As a new teacher, what better way to launch your classroom library than with this teacher-tested book list all about the social issues your students face every day — fitting in, finding friends, and forging their own identities. These titles are especially appropriate for the beginning of the school year.

 The View From Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
Sixth-grade teacher Mrs. Olinski, a paraplegic, drafts four uniquely different students — Noah, Nadia, Ethan, and Julian — to join the Academic Bowl Team. They dub themselves "The Souls," meet every Saturday, and go on to beat their 8th-grade rivals. Along the way, each character tells his or her own story, offering perspective on friendship and personal growth.

 

 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney
Greg Heffley's little brother has gotten hold of his diary and that spells trouble for Greg, a middle schooler who doesn't want his classmates to find out about embarrassing events of the summer. This novel in cartoon format is the second in what has become an enormously popular series that started as a comic strip on the Internet.

 

 Define "Normal" by Julie Anne Peters
A peer-counseling program brings two outwardly different girls together. Jazz is the tough one, with purple hair, black lips, tattoos, and piercings. Antonia is the prissy one, with honor roll grades and interests in history, math, and gymnastics. As these two opposites get to know each other through their counseling sessions, they realize they have much in common, help each other cope with family problems, and form a true friendship.

 

 The Misfits by James Howe
Skeezie, Addie, Joe, and Bobby are misfits on a mission to end bullying at their school. They are tired of the one-word jokes their seventh-grade classmates have labeled them with because of their unfashionable clothing, height, sexual preference, and extra pounds. They call themselves a Gang of Five "because we figure that there's one more kid out there who's going to need a gang to be a part of." The theme of accepting differences runs through the story.