Ten Terrific Back-To-School Books

School is almost upon us and for many parents and students, this time of year can be full of every kind of emotion. From excitement about making new friends, to fear that your kindergarten will cry as you walk out of the classroom, to hope that this year will be less awful than last year. Fortunately, there are many books centered around going back to school to help ease the emotional roller coaster of the next few months.

To help with the tears, fears, and cheers in your family here is a list of ten terrific back-to-school books. The list includes classic and contemporary books listed in order from youngest to oldest grade.

The Kissing Hand

This classic picture book is about Chester the raccoon who is reluctant to go to kindergarten for the first time so his mother teaches him a secret way to carry her love with him. A great book for families with a new kindergarten or kids starting new schools, and offers a simple idea to help ease separation anxiety. Be careful reading it out loud though, this sweet tender book has brought many parents to tears.

Follow the Line to School

Using a simple line this colorful picture book encourages young readers to follow along as the line travels through a typical school day, including story-time, recess, library time, and show-and-tell. A fun interactive book for students who are excited or curious about school.

School's First Day of School

This colorful picture book offers a new twist on the classic back to school story. It is Frederick Douglass Elementary School's first day back to school and just like the students in its halls, the school is a bit nervous about how things will go. This fresh, silly perspective on the first day of school will give your younger students something to laugh about and distract them from their own nervous feelings.


Andrew Clements is a master at describing what it feels like to be in elementary school and these two classic chapter books are some of his best. Both books include spunky, well-intended teachers who are pitted against smart, rule pushing students making for some hilarious yet poignant moments that all elementary school students can relate to. A great back-to-school read for students who think school can't be fun!


Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being homeschooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student. A perfect read for students who are worried about bullying or fitting in, this book will give them hope that things do get better and we can all find our place inside a school.


After accidentally shunning the school nerd on her first day at middle school, Penelope tries to blend in with her new friends in the art club. This realistic graphic novel will make all the awkward students in your life feel a bit less alone when they read about how Penelope struggles to find her place, people, and herself at a new school.

The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-time Indian

Junior decides to leave the rez to attend an all-white school in hopes of receiving a better education, but once there he realizes a new start is not easy. Despite being condemned as a traitor to his people and racism at his new school, Junior attacks life with wit and humor and discovers strength inside of himself. The serious issues in this book are sensitively dealt with and every high school student I know who has read this book loved it. That alone is a reason to read this book.

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Reshma is desperate to get into her first-choice college Stanford, however she struggles to figure out a way to stand out from all the other high school students. She decides to write a novel about herself leading her to commit a series of outrageous and cruel behaviors. A satirical look at the pressures many high school students feel these days to overachieve and the limits many will go to stand out to colleges. A great read for the stressed-out senior who needs a break from college applications.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower

A haunting coming of age novel about the life of Charlie, a freshman in high school who is shy, introspective and very intelligent. It's a story about what it's like to grow up in high school and all the ways we change, grow, and struggle during those turbulent years.


This book follows Lee through four years at an elite boarding school where she experiences complicated friendships, an all-consuming crush on a boy and the general ups and downs of popularity and social status. Lee is tortured, sensitive, endearing, and insightful and although most of us don't attend boarding school the underlying themes of finding your identity and staying true to yourself will resonate with many high school readers.