Realistic Stories

Some of our favorite stories about kids in real-life situations, recommended for school-age children.

Compiled by:
Children Services Staff
Anna Hibiscus

(Juvenile First Chapter Books - J Atinuke)
Anna Hibiscus: book 1

Anna Hibiscus, who lives in Africa with her whole family, loves to splash in the sea and have parties for her aunties, but Anna would love to see snow.

Better Nate Than Ever

Tim Federle
(Juvenile Fiction - J Federle)

An eighth-grader who dreams of performing in a Broadway musical concocts a plan to run away to New York and audition for the role of Elliot in the musical version of "E.T."

Chicken Boy

Frances O'Roark Dowell
(Juvenile Fiction - J Dowell)

Since the death of his mother, Tobin's family life and school life have been in disarray, but after he starts raising chickens with his seventh-grade classmate, Henry, everything starts to fall into place.

Fish in a Tree

Lynda Mullaly Hunt
(Juvenile Fiction - J Hunt)

Ally's greatest fear is that everyone will find out she is as dumb as they think she is because she still doesn't know how to read.

Fly Away

Patricia MacLachlan
(Juvenile Fiction - J Maclach)

While in North Dakota helping her Aunt Frankie prepare for a possible flood, Lucy finds her voice as a poet with the help of her two-year-old brother Teddy, the rest of their family, and a few cows.


Andrew Clements
(Juvenile Fiction - J Cl)

When he decides to turn his fifth grade teacher's love of the dictionary around on her, clever Nick Allen invents a new word and begins a chain of events that quickly moves beyond his control.


Alex Gino
(Juvenile Fiction - J Gino)

Knowing herself to be a girl despite her outwardly male appearance, George is denied a female role in the class play before teaming up with a friend to reveal her true self.

Goodbye Stranger

Rebecca Stead
(Juvenile Fiction – J Stead)

As Bridge makes her way through seventh grade on Manhattan's Upper West Side with her best friends, curvacious Em, crusader Tab, and a curious new friend--or more than friend--Sherm, she finds the answer she has been seeking since she barely survived an accident at age eight: "What is my purpose?"

Half a Chance

Cynthia Lord
(Juvenile Fiction - J Lord)

Lucy, with her mother and her photographer father, has just moved to a small rural community in New Hampshire, and with her new friend Nate she plans to spend the summer taking photos for a contest, but pictures sometimes reveal more than people are willing to see.

Harris and Me: A Summer Remembered

Gary Paulsen
(Juvenile Fiction - J Paulsen)

Sent to live with relatives on their farm because of his unhappy home life, an eleven-year-old city boy meets his distant cousin Harris and is given an introduction to a whole new world.

How Oliver Olson Changed the World

Claudia Mills
(Juvenile First Chapter Books - J Mills)

Afraid he will always be an outsider like ex-planet Pluto, nine-year-old Oliver finally shows his extremely overprotective parents that he is capable of doing great things without their help while his class is studying the solar system.

Ida B. ...and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World

Katherine Hannigan
(Juvenile Fiction - J Hanniga)

In Wisconsin, fourth-grader Ida B spends happy hours being home-schooled and playing in her family's apple orchard, until her mother begins treatment for breast cancer and her parents must sell part of the orchard and send her to public school.

In Aunt Lucy's Kitchen

Cynthia Rylant
(Juvenile First Chapter Books - J Rylant)
Cobble Street cousins

While staying with their aunt for a year, three nine-year-old cousins keep busy baking and selling cookies, putting on a poetry and singing performance, and trying to encourage a romance between their aunt and one of their former customers.

Jack Adrift: Fourth Grade Without a Clue

Jack Gantos
(Juvenile Fiction - J Gantos)

Ten-year-old Jack and his family move to North Carolina when his father rejoins the Navy. Fourth grade is very confusing, as Jack is appointed the "Respective Detective" at school, tries to train a duck for the Pet Parade, and falls in love with his new teacher. Look for more Jack titles.

Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!

Grace Lin
(Juvenile Early Readers - J-ER Lin)

Ling and Ting are identical twins that people think are exactly the same, but time and again they prove to be different.


Katy Kelly
(Juvenile Fiction - J Kelly)

In the Washington, D.C. neighborhood of Capitol Hill, Lucy Rose's friend Adam "Melonhead" Melon, a budding inventor with a knack for getting into trouble, enters a science contest that challenges students to recycle an older invention into a new one.


