Back to School Books for Parents

August is coming to an end, and you know what that means!

August 10, 2021

Owl with chalkboard that says 'you've got this!!'August is coming to an end, and you know what that means—back to school! Here are some books to get you ready for the new school year and all its challenges.

In this list:

  • Things You Learned (and Forgot)
  • College
  • Special Needs
  • Motivation & Success
  • School Systems
  • Biography and Memoir
  • Fiction


Things You Learned (and Forgot)

Back to school

Back to School
1,001 Facts You Learned and Forgot in High School

Benjamin Smith

Collects over one thousand facts from high school curricula that many people forget after graduation, providing facts from such disciplines as American history, Latin, calculus, biology, and microeconomics.

Back to school for grown-ups

Back to School for Grown-Ups
Everything You Should Have Learned in Class

Stephen Evans

Explores the sciences, history, mathematics, religion, civics, art, and literature with review questions and answers.

An incomplete education

An Incomplete Education
3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn’t

Judy Jones, William Wilson

An updated edition of the best-selling, one-volume crash course in things you should have learned in school, had you been paying attention, covers thirteen major disciplines, including the fields of American studies, art history, economics, film, literature, music, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, science, and history.

The well-educated mind

The Well-Educated Mind
A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had

Susan Wise Bauer

Newly updated and expanded to include essential works in science, a guide to reading classics shares succinct, entertaining histories of six genres and provides detailed, annotated instructions on how to read each kind of literature.



The best value colleges

The Best Value Colleges
75 Schools That Give You the Most for Your Money

Robert Franek, David Soto, Stephen Koch

Guide to colleges and universities where students get the best return on their tuition investment. These schools offer generous financial aid, excellent academics, and valuable career-building experiences for a successful post-college outcome.

Fiske guide to colleges 2022

Fiske Guide to Colleges 2022

Edward B. Fiske

This latest edition of the best-selling college guide includes descriptions of 320 of the best colleges and universities, exclusive ratings, up-to-date tips from current students and data on diversity and sexual assault.

The price you pay for college

The Price You Pay for College
An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make

Ron Lieber

The New York Times ‘Your Money’ personal finance columnist offers a deeply reported and emotionally honest approach to the biggest financial decision families will ever make: what to pay for college.

Will college pay off?

Will College Pay Off?
A Guide to the Most Important Financial Decision You Will Ever Make

Peter Cappelli

Offers fact-based guidance on the financial risks and benefits of pursuing a college education intended to help parents and students plan and make informed, rational decisions about the value of education options.


Special Needs

The complete IEP guide

The Complete IEP Guide
How to Advocate for Your Special Ed Child

Lawrence M. Siegel

This excellent guide for parents of children with disabilities combines legal information with practical advice to them step-by-step instructions for navigating the complicated process of creating and maintaining an IEP for their child with special needs.

Differently wired

Differently Wired
Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World

Deborah Reber

Shares practical advice for parenting children with ADHD, anxiety, dyslexia, and other neurodivergent challenges, offering strategies for needs ranging from setting limits and finding support to choosing the right school and therapist.

Overcoming dyslexia

Overcoming Dyslexia
A Major Update and Revision of the Essential Program for Reading Problems at Any Level, Incorporating the Latest Breakthroughs in Science, Educational Methods, Technology, and Legal Accommodations

Sally Shaywitz, Jonathan Shaywitz

Updated to include advancements in science, research and technology, two experts on reading and dyslexia provide new information on identifying, understanding and overcoming reading problems and provide tools for parents, teachers and individuals with dyslexia to use to succeed.

Right from the start

Right From the Start
A Practical Guide for Helping Young Children With Autism

Karin Donahue, Kate Crassons

This book is a comprehensive yet accessible resource explaining the best practices for teaching young children with autism, especially in its milder forms. It offers practical, easy-to-use strategies for building social and emotional skills-strategies that enrich the learning environment for neurotypical children as well.

Taking charge of ADHD

Taking Charge of ADHD
The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents

Russell A. Barkley

The leading parent resource about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and its treatment has now been revised and updated with the latest information and resources

What your ADHD child wishes you knew

What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew
Working Together to Empower Kids for Success in School and Life

Sharon Saline

Presents advice on parenting a child with ADHD, specifically on how to enhance cooperation, closeness, and productivity.


Motivation & Success

And then they stopped talking to me

And Then They Stopped Talking to Me
Making Sense of Middle School

Judith Warner

Citing the convergence of developmental changes that often render the middle-school years difficult, a compassionate guide draws on student testimonies and professional insights to counsel parents on how to help middle-school children thrive.


