Sometimes, as much as you may try, life can get in the way of our most beloved pastimes—like reading.

The beginning of the new year, when you’re making all your resolutions, this is a great time to commit to actually finishing that book that’s been on your mind. And who knows—without the pressure of finishing the book for school, you might remember how much fun reading can be!

Plus, reading for pleasure is an excellent way to combat burnout you may be feeling as a result of hard work you’ve been doing as 2022 comes to a close. 

Diving into some fantastic stories is a great way to utilize your free time during the holidays—additionally, reading can help you practice mindfulness. It’s the perfect opportunity to try staying in the present moment, observing your state of mind while withholding judgment.

Happy reading!

10 books elementary school students should be reading

Perfectly Pegasus by Jessica Sima

Nimbus is a pegasus who lives alone in the sky. What Nimbus really wants is a friend—and the only friends she’s ever known are stars and clouds. Nimbus finally spots a shooting star, but it falls before she can make her wish. On Nimbus’s journey to find the star, she comes across a wondrous island full of unicorns and narwhals. 

The Year We Learned To Fly by Jacqueline Woodson 

When two children are stuck at home, their grandmother teaches them about using their imagination to free themselves from boredom. 

I Color Myself Different by Colin Kaepernick 

When Colin’s teacher instructs the students to draw their families, Colin’s classmates question why he is the only brown person in his family. At first, Colin doesn’t feel good about himself. But after his mother explains how all families are unique, Colin is ready to celebrate his identity. 

Come On In: There’s a Party in this Book! by Jamie Michalak

Lemon is searching for a party. During his search, Lemon runs into all sorts of characters—fruits in suits, cats in boots, and combs with wigs! Eventually, Lemon decides to create his own party with all of his new friends. 

That’s Not My Name! By Anooshy Syed

Mirha is excited for her first day of school. But then no one pronounces her name correctly, which makes her feel insignificant. Luckily, her mother is there to explain why Mirha’s name is special. Then, Mirha can confidently correct others, ensuring that everyone knows how to pronounce her name. 

A is for Bee by Ellen Heck

Each page in this story presents an English letter along with different animals that start with that letter in non-English languages. 

Where Butterflies Fill the Sky by Zahra Marwan

This picture book tells the story of a little girl’s journey from Kuwait to New Mexico. Author Zahra Marwan describes the true story of her immigration from Kuwait to the states, discussing the challenges that this brings for a young girl who had to leave her beloved home. 

Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor

In this book, author Sonia Sotomayer, who has diabetes, recalls how when she was young, other kids would act uncomfortable around her instead of asking questions about her disability. This story revolves around Sonia and her peers, who all have different disabilities. As they work together to plant a garden, each student introduces themselves and describes their disability. 

Get a Grip, Vivi Cohen by Sarah Kapit

11-year old Vivy Cohen loves baseball. She is determined to be the first girl to make it to the major leagues. Vivy also has autism, which presents some obstacles—but ultimately, Vivy learns how to fight for herself and achieve her goals. 

Dinosaurs Before Dark by Jenny Laird

Brother and sister, Jack and Annie, discover a treehouse in the woods—full of books. When the siblings start exploring the books, they discover that the treehouse is magic, and can open doors to unimaginable adventures. 

10 books middle school students should be reading

Different Kinds of Fruit by Kyle Lukoff

It’s the beginning of a new school year for sixth-grader Annabelle. When new student Bailey joins the class and shamelessly introduces her nonbinary pronouns, Annabelle’s understanding of her own identity and of others’ begins to change. 

The Area 51 Files by Julie Buxbaum 

Sky is an orphan who has been living with her grandmother for years. When her grandmother moves to a retirement home, Sky moves to Area 51 to live with her uncle whom she’s never met. Upon arrival, Sky meets a community of aliens. But when some of the aliens have gone missing, Sky’s uncle is the main suspect.  

The Ice Cream Machine by Adam Rubin

This is a book of six short stories that all, in some way, relate to ice cream. Author Adam Rubin cleverly intersects various genres and inspires us to tap into our creativity. 

Be Real, Macy Weaver by Lakita Wilson

Macy Weaver yearns for a real best friend, which seems possible when her family prepares for a move. At her new school, Macy figures that to make friends, she must be like her peers. So Macy lies to fit in. When things don’t go as planned, she realizes that her tactics might be flawed.

Wayward Creatures by Dayna Lorentz

After Gabe, a struggling seventh-grader, accidentally starts a forest fire, he has to participate in a restorative justice program. Then Gabe meets Rill, a young coyote who was injured in the fire. The pair mature together and collectively learn about how to connect with their communities. 

