Off the Shelf: Librarians' Recommendations

Dr. Heather Purcell, Lower School Librarian, and Colleen Boerner, Upper School Librarian

Lower School Librarian

Upper School Librarian


The Library Program at Graded is a vital component of the school's high-quality education. Our collections offer diverse viewpoints and provide reading materials for a wide range of interests and maturity levels, complementing and expanding on all curricular areas. 

But, with so many options available in Graded's Lower and Upper School libraries, deciding upon one's next read is not always an easy task. Graded librarians, Heather Purcell and Colleen Boerner, have come to the rescue!

In every Gazette, Dr. Purcell and Ms. Boerner will share book recommendations for different age groups to help you, reader, spend the 2021-22 school year in the company of some excellent stories. Their suggestions will be based upon a monthly theme, ranging from fantasy and thrillers to romance and history. We hope you take advantage of this opportunity to expand your reading horizons and explore different genres!

Given the recent start of the school year, recommendations for September will focus on school life. School stories are relatable to everyone since we have all had school experiences at some point in our lives. Whether the story is about adapting to a new school (maybe in a new country) or dealing with difficult school relationships, we can connect with what the characters are facing. 

Below are book recommendations by age group, as well as a collection of other school stories that you might want to check out from our libraries. 

We hope you enjoy your September reads!

Lower School

Pre-primary - Grade 1: 

I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Three young students are adapting to a new school where they don’t have friends, know the routines, or speak the language. They find kindness and connection through common interests they share with classmates. 

Grades 2-3: 

A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices by Sally Derby

The stories in this poetry collection follow six children in different grades through the start of a new school year. Their fears and excitement are highlighted throughout this cleverly formatted book.

Grades 4-5: 

Brave by Svetlana Chmakova

Middle school can be hard, especially if you aren’t quite sure where you fit. Jensen is navigating school, activities, and bullying. Will he find the bravery and support to face things head-on? 

Additional Lower School titles about life at school may be found here.

Middle School

Grades 6-8

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Seventh-grader Jordan Banks navigates being a new student and one of the only kids of color in his grade at the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School. Jordan faces numerous challenges trying to fit in and find friends at his new school while also keeping connected to his old neighborhood. (Graphic novel)


High School

Grades 9-12

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

Simon, the leader of Bayview High's gossip app, dies during after-school detention. The other four students in detention all have secrets they don’t want exposed. Is one of them responsible for Simon’s death? A drama series based on the novel is set to premiere on Peacock. (Mystery)



Parents, Faculty & Staff, Alumni, Grandparents

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Linus Baker, a tightly wound caseworker, is pushed out of his comfort zone when he is sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children. A charming, whimsical read which also tackles deeper themes of complacency, family, and celebrating differences. (Fantasy) 

Additional school titles from the Upper School Library may be found here: Middle SchoolHigh School, Adult