Friday, August 7, 2020

Riveting Back-to-School Reads During Covid

I don't know about you, but my kids are a little creeped out right now. Not to mention feeling unsettled about the idea of wearing masks to school or sitting at a desk surrounded by Plexiglas. My son's school has decided on a hybrid classroom, with in-person attendance two days per week and virtual study the other days. Some families are choosing all virtual (my son's not-so-secret dream). 

Regardless of the structure decided on, middle grade readers need something to take their minds off how strange school (and life) are right now, during the Covid pandemic.This back-to-school list features books with a variety of educational settings that range from magical to downright creepy. They're sure to entertain, while also reminding kids that life isn't quite so crazy after all. These are not all strictly middle grade; some may appeal to more advanced readers.

The Charlie Bone Series by Jenny Nimmo

This story features Charlie Bone and other descendants of the Red King, who attend the magical Bloor's Academy. Students focus on art, drama, or music, which sounds pretty cool until you hear some of the school's draconian rules. 
Silence in the hall,
Talking not at all,
Even if you fall,
Never cry or call,
Be you small or tall.
Not to mention the hypnotic powers of some of the students. Prepare to be spooked!

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

In Battle School, young Ender trains to fight hostile aliens. But his training is not what it seems. It's also quite a contrast to what kids might experience today!

The Magic School Bus Series by Joanna Cole

This book series has been around forever, but new installments have been released along with a Netflix adaptation. The story centers around Ms. Frizzle and her students as they explore the world of science, large and small, through the transforming powers of the magic school bus.

 The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

Hogwarts, of Harry Potter lore, is a favorite fictional school the world over. Whether middle grades (or any of the rest of us) are reading them for the first time or the hundredth, Rowling will enchant and petrify in equal measure. There are tons of extras to read and activities to explore on the official Harry Potter website,

The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

In this lyrical book, Miri and the other teenage girls from her mountain village are forced to attend an academy, where they are trained to become the potential princess. Needless to say, the competition is fierce, but not as harsh as the academy mistress or the bandits who invade the school. It is up to Miri to save them through a magic unique to the mountain dwelling people.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

The evil principal at Crunchem Hall terrorizes her students until Matilda discovers telekinetic powers and uses them to fight back.

What are some of your favorite fictional school tales? 

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