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100 Books College Freshmen Should Read

Molly Kane, Head of Teen Services and Emerging Technologies

Even if I didn’t have multiple calendars in my office, on my phone, and in my inbox, I’d still know that August is nearly over. Stores are full of back-to-school deals, pumpkin flavored treats are popping up everywhere, and UDPL’s shelves of Summer Reading books are nearly empty. They aren’t completely empty, of course, but it’s obvious that many students are spending the last few days of summer finishing their summer reading. (Even if the book you’re looking for isn’t on the shelf, remember that we can still order titles from other libraries to be delivered at UDPL!)

This is also the time of year when I have to say goodbye to TLC members and teen volunteers who are heading to college as freshman. I feel incredibly lucky that so many of my teens made special trips to see me before they left. They’ve shown me cell phone photos of their new dorm rooms and print-outs of their class schedules. They’re nervous, but incredibly excited. I’m looking forward to hearing all about their adventures when they come home at Thanksgiving!

And as those seniors become freshmen, my junior volunteers are now brand new high school seniors. They’ve also been in to see me in the last few weeks. Some of them have asked for letters of recommendation but most of them want to talk about college. They tell me about the colleges they’re applying to, have me to read their Common App essay, and ask me what advice I have about the whole process. In a former life, before I was a librarian, I was a high school teacher who not only taught English, but also worked with Naviance, the infamous online portal to college applications. I share with them what I can and make sure that all of their commas are in the correct place in their essays. I listen to them debate small schools versus large ones, and mostly I just promise that they’re going to be accepted to college and have a place to start next year!

I do have one piece of advice, though, which I feel is worth sharing with all students, even ones who are a few years away from writing that dreaded college essay. It’s advice that you’d expect from a librarian, and that is to READ as much as possible! A few years ago, the College Board and the American Library Association put out a list of the 100 books that students should read before they get to college. The list contains books from eleven different categories. There are ancient works like Beowulf, more contemporary ones like Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, and even a few childhood favorites like Watership Down. All of the books have had a lasting on western culture and reading them will prepare students not just for literature classes, but also courses in other disciplines like history or sociology. These books give us a common language and sometimes when you’re a brand new freshman in college, the shared experience of reading (and enjoying!) a book can be the start of a lasting friendship or an A+ essay.

Click here to take a look at the list – 100 Books College Freshmen Should Read

teen volunteers

Congratulations and Good Luck to all of my volunteers starting college this week!