It’s back-to-school season, and what better time is there to read about school? This month, we have compiled a list of incredible works that feature a school setting. You’ll find everything from fantasy and dystopia to memoirs and nonfictional chronicles.

The Catcher in the Rye Paperback

The Catcher in the Rye

J. D. Salinger’s classic novel features a troubled but relatable teenager named Holden Caulfield. The novel follows Holden through his adventures and tribulations as he gets expelled from boarding school, tries to understand the world he inhabits, and attempts to return home. The Catcher in the Rye is considered one of the most incisive novels of the 20th century.

Speak Paperback


Teaching this moving novel promises a lead into important discussions about bullying in school, mental health, and sexual crime/consent. Plus, the intimate, natural way the protagonist speaks will grip even the most reluctant of readers.

The Chocolate War Paperback

The Chocolate War

This book shows a different type of school conflict. Jerry, the protagonist, takes a stand against his school’s cruel secret gang using “Do I dare to disturb the universe?” to question the way things are. Students will be amazed as he attempts to enact change while surviving the hostile social environment.

Friday Night Lights Paperback

Friday Night Lights

Looking to teach a school-themed work of nonfiction? Introduce students to H. G. Bissinger’s account of Permian High School’s football team in Odessa, Texas. The book explores the inner workings of this town’s football-crazed culture.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Paperback

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Sherman Alexie’s novel shares the story of Arnold, a bullied teenager who decides to leave his life on an Indian Reservation behind and attend a wealthy white school twenty miles away. His journey is funny, insightful, and, most of all, brutally honest.

A Separate Peace Paperback

A Separate Peace

John Knowles’s coming-of-age novel is perfect to pair with a lesson about World War II; its narrator, Gene, is a man who returns to his former prep school and reflects on a dark period of his adolescence—the summer of 1942 to that of 1943, during which he and his friend Finny experience a loss of innocence that mirrors the War.

The Freedom Writers Diary Paperback

The Freedom Writers Diary

The Freedom Writers Diary was written by a group of students from Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, CA, and their idealistic teacher Erin Gruwell. Gruwell confiscates a racist drawing from one of her students, which leads the class to a life-changing journey against intolerance. She introduces these students to topics such as racism and the Holocaust through The Diary of Anne Frank and Zlata’s Diary.

Warriors Don’t Cry Paperback

Warriors Don’t Cry

In 1957, teenaged Melba Patillo Beals and eight other African American teenagers became the first black students to be integrated into an all-white school in Little Rock, AR. Beals’s powerful memoir relays her experiences attending Little Rock High School—her fears and struggles and her resilience in the face of hate.

Never Let Me Go Paperback

Never Let Me Go

This dystopian novel takes places in an alternate late-1990s England in which citizens’ lives are prolonged through a cloning process. The author slowly reveals the details—and consequences—of this process to the reader. The novel revolves around students/clones Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth, and their complex friendship and experiences at an isolated learning institution.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Paperback

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The first of the beloved series, Sorcerer’s Stone will introduce your students to a captivating world of wizards and witches and Hogwarts, the school of magic they attend as adolescents. Students will root for protagonist Harry Potter and his friends Ron and Hermione as the three of them unlock school secrets and battle evil.