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School and Being Yourself: Books For Kids

This list of the best kids books about school is sure to include a new favorite for the voracious young reader in your life! From The Proudest Blue to Geraldine there’s something here for everyone’s tastes. Do you have a favorite book about school? Let us know!

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The Proudest Blue
Written by Ibtihaj Muhammad & illustrated by S. K. Ali and Hatem Aly
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school—and two sisters on one’s first day of hijab—by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad. With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab—a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong. Paired with Hatem Aly’s beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.

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The Dot
Written & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Vashti believes that she cannot draw, but her art teacher’s encouragement leads her to change her mind.

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Maurice the Unbeastly
Written by Amy Dixon & illustrated by Karl James Mountford
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

No ordinary beast, Maurice is neat, polite, photogenic, and his roar is delightful to the ear, which leads his parents to enroll him at the Abominable Academy for Brutish Beasts, where he realizes he has a few things he can teach his fellow beasts.

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Marsha Is Magnetic
Written by Beth Ferry & illustrated by Lorena Alvarez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

It turns out that the best way to draw others to you is by being yourself in this sweet, STEAM-minded picture book from New York Times bestselling author Beth Ferry.

Marsha is a scientist who has never met a problem she couldn’t solve. But when it comes to making friends to invite to her birthday party, she is stumped. Luckily, Marsha knows the solution to being stumped: the scientific method. With equal parts creativity, determination, and humor, Marsha sets out to attract as many friends as she can—what could possibly go wrong? In this hilarious celebration of friendship and ingenuity, Beth Ferry and Lorena Alvarez show readers that the best way to attract friends is to simply be yourself.

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Iggy Peck, Architect
Written by Andrea Beaty & illustrated by David Roberts
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

This beloved New York Times bestselling picture book is a fun-filled, inspiring story about the power of teamwork and the importance of celebrating individual gifts and self-expression.

And now you can follow Iggy’s further adventures—with his friends Rosie Revere and Ada Twist—in the instant New York Times bestseller Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters, an all-new chapter book starring The Questioneers!

Some kids sculpt sand castles. Some make mud pies. Some construct great block towers. But none are better at building than Iggy Peck, who once erected a life-size replica of the Great Sphinx on his front lawn! It’s too bad that few people appreciate Iggy’s talent—certainly not his second-grade teacher, Miss Lila Greer. It looks as if Iggy will have to trade in his T square for a box of crayons . . . until a fateful field trip proves just how useful a mast builder can be.

Chrysanthemum book
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Replay book
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Grape! book
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Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus book
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  • Chrysanthemum - She was a perfect baby, and she had a perfect name. Chrysanthemum. When she was old enough to appreciate it, Chrysanthemum loved her name. And then she started school. “I’m named after my grandmother,” said Victoria. “You’re named after a flower.” Chrysanthemum wilted. Life at school didn’t improve. In fact, it got worse. Then the students were introduced to their music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle. Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle. And suddenly, Chrysanthemum blossomed….

  • Replay - Leo’s papa stood in the doorway, gazing down at him. “Leo, you make gold from pebbles,” and the way he said it, Leo could tell that this was a good thing. He may have been given a bit part in the school play … but Leo dreams he is the biggest star on Broadway. Sure, his big, noisy family makes him feel like a sardine squashed in a tin … but in his fantasy he gets all the attention he wants. Yes, his papa seems sad and distracted … but Leo imagines him as a boy, tap-dancing and singing with delight. That’s why they call Leo “fog boy.” He’s always dreaming, always replaying things in his brain. He fantasizes about who he is in order to discover who he will become. As an actor in the school play, he is poised and ready for the curtain to open. But in the play that is his life, Leo is eager to discover what part will be his.

  • Grape! - Grape is in trouble again! He punched Miss Roof in the arm! Now he’s suspended for two weeks, and Principal Clarkson has threatened to send him to Riverwash, a school for problem kids. But he has one last chance. Grape must spend an hour a day writing about his history of trouble, and there’s a lot of trouble to choose from… Grape’s best friend Lou is by his side, and even though Grape drives his parents crazy, they’re pulling for him all the way. But will Grape make sense of it all? Will it be enough to keep him out of Riverwash?

  • Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus - “High School. Two words that struck fear into the heart of every armless middle schooler I knew. Which was me. And like two people online.” The sequel to the critically acclaimed Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus follows Aven Green as she confronts yet another challenge: high school. Just as Aven starts to feel comfortable in Stagecoach Pass, with her friends and schoolmates accustomed to her lack of “armage,” everything changes once again. She’s about to begin high school . . . with 2,300 new kids to stare at her. And no matter how much Aven tries to play it cool, nothing prepares her for the reality. In a year filled with confusion, humiliation, fears, loss, and just maybe love, can Aven manage to stay true to herself?

