Most of us think of December as peak shopping season, but for many book stores it actually happens in August, when parents, kids and teachers start preparing for the coming school year.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, we spent roughly $2.2 billion at book stores in August 2010, and given that enrollment is expected to rise over the next few years, that number is only likely to go up.
But while there are certainly worse things to spend your money on than books, we tend to forget that many of the same titles are available for free at local libraries. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of “back to school” reads featuring books of all genres and reading levels, because no matter what your age, there’s never a bad time to explore and learn new things.
How to Be a Person: The Stranger’s Guide to College, Sex, Intoxicants, Tacos, and Life Itself, by Lindy West, Dan Savage, Christopher Frizzelle, Bethany Jean Clement, and the staff of The Stranger
For most of us, college is the first time we get a dose of the real world and everything that it entails, from doing your own laundry to choosing a career path. But while this helpful (and hilarious) book may be aimed primarily at 18 to 19-year-olds, older readers will likely get something out of it as well; after all, learning “how to be a person” can take a while.
The Innocents, by Francesca Segal
If English literature was (or is) your favorite subject, be sure to check out Francesca Segal’s debut novel, which is loosely based on Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence. It is no mean feat to take a story that hinges on the main character’s naiveté and transpose it to our modern, worldly times, but Segal manages to do just that, creating a tale that is both faithful to its roots and uniquely her own.
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, by Robert M. Sapolsky
A science lesson and a self-help book all rolled into one. Sapolsky’s highly accessible book on the effects of stress is a must-read for anyone interested in the workings of the human body, but may also help high school and college students shouldering heavy workloads learn the importance of relaxing and unwinding from time to time.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne
An excellent, moving read for adults and young adults alike, and a history lesson to boot. The fairytale-like language makes The Boy in the Striped Pajamas a relatively easy read even for pre-teens, but its powerful depiction of childhood innocence and friendship against the most overwhelming of odds—it is, after all, set during the Holocaust—is something that readers of every age can learn from.
Preschool Day Hooray! by Linda Leopold Strauss
If your child is nervous about starting school, try reading this charming little picture book with them. People of all ages feel better when they know what they’re getting into, and Strauss’s book walks nervous preschoolers through a day of school, letting them know what they can expect and helping them see school as something to look forward to.
Unfortunately, going to school can be a stressful and even frightening experience for some children—particularly those who face verbal or physical harassment from their peers. Goldman draws on real-life stories to help parents and kids find ways to both cope with and eliminate bullying.
It's time to get ready for school. As you go shopping for notebooks and folders, don't forget the library! Talk to your librarian, visit our website or call us 914-835-0324 to learn about the many great resources we have so that school this year is as easy as a mouse click.