Back To School Stories for Tweens & Young Teens


August can be an exciting time. New classes, new teachers, perhaps even a new school. That means tweens and teens may be experiencing anxiety as they adjust to a change of schedule, make new friends, and explore a new chapter of their lives. Connecting to characters experiencing similar situations and emotions can help them learn and grow from reading their stories. Take a look and discover graphic novels and chapter novels perfect for ages 9-14.


Graphic Novels

Real Friends by Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham

Shannon is the exact middle child of a family with five children. Her older sisters have each other and her younger siblings do too. Shannon feels alone until she meets her friend, Adrienne, and Shannon feels confident and happy to belong, but in the new school year, Adrienne makes new friends with a clique of kids called The Group, that has hard-to-follow rules and a rigid hierarchy. Shannon starts to feel left out, even when being included in The Group. This autobiographical graphic novel tells Shannon’s elementary school story of striving to fit in, learning how to navigate a strange social world while dealing with anxiety, and ultimately learning how to forge her own path and be admired for who she is.


Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Everything changes when Raina trips and falls while on a Girl Scout trip and busts her two front teeth. She just wants to have a regular sixth grade year, but now she must endure braces, surgery, headgear, and retainers. The book spans Raina’s middle school to early high school days and follows her as she discovers her passion for art, her family dynamics, her friendships, crushes, bullies, and finding her own identity and voice. Because of the candidacy of Telgemeier’s writing, many different kids will be about to relate to Raina and her trials and triumphs of growing up.




Stargazing by Jen Wang

Christine just moved to a new Chinese American community and does not know anyone until she meets Moon, a girl rumored to beat up other kids and also her next door neighbor. Naturally, Christine is reluctant to get to know Moon, but when they are pushed together for carpool, Christine discovers Moon is an incredible person to hang out with and shows Christine a new world of possibility where Christine can be free to express herself and have fun. Moon even discloses a secret to Christine, that sometimes she has visions of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. As pressure from her parents to succeed and perform socially and academically consumer Christine, she pushes away from Moon and Moon makes more new friends.


Chapter Novels

The First Rule of Punk by Celia C Pérez

Malú is starting a new middle school in Chicago thousands of miles away from her dad in Florida. Malú loves punk music, making zines, and her exciting visits to her dad’s record store, but most importantly she loves how her life is right now--with her dad in the picture. Now that her mom must move to Chicago for a couple years, so does Malú. Follow her journey to a new school, new city, and new life as she tries her best to follow the first rule of punk: always be yourself.




Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda is a clever child growing up in a home where her family cannot understand her interest in books and knowledge. From the age of three, Matilda taught herself to read and would read anything she could find in her house, including newspapers, magazines, and cookbooks. But she really wants to read a real book and starts at the public library. Matilda reads everything she can and soon develops a surprising new power and begins to create consequences for the shady acts and unfair treatment from her parents. Soon, however, she is sent to a school, where she meets a variety of new people, a kid-hating headmistress, a lovely school teacher, and new friends her age. Matilda must figure out how to use her newfound abilities for good and break free of the oppressive rule of her parents and headmistress. Matilda is a wonderful book for anyone feeling a bit lonely or misunderstood, or who simply loves seeking knowledge and everyday magic.


From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot

Olivia feels like just an average 12-year-old, but she has lived with her aunt and uncle ever since her mom passed and she doesn’t know her father. One day in sixth grade, a popular girl starts bullying Olivia, calling her princess and threatening to beat her up. Olivia doesn’t understand. She hasn’t done anything to provoke her and even thought they were almost friends. But suddenly she is being called a liar and being told her dad is the Prince of Genovia as she is getting shoved down at the bus stop. When Olivia looks up a limo is in front of her, and out steps Princess Mia Thermopolis. If you are familiar with The Princess Diaries series, with this new book, Cabot has added onto the world of Genovia through the eyes of young Princess Olivia.


Pop into the library and explore more titles perfect for the new school year or ask your librarians for recommendations. You can also check out our post, K-12 Books for the New School Year, for more reading!


You can also visit our online catalog from our website or our SHARE Mobile Library application for access to books from all 500+ libraries in our area!



Also check out our many library applications (cloudLibrary, Libby, & Hoopla) located on the eResource page of our website.


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