Back to School Again: 17 New Reads for the Young and Young at Heart

For many Nashville students, next week marks the return of blackboards, backpacks, and — you guessed it — books! We here at Parnassus are firm believers that reading for fun shouldn’t stop when the school bell rings, so we’ve gathered up some great titles to carry you through August. Just like with our picks for adults, we’ve added a Classics & Backlist section to our recs for young readers! Scroll down below the Young Adult section to see some of our not-so-new favorites. And don’t forget to check out this month’s picks for our Sprout, Spark, and ParnassusNext subscription boxes!

Recommended by Chelsea

The Night Wild By Zoë Tilley Poster, Zoë Tilley Poster (Illustrator) Cover ImageThe Night Wild

Dog makes a new friend in Wolf, and their adventures together are fantastically illustrated in a soft black-and-white palette. This would be a perfect bedtime story for nature lovers and adventurers.

Recommended by Hannah

My Shadow Is Purple By Scott Stuart Cover ImageMy Shadow Is Purple

A magnificent book celebrating self-love and keeping true to who you are, even/especially if that’s outside of a traditional gender binary.

Recommended by Madeline

Rosa's Song By Helena Ku Rhee, Pascal Campion (Illustrator) Cover ImageRosa’s Song

By Helena Ku RheePascal Campion (Illustrator)

Touching and poignant, this book pulls on the heartstrings as it shares the story of many families that move constantly, whether because of finances or even immigration status. Despite the hardships, Jae, the newcomer, becomes what Rosa was once for him–a guide and a safe place for newcomers.

Recommended by Chelsea

Rosie and the Pre-Loved Dress By Leanne Hatch, Leanne Hatch (Illustrator) Cover ImageRosie and the Pre-Loved Dress

Rosie falls in love with a dress at her thrift store, and when she gets it home, she discovers the name Mila on the tag. Rosie’s imagination takes off, wondering if Mila likes the same things Rosie does. When Rosie grows out of the dress, she adds her name to the tag and passes it on. I love the dual points of recycling textiles and learning to let things go, lessons that all readers can appreciate.

Recommended by Ashby

Thirst By Varsha Bajaj Cover ImageThirst

Shouldn’t everyone have water? In Mumbai, the poor wait in lines while the wealthy turn on faucets to flowing water. Minni takes a job in a high-rise and sees the difference: the wealthy have a swimming pool on the roof. Minni faces water shortages and thieves stealing water. She has to decide if she will expose the water mafia boss who lives in the high-rise, lose her job and possibly her life. What should she do?

Recommended by Madeline

The Met Claude Monet: He Saw the World in Brilliant Light (What the Artist Saw) By Amy Guglielmo, Ginnie Hsu (Illustrator) Cover ImageThe Met Claude Monet: He Saw the World in Brilliant Light (What the Artist Saw)

By Amy GuglielmoGinnie Hsu (Illustrator)

A vibrant biography of a stunning painter: Claude Monet. This book also features unique painting tricks for young artists, inspired from Claude Monet’s own techniques!

Recommended by RJ

Café Con Lychee By Emery Lee Cover ImageCafé Con Lychee

By Emery Lee

Café Con Lychee follows two boys, the sons of competing restaurant owners, who must put aside their families’ rivalry when a new business threatens both of their futures. Both leads are written with complex emotions and motivations, which continue to unfold as their relationship shifts from dislike to romance. An extremely heartfelt take on enemies-to-lovers.

Recommended by Aly

We Made It All Up By Margot Harrison Cover ImageWe Made It All Up

This is why we don’t ship people in real life. Small town murder mystery meets a fanfiction-gone-wrong in this page turning story of a girl searching for a fresh start.

Recommended by Ashby

Accomplished: A Georgie Darcy Novel By Amanda Quain Cover ImageAccomplished: A Georgie Darcy Novel

Turn Pride and Prejudice into a retelling focused on Fitzwilliam’s sister, Georgie. Georgie is enrolled at Pemberley Academy where she needs to remake her reputation after what happened with Wickham. Her plan is to stand out in the marching band, forget about Wickham, and get her brother to fall in love with his classmate Lizzie. Easy, right? Not really…A fun read with the important parts intact but with new twists.

