School’s In! A Breakdown of School Stories
As teachers and librarians across the country wrap up their Summer Reading programs, it’s impossible to ignore what lurks ahead: school! While the little guys will be after first-day-of-school and riding-the-bus stories, older readers know very well that school becomes a universal backdrop — if not the main setting — of everyday teen life. School stories are also great for fleshing out your fall booktalks, which is what got me pondering subsets of the traditional school story genre. Here’s what I have so far:
Boarding School: Parents left behind + society of peers + exclusive environment = ideal teen hero incubator
- Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
- Gemma Doyle series, by Libba Bray
- The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart (Printz Honor, 2009)
- Blue Bloods series, by Melissa de la Cruz
- Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Printz winner, 2006)
Private-School Rich Kids: Teens with means are largely unsupervised. Fantasy: for some readers, it’s not supernatural creatures — it’s the life you wish you had.
- Gossip Girl series, by Cecily von Ziegesar (Quick Pick, 2003)
- The Clique series, by Lisi Harrison
- Private series, by Kate Brian
- Pretty Little Liars series, by Sara Shepard
Urban High School: Realistic, gritty, drama-driven stories predominantly featuring African-American characters.
- Bluford High series – various authors (Quick Pick, 2009)
- Kimani Tru series – various authors
- Drama High series, by L. Divine
There’s a Special School for People Like You: For when your skills are too awesome to mix with the normal folks.
- Spy High series, by A.J. Butcher
- Evil Genius series, by Catherine Jinks
- The Princess Diaries series, by Meg Cabot (Quick Pick, 2001)
- Gallagher Girls series, by Ally Carter
- Hex Hall series, by Rachel Hawkins
Shifting/Exchanging: Sometimes, students find themselves switching to something completely different.
- This Girl Is Different, by JJ Johnson
- Schooled, by Gordon Korman
- Gemini Bites, by Patrick Ryan
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Odyssey winner, 2009)
- S.A.S.S. (Students Across the Seven Seas) series – various authors
The School of Life: Coming-of-age outside of school
- Slake’s Limbo, by Felice Holman (PPYA, 1999)
- The Contender, by Robert Lipsyte (Margaret A. Edwards Award winner, 2001)
- The Piper’s Son, by Melina Marchetta (Best Fiction for YAs nominated, 2012)
I’m sure there are tons of titles and categories I’ve forgotten. Feel free to continue in the comments, and happy back-to-school season!
–Becky O’Neil, currently reading Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card