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Starting School: Chapter Books For Kids

Starting school for the first time, starting a new school after a move or educational advancement, or just starting a new grade can be nerve-racking, scary, and exciting. One of the best ways to help your child feel comfortable with this new transition is to read about it. They'll sympathize with how these characters feel and learn through their experiences that starting up school isn't as scary as it sounds, it's actually very fun and full of wonderful opportunities.

Wonder book
#1
Wonder
Written by R. J. Palacio
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from The Fun Uncle

This is a fantastic read. It's one of those books that changes you. I like that Palacio gives us the story through Auggie- Auggie (And Via at certain points) tells us the story from his 10-year-old perspective. Auggie's story is unique, but at the same time it's a story that we can all relate to. Auggie struggles with physical challenges that most of us don't, but I don't think the book is supposed to be about the physical challenges. It's really about the emotional battles he faces that we all encounter. What's more, it's a book that reminds us that others are going through silent challenges too. Wonder is a story that forces us to reconsider how we are treating those that are in our lives. Auggie is physically deformed because of birth and development complications, but he is a strong individual that speaks to us about the unfairness, bullying, betrayal, happiness, and love that we all go through.

Born with a facial deformity that initially prevented his attendance at public school, Auggie Pullman enters the fifth grade at Beecher Prep and struggles with the dynamics of being both new and different, in a sparsely written tale about acceptance and self-esteem.

Lost and Found book
#2
Lost and Found
Written by Andrew Clements and illustrated by Mark Elliott
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

The idea of having a twin and swapping places has always seemed intriguing, but Lost and Found does a great job demonstrating what such an experience might actually be like as these twins start a new school after moving, along with teaching the valuable lessons of being honest and loving the family you have!

Twelve-year-old identical twins Jay and Ray have long resented that everyone treats them as one person, and so they hatch a plot to take advantage of a clerical error at their new school and pretend they are just one.

Isadora moon goes to school book
#3
Isadora moon goes to school
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Meet Isadora Moon! She's half-fairy, half-vampire and totally unique! Isadora Moon loves sunshine — and nighttime. She loves her magic wand — and her black tutu. She loves spooky bats — and Pink Rabbit. Isadora is half-fairy, half-vampire, and she’s special because she is different! Now Isadora’s parents want her to start school, but she’s not sure where she belongs — fairy school or vampire school?

Junie B., First Grader (at Last!) book
#4
Junie B., First Grader (at Last!)
Written by Barbara Park and illustrated by Denise Brunkus
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

Junie B. thinks first grade is a flop when her kindergarten friend Lucille prefers the company of twins Camille and Chenille and Junie B. needs glasses.

Junie B., First Grader book
#5
Junie B., First Grader
Written by Barbara Park and illustrated by Denise Brunkus
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

Junie, an outspoken, sometimes exasperating, first grader is thrilled when she is told she can help out Mrs. Gutzman in the school cafeteria and imagines what it will be like to be a professional lunch lady. Reprint.

The Kid in the Red Jacket book
#6
The Kid in the Red Jacket
Written by Barbara Park
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Howard Jeeter has moved across the country and his only friend is an annoying six-year-old girl. Of course, when you’re really lonely, you’ll be friends with anyone—almost.

No Place Like Home book
#7
No Place Like Home
Written by Dee Romito
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Having to move a lot because of her father's job, Kenzie is happy when an extended assignment allows her to enroll in a Las Vegas middle school, where she takes risks by revealing her crush, auditioning for a play, and running for student council.

Sunday Sundaes book
#8
Sunday Sundaes
Written and illustrated by Coco Simon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Enjoy a sprinkle of happy with this fun, sweet new series from the author of Cupcake Diaries! Meet the Sunday Sundae Sisters! Allie, Sierra, and Tamiko have been best friends since kindergarten. Now Allie’s parents are divorced and Allie has moved one town away. She can still see her friends but she no longer goes to the same middle school. So that means new teachers, new classrooms, and new students to deal with—all without her BFFs for support. But when Allie’s mom decides to fulfill her lifelong dream and open up an ice cream shop, Allie has an idea. Maybe she and her friends can work in the shop every Sunday! It’s a way for them to stay in touch every week and have fun—that is, of course, until they actually start working.

Kid Normal book
#9
Kid Normal
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When Murph Cooper begins his new school several weeks into the year, he can't help but feel a bit out of his depth. And it's not because he's worried about where to sit, making friends, and fitting in. It's because his mom has accidentally enrolled him at a school for superheroes. And unlike his fellow students, who can control the weather or fly or conjure tiny horses from thin air, Murph has no special abilities whatsoever. But Murph's totally normal abilities might just be what the world needs. Because not far away is a great big bad guy who is half man and half wasp, and his mind is abuzz with evil plans . . . and when he comes after the best and the brightest, it's up to Murph to be the real hero. With black-and-white illustrations throughout, this laugh-out-loud story proves that heroes come in all shapes and sizes.

Karma Khullar's Mustache book
#10
Karma Khullar's Mustache
Written and illustrated by Kristi Wientge
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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.

Amina's Voice book
#11
Amina's Voice
Written and illustrated by Hena Khan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this “compassionate, timely novel” (Booklist, starred review) from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns. Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized. Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani-American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.

Two Roads book
#12
Two Roads
Written by Joseph Bruchac
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

In 1932, twelve-year-old Cal must stop being a hobo with his father and go to a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, where he begins learning about his history and heritage as a Creek Indian.

The Un-Friendship Bracelet book
#13
The Un-Friendship Bracelet
Written by Martha Maker and illustrated by Xindi Yan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

In the first book of the Craftily Ever After chapter book series, a new student gets between best friends Emily and Maddie—and changes the meaning of their friendship bracelets! Emily Adams, Maddie Wilson, Bella Diaz, and Sam Sharma are eight-year-olds with one special thing in common: they love to create. They each have unique talents, too! Emily is great at constructing and building; Maddie has an eye for fashion, fabrics, and sewing; Bella is a gadget whiz; and Sam is a gifted artist. Together, these four crafty friends dream up new projects to design, build, and create and through their experiences, they’ll learn how to handle various obstacles at school and in their everyday eight-year-old lives. In the first Craftily Ever After book, best friends Emily and Maddie are so close that they spend most of their free time together, and wear matching friendship bracelets, too! One day, a new student named Bella Diaz shows up at Mason Creek Elementary. Maddie immediately befriends her, discovering that she too is really crafty. As Maddie and Bella spend more time together, Emily finds herself spending more time alone…until she realizes that the boy who’s been sitting next to her in class this whole time loves to draw and create just like she does. When Emily’s friendship bracelet falls off and Maddie doesn’t even notice, Emily begins to think that maybe it was an un-friendship bracelet after all. With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Craftily Ever After chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.

The Alien Next Door 1: The New Kid book
#14
The Alien Next Door 1: The New Kid
Written by A.I. Newton and illustrated by Anjan Sarkar
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

In the first book of the Alien Next Door series, an alien boy named Zeke tries to fit in and adjust to life on Earth, while a classmate, Harris, suspects that Zeke might not be quite what he claims to be. Zeke the alien is on his way to his first day of school, feeling down because he has to start over again on a new planet, as his scientist parents constantly move to wherever their research takes them. When he gets to school, no one seems to notice anything strange or different about him except Harris, a kid obsessed with science fiction and aliens. Harris sees Zeke doing extraordinary things but can't convince anyone, least of all his best friend, Roxy, that Zeke might be an alien. Roxy just thinks Harris is jealous that she's becoming friends with Zeke. But when Roxy invites Zeke over to Harris's house, will Harris find a way to prove that he's right?

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!