Delightful books for the beginning of the school year

Late August into October makes me want to read books that take place in schools. Even though my own school days are years in the past, that whole freshly-sharpened pencil feeling still gets to me.

Some of my favorite school days books are as follows. I think they are all middle grade/young adult.

The Betsy-Tacy series. The ones that really feel school day-ish are the high school ones, which are based heavily on the real life experiences of the author, Maud Hart Lovelace, and come straight out of her pre-World War 1 diaries. They are delightful, and the illustrations of Vera Neville are absolutely charming. The high school books are titled Heaven to Betsy (freshman), Betsy In Spite of Herself (sophomore), Betsy Was a Junior (junior) and Betsy and Joe (senior). I have lots more to say about the Betsy books. But I’ll save that for another post.

Speaking of Betsy, another book about another Betsy with a strong school focus is Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. This Betsy gets an unexpected change similar to Montgomery’s Emily in Emily of New Moon and moves into a farmhouse with older relatives.

Anne. I can’t leave her out. The broken slate on Gilbert Blythe’s head is so very iconic. In Anne of Green Gables she is a schoolgirl, in Anne of Avonlea, she’s a school teacher, and in Anne of the Island, she’s finally able to be in college.

And speaking of Anne, it’s hard not to think Montgomery was heavily inspired by Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, which also features school quite heavily. Written by Kate Douglas Wiggin just a little before Anne was published, there are some distinct similarities.

I suppose I can’t leave out Harry Potter. Nearly the entire series happens almost exclusively at a boarding school for wizards.

Moving back to much older fiction, Jean Webster’s Daddy Long-Legs certainly gives me very back-to-school vibes.

A Girl of the Limberlost. Also older, and very much about a girl determined to get an education.

And to close out, a book actually written for adults. Christy, by Catherine Marshall, is a heavily fictionalized account of a year of her mother’s time teaching in the Appalachians.

What are some books featuring school that you’ve enjoyed?

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