Kathryn Erskine
(Juvenile Fiction - J Erskine)

Ten-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger's Syndrome, struggles to understand emotions, show empathy, and make friends at school, while at home she copes with the death of her brother by working on a project with her father.

No More Dead Dogs

Gordon Korman
(Juvenile Fiction - J Korman)

Eighth-grade football hero Wallace Wallace is sentenced to detention attending rehearsals of the school play where, in spite of himself, he becomes wrapped up in the production and begins to suggest changes that improve not only the play but his life as well.

Olive's Ocean

Kevin Henkes
(Juvenile Fiction - J Henkes)

On a summer visit to her grandmother's cottage by the ocean, twelve-year-old Martha gains perspective on the death of a classmate, on her relationship with her grandmother, on her feelings for an older boy, and on her plans to be a writer.

Out of My Mind

Sharon M. Draper
(Juvenile Fiction - J Draper)

Considered by many to be mentally retarded, a brilliant, impatient fifth-grader with cerebral palsy discovers a technological device that will allow her to speak for the first time.  This is a surprising and very funny book.

Saffy's Angel

Hilary McKay
(Juvenile Fiction - J Mckay)

After learning that she was adopted, thirteen-year-old Saffron's relationship with her eccentric, artistic family changes, until they help her go back to Italy to find a special memento of her past. Look for more Casson family titles.

Sunny Side Up

Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
(Juvenile Graphic Novels – J Holm)

A semi-autobiographical tale by the award-winning sister-brother team behind the Babymouse series follows the lives of kids whose older brother's delinquent behavior has thrown their family into chaos.

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu

Wendy Wan-Long Shang
(Juvenile Fiction - J Shang)

Eleven-year-old aspiring basketball star and interior designer Lucy Wu is excited about finally having her own bedroom, until she learns that her great-aunt is coming to visit and Lucy will have to share a room with her for several months, shattering her plans for a perfect sixth-grade year.

The Summer of the Gypsy Moths

Sara Pennypacker
(Juvenile Fiction – J Pennypa)

A foster child named Angel and twelve-year-old Stella, who are living with Stella's great-aunt Louise at the Linger Longer Cottage Colony on Cape Cod, secretly assume responsibility for the vacation rentals when Louise unexpectedly dies and the girls are afraid of being returned to the foster care system.

The Thing About Luck

Cynthia Kadohata
(Juvenile Fiction - J Kadohat)

Just when twelve-year-old Summer thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong in a year of bad luck, an emergency takes her parents to Japan, leaving Summer to care for her little brother while helping her grandmother cook and do laundry for harvest workers.

The Vacation

Polly Horvath
(Juvenile Fiction - J Horvath)

When his parents go to Africa to work as missionaries, twelve-year-old Henry's eccentric aunts take him on a cross-country car trip adventure.

The Year of Billy Miller

Kevin Henkes
(Juvenile Fiction - J Henkes)

Seven-year-old Billy Miller starts second grade with a bump on his head and a lot of worries, but by the end of the year he has developed good relationships with his teacher, his little sister, and his parents and learned many important lessons.


R.J. Palacio
(Juvenile Fiction - J Palacio)

Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his class mates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.

Words with Wings

Nikki Grimes
(Juvenile Fiction - J Grimes)

Gabby daydreams to tune out her parents' arguments, but when her parents’ divorce and she begins a new school, daydreaming gets her into trouble. This verse novel poignantly celebrates the power of writing and the inspiration a good teacher can deliver.

Younger Elementary

Andy Shane and the Very Bossy Dolores Starbuckle

Jennifer Richard Jacobson
(Juvenile First Chapter Books - J Jacobso)

Andy Shane loves learning, but he doesn't like school.  The worst part about school is Dolores Starbuckle, the class know-it-all who bosses him around until Granny Webb teaches her a lesson. Look for more Andy Shane titles.

Older Elementary

Flip-Flop Girl

Katherine Paterson
(Juvenile Fiction - J Paterso)

Following the death of their father, Vinnie and Mason cope in different ways, but both with the help of Lupe, the flip-flop girl.

Pictures of Hollis Woods

Patricia Reilly Giff
(Juvenile Fiction - J Giff)

A troublesome twelve-year-old orphan, staying with an elderly artist who needs her, remembers the only other time she was happy in a foster home, with a family that truly seemed to care about her.

Project Mulberry

Linda Sue Park
(Juvenile Fiction - J Park)

While working on a project for an after-school club, Julia, a Korean American girl, and her friend Patrick learn not just about silkworms, but also about tolerance, prejudice, friendship, and patience.