If you ask any ten kids in the library about boarding schools, Harry Potter is probably the first thing that springs to mind. But Boarding School Adventures have been around since books were first written for kids. Here are a few of our favorites.
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Boarding School Adventures
Alcott, Louisa May. Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo’s Boys
What happens when Jo and her husband open their hearts and home to educate and care for young boys? Even more lads arrive on their doorstep! This sequel to Louisa May Alcott’s story Little Women shares the story of a handful of rowdy yet kindhearted boys who have a positive effect on the lives of the entire family – including the two young sons.
Burnett, Frances Hodgson. A Little Princess
Left behind when her father fights in India, Sara Crewe is the perfect student. But Sara’s privileged status at her boarding school ends when her father dies. Left penniless, Sara retains her pluck and optimism, which attract the notice of a mysterious benefactor. A boarding school adventure which has been adapted into several movies.
Butcher, A.J. Spy High: Mission One
To the outside world, the New England boarding school known as Devereaux Academy looks no different than any other exclusive private school. But to first-year students, it goes by the name Spy High. As students at a special high school that trains them to be secret agents, six teenagers struggle to complete the training exercises as a team before being sent out into the field to sink or swim.
Conford, Ellen. Dear Mom, Get Me Out of Here!
Paul Tanner’s nightmares come true when he discovers his new boys’ school is a dismal place where teachers are as weird as the kids. His roommate is convinced he can fly; the gym teacher holds checkers practice outside in a snowstorm; one boy keeps a pet rooster; and there’s a janitor who’s incapable of fixing anything. With his parents in Europe, however, there’s little chance Paul can escape anytime soon.Trapped in a dreadful boarding school, Paul joins his classmates in attempting to uncover the shocking past of their headmaster Mr. Pickles.
Creech, Sharon. Bloomability
Domenica Santolina Doone, known as Dinnie, finds herself far from home and among strangers. When her aunt and uncle take her from New Mexico to Lugano, Switzerland to attend an international school, Dinnie discovers her world expanding. There she attends a school with students from around the globe, makes new friends, and learns a new language.
Dahl, Roald. Boy: Tales of Childhood
The best-selling author of stories like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda recounts his days as a child growing up in England, which provided much of the background and ideas for his books. From his years as a prankster at boarding school to his envious position as a chocolate tester for Cadbury’s, Dahl’s boyhood was as full of excitement and the unexpected as are his world-famous books.
Farmer, Penelope. Charlotte Sometimes
It’s natural to feel a little out of place when you’re the new girl, but when Charlotte Makepeace wakes up after her first night at boarding school, she’s baffled: everyone thinks she’s a girl called Clare Mobley, and even more shockingly, it seems she has traveled forty years back in time to 1918. If she doesn’t figure out some way to get back to the world she knows before the end of the term, she might never have another chance.
Frederick, Heather Vogel. The Education of Patience Goodspeed
When the Morning Star sets sail on the Pacific in 1836, Patience Goodspeed can’t wait to be the assistant navigator. But when danger strikes, Captain Goodspeed whisks his children Patience and Tad and their aunt Anne off to a boarding school in Hawaii until the ship returns. Sometimes growing up on dry land can be even rockier than a voyage on the sea, but Patience is about to learn that true friendship will sail her through it.
Haberdasher, Violet. Knightly Academy
Henry Grim is a servant boy at the Midsummer School—until he passesthe elite Knightley Academy exam and suddenly finds himself one of the first commoners at the Academy, studying alongside the cleverest and bravest—and most arrogant—young aristocrats in the country. But someone is out to sabotage him from becoming a full-fledged Knight of the Realm, and soon Henry uncovers a conspiracy that violates the Hundred Years’ Peace treaty—and could lead to war!
Henderson, Jason. Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising
Alex has no idea that he’s descended from the world’s most famous vampire hunter, but that changes fast when he arrives at Glenarvon Academy. When two of Alex’s friends are kidnapped by the deadly vampire Icemaker, it’s up to Alex to infiltrate the Scholomance and get them back – alive. Assisted by the Polidorium, a top-secret vampire-hunting organization with buried ties to the Van Helsings, Alex dodges zombies, bullets, and lots and lots of fangs on his way to thwarting Icemaker’s plans and fulfilling his family destiny. (In the YA collection too.)
Higson, Charles. Silverfin: a James Bond Adventure
Thirteen year-old James Bond cannot wait to get away from Eton, his stuffy boarding school, and visit his aunt and uncle in the Highlands of Scotland. Upon arriving, he learns that a local boy, Alfie Kelly, has gone missing, and James teams up with the boy’s cousin Red to investigate the disappearance. A fun prequel to the James Bond, Agent 007–the spy everyone knows and loves. (In the YA collection too.)
