Family Life, Stages

Back to School Reads

As summer ends, and as the weather turns cooler (not), there is no better time to share some back-to-school books.

As a central part of many kids’ lives, there are fantastic books for kids in every age, stage, and grade of their school journeys. Reading about school journeys is a great way to soothe worried minds and get kids ready for all the learning and friendships that each school year brings.

For picture book readers, Calvin by J.R. and Vanessa Ford shows young readers how important it is to be seen as they are by family, schoolmates, and teachers. Calvin follows a young transgender boy as he prepares for his first day of school and the tried-and-true rituals of getting a haircut, and back-to-school clothes shopping. Readers will recognize Calvin’s back-to-school jitters and nerves, and the way teachers and friends will help them melt away when the first day arrives.

To ease those first day jitters, switch up the perspectives in School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, a book about a school building that’s just as nervous for their first day as the kids are.

For middle grader readers, The Insiders by Mark Oshiro is a tale of magical realism that showcases the true magic that happens when you find belonging with friends. Héctor Muñoz has just moved from San Francisco to Orangevale, California and couldn’t feel more alone in his new school. One day, when hiding from bullies in the janitor’s closet, he discovers a room that shouldn’t exist. This enchanting space helps him connect with friends from afar, sparking a year full of friendship and adventure.

For teens, the thriller Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is a suspenseful read sure to keep audiences invested until the startling conclusion. When two students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are chosen as prefects for their elite private school, they’re excited to officially be in the running for valedictorian. But, when they start receiving anonymous text messages from someone named Aces, who seems to know all their secrets, their worlds begin to crumble. When what started out as a prank seems to turn deadly, Devon and Chiamaka must come together to fight the racism embedded within their school and the darkness of academia.

These books are just the beginning of all the great selections out there to get kids excited and ready to start school off on the right foot. More can be found at or by asking the staff at your local Library.

This article was originally published in NOLA Family August 2022.

Hayley Morgenstern

Hayley Morgenstern has worked for the New Orleans Public Library for four years as a children’s librarian. They currently work at Norman Mayer Library and have a specialty in queer and feminist children’s books.

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