Read For a Lifetime Award 9th-12th
Read for a Lifetime is a reading program for high school students offered through the Illinois Secretary of State's Office.
Read for a Lifetime 2013-2014 Booklist
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
When Aristotle and Dante meet, in the summer of 1987, they are 15-year-olds existing in "the universe between boys and men." The two are opposites in most ways: Dante is sure of his place in the world, while Ari feels he may never know who he is or what he wants. But both are thoughtful about their feelings and interactions with others, and this title is primarily focused on the back-and-forth in their relationship over the course of a year. Family issues take center stage, as well as issues of Mexican identity, but the heart of the novel is Dante’s openness about his homosexuality and Ari’s suppression of his.
Ashfall by Mike Mullin
Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet. For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to search for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way.
Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at a remote site at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the world's most formidable weapon, the atomic bomb.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
In exchange for a temporary stay of execution and lesser forms of torture, a young female spy captured in Nazi-occupied France writes a confession of her activities in the Resistance. Her story is that of two women who should never have crossed paths, yet were destined to become the best of friends and embark upon the covert mission that would determine which of them would live or die.
Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zach Stentz
Colin Fischer, 14, has Asperger's syndrome, cannot stand to be touched, does not like the color blue and needs index cards to recognize facial expressions. He is highly intelligent, but incapable of reading social cues and struggles to navigate everyday situations. When he enters high school, he faces bullies, class clowns, cliques, and a mystery: Who brought the gun to school that went off in the cafeteria? He soon becomes convinced that the bully, Wayne, who is temporarily suspended, is not guilty. As he works to exonerate Wayne, everyone wonders why he would help someone who dunked him in the toilet on the first day of school. For Colin, it is not a matter of helping the bully, but of making sure that the truth comes out. He eventually proves Wayne is innocent and in the process makes a new friend.
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. Burnham's challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built. The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims.
Discovering Wes Moore by Wes Moore
The title of this memoir isn’t a metaphor; it’s an astonishing fact. In a poor 1980s Bronx neighborhood, Moore’s single-parent mom worked multiple jobs so that he could attend private school, and she raged about his low grades as he tried to fit into both worlds. ("I was ashamed of being embarrassed about my own home.") After he narrowly escapes prison, she sends him to military school, and at 15, he becomes the youngest sergeant in the entire corps and at 16, a paratrooper. His hero is Colin Powell. Wes discovers, literally, another Wes Moore, who is like his double. This Wes, who grew up in the ’hood, dealt drugs, and spent time in juvie, wanted to quit dealing and support his kids, but he ended up shooting a cop and received a life sentence in prison, where the author visits him.
Diviners, The by Libba Bray
Set in 1920s New York City, this is the story of 17-year-old Evangeline O'Neill is sent from Ohio to live with an uncle after her secret gift for divining information from objects lands her in trouble. Her uncle, runs a museum specializing in folklore and the occult in Manhattan. Evie is a quintessential flapper: not really bad, but rebellious and yearning to fly free of her Babbitt-like existence. Although she starts out her new life like the party girl she was back home, her pursuits become more serious when her uncle is asked to help solve a series of strange murders. She crosses paths with Memphis Campbell, a black numbers runner in Harlem, whose power to heal by laying on hands failed him when he tried to save his mother. Other characters include a homosexual composer who meets people in dreams, a Ziegfeld girl with a past, a pickpocket searching for his family, and a young research assistant with his own secrets. Each of the characters has a gift and gradually they come together in a chilling with Naughty John, a paranormal serial killer.
Enders Game by Orson Scott Card
Ender Wiggin, the third in a family of child geniuses, is selected by international military forces to save the world from destruction. Before being chosen Ender wears a unique monitor that allows the heads of the military to see things as Ender does. Ender's brother Peter and his sister Valentine also wore this monitor, although neither was selected, and Peter will never forgive Ender for this. Peter hates Ender. The same is true of Ender's schoolmates, and he is forced to brutally beat the leader of a gang of bullies in order to protect himself. Although Valentine tries to protect Ender from Peter, he is only saved from his brother when Colonel Graff of the International Fleet comes to take Ender away to
Every Day by David Levithan
Can you truly love someone regardless of what they look like on the outside? The main character, A, wakes up every morning in a different body. Day to day, A can be male or female, any ethnicity, any size, and in any type of household. The only constant is that A is 16. A has been body jumping for as long as A can remember, and A has learned to not leave behind any trace of his/her presence--until A meets Rhiannon. For the first time in life, A feels a true connection with another person. But can she love A back?