The Boy Who Met a Whale by Nizrana Farook

Razi is a fisherboy who lives on the island of Serendip. When he sees a boat on the shore, he finds a boy inside, Zheng. Zheng is running from his captors, who are trying to steal his treasure map. Zheng, who is looking for lost treasure himself, enlists Razi’s help. 

Each of Us a Universe by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo

Cal’s world seems to be falling apart. Her mom is suffering from cancer, her dad is in jail, and she faces bullying at school. Then a new girl, Rosine, moves to town. Rosine is an African refugee who only has her sister. Cal and Rosine set out to climb their town’s mystical mountain in an effort to find magic and save their families.

Golden Girl by Reem Faruqi

Seventh-grader Aafiyah, a Pakistani-American, loves to play tennis, read, and hang out with her friends and family. But there’s a problem: she can’t seem to stop “borrowing” things that don’t belong to her. On a family trip, Aafiyah’s father is falsely accused of a crime. Aafiyah develops a plan to save her father, but executing it may require confronting her bad habit.   

The Aquanaut by Dan Santat

Sophia is a young girl who has been struggling since her father was lost at sea with his research vessel. Sophia lives with her uncle, who works at a marine theme park, Aqualand. One day, Sophia discovers an “aquanaut”, which is actually four sea creatures seeking shelter. 

Join The Club Maggie Diaz by Nina Moreno

Seventh-grader Maggie Diaz is excited to find her passion in the new school year. Feeling left behind after spending the summer at home with her abuela, Maggie decides to join as many clubs as she can. However, it seems impossible to balance all of her responsibilities and fulfill all of the expectations her family has of her. 

Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence by Sonja Thomas

Twelve-year-old Mira is having a horrible summer. Her best friend is moving away, her dad just lost his job, and her mother is overworked. Then Mira discovers that her cat, Sir Fig Newton, is sick. Mira utilizes her love of science to determine how to save her beloved cat. 

10 books high school school students should be reading

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

After his brother is murdered, Will, a black teenager, is seeking revenge. In the elevator ride down from his apartment, Will grapples with whether he is prepared to commit murder to avenge his brother. During the elevator ride, he comes into contact with several ghosts, who complicate his dilemma. 

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Nora is having a rough time. Dealing with depression, she decides to end her life. But it’s not that simple. Nora winds up in the Midnight Library, a space where she can explore all of the lives she could have lived, had she made different choices. 

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

In a dystopian world, people have lost the ability to dream, other than indigenous Canadians. In an effort to regain the ability to dream, non-natives have been hunting the indigenous people, whose bone marrow holds the cure for dreaming.  

The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson

Two indigenous foster children, Morgan and Eli, are struggling to develop their identities. Living in the home of a white couple, Morgan and Eli often feel lost. Then, they discover a land suffering from a perpetual winter, and set out to fix the problem. 

Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

Koffi is an indentured servant who works at the Night Zoo with her mother as they try to pay off their debt. Although there’s a dangerous beast who recently killed one of Koffi’s friends, she’s thrilled that she and her mother are close to repaying the debt. Then one night, there’s a fire at the zoo, and Koffi discovers that she may be holding ancient magic within her. 

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

Julia’s older sister, Olga, and “the perfect daughter, has just died in a bus accident. In the wake of her sister’s death, Julia struggles with her grief and also feeling as though she will never live up to Olga. However, as Julia investigates Olga’s life, she learns that maybe Olga wasn’t the perfect daughter after all. 

Indestructible Object by Mary McCoy

Lee has her life all mapped out. A recent high school graduate, she hosts a podcast with her boyfriend and works a sound tech job. Then, her boyfriend dumps her on their podcast, and her boss asks her to take a break from her sound tech job. Suddenly, Lee’s life has turned upside down, and she begins the quest to find herself through a new podcast project. 

My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand

Mary Queen of Scots has always known that she would marry Prince Francis of France. But Mary has a secret—she’s a shapeshifter and can turn into a mouse. And at this time, the religious wars are between Verities—those who cannot shape shift—and Eðians—those who can shape shift. When the king suddenly dies, the throne is thrust upon Mary and Francis. In a kingdom where the Verities rule, Mary’s secret could cost her. 

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Cee has been stranded on a deserted island for three years, and the only thing she can remember is that she has a sister, Kay. Kay has been living in an eco-city, protecting the planet and its inhabitants. Cee is determined to, somehow, reunite with her sister. 

Sway With Me by Syed Masood

Arsalan lives with his 1o0-year-old great-grandfather, and has spent his sheltered life reading books. Arsalan worries that when his great-grandfather dies, he will be left alone—or forced to live with his abusive father. To solve the issue, Arsalan seeks out Beenis, the stepdaughter to a matchmaker.