The new school year has started! The American Psychological Association has books for kids and teens to help with that transition, including books about:
starting school for the very first time,
starting at a new school,
what it’s like to have a learning difference, and
new titles about how to manage challenges in middle school.
Managing Middle School
The Kid Confident Books are an awesome nonfiction book series developed with expert psychologist and series editor, Bonnie Zucker, PsyD, that authentically captures the middle school experience. These books skillfully guide middle schoolers through those tricky years between elementary and high school with a supporting voice of a trusted big sister or a favorite aunt, stealthily offering life lessons and evidence-based coping skills. Kid Confident offers what kids need to have fun with it all and navigate middle school with confidence, humor, perspective, and feel our mad respect for being the amazing humans they already are.
Kid Confident Book 1: How to Master Social Power in Middle School by Bonnie Zucker, PsyD
Kid Confident Book #1 discusses the dynamic of social power, equal and unequal, in the context of friendships and with unfriendly peers. Readers learn how to be more assertive and how to create more self-confidence and balance the power in their friend groups. Check out the book.
Kid Confident Book 2: How to Master Your Mood in Middle School by Lenka Glassman, PsyD
Kid Confident Book #2 helps middle schoolers identify, manage, and self-regulate their emotions and moods. It teaches the importance of sleep, exercise, nutrition and relaxation in creating stability and balance. It also addresses the cognitive distortions that often create an imbalanced mood. Check out the book.
Starting School for the First Time
When a Dragon Goes to School by Caryl Hart
Follow the dragon’s lead as kids headed to class explore school manners. When a dragon goes to school, will she throw crayons and refuse to share the toys? Why, no! Dragons don’t do that! While behaving well at school isn’t always easy, this dragon makes it fun. Check out the book.
A companion book to the manners must-have When a Dragon Comes to Stay, this book helps kids get fired up for good classroom behavior.
Read an interview with Caryl Hart.
I Don’t Want to Go to School! by Alberto Pellai, MD, PhD and Barbara Tamborini
New routine, new friends, new places, and new faces, and parental or caregiver separation can be a lot to handle at first!
This sensitive book will help kids and parents talk about this big step and transition to being apart during the day—and maybe even have fun at school!
This book includes a Reader’s Note to further explain this common behavioral and emotional stage of childhood.
Read an excerpt from I Don’t Want to Go to School!
New Kid, New Scene: A Guide to Moving and Switching Schools by Debbie Glasser, PhD, and Emily Schenck
Calling all new kids! Do you know a kid who is ready for their starring role? Or one who has stage fright? Maybe you know a kid who feels like an extra in a movie featuring some other kids and their fabulous lives?
New Kid, New Scene was written just for kids like that. They will learn ways to get adjusted and ease into their new school and surroundings.
Every chapter is packed with stories, useful advice, and quizzes to help kids learn more about who they are.
This book gives kids the ins and outs of navigating new surroundings, making new friends (as well as staying in touch with old ones), and finding a place that feels like their own.
Goodbye, School by Tonya Lippert, PhD, LCSW
Franny loves her school. She’s played, read, studied, and even napped here. Franny has lots of good memories there. But today it’s time to leave.
As Franny prepares to move to a new school, she takes time to reminisce and cherish her old school. She wants to find a way to honor this special place. How can Franny say goodbye?
The book includes a Reader’s Note by the author with information on how to guide children through periods of transition or change and acknowledge their feelings throughout the experience.
Read an excerpt from Goodbye School.
Strategies for Learning Differences
Brilliant Bea by Shaina Rudolph and Mary Vukadinovich
Brilliant Bea is an endearing and empowering story that demonstrates that a learning difference like dyslexia doesn’t define who you are. Despite her struggles with reading and writing, Beatrice is a natural and brilliant storyteller.
With the help of a kind-hearted teacher, Beatrice uses an old-fashioned tape recorder so she can speak her words and play them back, as a technique for learning in a whole new way. With her new approach, Beatrice is able to show her classmates who she really has been all along. Check out the book.
Brilliant Bea is set in EasyReading, a dyslexia-friendly font.
Read an excerpt from Brilliant Bea.
Hear Brilliant Bea read aloud.
The Homework Squad’s ADHD Guide to School Success by Joshua Shifrin, PhD
The Homework Squad is here for kids with ADHD! This easy-to-use guide will help with key study skills to improve reading, writing, math, listening, memorization, concentration, and more! Bite-sized tips and tricks, journal prompts, and advice for challenges help kids with ADHD recognize how they learn best and act on that knowledge.
This book provides an accessible, straightforward, and relatable guide to key study skills for kids with ADHD that features a cast of characters with ADHD to enliven the lessons. The author covers an array of areas where kids with ADHD might struggle academically to help kids recognize how they learn best and act on that knowledge.
Read an excerpt from The Homework Squad’s ADHD Guide to School Success.
Jacob’s Room to Choose by Sarah and Ian Hoffman
Jacob is the beloved character who made national headlines by wearing a dress to school in his debut book, which is one of the most banned books of the decade according to the American Library Association.
When Jacob goes to the boys’ bathroom he is chased out because the boys think he looks like a girl because of the way he is dressed. His classmate, Sophie, has a similar experience when she tries to go to the girls’ bathroom.
When their teacher finds out what happened, Jacob and Sophie, with the support of administration, lead change at their school as everyone discovers the many forms of gender expression and how to treat each other with respect. Check out the book.
Read an interview with Jacob about gender nonconformity.
Jacob’s School Play: Starring He, She, and They by Sarah and Ian Hoffman
While learning their lines and making their costumes for their school play, Jacob’s class finds itself unexpectedly struggling with identity, and what it means to be “he”, “she”, or “they”.
Jacob’s School Play is an engaging way to introduce young readers to non-binary people and the pronoun options available to us all. Learning that individuals are more nuanced than how others see them is a developmentally important milestone and helps foster respect of one’s self and one’s peers. Check out the book.
Read another interview with Jacob about pronouns.
Feeling Socially Anxious or Shy
Too Shy to Say Hi by Shannon Anderson
Making friends can be tough, but this rhyming picture book will help kids navigate difficulties of shyness and social anxiety.
Shelli used to be content in her little world, thinking that her pet friends with feathers, fins, and fur were enough. Her bird would keep her company at home, her fish would hideaway in his cave, and her dog was the social butterfly of the neighborhood.
But now, Shelli is determined to try to make friends with kids at school. Readers will relate as Shelli takes brave steps toward breaking out of her shell.
This book includes a Note to Parents and Caregivers by Elizabeth McCallum, PhD, with more information about shyness and social anxiety.
Hear Too Shy to Say Hi read aloud.
Find Your Fierce by Jacqueline Sperling, PhD
Teens will become their bravest and fiercest selves and overcome social anxiety disorder with this helpful, upbeat book written by an expert in the field.
Social anxiety is tough, but teens don’t have to figure it out alone. This empowering book will walk them through strategies that work. From practicing mindfulness to relaxing their bodies, readers can train their brains to help them gradually get back to doing more of what they love to do. These tools will help teens manage anxiety in the future and keep it from managing them.
This book uses evidence-based skills from cognitive behavioral therapy to give teens a toolkit to help them overcome their anxiety and move toward becoming their bravest, fiercest selves.