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Children's Nonfiction School & Education

Off to Class (updated edition)

Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World

by (author) Susan Hughes

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
Sep 2022
School & Education, General, General, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2022
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 6


Travel around the globe to visit some of the world's most incredible schools, and meet the students who attend them, in this award-winning nonfiction pick for ages 9 to 12. This edition of a bestselling favorite is newly updated and re-released in 2022.

When North American kids picture a school, odds are they see rows of desks, stacks of textbooks, and linoleum hallways. But there are schools in caves, on boats, and on train platforms; there are green schools, mobile schools, and even treehouse schools. There’s a whole world of unusual schools out there! But the most amazing thing about them isn’t their location or what they look like. It’s that many of these schools have been able to provide safe learning environments for students who have unique lifestyles and who face tough environmental and cultural challenges.

Education is not readily available for kids everywhere, and many communities lack the resources that would make it easier for kids to go to school—but people around the world are finding creative ways to make education happen. In Off to Class, readers will travel around the globe to visit some of these incredible schools and, through personal interviews, meet the students who attend them, too. Their stories aren’t just inspiring—they’ll also get you to think about school and the world in a whole new way!

About the author


Susan Hughes
a étudié la littérature anglaise à l'Université de Toronto. Depuis, elle
écrit et publie des livres pour enfants, à la fois des fictions et des
documentaires. Elle habite avec sa famille à Toronto.


Susan Hughes studied English literature at the University of Toronto. She writes both fiction and non-fiction children's books. She lives with her family in Toronto.

Susan Hughes' profile page


  • Short-listed, Ontario Library Association Silver Birch Non Fiction Award
  • Short-listed, Atlantic Library Association, Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award
  • Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Best Books for Kids and Teens, Starred Selection
  • Short-listed, British Columbia Library Association, Red Cedar Book Award
  • Short-listed, Canadian Children's Book Centre, TD Canadian Children's Literature Award
  • Short-listed, Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice Awards, Diamond Willow Award
  • Short-listed, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-fiction
  • Winner, Skipping Stones Honor Award
  • Short-listed, ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award, Juvenile Non-fiction category

Editorial Reviews

"Not only is this a great way to introduce tweens to how other kids around the world access learning, it is also a text to inspire them to look at their own communities and to see what creative site-specific solutions to local problems they can come up with."

A Life Sustained Blog

"A fascinating look at the world and its cultures taken from a classroom's view."

All Voices

"It's easy to be fascinated by other children's lives when they're as interesting as this book! ...The excellent layout of the book makes it accessible and intriguing."

Jean Little Library blog

"Will amaze and inspire."

ReaderKidZ blog

"A rather inspirational look at schools...provides a wonderful opportunity for Canadian students to see the conditions under which children around the world study and learn."

Canadian Children's Book News

"The book makes fascinating reading, and the upbeat narrative and successful projects cited allow youngsters to learn about the various challenges faced by kids around the a format that is forthright, immediate, and ultimately uplifting and empowering."

School Library Journal

"An important resource for anyone who is interested in new ways to educate our children...It brings home the reality that even in the United States there is a need to rethink our classrooms."

Alaskan Book Cafe Blog

"This wonderful book is like a window of the world...a must-have for the school or public library, the classroom social studies corner, the humanitarian's library, and the picture book lover's home library."

Picture Book Depot

"Off to Class is a fascinating look at the different configurations schools have taken, offering hope to children, communities and the environment that might never have been imagined."

Canlit for Little Canadians

"Off to Class is a real eye-opener that might spur people to social action...A most inspiring read."

Canadian Review of Materials

"Amazing examples raise this book from standard non-fiction fare to a great book for browsing and sharing, and a strong starting point for talking about how people live."

Shelf Candy Blog

"Fascinating stories accompany vivid photos and factoids...Packed with valuable lessons."

Foreword Reviews

"Every school or system described will hold your attention and prove that change can be made...This is a book that begs to be read aloud, and shared at home and at school."

Sal's Fiction Addiction

"The strong emphasis on humanitarianism will move, excite, and inspire those reading...Off to Class will encourage them to help to 'be the change they wish to see in the world.'"

School Library Journal

"Kids will find reading Off to Class enlightening...I highly recommend this interesting and eye-opening book."

Berger's Book Reviews

"Hughes's examples of grassroots education in action are inspirational and informative."

Publishers Weekly

"An exciting way to connect readers with children in classrooms around the world...the down-to-earth details capture both the excitement and the challenges students face in daily life."


"I loved this book. It left me feeling proud of mankind for taking control over what looked like impossible situations and turning them around for the good of children and the future. It also made me thankful for the education we receive here in America. You will truly enjoy this learning book and perhaps it will nudge you to become involved in helping children all over the world that we all live in. Excellent, highly recommended, very well done."

Midwest Book Review

"Off to Class is an easy-to-read yet detailed book that should, at the very least, be in every school library, if not every classroom and home."


"Shows in beautiful pictures and words how very different cultures live and look at life and learning."

Stacy's Books

"I love this book...I love the inspiration it gives us to adapt, work hard, press on to meet the vastly differing needs of learners."

Orange Marmalade

"This is the best across-the-curriculum book I've ever seen for upper elementary and middle school students."

Bonnie's Books blog

"Unusual and useful."

Kirkus Reviews

"Another stellar entry into Hughes's pantheon of non-fiction wonders."

Monica Kulling

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