5 Relatable Children's Book Series About Grade School Woes

As adults, we look back on childhood as a carefree time when life was easy and fun. Faced with mountains of bills, stressful jobs, challenging relationships and other grownup issues, we long for the days when our biggest worries were writing a book report on time and not being picked last for kickball in gym class.

But if we’re being totally honest, childhood was about so much more than that. When you’re a kid, life can also feel unfair...like nobody gets you. You’re awkward and the pressure to fit in is real. Little things matter, from the lunch you brought to the clothes you wear. Your self-esteem is way low while academic pressures soar...and who should you ask to the school dance anyway?

The good news is there are some very relatable (and quite funny!) books that deal with elementary and middle school issues, illustrating that while everyone goes through difficult times, it is possible to rise above them:

My Weird School Series

By Dan Gutman

Arlo Jervis, better known as A.J., does not like school. It’s not just that it’s boring or hard. A.J. and his friends think that all of the grownups at Ella Mentry (get it?) School are weird.

Miss Daisy cannot add or subtract, Mr. Klutz wants to bungee jump off the roof dressed as Santa Claus and Ms. Hannah collects garbage, just to name a few of the odd goings-on. To top it all off, A.J. has to deal with Andrea who likes everything A.J. hates, especially school.

Whether you read them together a chapter at a time or you hand them over to your independent bookworm, any of the books in this series will have your kids laughing out loud.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series

By Jeff Kinney

Gregory "Greg" Heffley has so much going on, it’s not even funny. First, his mother wants the family to unplug to spend more time interacting with one another. She doesn’t just institute family game night, though – Greg’s mom actually goes to the City Council and encourages them to establish an unplugged weekend, during which everyone is also encouraged to do volunteer work.

Then, he discovers that his grandfather is moving in with them. On top of that, Greg’s dad wants him to become more independent and responsible, which adversely leads to some major mishaps, like a flooded house when Greg tries to resolve a problem with the sink on his own. Of course, there are also the matters of broken friendships, fights, and the dreaded “Cheese Touch.”

Ramona Quimby Series

By Beverly Cleary

When nine-year-old Beatrice Quimby’s sister Ramona was little, she couldn’t say her name quite right, so now everyone knows Beatrice as Beezus. Now four years old, Ramona is loud, interfering, ill behaved, and always in Beezus’s way.
Ramona’s imaginative antics and mischievous manners have Beezus in a near-constant state of exasperation. She feels guilty, though, because her mother and her aunt (after whom she was named) have such a close bond. In the end, she realizes that she will always love Ramona, even if she does not always like her.

Fudge Series

By Judy Blume

Peter wishes he had a puppy. Instead, he has Fudge. Fudge is not a pet or even a sweet snack. Fudge is Peter’s little brother. His real name is Farley Drexel Hatcher and he is seven years younger than nine-year-old Peter. It would seem, to Peter at least, that Fudge’s purpose in life is to make Peter miserable and get away with it, too.

Peter struggles with his baby brother’s antics and the feeling that his parents never see things from his point of view. Along with all of this, Peter also has to deal with his know-it-all classmate, Sheila Tubman. At least he still has his best friend, Jimmy, although even he seems to take Fudge’s side sometimes.

Ivy + Bean Series

By Annie Barrows

Did you ever meet someone and know in that instant that you would never, ever be friends? This was the case for Ivy and Bean. When Ivy moves in across the street, Bean can just tell she is too boring to be her friend, even though their moms keep trying to push them together.

Then one day, Bean nearly gets into trouble for playing a trick on her annoying sister and Ivy comes to her rescue. Bean discovers that Ivy just might have magical powers. Maybe she isn’t so dull after all, and maybe –just maybe—her mother was right about getting to know someone before deciding whether she is friend material.

What are some of your kids’ favorite (relatable!) chapter books?

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Mia Benitez
All of our favorites!!