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Does your child need a little more inspiration to get in the mood for the first day of school? Instead of trying another pep talk, why not suggest a book? Authors have long found inspiration at the start of a new school year, but a good book can do more than entertain: it can remind our little readers that any of their own struggles, separation anxieties and fears of the first day of school are completely normal. Another reason why the authors find school such a fascinating setting? It is also a place where children do more than learn. Most of the books on our list go beyond the jitters of the first day of school to examine the social issues children face every day.
To help you find a list of fun and varied books that all ages will enjoy, we’ve done what any smart parent would do: ask the librarians. Betsy Bird is a librarian and author of Santa’s big spade. The Cooperative Children’s Book Center is part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Library Science and publishes an annual list of the best books for children and parents. Their recommendations come from previous publications of Choice CCBC. We also scoured bestseller lists to find a few of our fan-favorite picks.
From books that follow nervous preschoolers to high schoolers who take a stand against systematic injustice, there are books for all levels and readers in our roundup.
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A version of this story was first published in 2019.