Recommended Reads for Back to School

OPL wants to help readers find new books — or at least books new to them. Every month in the Omaha World-Herald, OPL employees will recommend reading based on different writing genres, themes or styles. As many families started back to school this week, OPL staff have suggested some of their favorite books related to school. Find these books and more at your local branch or

Laura Evans, collection processing clerk at Omaha Public Library

The Austere Academy(A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 5) by Lemony Snicket. The Baudelaire children head to Prufrock Preparatory School, whose creature comforts make most other schools look like luxury hotels. Brushing up on depressing Latin phrases, late night physical fitness, strange fungus drippings, and trying not to be a "cakesniffer!" Prufrock Prep reminds students who are less-than-excited to return to school that it could be much worse. I particularly recommend the digital audiobook read by Tim Curry, available on OverDrive.

Russ Harper, youth services specialist at W. Clarke Swanson Branch

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. In this coming-of-age tale told through poetic verse, we learn about the life of Harlem teenager Xiomara Batista. Tired of living up to her brother's image and unsure about her Catholic faith, Xiomara slowly discovers who she is, rather than what others expect her to be, as she embraces her poetry. This is an emotionally-charged tale about self-image, perception and expectations, told with compassion and beautiful imagery.

Theresa Jehlik, strategy and business intelligence manager at Omaha Public Library

Living With A Dead Language by Ann Patty. When the 2008 recession ended her 35-year career as a book editor, Patty left New York City and moved to the country upstate. Bored and lonely, she started auditing Latin classes at Vassar to please her long-deceased mother. Along the way, she found a lively culture within the Latin world and a second career teaching Latin to teenagers.

Breanna Lemke-Elzni, library assistant at Metro Community College/South Omaha Library

Anger Is A Gift by Mark Oshiro. This empowering story inspires us to stand up for ourselves and each other. It is, at times, a very heavy read. However, the characters and the difficulties they face in their school and their community will resonate with a lot of readers

Evan Mantler, library aide at Millard Branch

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour. Marin has left her life in California behind to start college in New York. After not speaking to anyone from back home since she left, her best friend Mabel is coming to visit her whether she likes it or not. With Mabel's arrival in New York, Marin is forced to remember all she lost when she left California: her family, her best friend, and the summer the two spent together. This introspective book allows the reader dive into Mabel's story as it becomes clearer piece by piece.  

Cynthia Vana, library specialist at W. Dale Clark Main Library

A Very Large Expanse of Seaby Tahereh Mafi. Tough, foul-mouthed, isolated and angry, 16-year-old Muslim American Shirin faces painful challenges at her new, small-town high school where one fellow student may finally influence her to drop her guard. Heart-rending, realistic, hopeful and fun, this is a great book for ages 13 and up.   

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