Flesh & Blood So Cheap by Albert Marrin
On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City burst into flames. The factory was crowded. The doors were locked to ensure workers stay inside. One hundred forty-six people—mostly women—perished; it was one of the most lethal workplace fires in American history. This is more than just the story of the fire, it’s a story of immigration and hard work to make it in a new country, as Italians and Jews and others traveled to America to find a better life. It is the story of poor working conditions and greedy bosses, as garment workers discovered the endless sacrifices required to make ends meet. It is the story of unimaginable, but avoidable, disaster. And it the story of the unquenchable pride and activism of fearless immigrants and women who stood up to business, got America on their side, and finally changed working conditions for our entire nation, initiating radical new laws we take for granted today.
Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The by Rebecca Skloot
Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her knowledge or consent, as was the custom then, turned out to provide one of the holy grails of mid-century biology: human cells that could survive--even thrive--in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs, beginning with the cure for polio. Meanwhile, Henrietta's family continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and their discovery decades later of her unknowing contribution--and her cells' strange survival--left them full of pride, anger, and suspicion.
List, The by Siobhan Vivian
It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up. This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.
Mythology for Teens: Classic Myths in Today’s World by Zachary Hamby
Mythology for Teens: Classic Myths in Today's World takes classical mythology to a new level by relating ancient stories to the culture, history, art, and literature of today. By looking at topics instrumental to both mythology and modern culture, teens are encouraged to question topics such as the repercussions of war, vanity and greed, the workings of fate, the nature of love, the roles of women in society, revenge and forgiveness, the meaning of life, and national identity. Mythology for Teens takes the classic myths taught in school and turns them into an engaging, interesting, and fresh way of looking at old material.
Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
Based on the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, this is a powerful novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace. When soldiers arrive at his hometown in Cambodia, Arn is just a kid, dancing to rock 'n' roll, hustling for spare change, and selling ice cream with his brother. But after the soldiers march the entire population into the countryside, his life is changed forever. Arn is separated from his family and assigned to a labor camp: working in the rice paddies under a blazing sun, he sees the other children, weak from hunger, malaria, or sheer exhaustion, dying before his eyes. He sees prisoners marched to a nearby mango grove, never to return. He learns to be invisible to the sadistic Khmer Rouge, who can give or take away life on a whim. One day, the soldiers ask if any of the kids can play an instrument. Arn's never played a note in his life, but he volunteers. In order to survive, he must quickly master the strange revolutionary songs the soldiers demand—and steal food to keep the other kids alive. This decision will save his life, but it will pull him into the very center of what we know today as the Killing Fields. And just as the country is about to be liberated from the Khmer Rouge, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier. He lives by the simple credo: Over and over telling himself one thing: never fall down.Over and over telling himself one thing: never fall down.
Perks of Being a Wallflower, The by Stephen Chbosky
Charlie is a freshman, and while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. He's a wallflower--shy and introspective, and not very savvy in the social arts, he is however intelligent beyond his years. We learn about Charlie through the letters he writes to someone of undisclosed name, age, and gender. Charlie encounters the same struggles that many kids face in high school--how to make friends, the intensity of a crush, family tensions, a first relationship, exploring sexuality, experimenting with drugs--but he must also deal with his best friend's recent suicide. Charlie's letters take on the intimate feel of a journal as he shares his day-to-day thoughts and feelings. With the help of a teacher who recognizes his wisdom and intuition, and his two friends, seniors Samantha and Patrick, Charlie mostly manages to avoid the depression he feels creeping up. When it all becomes too much, after a shocking realization about his beloved late Aunt Helen, Charlie retreats from reality for awhile. But he makes it back in due time, ready to face his sophomore year and all that it may bring. Charlie, sincerely searching for that feeling of "being infinite," is a kindred spirit to the generation that's been slapped with the label X.
Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
The Younger family dreams of leaving the run-down tenement apartment where they have lived for many years. The
son Walter, a chauffeur, dreams of making a fortune by investing in a liquor store but foolishly gives his money to a con artist. His sister Beneatha, a somewhat flighty college student, tries to find her identity and embraces the "back to Africa" philosophy of a Nigerian friend. The family's matriarch, dreams of buying a home, and does so with her late husband's insurance money, but the house is in an all-white neighborhood. Their racist future neighbors hire a man named Karl Lindner as a "welcoming committee" to try to buy them out to prevent the neighborhood's integration. However, Walter takes a stand and refuses to be intimidated or bought out.