An Action Plan for Teachers and Parents to Combat the Bullying Crisis

Lee Hirsch, Cynthia Lowen

Shares essays outlining recommendations for caregivers and educators, offers celebrity contributions, and includes an account of how Katy Butler campaigned to change the movie’s rating to make it available to teen viewers.

Creative Schools

Creative Schools
The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education

Ken Robinson, Lou Aronica

An influential educator and the best-selling author of The Element outline revolutionary ideas for how to educate today’s students by focusing on creativity and potential, outlining an organic approach that utilizes current technologies.


The Hidden Driver of Excellence

Daniel Goleman

Drawing on cutting-edge research along with practical findings, this landmark exploration of the science of attention reveals what distinguishes experts from amateurs and stars from average performers.

The gift of failure

The Gift of Failure
How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed

Jessica Lahey

A full-length guide based on the author’s provocative essay on the website of The Atlantic counsels parents of school-aged children on how to overcome tendencies toward over-protectiveness to allow children to develop independence.

Happy teachers change the world

Happy Teachers Change the World
A Guide for Cultivating Mindfulness in Education

Thich Nhat Hanh, Katherine Weare

Happy Teachers Change the World is the first official, authoritative manual of the Thich Nhat Hanh/Plum Village approach to mindfulness in education. Spanning the whole range of schools and grade levels, from preschool through higher education, these techniques are grounded in the everyday world of schools, colleges, and universities.

He's not lazy

He’s Not Lazy
Empowering Your Son to Believe in Himself

Adam Price

Argues that many teenage boys suffer from a fear of failure which leads to a lack of working hard and trying in school, and aims to help parents instill greater self-confidence in their sons to help him accept responsibility for his future.

How children succeed

How Children Succeed
Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

Paul Tough

Challenges conventional views about standardized testing to argue that success is more determined by self-discipline, character and optimism, describing the work of pioneering researchers and educators whose insights into childhood stress and economic disadvantages have enabled effective new teaching methods.

How to raise successful people

How to Raise Successful People
Simple Lessons for Radical Results

Esther Wojcicki

Outlines simple, counterintuitive approaches to raising happy, healthy, and successful children through parental demonstrations of respectful examples and child-directed activities that facilitate early independence and problem-solving skills.

How to tutor your own child

How to Tutor Your Own Child
Boost Grades and Instill a Lifelong Love of Learning–Without Paying for a Professional Tutor

Marina Koestler Ruben

Gives parents the tools they need to inspire after-school learning at home, without having to hire a pricey outside tutor.

How we learn

How We Learn
The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens

Benedict Carey

A leading New York Times neuroscientist presents a lighthearted exploration of what is known about learning and memory today that considers how to adapt negative characteristics, like ignorance and laziness, to expand learning potential.

I wish my teacher knew

I Wish My Teacher Knew
How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kids

Kyle Schwartz

An educator’s guide based on the “I Wish My Teacher Knew” viral exercise shares strategies for understanding children better, building trust in the classroom, and learning about the private challenges that complicate education.

The importance of being little

The Importance of Being Little
What Preschoolers Really Need From Grownups

Erika Christakis

Drawing on her strong foundation in the study of child development and early education, as well as her classroom experience, the author challenges the conventional wisdom about early childhood, encouraging parents to rethink how and where young children learn best.

Little girls can be mean

Little Girls Can Be Mean
Four Steps to Bully-Proof Girls in the Early Grades

Michelle Anthony, Reyna Lindert

Instructs parents, counselors and educators on how to empower elementary school-aged girls to resolve friendship struggles and bullying, sharing guidelines for connecting compassionately with affected students and responding in productive ways.

The muses go to school

The Muses Go to School
Inspiring Stories About the Importance of Arts in Education

Herbert Kohl, Tom Oppenheim

Autobiographical pieces by artists and performers are paired with illuminating essays by educators to produce a powerful case for putting the arts at the center of primary and secondary school curricula.

The one world schoolhouse

The One World Schoolhouse
Education Reimagined

Salman Khan

The founder of the Khan Academy, a former hedge funder who originally tried to help his struggling niece with her algebra, describes the methods used in his new approach to learning and teaching, which has become a worldwide phenomenon.

The passionate learner

The Passionate Learner
How Teachers and Parents Can Help Children Reclaim the Joy of Discovery

Robert L. Fried

Looks at the forces that inhibit learning and discusses how parents and teachers can instill a student’s passion for learning.

Push has come to shove

Push Has Come to Shove
Getting Our Kids the Education They Deserve, Even if It Means Picking a Fight

Steve Perry

A revolutionary educator who created the Capital Prep Magnet school describes his exacting standards and year-round educational process involving teacher excellence, parent involvement, and student responsibility.

