Well, kids, we hope you had a good summer. September is here, and your time is up: you’ll have to head back to school. Don’t worry too much, though. School has its ups and downs, but we’re here with a list of all the books you’ll need to get through it. These are the great works of fiction that will remind you of the good things about school while preparing you for the bad. We’ve got options for all ages here, so dive in – and leave your own suggestions in the comments!
There are plenty of coming-of-age stories on this list, so let’s start with something completely different. Carrie is Stephen King’s first novel, and it’s the ultimate high school horror story. If you thought the first day of school was scary before, just wait until you read this book.
Kinney’s relatable and charming series is aimed at middle schoolers. The first book is a funny and honest look at what it’s like to head back to school as a pre-teen, and the rest of the series handles everything else that the main character, Greg Heffley, faces as he grows up: puberty, life with siblings, summer jobs, and more. September is the perfect time to start this wonderful series.
Real-life school can be a big of a drag, so we’re including the boy wizard here to spice things up. Each Harry Potter book spans one schools year, so now is a good time to re-read your favorite. And if you’ve never read Harry Potter before, then consider this your first assignment of the school year.
Joyce Carol Oates is one of our greatest living writers, and I’ll Take You There is her take on college life. Like Oates herself, the book’s protagonist attends Syracuse University in upstate New York. The book doesn’t pull any punches as it tackles race, family matters, and love.
Here’s one for the college kids. Eugenides’ great novel follows students at Brown University during their senior year. The novel continues after they graduate, so this is a story that will stay with you even after your own school days are over.
If you think your school is bad, wait until you read about Matilda’s! Roald Dahl’s books for young readers always include cruel adults and admirable child protagonists, which makes books like Matilda the perfect way to enjoy a feel-good story even as you’re forced to go back to school. Grab this book and remind yourself that getting an education is all about kid power.
Take a break from the more serious books on this list with Gordon Korman, one of the funniest writers in the business. No More Dead Dogs is the hilarious story of a student who is up in arms about all the dead dogs in books like Old Yeller. Korman’s comedy will make the start of school a bit more tolerable.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a modern classic. It’s a coming-of-age story that follows Charlie, a shy teenager, through his freshman year of high school. Chbosky doesn’t shy away from the real issues of teenage life, including depression, drug use, and sexuality.
Tartt’s collegiate classic is a creative take on a murder mystery. The story starts by revealing the murder and then rewinds, covering the history of a small group of college friends and the impact of the crime on each of them. Hopefully your school year will go more smoothly than this!
You may end up reading this novel during the school year whether you want to or not: Knowles’ classic novel of memory and school days is often required reading in American high schools. But this book is worthy of its place in the curriculum. Set against the backdrop of World War II, it mixes real-world politics with the familiar drama of school-age friendships.
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