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Back to School We Go!

By Jennifer Shettel
 | Aug 24, 2015

Are you ready to go back to school? Build excitement for learning and new school-year adventures with these books—perfect to kick the year off to a great start!

Ages 4–8

ABC School’s For Me! Susan B. Katz. Ill. Lynn Munsinger. 2015. Scholastic.

ABC School's for MeA perfect ABC book, especially for preschoolers who are heading to school for the first time. Katz’s ABC book features an adorable class of bear cubs who are ready to learn their alphabet, read books, and color with new crayons. Read this rhyming picture book to find out what else they do during their busy school day!

Daddy’s Back-to-School Shopping Adventure. Alan Lawrence Sitomer. Ill. Abby Carter. 2015. Disney-Hyperion.

What happens when Dad takes the kids for school supplies? He’s likely to go OFF THE LIST! How can anyone resist such temptations as glow-in-the-dark glue sticks or sparkly purple wet wipes? Check out this picture book to see if Dad gives in to the kids’ wishes or if he sticks to the list!

Ollie’s Class Trip: A YES-and-NO Book. Stephanie Calmenson. Ill. Abby Carter. 2015. Holiday House.

Ollies Class TripEncourage shared reading with this book that invites new readers into the story by having them respond with YES or NO to the questions posed along the way. Will Ollie’s class go to the moon? NO! Will they visit the aquarium? YES! Complete with a Class Trip YES list at the end of the story, this book is perfect to prepare for the first field trip of the year.

Ready for School, Murphy? Brendan Murphy. 2015. Disney-Hyperion.

Murphy’s got a bad case of butterflies-in-his tummy. Or is it the heebie-jeebies? Or maybe it’s—OH NO—a computer virus?! Whatever it is, he’s pretty sure he’s too sick to go to school today. Will Murphy be able to convince his dad to let him stay home? Read this book to find out what happens!

Ages 9–11

Ginny Louise and the School Showdown.Tammi Sauer. Ill. Lynn Munsinger. 2015. Disney-Hyperion.

Ginny Louise and the school showdownDagnabbit! There’s some rowdy rule breakers at Truman Elementary, like Make-My-Day May, Destructo Dude, and Cap’n Catastrophe. These pint-sized bandits rule the school with their rule-breaking ways until Ginny Louise moves in and starts turning things around. Filled with lots of alliteration, this picture book is perfect for teaching figurative language and for getting the school year off on the right foot.

Ruby on the Outside. Nora Raleigh Baskin. 2015. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Eleven-year-old Ruby has a pretty big secret—her mom is in jail. This is an important topic in the lives of children that is often overlooked or not discussed. Ruby’s inner struggle with whether to tell her friends the truth about her mom is at the heart of this novel about family and friendship.

Rufus the Writer. Elizabeth Bram. Ill. Chuck Groenink. 2015. Schwartz & Wade.

Rufus the WriterBuild excitement for writing with this picture book about Rufus, who created his own Story Stand! Young writers might be inspired to make their own Story Stand in the classroom and create stories for their friends. This is a wonderful book to create a community of writers.

Ages 12–14

After the Bell Rings: Poems About After-School Time. Carol Diggory Shields. Ill. Paul Meisel. 2015. Dial Books for Young Readers.

Fans of Shields’s other poems about school will enjoy this new collection that features verses about common after-school activities like homework, snacks, car pools, and text messaging. Great for using as a mentor text to have middle-level learners write their own after-school poems.

Saving Mr. Terupt. Rob Buyea. 2015. Delacorte.

Saving Mr TeruptThe kids from the first two Mr. Terupt books are getting ready to start middle school. Fans of Buyea’s series who may also be starting middle school themselves will enjoy this book that captures each character’s story through alternating chapters.

We Are All Made of Molecules. Susin Nielsen. 2015. Wendy Lamb.

When popular girl Ashley and nerdy science geek Stewart suddenly find themselves living in the same household, how will they possibly survive middle school? This novel about compromises and seeing each other’s strengths is a great way to challenge the cliques that inevitably form in middle and high schools.

Ages 15+

Galgorithm. Aaron Kato. 2015. Simon Pulse.

GalgorithmHigh school student Shane Chambliss has finally done it—he’s figured out the secret formula for dating success that he names “the Galgorithm.” Word travels quickly, and Shane becomes the unofficial “dating guru” of Kingsview High. Filled with both hilarious and poignant moments, this book will appeal to teens experiencing their first foray into romance.

Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me. Meredith Zeitlin. 2015. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers.

The author of Freshman Year & Other Natural Disasters is back with a new book aimed at the high school crowd. In this story, main character Zona finds herself unexpectedly spending her sophomore year of high school in Greece when her journalist dad announces that they will be living there for 6 months while he finishes a story he is writing. This book about being brave, facing new challenges, and the power of family will resonate with teen readers.

Why’d They Wear That? Fashion as the Mirror of History. Sarah Albee. 2015. National Geographic.

Nothing says “back to school” like a new outfit! This nonfiction book shows how “what people wore” was also a reflection of the era in which they lived. Filled with drawings, photos, and infographics, this is a great way to get teens excited for research.

Jennifer W. Shettel is an associate professor at Millersville University of PA, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in literacy for preservice and practicing teachers. Prior to joining the faculty at Millersville, she spent 16 years as both an elementary classroom teacher and a reading specialist.

These reviews are submitted by members of the International Reading Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG)and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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