5 Back to School Feel Good Reads for the Entire Family

Powerful, moving, and empathetic—these are the kinds of stories that your family will love and learn from.

reads for the entire family

Between Comic Con and the fall movie season kicking into high gear, we’ve been hearing about a lot of awesome new films lately. But one we’re especially excited about is the family film Wonder, based on the bestselling novel by R. J. Palacio.

reads for the entire family

See You in the Cosmos

By Jack Cheng

Told in a stream-of-consciousness style, Cheng’s debut is all about 11-year-old space lover, Alex Petroski. Alex is determined to record messages on his iPod for any potential aliens out there, introducing them to earth and how he understands it. The book follows that form, and through Alex’s voice we learn about his interests, his complicated family struggles, and his hopes and dreams for the future. Charming and sweet, Alex is the kind of character you’ll be instantly drawn to.

Caitlin says: “The main character reminds me a bit of Auggie and the format of the book is really unique. It’s powerful, like Wonder.”

reads for the entire family

The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island

By Dana Alison Levy

The sequel to 2014’s The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher brings us even more of the Fletchers and their rambunctious life. Two dads and four adopted boys make up the bunch, and each book is a rambling, funny, and touching recount of their lives. In this story, the family heads to Rock Island for the summer, but of course there are lots of adventures to have along the way. 

Levy never shies away from the realities of what it means to be a blended family, nor does she make them the spotlight. Instead, it’s a sweet and entertaining tale about a family who truly loves each other – with just enough meat to spark some interesting discussions with your kids.

Caitlin says: “I love these books. [They’re] a portrait of a loving family filled with humor and everyday events and issues.”

reads for the entire family

Out of My Mind

By Sharon M. Draper

Out of My Mind is quickly on its way to becoming a modern classic, thanks to Draper’s expert prose and a main character who you just can’t help but root for. 11-year-old Melody has cerebral palsy, making it impossible for her to walk or talk or communicate in the way she wants to. While her teachers and doctors think that she has trouble learning, the opposite is true: Melody has a photographic memory, and is incredibly smart; she simply learns differently. 

When she suddenly acquires the ability to communicate with those around her, her world opens up in a way she only dreamed of. But of course it’s more complicated than that, and Melody’s journey is one that will have you laughing and crying by the end.

Caitlin says: “This is generally my go-to for a family read! I’ve never had anyone hand it back to me and say they were disappointed. It reels you in right from the very first page.”

reads for the entire family

Save Me a Seat

By Sarah Weeks & Gita Varadarajan

This co-written book tells the story of two boys who have nothing (and everything) in common. Ravi just moved from India, while Joe has been living in the same town forever. But both feel isolated from their peers and both have to deal with a bully, Dillon, who’s popular and a little ruthless. 

The two friends slowly learn to find acceptance and comfort in each other. If you’ve ever sympathized with the lonely kid looking for a place to eat lunch, then this is the perfect family read.

Caitlin says: “This is a great book to read right before the beginning of the school year. It’s about friendship, open-mindedness, acceptance, and kindness. It’s a great message and a great way to start off the year.”

reads for the entire family

The Seventh Wish

By Kate Messner

A touch of magic only helps to emphasize the more serious issues at the heart of Messner’s inventive story. When 12-year-old Charlie finds a magical fish that can grant wishes, she thinks all of her problems are about to go away. But these wishes come with a catch, something she learns a little too late. In the meantime, she has more serious family stuff to deal with, including her college-aged sister’s secret heroin addiction. It’s not easy to blend the fantastical with the painfully realistic, but Messner does an excellent job in The Seventh Wish.

Caitlin says: “[This book] sensitively addresses an underrepresented issue in middle grade literature: addiction. If reading with the family, I’d stress that it might be an emotionally difficult one! But it’s an important issue to bring to the surface and will spark some great and valuable discussions.”

This article originally appeared on BookTrib.

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