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The Boy Who Grew Flowers
Written by Jennifer Wojtowicz & illustrated by Steve Adams
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Rink is a very unusual boy who grows beautiful flowers all over his body whenever the moon is full. In town and at school, Rink and his family are treated as outcasts although no-one knows his strange botanical secret. But one day a new girl arrives at sc

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One of a Kind
Written by Ariel S. Winter & illustrated by David Hitch
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

In this wry and witty picture book, an only child learns that in a classroom of multiples, individuality can be awesome.

All the kids in Lysander Singleton’s class are either twins or triplets, which means Lysander Singleton is the only “only child” at Twin Oaks Elementary. He tries to do what he can to fit in—making photocopies of himself, or attempting to play games with the other kids—though his efforts are usually met with unfortunate results. But when it comes time for the schoolwide Twindividuation competition, a series of events meant to encourage individuality, Lysander quickly realizes that being the only “only child” does have its advantages—and that being unique isn’t such a bad thing after all.

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Meena Meets Her Match
Written by Karla Manternach & illustrated by Rayner Alencar
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Graduates of the Ramona Quimby series will adore Meena Zee as she navigates the triumphs and challenges of family, friendship, and personal secrets in this charming middle grade debut.

Meena’s life is full of color. She wears vibrant clothes, eats every shade of the rainbow, and plucks eye-catching trash from the neighborhood recycling bins.

But when Meena’s best friend, Sofía, stops playing with her at recess and she experiences an unexpected and scary incident at breakfast, nothing can fight off the gray.

That’s when Meena comes up with a plan to create the BEST and most COLORFUL Valentine’s Day Box in the class. With the help of her cousin, Eli, and her stuffed zebra, Raymond, Meena discovers that the best way to break through the blah is to let her true colors shine.

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The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito
Written by Tomson Highway & illustrated by Sue Todd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Timely, Fun, Challenging and Wise! Tomson Highway’s musical cabaret, The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito, couldn’t be more vividly presented unless you were sitting in the middle seat of the front row watching the Cree playwright, performer, musician and poet himself. The story of a wingless little mosquito from Manitoba has all the whimsy and wise humour any audience could ask for.

The ageless theme of a misfit, who finds her voice through song and who learns to make friends by communicating directly with her audience, is a timely treat for anyone who has felt like an outsider, dealt with bullying, moved to a new place, or was different from the rest of the pack.

The entire script is here, complete with song lyrics, stage directions, Cree vocabulary, and challenging tongue twisters to delight all ages. A perfect book for drama students, teachers, and theatre enthusiasts, this beautiful full-colour volume serves as an interactive read-aloud for the young, or a great way to introduce students to the joys of staging a musical production.

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Captain Awesome for President
Written by Stan Kirby & illustrated by George O’Connor
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

In the twentieth Captain Awesome adventure, Eugene decides to run for class president! After much thought (actually, really not that much), Eugene has made a big decision. He’s decided to run for class president! But there’s a hitch. Meredith Mooney, a.k.a. Little Miss Stinky Pinky, has also decided to run! Since Eugene can’t reveal to his classmates his identity as Captain Awesome, he has to figure out some other way to prove to them that he’s the one for the job! With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Captain Awesome chapter books are perfect for beginning readers!

Star-Crossed book
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Sarabella's Thinking Cap book
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Here Comes Teacher Cat book
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Karma Khullar's Mustache book
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  • Star-Crossed - Twelve-year-old Mattie wrestles with her crush on Gemma as they participate in their school production of Romeo and Juliet in what School Library Journal calls “a fine choice for middle school libraries in need of an accessible LGBTQ stories.” Twelve-year-old Mattie is thrilled when she learns the eighth grade play will be Romeo and Juliet. In particular, she can’t wait to share the stage with Gemma Braithwaite, who has been cast as Juliet. Gemma is brilliant, pretty—and British!—and Mattie starts to see her as more than just a friend. But Mattie has also had an on/off crush on her classmate Elijah since, well, forever. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things offstage are beginning to resemble their own Shakespearean drama: the cast is fighting, and the boy playing Romeo may not be up to the challenge of the role. And due to a last-minute emergency, Mattie is asked to step up and take over the leading role—opposite Gemma’s Juliet—just as Mattie’s secret crush starts to become not-so-secret in her group of friends. In this funny, sweet, and clever look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to become a lead player in her own life.

