In the midst of college applications, extracurricular activities, and school assignments it is important to allow yourself to come to a quiet place and wind down. One thing that can help you destress after an insane day or a never-ending week is immersing yourself in a book. So, in the spirit of literacy, we are launching a periodic Empowerly Book Club where we feature top book recommendations for high schoolers! This list highlights some of our favorite options of critical reading for reflection.
We’ve already gathered our top three picks. Now, all you have to do is download, purchase, or check out the book at your school or local library… and read. Recommended by students for students, here are a few novels to start you off for this month.
Picture us in the Light
by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Protagonist Danny Cheng is an Asian-American teenager in his senior year of high school living in the Bay Area of California. He thinks he has his path set as a talented artist, a loving son, the friend everyone wants to have, and he even has a secured scholarship to design school. Danny’s life is challenged when powerful themes of suicide, family secrets, immigration, and sexuality begin to emerge.
The book’s dedication says it all: “There will always be so much darkness in the world, but may you never stop finding the light and shining it all around you- and for all the kids living in the shadows.”
The Poet X
by Elizabeth Acevedo
Xiomara, or X, writes poetry as a way to escape her life in Harlem. She writes to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship with the world. She battles implications of body image, while her mother only cares about X being the perfect Catholic daughter; X doesn’t feel like she has any control over her life. When a teacher encourages her to join poetry club, X starts to make her voice heard—and discover where she belongs.
Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful
by Arwen Elys Dayton
If you’re into sci-fi, Black Mirror, or West-world, this book might be right up your alley. Set in today’s world, but to the near distant futures, this book is made up of six interconnected stories. Each challenge how far we will go to remake ourselves into the perfect human; and even push the definition of “human.” Are you ready for genetic manipulation, life extension, and other deeply thoughtful, poignant, horrifying, and action-packed themes? Definitely read this newly released novel.
Did you know, it is said that reading (fiction, in particular) can have similar effects as meditation? Also, as a high school student preparing for college, it is important to remember the educational benefits of reading. Continuing to build literacy will not only provide personal academic growth, but also improve your writing skills; all of which are so crucial when it comes to writing those college application essays! Critical reading for reflection in meaningful ways will build your world view and expand your imagination.