As a kid, school is everything to you. It’s where you meet friends, find your crushes, have your first confrontation, and let your real personality soar. For kids and teens, school is their entire world and it’s not a major shock to anyone that a lot of books use schools as the social setting for their protagonists. There is so much you can do with a school setting—the opportunities are endless. This short list of books for young readers set in school shows how a school can bring out the good in a protagonist. In these titles, schools bring out the best in people and just like a family TV show, the problems are solved and everyone is happy by the end of the episode.
The Noisy Classroom by Angela Shanté and Alison Hawkins
This is my daughter’s favorite book despite the fact she isn’t in school yet. This is a great early reader book that even younger kids will be captivated by. Every page is inviting and colorful. You follow a soon-to-be 3rd grader who is scheduled to be in Ms. Johnson’s class—the noisy classroom. Ms. Johnson is always singing and playing music with the students, so they can’t possibly be learning, right? I love that this book helps younger kids navigate their anxiety with the new school year.
Sam! by Dani Gabriel
If you need a children’s book that highlights the life of trans children, this book will melt your heart. This book is the story of a child named Sam who wants to be more open with their gender expression. Sam relies on family and school friends to help give them the courage to be their true selves.
Faith: Taking Flight By Julie Murphy
Faith started off as a comic and it’s now a novel, so you can really grasp Faith without having to read individual comics. Faith is just like any other teen. She loves animals and enjoys having time to watch her favorite TV drama. Faith’s beloved teen drama show relocates to her town and she suddenly catches the eye of the show’s actress Dakota Ash. Faith learns she can fly just in time to investigate who is supplying drugs to her high school. This book is perfect for teens who need to read something body positive and queer.
Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse by Chantel Acevedo
We all need a squad, and the protagonist in this book isn’t any different. Callie, who accidentally turns her friend into a pop sensation, learns she is one of nine new muses and is responsible for epic poetry. Just like the classic Greek Mythology tales, she must keep her powers a secret. You can imagine how hard that must be for middle school girls, but, together, they learn the true meaning of friendship, love, and overcoming bullies.
Smash It! By Francina Simone
Even though this book is about a teen named Olivia James, I couldn’t help but feel a piece of me that mirrors her. In a modern hip-hop remix of Othello, Olivia learns how to be fearless and to take risks. All it took was a little inspiration from Shonda Rhimes to give Olivia the much-needed boost. It’s hard to not feel motivated to do things you were previously scared to do after reading this.
Something to Say by Lisa Moore Ramée
Not everyone is an extrovert, and sometimes being invisible is a way to cope when it comes to being social. But Jenae can’t hide too long, because the new kid at school is determined to be her friend. With a newly found friendship comes new challenges, like trying to be part of the debate team when you hate public speaking.
My Eyes Are Up Here by Laura Zimmermann
Teens have a hard time adjusting to their body changing in high school especially when your body is noticeably different. Greer is learning to navigate her body and social life as a girl with a large cup size. She finds herself wearing baggy clothes to hide, but eventually she becomes honest with herself and sheds the shame.