Just in time for the start of a new school year with new pencils, new protractors, new textbooks: our Back-to-School Backpack Booklist! As is our custom, the Back-to-School Backpack list features a few additions to the usual fiction lineup. This year, we have a short section on science books that covers a wide variety of ages, and we are also offering a short section on spiritual books to help your children be well rounded students of all subjects! It’s easy to overlook the need to educate and instruct in spiritual matters in the excitement of new math books, but this list will help you cover the bases.
Picture Books (Ages 0-8)
- Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole. Can you spot the cat with the spot in this cleverly illustrated black-and-white wordless picture book?
- Emma and Julia Love Ballet by Barbara McClintock. Emma, a young ballet student, and Julia, a professional dancer, simultaneously dance their way through a typical day in this sweet picture book.
- This is My Home, This is My School by Jonathan Bean (for homeschoolers!)
- School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex and illustrated by Christian Robinson (for traditional classroom schoolers!). The back-to-school narrative is flipped on its head in this colorful picture book as School, himself, is the main character!
- Steamboat School by Deborah Hopkinson and Ron Husband (historical fiction about school) Inspired by true events, this is the story of a St. Louis reverend who moved his school off shore to neutral waters when the law made it illegal to teach African Americans.
Early Readers (Ages 4-8)
- Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Rae Perkins (picture book but a fantastic fit for early elementary!) Frank and Lucky’s close friendship leads them into countless adventures in learning, where “school subjects” never see the inside of a classroom.
- A Complicated Case by Ulf Nillson (early chapter book) A funny, chapter book mystery for newly independent readers!
- When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano (poetry) Short, free verse poems as journal entries over the course of a year capture the feel of changing seasons in this well-illustrated book for elementary school children
- Spirit Week Showdown by Crystal Allen (realistic fiction) Mya Tibbs is the perky, enthusiastic narrator of this family- and school-based series for advanced chapter-book readers.
Middle Grades (Ages 8-12; books listed in order of age appropriateness)
- Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan (realistic fiction) “Don’t judge a book–or a 5th grader–by its cover” is the message that comes through loud and clear in this heart-warming middle grades title.
- Josh Baxter Levels Up by Gavin Brown (realistic fiction) A 12-year-old video gamer learns to “level up” his academic and social skills to meet real-life challenges.
- The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill by Andrea Warren (narrative nonfiction) This accessible biography reveals the extraordinary, historically significant, and surprisingly admirable life of an American legend.
- Katie Friedman Gives up Texting by Tommy Greenwald (realistic fiction) Middle-graders who swear off texting for one week have to discover other means of communication, with mixed results.
Teen (Ages 12 and up)
- It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozah Dumas (historical fiction) An Iranian girl in a California middle school struggles to bridge cultures in this compelling, semi-autobiographical narrative.
- Calvin by Martine Leavitt (realistic fiction) A schizophrenic teen embarks on a quest for self-discovery and truth that becomes a struggle for survival.
- Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts by Susan Cain (nonfiction). Susan Cain adapts her adult best-seller Quiet for a younger audience, sharing thoughts and tips on making the most of an introverted nature.
- We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Hitler by Russell Freedman (narrative nonfiction) Russell Freedman covers the White Rose student movement, a German anti-Nazi protest during World War II, with an emphasis on the organizers’ Christian faith.
Science Books (All Ages)
- The Kids Book of Simple Machines: Cool Projects and Activities That Make Science Fun by Kelly Doudna (physics!) A perfect instruction manual for young tinkerers who want to know how things work and how to leverage the six simple machines to build cool stuff!
- Science Experiments You Can Eat by Vicki Cobb (chemistry and some biology) Kids will love getting to eat their science projects in this clever, well organized book all about science.
- The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments: Awesome Things to Do with Your Parents, Babysitters, and Other Adults by Holly Homer and Rachel Miller. There’s no excuse to be bored with this book lying around: chemistry, physics, the natural world, and even the human body are just a page away!
Biblical Resources (All Ages)
- The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung (The Bible in story format; best for ages 4-10). A vibrantly illustrated retelling of the story of the Bible: Jesus’s redemption of God’s people.
- The Ology by Marty Machowski (best for ages 6-10)
- God’s Design by Sally Michael and Gary Steward (family devotional)
- The HCSB Essential Teen Study Bible (middle grades and teens) The HCSB Essential Teen Study Bible presents 99 “Essential Doctrines” with extensive scriptural backup and application.