Ibbotson, Eva. The Dragonfly Pool
At first Tally doesn’t want to go to the boarding school called Delderton. But she soon discovers that it is a wonderful place where freedom and self-expression are valued. There she befriends Karil, the crown prince, who would love nothing more than to have ordinary friends and attend a school like Delderton. When Karil’s father is assassinated, it is up to Tally and her friends to help Karil escape the Nazis and the bleak future he has inherited. (In the YA collection as well.)
Jones, Diana Wynne. Witch Week
There are good witches and bad witches, but the law says that all witches must be burned at the stake. So when a teacher at an English boarding school finds a note on his desk accusing someone in the class of being a witch, the students in 6B are nervous – especially the boy who’s just discovered that he can cast spells and the girl who was named after the most famous witch of all. Will their classmates help them escape…or turn them in to the witchfinders? One of the first appearances of Jones’ Chrestomanci.
Kimmel, Elizabeth Cody. The Reinvention of Moxie Roosevelt
Moxie Roosevelt Kipper has endured thirteen years of being an ordinary girl with an unordinary name. Now that she’s entered boarding school, the time is ripe to reinvent herself. She’ll become unusual, outlandish, unexpected, sassy – someone worthy of a name like Moxie. But at boarding school, Moxie isn’t the only one who isn’t what she claims to be.
Koponen, Libby. Blow Out the Moon
A fan of boarding-school stories, Libby jumps at the chance to go away to Sibton House in the English countryside, where she does make friends, learns to ride a horse, and is noticed for her writing talent. Peppered with black-and-white photographs, illustrations, personal letters and documents from the author’s own youth, this humorous and touching coming-of-age story follows a young American girl as she attends an English boarding school in the 1950s.
Korman, Gordon. This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall
Bruno and Boots are always in trouble. So the Headmaster, aka “The Fish” decides it would be best to separate them. Bruno must now room with ghoulish Elmer Dimsdale, plus his plants, goldfish, and ants. And Boots is stuck with nerdy, preppy, paranoid George Wexford-Smyth III. Of course, this means war. Because Bruno and Boots are determined to get their old room back, no matter what it takes. And the skunk is only the beginning….
L’Engle, Madeleine. And Both Were Young
Flip feels like a prisoner when she first arrives at boarding school in Switzerland; her days are strictly scheduled and she never has a minute to herself. Then she finds a true friend in Paul. He understands her in a way that no one at school does, and she breaks the rules to spend time with him. But as the two become closer, Flip learns that Paul has a mystery in his past. To help him discover the truth, she must put herself in serious danger. (In the YA collection as well.)
McKay, Hilary. Wishing for Tomorrow
In this sequel to A Little Princess, Sara Crewe has gone away with the Indian gentleman, and now nothing is the same at Miss Minchin’s. Spoiled Lottie, awful Lavinia, and shy Ermengarde are all left behind at the Select Seminary for Young Ladies, and the new maid, Alice from Epping, is a bright girl from the country whose practicality and confidence are a refreshing change from the stodgy Miss Minchin.
Neff, Henry H. The Hound of Rowan
Max McDaniels lives a quiet life in the suburbs of Chicago, until the day he stumbles upon a mysterious Celtic tapestry. His discovery leads him to Rowan Academy, a secret school where he trains in both combat and magic, and where great things await him. But when Max learns that priceless artworks and gifted children are disappearing, he finds himself in the crossfire of an ancient struggle between good and evil.
Nimmo, Jenny. Midnight for Charlie Bone
Charlie Bone has discovered an unusual gift – he can hear people in photographs talking! His scheming aunts decide to send him to Bloor Academy, a school for geniuses where he uses his gifts to discover the truth despite all the dangers that lie ahead. A mysterious box, a missing girl, a strange man who flits in and out in the company of three brightly colored cats, and various villains all figure into Charlie’s exciting, fast-paced adventure tale, which is the first book in The Children of the Red King series.
Page, Katherine Hall. Christie & Company
Who is stealing valuables in the eighth-grade dorm of a Massachusetts girls’ boarding school? Is it the same person who is sending mean messages to new girl Christie? Christie, Maggie and Vicky, the only new eighth-grade girls at Cabot School find that their shared interest in mysteries comes in handy when the roommates are blamed for a series of thefts at the school. That’s when the girls form “Christie & Company” and decide to solve the mystery on their own. These young detectives are smart, work well together, and are eager to prove themselves.
Pearson, Ridley. Steel Trapp: The Academy
Steven “Steel” Trapp has been placed in an East Coast boarding school for gifted kids by his FBI agent father. To his surprise, his friend Kaileigh arrives at the school, and it isn’t long before the two realize that this is not your normal prep school. As Steel and Kaileigh are recruited for their first run trying to break a ring of pickpockets in a Boston hotel things go impossibly wrong. And all too soon, the two find that their very lives are in danger. (Also in the YA collection.)
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable Muggle aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.