Recommended by RJ

The Passing Playbook By Isaac Fitzsimons Cover ImageThe Passing Playbook

This story follows Spencer, a transgender boy navigating high school soccer, friendships, and a complicated crush while also trying to stay stealth at a new school. An honest, realistic, and vulnerable depiction of a teenage boy’s struggles that will no doubt provide hope to many readers who need it most.

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Tiger Rising By Kate DiCamillo Cover ImageThe Tiger Rising

Reading Kate DiCamillo’s books is like giving yourself a treat. This week I treated myself to The Tiger Rising, a book about a grieving boy, an angry girl, and a tiger that changes their lives forever.

Recommended by Aly

The Princess Diaries By Meg Cabot Cover ImageThe Princess Diaries

By Meg Cabot

The warm-hearted and hilarious story of an average girl, Mia, discovering she was born a princess is one of my personal favorites. Re-released for a slightly younger audience than before, you still get all of the romance, laughs, and heartfelt moments from the original incredible series.

Recommended by Chelsea

An Ember in the Ashes By Sabaa Tahir Cover ImageAn Ember in the Ashes

This reminded me of everything I love about YA fantasy: sweeping worldbuilding, unexpected twists, and complex characters that make you root for them. When I read the last word of this novel, I immediately picked up the second in the series. If you (like me) had missed this when it first came out, pick it up now – it’s a perfect fantasy read.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Lovely War By Julie Berry Cover ImageLovely War

The Greek gods hold the fate of four mortals’ lives and hearts in their hands in this sweeping novel set in World Wars I and II. One of my all-time favorite YA novels.

Also loved by Sarah!

Sprout Book Club: August Selection

A Little Ferry Tale By Chad Otis, Chad Otis (Illustrator) Cover ImageA Little Ferry Tale

By Chad Otis

The August 2022 Sprout Book Club selection is A Little Ferry Tale by Chad Otis.

Author/illustrator Chad Otis bring us a delightful story about a ferry that admires the other boats, fast speedboat, strong tugboat, and graceful sailboat. But when a crisis erupts, ferry’s true qualities shine.

Early praise for the book:

“Charming for coastal ferry-riding kids.” – Kirkus

Sprout Book Club is the book subscription box for picture book lovers. Every month members will receive a first edition picture book. Set up a subscription for yourself or buy a gift membership for your favorite picture book lover for 3, 6, or 12 months. 

Spark Book Club: August Selection

Hummingbird By Natalie Lloyd Cover ImageHummingbird

By Natalie Lloyd

The August 2022 Spark Book Club selection is Hummingbird by Natalie Lloyd.

Olive’s dream comes true when she gets the chance to attend a traditional school after years of being homeschooled. She decorates her wheelchair with sparkles and hopes to fit in. Rumors of a magical wish-granting bird float through Olive’s Tennessee mountain town. She teams up with her new theater friends, determined to find the bird and have her deepest wish granted.

Early Sparks for the novel:

“A spirited tale of self-belief.” – Kirkus

“This is a novel as rare as the magical bird at its center.” – BookPage, starred review

Spark Book Club is the first editions club for middle grade readersEvery month members will receive a first edition middle grade novel — plus a letter written by the author especially for club members. Makes a great gift for the independent reader! Sign ups are available for 3, 6, or 12 months.

ParnassusNext: August Selection

Violet Made of Thorns By Gina Chen Cover ImageViolet Made of Thorns

By Gina Chen

The August 2022 ParnassusNext selection is Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen.

After a vision prompts her to save the life of the prince, Violet Lune is brought to the kingdom and anointed as a Seer. She lives by her wits presiding in her tower, even if that means lying to the royals and their subjects. There is a thin line between love and deception in this dark fantasy.

Read our interview with Gina Chen in Musing here!

Early praise for the novel:

“Diverting and atmospheric.” – Kirkus

“Searing… Employing evocative prose, passionately antagonistic romance, and a snarky first-person narration, Chen borrows familiar fairy tale elements and crafts them into a uniquely dark fantasy.” – Publishers Weekly

ParnassusNext is the book subscription box for YA lovers. Every member of ParnassusNext receives a first edition hardcover of each month’s selected book, signed by the author. There is no membership fee to join — and no line to stand in for the autograph. Not only will you have one of the best YA books of the month when it comes out, you’ll have it straight from the author’s hands, with an original, authentic signature! Set up a subscription for yourself or buy a gift membership for your favorite YA reader for 3, 6, or 12 months.