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Back to School: Cool!

The fall decor is already out in craft stores, and pumpkin spice whispers are beginning, so we know Back to School season is officially upon us. Whether you've already successfully navigated your First Day or you're still planning the perfect First Day Outfit, we'd like to help ease the transition from summer to school with some great school stories. These titles remind us that school can be just as action-packed as any summer - for better or worse. Not every day is going to be perfect, but like the characters in these stories discover, every challenge can be overcome, often with the help of friends.

School Stories

Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker

Waylon has lots of ideas for making life more awesome through science, like teleportation, human gills, and attracting cupcakes by controlling gravity. But it's impossible for him to concentrate on his inventions when he's experiencing his own personal Big Bang. Arlo Brody is dividing the fourth grade boys into two groups. Waylon would rather be friends with everyone. Well, everyone except the scary new kid, Baxter Boylen. Waylon's older sister, Neon, is shooting away from the family. He wishes everything would go back to the way it was before she started wearing all black and saying "What's the point?" all the time. Just when it looks as though Waylon's universe is exploding, something happens to bring it all together again, and it is, without a doubt, One Awesome Thing.

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea

It's the start of fifth grade for seven kids at Snow Hill School. There's Jessica, the new girl, smart and perceptive, who's having a hard time fitting in; Alexia, a bully, your friend one second, your enemy the next; Peter, class prankster and troublemaker; Luke, the brain; Danielle, who never stands up for herself; shy Anna, whose home situation makes her an outcast; and Jeffrey, who hates school. Only Mr. Terupt, their new and energetic teacher, seems to know how to deal with them all. He makes the classroom a fun place, even if he doesn't let them get away with much . . . until the snowy winter day when an accident changes everything-and everyone.

Blast from the Past by Meg Cabot

Allie's excited about her class field trip. Sure, it's to a historic one-room schoolhouse, built back before there was the Internet or even cell phones, and Allie's teacher is encouraging everyone to dress up in old timey costumes, which some of Allie's friends are actually doing. GAH! But at least she gets to ride on a bus, which she's never gets to do, living so close to school that she actually has to walk there every day!  But then Mrs. Hunter announces that every student in Room 209 has been assigned a buddy for the day--from Allie's old 4th grade class at Walnut Knolls Elementary School, with whom Pine Heights Elementary is pairing up for the trip. And Allie's buddy just happens to be her ex-best friend Mary Kay, who betrayed Allie right before she moved! Allie is going to have to spend a whole day sharing an old-timey desk with a big crybaby!   As if things aren't bad enough, with renovations going on at Allie's house--there's a hole in the wall that her kitten, Mewsie, keeps disappearing into. What if Allie's mom and dad and Uncle Jay make a mistake, and Mewsie gets trapped inside the wall forever?--and with Cheyenne O'Malley and Brittany Hauser getting assigned to be buddies together, it looks like this is one blast from the past Allie may not survive. In fact, she's had enough with old-timey things. It might be time to employ some new rules!

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Audiobooks support literacy programs

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

What if you went to a school where it was actually all right to be who you really are? That's the enchanting place David Levithan has created in his highly acclaimed first novel. But even if the gay kids and the straight kids all get along just fine, even if it's all right for the quarterback to be a cross dresser named Infinite Darlene and the cheerleaders to ride Harleys into the pep rally, the road to true love is still a strange and winding path—as Paul discovers when he meets the boy of his dreams. Charming, funny, delightful, and utterly heartwarming, this YA novel speaks with clarity and depth about our need to love and be loved.

Children of the River by Linda Crew

Seventeen-year-old Sundara often thinks about how far she has come. Fleeing the Khmer Rouge army, she escaped from Cambodia with her aunt and traveled to the United States. Now she is a high school student in Oregon, but her aunt still expects her to be a traditional Cambodian girl. Through shared interests, Sundara becomes friends with Jonathan, a handsome classmate. Although she knows she is risking her aunt's disfavor, the young woman feels her affection for Jonathan changing into love. As the differences between American customs and Cambodian beliefs become more apparent to her each day, Sundara desperately looks for some way to resolve them. Children of the River won an International Reading Association Children's Book Award and is a Golden Kite Honor Book. 

Taking Sides by Gary Soto

Eighth-grader Linc Mendoza has moved from a dusty San Francisco barrio to a well-groomed suburb and a new junior high school. Suddenly he's in the minority, a Mexican-American in a mostly white school. The basketball coach is tough on him. Classes are even tougher. And his best friend is back in the old neighborhood. To make things worse, the basketball team is scheduled to play against Linc's old school in a league game. How can Linc play his best when he's shooting against his former teammates? To find an answer, Linc will need to sort through a maze of emotions and some tricky moves on the court. It is a journey that will teach him much about choices and change. Narrator Robert Ramirez's tones capture each of Linc's frustrations and joys. This is a gripping story by an award-winning author noted for realistic tales of Mexican-American life and culture.

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Give Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth

A powerful new book that speaks the truth on race, relationships, and rock from two unforgettable perspectives. Carson Mastick is entering his senior year of high school and desperate to make his mark, on the reservation and off. A rock band -- and winning the local Battle of the Bands, with its first prize of a trip to New York City -- is his best shot. But things keep getting in the way. Small matters like the lack of an actual band, or the fact that his brother just got shot confronting the racist owner of a local restaurant. Maggi Bokoni has just moved back to the reservation from the city with her family. She's dying to stop making the same traditional artwork her family sells to tourists (conceptual stuff is cooler), stop feeling out of place in her new (old) home, and stop being treated like a child. She might like to fall in love for the first time too. Carson and Maggi -- along with their friend Lewis -- will navigate loud protests, even louder music, and first love in this stirring novel about coming together in a world defined by difference.

Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka

Two lonely boys who don't know each other meet on a city street.  Brought together with a simple "Yo!" answered by the other one's "Yes?" and the bounce of a basketball, this modern classic will strike a chord with every child who's ever longed for a friend.

Maple & Willow Apart by Lori Nichols

Funny, relatable sibling dynamics make this story a wonderful way to address navigating big changes. Maple and Willow have always been inseparable. So what happens when Maple starts big-girl school and Willow stays behind? Well, of course, both girls have marvelous adventures of their own, but the truth is, they miss each other. And when they see that the missing is mutual, they find a unique way to feel connected even when they have to be apart.

Remember this is just a small selection of the thousands of titles in the Tales2go library! If you're looking for a specific topic related to school, use the keyword or advanced search tools to help narrow your results. Happy New School Year! 

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**Editor's Note: This post was written by Darcy Pattison, from Mims House, a publisher whose books are now available on Tales2go. This is an excerpted repost. Read more at Mims House.

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