "staff picks" blog post written by one of our staff members. These posts will vary in genre, theme, age appropriateness, etc. If you have any requests on a genre or age category you would like to see, submit a comment here and we will get it on the list!