Reading list

7 books for surviving school

For as long as there’s been school, there’ve been students who have a tough time with it. But whether your back-to-schooler is nervous, bored, or just feels like no one really gets them, these books can help

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How to Be a Bawse

Lilly Singh

If surviving school seems kind of a daunting challenge, YouTube sensation Lilly Singh has the answers. She’s a bawse: confident, efficient, successful and positive – and her book shows you how to be that way, too. Pulling no punches, Singh delivers the knowledge needed not just to survive teenage years, but to conquer them. Tips include forgetting FOMO, spending time in a room where you’re the ‘dumbest’ (to learn from others) and scheduling inspiration time. This book is an especially great read for anyone feeling a bit nervous about starting at a new school.

 

A Year in the Life of a Total and Complete Genius 

Stacey Matson

It can be frustrating when no one around you seems to see how smart you really, truly are, but this book offers plenty of encouragement. Arthur is pretty sure he’s a complete and total genius, but he’d just like to tick a couple of small items off his to-do list to be sure. One is to win the school writing contest – en route to becoming a rich and famous author, of course – and the other is to charm lovely Kennedy. He’s had some pretty bad luck recently, but he won’t let that get him down - it’s only a matter of time until he’s winning prizes and stunning his teachers. 

 

All the Bright Places 

Jennifer Niven

This story of the hope to be found in friendship is a great read for students going through a tough time. Finch and Violet don’t know each other but are both, in their own different ways, desperately unhappy. Finch has been contemplating ending it all, and Violet is grieving after the death of her sister. They eventually reach their limits and climb to the top of the school tower, where they meet and begin to believe the future could be brighter - but only if they stick together.

 

One of Us Is Lying

Karen McManus

For anyone who gets bored of the cliques and social politics of school, this thrilling tale of deception and scheming is a great shakeup of all those geek/rebel/ princess/bully stereotypes. When five very different high school students go into detention, only four leave alive – and they soon find themselves suspects in the case. They’ve all got something to hide, but murder victim Simon turns out to hold the deepest, darkest secrets. Who ever said school was dull?

 

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson has a tough time at school; no matter how hard he tries, trouble always seems to find him. Turns out this is because he’s a demigod, son of the Olympian Poseidon. But when he leaves his regular school behind for Camp Half-Blood, a training ground for young demigods, he learns to harness his powers and meets friends who can help him in his mission to stop a feud among the gods from creating war on earth, and rescue his mother from Hades’ underworld. Riordan wrote these stories for his son who, like Percy, has dyslexia and ADHD, and found school a bit tricky.

 

Wonder

RJ Palacio

Not everyone stands out by choice, and school can be seriously hard for those that desperately want to blend in, but can’t. Eleven year-old Auggie is one such kid; he was born looking different to most of his classmates. In fact, he looks so different that he’s been home-schooled all of his life. But now the time has come to join the crowd; the same crowd that stares and mocks him in the street. Unsurprisingly, he’s dreading it. But Auggie is determined to get on with his life. And with a huge dollop of courage and the support of his family, he manages to do just that - although not without a few dramas along the way. An incredibly uplifting story about learning to love what makes you, and others – stand out, this book will be a hit with readers of all ages. 

 

The Outsiders

SE Hinton

For every teenager, there are times in life when adults just don’t get it. SE Hinton’s book is a read for those moments. There’s no tale like it to capture the cliques and politics of high-school life; probably because Hinton started writing it when she was fifteen years old. When two rival groups, the Greasers and the Socials, become embroiled in a series of scuffles, it ends in disaster as one of them is killed - arguably in self-defence. This moment, and its fallout, forces the teens to grow up quickly as they try to make sense of what has happened. And meanwhile, assignments are due, parents are meddling and teachers are nagging…

 

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