Queen bee moms & kingpin dads

Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads
Dealing With the Parents, Teachers, Coaches, and Counselors Who Can Make–Or Break–Your Child’s Future

Rosalind Wiseman

Explores how fierce social competition among parents can affect a child’s life, offering helpful advice on when to step in and out of a child’s conflicts with others.

Ready or not

Ready or Not
Preparing Our Kids to Thrive in an Uncertain and Rapidly Changing World

Madeline Levine

The best-selling author of The Price of Privilege explores how today’s parenting and educational systems are failing to prepare children for adult responsibilities, sharing insight on how to raise kids without high pressure and anxiety.

The self-driven child

The Self-Driven Child
The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives

William Stixrud, Ned Johnson

A clinical psychologist and a test-prep expert combine cutting-edge brain science with insights from their work with families to outline a radical case for giving kids more freedom to unleash their full potential.

The smartest kids in the world

The Smartest Kids in the World
And How They Got That Way

Amanda Ripley

Following three teenagers who chose to spend one school year living in Finland, South Korea, and Poland, a literary journalist recounts how attitudes, parenting, and rigorous teaching have revolutionized these countries’ education results.

Teenagers 101

Teenagers 101
What a Top Teacher Wishes You Knew About Helping Your Kid Succeed

Rebecca Deurlein

Encourages parents to help their teenagers be self-motivated, take responsibility for their learning, work through their problems, become their own advocate, and present themselves well.

To raise a boy

To Raise a Boy
Classrooms, Locker Rooms, Bedrooms, and the Hidden Struggles of American Boyhood

Emma Brown

A journalist’s searing investigation into how we teach boys to be men-and how we can do better.

What girls need

What Girls Need
How to Raise Bold, Courageous, and Resilient Women

Marisa Porges

The former White House strategist and jet pilot turned headmaster of Philadelphia’s Baldwin School for girls draws on career insights to counsel parents and educators on how to support audacity and ambition in girls everywhere.


School Systems

The children in room E4

The Children in Room E4
American Education on Trial

Susan Eaton

Explores the racial and economic divide found in the educational systems of urban areas across the United States, in an account that follows the struggles of one bright third-grader from Hartford, Connecticut, and his indomitable teacher.

The death and life of the great American school system

The Death and Life of the Great American School System
How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education

Diane Ravitch

Discusses how school choice, misapplied standards of accountability, the No Child Left Behind mandate, and the use of a corporate model have all led to a decline in public education and presents arguments for a return to strong neighborhood schools and quality teaching.

The end of education

The End of Education
Redefining the Value of School

Neil Postman

A critical analysis of American education states that poor motivational techniques and a lack of focus are at the core of most problems and offers four methods that can be implemented to promote education reform

How to grow a school garden

How to Grow a School Garden
A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers

Arden Bucklin-Sporer, Rachel Kathleen Pringle

A practical guide to creating a school garden offers strategies, lesson plans, to-do lists, design plans, and recipes to help teachers, parents, and administrators transform a neglected play space into a beautiful and nourishing outdoor classroom.

The promise of a pencil

The Promise of a Pencil
How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change

Adam Braun

The author describes how he left a lucrative business consulting job to found the nonprofit Pencils of Promise, an organization responsible for building schools for the poor in developing countries around the world and which recently completed its two hundredth school.

Saving the school

Saving the School
The True Story of a Principal, a Teacher, a Coach, a Bunch of Kids, and a Year in the Crosshairs of Education Reform

Michael Brick

Documents the efforts of a dedicated principal’s year-long race to save a Texas high school from closure in the face of failing standards, teen dropout rates and jaded officials who sought to replace the public school with a charter company system.

The schoolhouse gate

The Schoolhouse Gate
Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind

Justin Driver

A constitutional law scholar presents a cautionary assessment of public schools to reveal how Supreme Court rulings in recent decades are undermining the constitutional rights of students.

Slaying Goliath

Slaying Goliath
The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools

Diane Ravitch

An in-depth look at the failed efforts to privatize public schools and the victories of those who have fought to save America’s public school system.


Going to School With a Thousand Kids

Nicholson Baker

Describes how the author became an on-call substitute teacher in pursuit of the realities of American public education, describing his complex difficulties with helping educate today’s students in spite of flawed curriculums and interpersonal challenges.


Biography and Memoir



Tara Westover

Traces the author’s experiences as a child born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, describing her participation in her family’s paranoid stockpiling activities and her resolve to educate herself well enough to earn an acceptance into a prestigious university and the unfamiliar world beyond.

I am Malala

I Am Malala
The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

Malala Yousafzai

Describes the life of the young Pakistani student who advocated for women’s rights and education in the Taliban-controlled Swat Valley, survived an assassination attempt, and became the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Learning by heart

Learning by Heart
An Unconventional Education

Tony Wagner

A leading education expert who has taught at Harvard and MIT describes how he learned a radically different approach to individualized learning after he was kicked out of middle school, expelled from high school and dropped out of two colleges.