  • Sarabella's Thinking Cap - From the bestselling creator of Skippyjon Jones, a heartwarming story about the importance of imagination and creativity. Sarabella is always thinking—conjuring, daydreaming, and creating new worlds from her imagination. There is so much going on in her head that it can barely be contained. But there are times when daydreaming is decidedly not a good thing—like when you’re supposed to be doing multiplication tables. Luckily, Sarabella has an understanding teacher and with his encouragement She comes up with her own idea to show everyone who she is.

  • Here Comes Teacher Cat - Cat is not pleased to be tapped as substitute teacher. Not only is it cutting into his nap time, but a roomful of kittens is a little, well, scary. At school, he’s faced with six adorable kittens and follows the lesson plan of music, building, and painting-only in pure, mischief-making Cat style. By the end, Cat has learned a thing or two about inspiring others by being himself. But even more heart-melting and humorous is what the kittens have learned from Cat.

  • Karma Khullar's Mustache - In the tradition of Judy Blume, debut author Kristi Wientge tackles the uncomfortable—but all too relatable—subject of female body hair and self-esteem with this “sparkling and triumphant tale of a middle school misfit” (Heather Vogel Frederick). Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip. With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.

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The Night Before Class Picture Day
Written by Natasha Wing & illustrated by Amy Wummer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

In this Night Before book, kids get ready for that all-important moment of the school year: class picture day!

It’s the night before class picture day, and kids all down the block are getting ready. Everyone wants to look perfect for the photo. They fix their hair, practice smiles, and choose outfits. At school the next day, they try to stay picture-perfect. Will everything look perfect for the big moment when they say, “Cheese?”

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Stella Diaz Has Something to Say
Written by Angela Dominguez
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

A sweet middle-grade novel by award-winning illustrator Angela Dominguez about a shy Mexican-American girl who makes a new friend.

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Katie Finds a Job
Written by Fran Manushkin & illustrated by Tammy Lyon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

As Career Day at school approaches, Katie has great ideas for helping her friends present their future professions, but cannot think of a job that she would like to do.

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R Is For Rebel
Written & illustrated by J. Anderson Coats
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-99

Princess Academy meets Megan Whalen Turner in this stunning novel about a girl who won’t let anything tame her spirit—not the government that conquered her people, and definitely not reform school!

Malley has led the constables on a merry chase across her once-peaceful country. With her parents in prison for their part in a failed resistance movement, the government wants to send her to a national school—but they’ll have to capture her first.

And capture her they do. Malley is carted off to be reformed as a proper subject of the conquering empire, reeducated, and made suitable for domestic service. That’s the government’s plan, anyway.

But Malley will not go down without a fight. She’s determined to rally her fellow students to form a rebellion of their own. The government can lock these girls up in reform school. Whether it can break them is another matter entirely…

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I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard
Written & illustrated by Jennifer K Mann
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Rose’s teacher gives stars for spelling and neatness and giving the right answer, but Rose can’t manage to do any of those things right. Will she ever get a star from Mrs. Benson? Rose is a distracted and creative soul. She does her best at school, but sometimes her mind wanders, and she answers the wrong question. Her reading voice is quiet, not strong and loud. And her desk?—?well, keeping her desk neat is a challenge. When it’s time to make thank-you cards for a class visitor, Rose’s art supplies turn her workspace?—and her?—?into a colorful mess. But her artistic skills shine through in the gorgeous oversize card she creates. Could she possibly get a star after all? A cheerful and empowering picture book for the child whose talents lie in unconventional areas, and those still searching for their strengths.

A Perfect Mess book
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Geraldine book
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  • A Perfect Mess - Readers who love Olivia and Little Elliot, Big City will fall head over heels for this sweet little rhino who always makes a big mess Henry McHenry is one messy rhino, but he tries his best to stay clean for a very important day. He jumps over a mud puddle (and splashes his friend), passes on a gooey jelly donut (just in time for a glob to land on his neighbor), and even manages to shake the ink from his leaky pen (all over his classmates). And while Henry is still neat and tidy at the end of the day, his classmates are anything but . . . This irresistible school story from Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Steve Breen is all about finding happiness in imperfections and being yourself . . . especially on class picture day!

  • Geraldine - No, no, NO! Geraldine is NOT moving. Not to this new town where she’s the only giraffe. Not to this new school where she has no friends. Not to this new place, where everyone only knows her as That Giraffe Girl. But soon Geraldine meets Cassie, a girl who is just as much of an outcast as she is, and as time goes by, she realizes that being yourself and making one really good, unusual friend can help someone who literally stands out fit right in. Together, Geraldine and Cassie play by their own rules.

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