Realistic Stories

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

Compiled by:
Children Services Staff

Younger Elementary

Anna Hibiscus

(Juvenile First Chapter Books - J Atinuke)
Series: 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.

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.

In Aunt Lucy's Kitchen

Cynthia Rylant
(Juvenile First Chapter Books - J Rylant)
Series: 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.

Judy Moody

Megan McDonald
(Juvenile First Chapter Books - J McDonal)
Series: Judy Moody; 1

*This item also available on Libby, Cloud Library, and HooplaThird grader Judy Moody is in a first day of school bad mood until she gets an assignment to create a collage all about herself and begins creating her masterpiece, the Me collage.

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.

The Year of Billy Miller

Kevin Henkes
(Juvenile Fiction - J Henkes)

*This item also available on Libby, Cloud Library, and Hoopla (audiobook). 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.

Older Elementary

Amal Unbound

Aisha Saeed
(Juvenile Fiction - J Saeed)

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud LibraryIn Pakistan, Amal holds onto her dream of being a teacher even after becoming an indentured servant to pay off her family's debt to the wealthy and corrupt Khan family.

Better Nate Than Ever

Tim Federle
(Juvenile Fiction - J Federle)

*This item also available on Libby (audiobook). 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."

Birdie and Me

J. M. M. Nuanez
Juvenile Fiction - J Nuanez

*This item also available on LibbyEver since their free-spirited mama died ten months ago, twelve-year-old Jack and her gender creative nine-year-old brother, Birdie, have been living with their fun-loving Uncle Carl, but now their conservative Uncle Patrick insists on being their guardian which forces all four of them to confront grief, prejudice, and loss, all while exploring what 'home' really means.


Sharon Draper
(Juvenile Fiction - J Draper)

*This item also available on LibbyPiano-prodigy Isabella, eleven, whose black father and white mother struggle to share custody, never feels whole, especially as racial tensions affect her school, her parents both become engaged, and she and her stepbrother are stopped by police.


Katherine Applegate
(Juvenile Fiction - J Applega)

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud Library (audiobook). Fearing his family will have to move into their minivan when they suffer another financial setback, Jackson finds support and comfort through his friendship with a giant imaginary cat.

Fish in a Tree

Lynda Mullaly Hunt
(Juvenile Fiction - J Hunt)

*This item also available on LibbyAlly'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.


Andrew Clements
(Juvenile Fiction - J Cl)

*This item also available on LibbyWhen 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.

Front Desk

Kelly Yang
(Juvenile Fiction - J Yang)

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud LibraryAfter emigrating from China, ten-year-old Mia Tang's parents take a job managing a rundown motel, despite the unpleasant owner, Mr. Yao, who exploits them, while she works the front desk and tries to cope with fitting in at her school.

Genesis Begins Again

Alicia Williams
(Juvenile Fiction - J William)

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud LibraryThirteen-year-old Genesis tries again and again to lighten her black skin, thinking it is the root of her family's troubles, before discovering reasons to love herself as is.


Alex Gino
(Juvenile Fiction - J Gino)

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud Library (audiobook). 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.

Gertie's Leap to Greatness

Kate Beasley
(Juvenile Fiction - J Beasley)

*This item also available on LibbyWhen her estranged mother decides to move out of town, Gertie devises a five-step plan that will make her the best fifth grader ever in order to show her mother what she'll be leaving behind, but a new student challenges her efforts.

Goodbye Stranger

Rebecca Stead
(Juvenile Fiction – J Stead)

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud LibraryAs 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?"

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.

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.

Hello, Universe

Erin Entrada Kelly
(Juvenile Fiction - J Kelly)

*This item also available on Libby, Cloud Library, and HooplaLives of four misfits are intertwined when a bully's prank lands shy Virgil at the bottom of a well and Valencia, Kaori, and Gen band together in an epic quest to find and rescue him.

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

Katherine Hannigan
(Juvenile Fiction - J Hanniga)

*This item also available on Libby (audiobook) and Cloud LibraryIn 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.

Louisiana's Way Home

Kate DiCamillo
(Juvenile Fiction - J Dicamil)

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud LibraryLouisiana Elefante's granny wakes her up in the middle of the night and tells her they need to leave home immediately, and this time Granny intends for them never to return.


Kathryn Erskine
(Juvenile Fiction - J Erskine)

*This item also available on LibbyTen-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.

New Kid

Jerry Craft
(Juvenile Graphic Novel - J-GN Craft New Kid)

*This item also available on Libby, Cloud Library, and HooplaAfter his parents send him to a prestigious private school known for its academics, Jordan Banks finds himself torn between two worlds.

Olive's Ocean

Kevin Henkes
(Juvenile Fiction - J Henkes)

*This item also available on Cloud Library and HooplaOn 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)

*This item also available on LibbyConsidered 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.

Pictures of Hollis Woods

Patricia Reilly Giff
(Juvenile Fiction - J Giff)

*This item also available on Libby (audiobook) and Cloud LibraryA 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)

*This item also available on HooplaWhile 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.

The Season of Styx Malone

Kekla Magoon
(Juvenile Fiction - J Magoon)

*This item also available on LibbyCaleb Franklin and his big brother, Bobby Gene, spend an extraordinary summer with their new, older neighbor, Styx Malone, a foster boy from the city.

Song for a Whale

Lynne Kelly
(Juvenile Fiction - J Kelly)

*This item also available on LibbyTwelve-year-old Iris and her grandmother, both deaf, drive from Texas to Alaska armed with Iris's plan to help Blue-55, a whale unable to communicate with other whales.

Sunny Side Up

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

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud LibraryA 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 Thing About Luck

Cynthia Kadohata
(Juvenile Fiction - J Kadohat)

*This item also available on Hoopla (audiobook). 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.


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

*This item also available on Libby and Cloud LibraryTen-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.