Heading back to the classroom soon? Here are a few of back-to-school chapter books that mark and celebrate this season in unforgettable ways. Whether you read them aloud as a family or read them individually and discuss, these heartwarming stories are sure to bless and inspire you. Don’t miss them.
Our Family’s Favorite Back-to-School Chapter Books
WONDER by R.J. Palacio
Our family just finished the book Wonder, and it was every bit as WONDERful as one would expect a book by that title to be.
August Pullman was born with a severe facial deformity. He’s been homeschooled all his life, until this year, when he enters mainstream school as a fifth grader. This book chronicles the year as it unfolds. It shares both the good and the bad, moments of tender compassion and instances of callous cruelty, told from a variety of perspectives. We hear from Auggie himself, a few of his friends, his sister Via, and Via’s boyfriend.
Our family laughed and cried and truly connected with the characters. So much so, in fact, that if Palacio were to follow Auggie’s story through high school, Harry Potter style, we would totally buy the whole set. Otherwise, we’ll just have to read this one again and again.
SCHOOLED by Gordon Korman
We read Gordon Korman’s Schooled about the time we started back to school last fall, but we’re getting ready to read it again.
For the past 14 years, Capricorn Anderson has lived on an isolated farm alone with his hippie, homeschooling grandmother. When she is hospitalized after an injury, Cap starts middle school on a public school campus.
There he seems painfully out-of-place and off-pace with modern youth culture. Yet despite all the rudeness and ridicule he encounters, he manages to retain his values and his positive outlook, and eventually earns the sincere respect of his classmates. A fun read, this book is a family favorite.
LARGER-THAN-LIFE LARA by Dandi Daley Mackall
When I spotted Larger-Than-Life Lara as free offering from Tyndall’s My Reader Rewards Program, I was thrilled. I’d read Mackall’s Just Sayin’ previously and loved it, so I was eager to try another of her titles.
I ordered it right away and read it aloud to my children over the course of a week. My husband got in on the book a couple chapters in and was as interested as our kids to hear how the tale unfolded. Mackall is such an imaginative storyteller; she has quickly become one of our new favorite authors.
The story centers on Lara, the title character, who is the object of intense bullying at her new school. Yet she forgives freely and treats her attackers with kindness and compassion. The story is told from the perspective of one of Lara’s classmates. With chapters such as “Setting,” “Dialogue,” “Conflict,” “Suspense,” and “Cliff Hanger,” readers learn about what makes a good story even as they’re reading one.
More Back-to-School Fun
As you might guess, one reason these three books appeal to us is that the main characters in two of the stories were homeschooled (and the third probably should’ve been). Sooner or later, each of our children will be transitioning out of home and into the wide wide world. And as they do, we want them to change that world for the better. To contribute to society in meaningful ways. To repay cruelty with kindness. And to positively influence the people who cross their paths.
August Pullman, Capricorn Anderson, and Lara Phelps achieved all those goals beautifully. Their stories are inspirational.
For more fun back-to-school books and activities, check out the following posts:
- Back-to-School Picture Books
- Colorful Back-to-School Banner
- Back-to-School Coloring Pages
- More Fun Ways to Celebrate the Start of a New School Year
Join the My Reader Rewards program today
UPDATE: If you haven’t already signed up for My Reader Rewards Club , I’d urge you to do so without delay. The program is free, and they offer lots of fun and easy ways to earn points: taking surveys, voting on new book covers, sharing memes on social media, reviewing products, etc.
You’ll use your accumulated points to “purchase” rewards. I’ve seen some rewards in the past go for as few as 50 points per copy. You’ll earn your first 25 points simply by signing up through this referral link (and I’ll earn 10 points, so thanks!). From there, click on the “Earn Points” tab, subscribe to their newsletter, fill out a survey, and join the birthday club — and you’ll have the points you need to order a free copy of one of Mackall’s books yourself. You don’t even have to pay shipping.