Saunders, Kate. Beswitched
On her way, reluctantly, to a boarding school in present-day England, Flora suddenly finds herself in 1935, the new girl at St. Winifred’s, having been summoned via a magic spell by her new dormitory mates. No iPod? No cell phone? No hair products? How will she survive? But lots of adventures in the past are amazing even if they are not forever. How will she find her way back to the 21st century?
Stewart, Paul and Chris Riddell. The Winter Knights
In the great floating city of Sanctaphrax, blizzards howl through the streets as the Edgeworld descends into an endless winter. Quint, the son of a sky pirate, has just begun his training at the Knights Academy – training that involves heading out over the Edge on tethers to develop his flying skills. But when Quint breaks the rules and heads out to Open Sky on his own, he runs into the great sky leviathans known as cloud-eaters and must use all his skill and ingenuity if catastrophe is not to strike the Edgeworld.
Stewart, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict Society
When a peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. Read all the sequels, and a book about Mr. Benedict’s background: The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict is just out!
Strickland, Brad. Flight of the Outcast: The Academy, Year 1
Asteria Locke has never left her father’s farm on the remote planet of Theron. But in one terrible moment, a surprise attack by space raiders destroys everything she’s ever known. Orphaned and alone, Asteria vows to avenge her father’s death by joining the Royal Spacefleet Academy… even if she has to lie to get in.
Wallace, Barbara Brooks. The Perils of Peppermints
Emily Luccock is devastated to be left at Mrs. Spilking’s Select Academy while her aunt and uncle sail for India. She tries to keep her spirits up while counting the days until she can rejoin Aunt and Uncle Twice, but she soon realizes her aunt and uncle have all but forgotten her, and, worse, Mrs. Spilking’s behavior grows increasingly cruel – and suspicious. Can Emily discover what’s going on at the dreadful school before her future is destroyed forever?
Whitehouse, Howard. The Strictest School in the World
Fourteen-year-old pioneering aviatrix Emmaline Cayley is being sent off to St. Grimelda’s School for Young Ladies to be cured of her decidedly unladylike ways. It is a school so strict, so severe, so forbidding that it makes the brutal misery in the tales of Charles Dickens look cheery by comparison. All Emmaline can think of is escape. But no one has ever escaped from St. Grimelda’s.
Womack, Philip. The Other Book
Edward Pollock lives an ordinary life at his ordinary boarding school, where the food is bad and the teachers are way too serious. But one day he’s inexplicably drawn to a strange and powerful book, and suddenly the boarding school isn’t quite so ordinary anymore. While Edward must do his best to keep The Other Book safe, a mysterious new teacher at the school becomes intent on getting a hold of the Book for her own sinister purposes.
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Boarding School Adventures
Abrahams, Peter. Reality Check
Things in Cody’s world seem to be going pretty well, until his girlfriend Clea is sent off to boarding school across the country, and a torn ACL ends his high school football career. While limping through town one day, Cody sees a newspaper headline: “Local Girl Missing.” Clea, now his ex, has disappeared from her boarding school in Vermont, and the only clue is a letter she sent to Cody the morning of her disappearance. With that as his guide, Cody sets out to find out what happened. Once in Vermont, he unearths the town’s secrets – and finds out that football isn’t the only thing he’s good at.
Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre, the plain yet spirited governess, introduced a new kind of heroine in literature – one whose virtuous integrity, sharp intellect, and tireless perseverance broke through class barriers to win equal stature with the man she loved. Orphaned and subjected to cruelty at Lowood School, Jane nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity to become a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she falls in love with the mysterious Mr. Rochester.
Carter, Ally. I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You
Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school—that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it’s really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she’s an ordinary girl.
Marchetta, Melina. Jellicoe Road
Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn’t a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.
Pearson, Mary E. The Miles Between
Destiny Faraday makes a point of keeping her distance from the other students at Hedgebrook Academy. But one day, unexpectedly finding a car at their disposal, Destiny and three of her classmates embark on an unauthorized road trip. Their destination: Langdon, a town that Destiny’s unsuspecting companions hope will hold simply a day of fun. Only she knows that Langdon holds far more than that – a deep secret she has never shared with anyone.
Van de Ruit, John. Spud
It’s 1990. Apartheid is crumbling. Nelson Mandela has just been released from prison. And Spud Milton – thirteen-year-old, prepubescent choirboy extraordinaire – is about to start his first year at an elite boys-only boarding school in South Africa. Cursed with embarrassingly dysfunctional parents, a senile granny named Wombat, and a wild obsession for Julia Roberts, Spud has his hands full trying to adapt to his new home.
Booklist prepared by Casey.
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If you have any other great boarding school adventures that you’ve read, let us know and we’ll add them to the list! In the meantime…enjoy! And think about how your life might be different if you attended one of these exclusive educational facilities. 🙂