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What to Read Next: Back-to-School Books for August
Summer never seems long enough. Before you know it, it's time to head back to the classroom. Help your kids get in the mood with these school-themed books that deal with fun, friendship, and fitting in, as well as some serious problems such as bullies.
- For kids age 3 to 6, check out Monsters Love School by Mike Austin. This exuberant sequel to Monsters Love Colors features the cute, enthusiastic, upbeat, not scary monsters on their first day at Monster School -- which looks a lot like kindergarten. Moving from pre-school jitters -- "What if I get hungry?" "What if no one likes me?" -- through an engaging day of classes and recess, this lively picture book is very reassuring, as nice teachers are friendly and welcoming, and school looks like loads of fun. A great choice for kids starting preschool, kindergarten, or facing the prospect of going to a new school.
- For kids age 7 to 10, there's Rachel Vail's Justin Case: Rules, Tools, and Maybe a Bully. This is the third book in the Justin Case series, but you don't have to have read the first two to enjoy this one. Worrywart narrator Justin recaps enough so the reader knows what went on in third grade and the summer after. In the new book, Justin's starting fourth grade, navigating changing friendships, and dealing with quirky family members. His perennially worried narrative voice and his frequent leaps from utter confusion to brilliant insight and back again will keep young readers entertained and reflecting on their own experiences. The book works as either a read-alone or a giggle-producing read-aloud.
- For teens age 14 to 17, try Homeroom Diaries by James Patterson and Lisa Papademetriou (Middle School: My Brother Is a Big, Fat Liar). There's some serious stuff here, including cyberbullying, depression, and a teen suicide attempt. But the black-and-white comic book-style illustrations throughout lighten things up and give the book the feel of a journal. And it's easy to fall in love with protagonist Maggie -- or Cuckoo, as she calls herself -- and her band of misfit friends as they work on their own happiness and come up with a creative plan to create a healthier, more positive culture in the school around them.