Back to School Booklist for Teens

Get ready for back-to-school season with our collection of recommended reads for teens about friendship, social emotional development, and navigating difficult situations. Discover more the library has to offer students and educators on our back-to-school landing page.

Albertalli, Becky

Contrary to popular belief, best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are not codependent. Carpooling to and from theater rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment. Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway. But when Kate and Andy's latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script. Matt Olsson is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson. Turns out, communal crushes aren't so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson's friendship.

Brock, Rose (editor)

A collection of essays and original stories by some of today's most influential young adult authors that speaks directly to teens on how to find hope and comfort in today's turbulent society.

Burkhart, Jessica (editor)

Thirty-one young adult authors share their own struggles with mental illness, ranging from such topics as neurodiversity and addiction to OCD and PTSD.

Callender, Kacen

Felix Love, a transgender seventeen-year-old, attempts to get revenge by catfishing his anonymous bully, but lands in a quasi-love triangle with his former enemy and his best friend.

Cane, Tina

Alma's life is a constant of halfways: She's half-Chinese, half-Jewish; her parents spend half the time fighting, and the other half silent; and, at thirteen, she's halfway through becoming a woman. Then comes the year when everything changes, and her life is overtaken by constant endings: friends move away, romances bloom and wither, her parents file for divorce, and just like that her childhood seems to be over. Among this world of confusing beginnings, middles, and endings, could there be a roadmap for Alma to truly find herself?

Ciarrochi, Joseph

Building on the success of The Thriving Adolescent and Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life for Teens, psychologists and teen experts Louise Hayes and Joseph Ciarrochi show teens how to face common daily challenges-including bullying; feeling lonely, depressed, or anxious; failing school; achieving peak performance in sports; and much more. With this fun and illustrated guide, teen readers will find solid and actionable skills to help them overcome these challenges, increase psychological flexibility, and achieve their goals.

Cuevas, Mayra

Neither Malena nor Ruby expected to be leaders of their high school's dress code rebellion. Meanwhile, the girls have to face their own insecurities and biases, as well as the ups and downs of their newfound friendship.

Curato, Mike

It's the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone's going through changes--but for Aiden, the stakes feel higher. As he navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can't stop thinking about), he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance.

Fahmy, Huda

Huda and her family just moved to Dearborn, Michigan, a small town with a big Muslim population. In her old town, Huda knew exactly who she was: She was the hijabi girl. But in Dearborn, everyone is the hijabi girl. Huda is lost in a sea of hijabis, and she can't rely on her hijab to define her anymore. She has to define herself. So she tries on a bunch of cliques, but she isn't a hijabi fashionista or a hijabi athlete or a hijabi gamer. She's not the one who knows everything about her religion or the one all the guys like. She's miscellaneous, which makes her feel like no one at all. Until she realizes that it'll take finding out who she isn't to figure out who she is.

Henry, Katie

Sixteen-year-old Izzy is used to keeping her thoughts to herself--in school, where her boyfriend does the talking for her, and at home, where it's impossible to compete with her older siblings and high-powered parents. When she mistakenly walks into a stand-up comedy club and performs, the experience is surprisingly cathartic. After the show, she meets Mo, an aspiring comic who's everything Izzy's not: bold, confident, comfortable in her skin. Mo invites Izzy to join her group of friends and introduces her to the Chicago open mic scene. The only problem? Her new friends are college students--and Izzy tells them she's one, too. Now Izzy, the dutiful daughter and model student, is sneaking out to perform stand-up with her comedy friends. Her controlling boyfriend is getting suspicious, and her former best friend knows there's something going on. But Izzy loves comedy and this newfound freedom. As her two parallel lives collide--in the most hilarious of ways--Izzy must choose to either hide what she really wants and who she really is, or finally, truly stand up for herself.

Jensen, Kelly (editor)

Thirty-seven contributors-including model Tyra Banks, gymnast Aly Raisman, and bestselling YA authors-explore the world in their unique bodies through essays, lists, comics, and art, from the award-winning editor of (Don't) Call Me Crazy.

Hugstad, Kristi

Outlines daily practices that promote physical, mental, and emotional health for young people making the transition to adulthood. The author covers practices such as journaling, exercise, healthy sleep habits, time management, and mindfulness, with brief discussions of scientific research showing the proven benefits of each practice.

Khorram, Adib

Clinically-depressed Darius Kellner, a high school sophomore, travels to Iran to meet his grandparents, but it is their next-door neighbor, Sohrab, who changes his life.

Loutzenhiser, Katy

Zan is baffled when her best friend, Priya, stops answering her emails after moving to California, but new friend, Logan, presents the disturbing possibility that Priya cannot answer.

Maldonado, Crystal

Seventeen-year-old Kat Sanchez uses photos of a friend to create a fake Instagram account, but when one of her posts goes viral and exposes Kat's duplicity, her entire world--both real and pretend--comes crashing down around her.

Padian, Maria

Since her Marine father died in Iraq six years ago, Izzy Crawford and her mother have moved to a new town nearly every year. When their small family arrives in Virginia during her junior year, all Izzy's dreams start clicking into place. She likes her new school. And best of all: Izzy's family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a brand-new house. Izzy is this close to the community and permanence she's been searching for... until all the secret pieces of her life begin to collide.

Philippe, Ben

Norris Kaplan is clever, cynical, and quite possibly too smart for his own good. A Black French Canadian whose family just moved to Austin, Texas, Norris finds himself cataloging everyone he meets: the Cheerleaders, the Jocks, the Loners, and even the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. He's amusing himself until it's time to go back to Canada. But soon those labels soon become actual people: loner Liam, who makes it his mission to befriend Norris; Madison the beta cheerleader, who is so nice that it has to be a trap. And Aarti the Manic Pixie Dream Girl might be a real love interest in the making. When Norris screws everything up royally on prom night, will he be able to stop hiding behind his snarky opinions, and start living his life?

Rigaud, Debbie

At seventeen Simone Thibodeaux is fed up with her over-protective mother's insistance on micro-managing her life, like picking her prom date from a "nice" Haitian immigrant family, and anyway she is determined to attend with Gavin Stackhouse (even if he does not know that yet); so together with her fellow late-bloomer friends Simone comes up with a bucket list of rule-breaking (like cutting classes, and sneaking out of the house)--but soon things get complicated, and Simone has to decide which rules are worth breaking, and which should just be left alone.

Sperling, Jacqueline

Become your bravest and fiercest self and overcome social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety is tough, but you don't have to figure it out alone. This empowering books will walk you through strategies that work. From practicing mindfulness to relaxing your body, you can train your brain to help you gradually get back to doing more of what you love to do. Master tools to manage anxiety in the future and keep it from managing you!

Winters, Julian

Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron: he's the out-and-proud, super-likable guy who friends, faculty, and fellow students alike admire for his cheerful confidence. Under pressure to write an A+ essay defining who he is and who he wants to be, Remy embarks on an emotional journey toward reconciling the outward labels people attach to him with the real Remy Cameron within.

Woodfolk, Ashley

In New York City, follows the breakup of teenaged best friends Cleo and Layla, told in alternating timelines.