My remarkable journey

My Remarkable Journey

Katherine Johnson

The woman at the heart of the New York Times bestseller and Oscar-winning film “Hidden Figures” shares her personal journey from child prodigy in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia to NASA human computer and her integral role in the early years of the U.S. space program.

Reading with Patrick

Reading With Patrick
A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship

Michelle Kuo

A former alternative school teacher and Harvard Law School fellow shares the story of her work with a gifted student who was imprisoned for murder in the Mississippi Delta and whose education she continued through classic works of literature.

Teacher man

Teacher Man

Frank McCourt

The author describes his coming of age as a teacher, storyteller, and writer, a personal journey during which he spent fifteen years finding his voice in the classroom, and came to terms with the undervalued importance of teaching.


Lessons From Elie Wiesel’s Classroom

Ariel Burger

A devoted friend of Elie Wiesel takes readers into the sacred space of Wiesel’s classroom, showing the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient not only as an extraordinary human being, but as a master teacher.



Class mom

Class Mom

Laurie Gelman

Frowned upon by conservative fellow PTA members for her past as a single parent, Jen reluctantly agrees to become class mom during her youngest child’s kindergarten year, a role that is challenged by parent drama, hypersensitive allergies and a former flame.

The gifted school

The Gifted School

Bruce Holsinger

The students and parents of a tight-knit community find their bonds nearly destroyed by competitiveness when an exclusive school for gifted children opens nearby, in a story told from both adult and child perspectives.

Girl in translation

Girl in Translation

Jean Kwok

Emigrating with her mother from Hong Kong to Brooklyn, Kimberly Chang begins a secret double life as an exceptional schoolgirl during the day and sweatshop worker at night, an existence also marked by a first crush and the pressure to save her family from poverty.

John Woman

John Woman

Walter Mosley

A young man reinvents himself as a professor to share his late father’s wisdom at an unorthodox university, only to encounter fellow intellectuals who have insights into his father’s hidden past.

My Oxford year

My Oxford Year

Julia Whelan

Offered a fantastic job in a rising star’s political campaign on condition that she will work abroad and return to Washington after spending a dream year at Oxford, Ella clashes with, and then falls for, an outspoken literature professor with a life-changing secret that forces her to rethink her ambitions.

Never let me go

Never Let Me Go

Kazuo Ishiguro

A reunion with two childhood friends draws Kathy and her companions on a nostalgic odyssey into their lives at Hailsham, an isolated private school in the English countryside, and a confrontation with the truth about their childhoods.

New boy

New Boy

Tracy Chevalier

Starting his fifth school in five years, Osei Kokote, a diplomat’s son, hoping to survive his first day becomes friends with Dee, the most popular girl in school, but Ian is determined to destroy the budding friendship.

Old school

Old School

Tobias Wolff

During his senior year at an elite New England prep school, a young man who had struggled to find it with his contemporaries finds his life unraveling thanks to the school’s obsession with literary figures and their work during a visit from an author for whose blessing a young writer would do almost anything.

Physical education

Physical Education

Maggie Barbieri

Struggling with her husband’s undercover assignment at the same time she takes over as head coach of the women’s basketball team, college English professor Alison Bergeron finds evidence that her predecessor did not die of natural causes.



Curtis Sittenfeld

During the late 1980s, fourteen-year-old Lee Fiora leaves behind her close-knit, middle-class Indiana family to enroll in an elite co-ed boarding school in Massachusetts, becoming a shrewd observer of, and eventually a participant in, their rituals and customs.

The Topeka school

The Topeka School

Ben Lerner

A popular high-school senior in 1997 Kansas elevates a loner classmate into the social scene with unexpected consequences, while his famous parents reckon with an abusive childhood and marital transgressions against a backdrop of New Right toxic masculinity.

Trust exercise

Trust Exercise

Susan Choi

Falling in love while attending a competitive 1980s performing arts high school, David and Sarah rise through the ranks before the realities of their family dynamics and economic statuses trigger a spiral that impacts their adult lives.

An uncommon education

An Uncommon Education

Elizabeth Percer

When a tragic event introduces her to Wellesley’s mysterious Shakespeare Society, Naomi Feinstein finally finds herself among friends, but as she immerses herself in this liberating new world, a scandal calls her beliefs into question.

Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty

Where the Grass is Green and the Girls Are Pretty

Lauren Weisberger

When her husband is arrested in an Ivy League admissions sting, jeopardizing everything she worked so hard for, Peyton, co-anchor of a hit morning show, soon discovers that this is not the worst of it as dark secrets in their posh world come to light.