“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”
Inspiring teens to become critical, adventurous readers plays an important role at Blue Stars. I can’t tell you what a delight it is to meet up with a student who has just read something that expanded their mind and introduced them to a new world, or consideration. These are some of our liveliest discussions! It is also important to note that a curious, engaged mind is very attractive to top schools.
An avid reader myself, I’ve always seen reading as a form of traveling; through it, you leave your home base into foreign territory, coming back your familiar environment all the richer for it. The more you read, the more worldly you’ll become.
This quiet, almost private activity can make a real difference in admissions. Demonstrating a rich, inner mind in a college application can mean the difference between acceptance or rejection at a top school, admission to an honors program, or consideration for merit scholarship.
So best to get off the phone and dig into one (or more) of these treasures. I hope these selections inspire. Bon voyage!
Recommended Non-Fiction Reading
The Yellow House: A Memoir
A book of great ambition, Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America’s most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother’s struggle against a house’s entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina.
Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons
Kidnapped from her home in Senegal and sold as a slave in 1761, a young girl is purchased by the wealthy Wheatley family in Boston. Phillis Wheatley—as she comes to be known—has an eager mind and it leads her on an unusual path for a slave—she becomes America’s first published black poet.
Be A Changemaker
Do you wish you could make a difference in your community or even the world? Are you one of the millions of high school teens with a service-learning requirement? Either way, Be a Changemaker will empower you with the confidence and knowledge you need to affect real change. You’ll find all the tools you need right here—through engaging youth profiles, step-by-step exercises, and practical tips, you can start making a difference today.
The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science
The Canon is a joyride through the major scientific disciplines: physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and astronomy. Along the way, we learn what is actually happening when our ice cream melts or our coffee gets cold, what our liver cells do when we eat a caramel, why the horse is an example of evolution at work, and how we’re all really made of stardust. It’s Lewis Carroll meets Lewis Thomas — a book that will enrapture, inspire, and enlighten.
Half the Sky
With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope.
The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
The Code Book describes some illustrative highlights in the history of cryptography, drawn from both of its principal branches, codes and ciphers. Thus the book’s title should not be misconstrued as suggesting that the book deals only with codes, and not with ciphers; or that the book is in fact a codebook.
I am Malala
I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.
The Girl From the Tar Paper School
Before the Little Rock Nine, before Rosa Parks, before Martin Luther King Jr. and his March on Washington, there was Barbara Rose Johns, a teenager who used nonviolent civil disobedience to draw attention to her cause. In 1951, witnessing the unfair conditions in her racially segregated high school, Barbara Johns led a walkout–the first public protest of its kind demanding racial equality in the U.S.–jumpstarting the American civil rights movement.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers
In this breathtaking book by Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human through the dramatic story of families striving toward a better life in Annawadi, a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport.
Wide Awake: A Buddhist Guide for Teens
Many of today’s teenagers are tired of the pressure to compete and consume-and are looking for a different way to live their lives. This book offers an alternative: the 2,500-year old practice of Buddhism.
Written in a style that will have immediate appeal to young “seekers” and those wanting to understand the ancient teachings, this book addresses such relevant topics as peer pressure, emotional difficulties, stress, fostering peace, and even protecting the environment.
My Favorite Thing is Monsters
Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge.
Cartoonist Sarah Glidden accompanies her two friends―reporters and founders of a journalism non-profit―as they research potential stories on the effects of the Iraq War on the Middle East and, specifically, the war’s refugees. Joining the trio is a childhood friend and former Marine whose past service in Iraq adds an unexpected and sometimes unwelcome viewpoint, both to the people they come across and perhaps even themselves.
Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s remarkable stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done with both the heart and the hands; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.
21 Lesson for the 21st century
How do computers and robots change the meaning of being human? How do we deal with the epidemic of fake news? Are nations and religions still relevant? What should we teach our children? Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future.
Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World
In medical school, Paul Farmer found his life’s calling: to cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. Tracy Kidder’s magnificent account shows how one person can make a difference in solving global health problems through a clear-eyed understanding of the interaction of politics, wealth, social systems, and disease. Profound and powerful, Mountains Beyond Mountains takes us from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia as Farmer changes people’s minds through his dedication to the philosophy that “the only real nation is humanity”.