fbpx
LOADING

Type to search

Get a head start with our best back to school books

Audiobooks Audiobooks For Children Books For High School fiction audiobooks nonfiction audiobooks Recommended audiobooks

Get a head start with our best back to school books

Share

Back to school books!

September is upon us and so is the new school year. We’ve put together a back to school books list to give your teen (or precocious younger child) a head start. The list includes a mixture of the recent best nonfiction titles, including science, US and European history, inspiring lives, guides to getting good grades and how to handle exam stress. We’ve also added a couple of books for parents, to help you get through the all-important high school years. If you (or your teen) have any other recommendations, leave them in the comments below – parent power! Here’s to a great school year!

A knowledge of science and technology is pretty much a standard requirement in contemporary society. Here are a few, accessible, recent bestsellers in science and tech, to give your teen an understanding of the state of play and where things are headed.

Thinking, seriously

This playful, entertaining, and mind-bending introduction to modern physics briskly explains Einstein’s general relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, black holes, the complex architecture of the universe, and the role humans play in this weird and wonderful world.

Carlo Rovelli, a renowned theoretical physicist, is a delightfully poetic and philosophical scientific guide. He takes us to the frontiers of our knowledge: to the most minute reaches of the fabric of space, back to the origins of the cosmos, and into the workings of our minds. The book celebrates the joy of discovery.

“Here, on the edge of what we know, in contact with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world,” Rovelli writes. “And it’s breathtaking.”

A surprise bestseller, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics is the perfect, accessible introduction to physics. It had to be on our list of back to school books!

Sapiens, the international bestseller by Yuval Noah Harari, explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition.

From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

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. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.

In twenty-one accessible chapters that are both provocative and profound, Harari builds on the ideas explored in his previous books, untangling political, technological, social, and existential issues and offering advice on how to prepare for a very different future from the world we now live in: How can we retain freedom of choice when Big Data is watching us? What will the future workforce look like, and how should we ready ourselves for it? How should we deal with the threat of terrorism? Why is liberal democracy in crisis?

Presenting complex contemporary challenges clearly and accessibly, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is essential reading.

From the acclaimed author of A Tour of the Calculus and The Advent of the Algorithm, here is a riveting look at mathematics that reveals a hidden world in some of its most fundamental concepts.

In his latest foray into mathematics, David Berlinski takes on the simplest questions that can be asked: What is a number? How do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division actually work? What are geometry and logic? As he delves into these subjects, he discovers and lucidly describes the beauty and complexity behind their seemingly simple exteriors, making clear how and why these mercurial, often slippery concepts are essential to who we are.

Filled with illuminating historical anecdotes and asides on some of the most fascinating mathematicians through the ages, One, Two, Three is a captivating exploration of the foundation of mathematics: how it originated, who thought of it, and why it matters.

One of the most influential science writers, atheists, and champions of reason of a generation, Dawkins’ life has been defined and inspired by science.

In his first memoir, Richard Dawkins shares a rare view into his early life, his intellectual awakening at Oxford, and his path to writing The Selfish Gene. He paints a vivid picture of his idyllic childhood in colonial Africa, and later at boarding school, where he began his career as a skeptic.

Arriving at Oxford in 1959, Dawkins began to study zoology and was introduced to some of the university’s legendary mentors as well as its tutorial system. It’s to this unique educational system that Dawkins credits his awakening. In 1973, provoked by the dominance of group selection theory and inspired by the work of William Hamilton, Robert Trivers, and John Maynard Smith, he began to write a book he called, jokingly, “my bestseller.” It was, of course, The Selfish Gene.

This is an intimate memoir of the childhood and intellectual development of the evolutionary biologist and world-famous atheist and how he came to write what is widely held to be one of the most important books of the twentieth century.

In A Short History of the United States, National Book Award winner Robert V. Remini offers a much-needed, concise history of our country. This accessible and lively volume contains the essential facts about the discovery, settlement, growth, and development of the American nation and its institutions, including the arrival and migration of Native Americans, the founding of a republic under the Constitution, the emergence of the United States as a world power, the outbreak of terrorism here and abroad, the Obama presidency, and everything in between.

Spanning more than two hundred years, An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a revolutionary, politically charged narrative history arguing that the “Global South” was crucial to the development of America as we know it. Ortiz challenges the notion of westward progress, as exalted by widely taught formulations such as “manifest destiny” and “Jacksonian democracy,” and shows how placing African American, Latinx, and Indigenous voices unapologetically front and center transforms American history into the story of the working class organizing against imperialism.

In precise detail, Ortiz traces this untold history from the Jim Crow-esque racial segregation of the Southwest, the rise and violent fall of a powerful tradition of Mexican labor organizing in the twentieth century, to May 1, 2006, International Workers’ Day, when migrant laborers—Chicana/os, Afro-Cubanos, and immigrants from nearly every continent on earth—united in resistance on the first “Day Without Immigrants.”

Incisive and timely, An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a bottom-up history told from the viewpoint of African American and Latinx activists and revealing the radically different ways people of the diaspora addressed issues still plaguing the United States today.

One of the world’s most beloved and bestselling writers takes his ultimate journey — into the most intriguing and intractable questions that science seeks to answer.

In his biggest book, Bryson confronts his greatest challenge: to understand — and, if possible, answer — the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.

Back to school books: inspiring young lives

We’ve added true-life stories to our list of back to school books as there are some really inspirational young people out there, whether they’re fighting for social justice or creating new businesses. Read Malala Yousafzai’s incredible story. Malala was shot by the Taliban, after campaigning for girls’ access to education. She went on to become the youngest Nobel Prize winner, being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. She now campaigns throughout the world.

Two hundred letters later, 15 year old Jack Andraka finally got his wish: lab space in which to pursue his goal of creating a method to detect pancreatic, lung, and ovarian cancer earlier than was currently possible. His success is saving lives.

Take a look at these and other amazing back to school books focusing on the achievements and life stories of young people.

I Am Malala is the memoir of a remarkable teenage girl who risked her life for the right to go to school. Raised in a changing Pakistan by an enlightened father from a poor background and a beautiful, illiterate mother from a political family, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. I Am Malala tells her story of bravery and determination in the face of extremism, detailing the daily challenges of growing up in a world transformed by terror.

Written for her peers with critically-acclaimed author Patricia McCormick, this important book, which will include photos and illustrations, is about the value of speaking out against intolerance and hate. It’s a message of hope from one girl who dreams of education for every girl in every country.

At the outset of World War II, Denmark did not resist German occupation. Deeply ashamed of his nation’s leaders, fifteen-year-old Knud Pedersen resolved with his brother and a handful of schoolmates to take action against the Nazis if the adults would not. Naming their secret club after the fiery British leader, the young patriots in the Churchill Club committed countless acts of sabotage, infuriating the Germans, who eventually had the boys tracked down and arrested. But their efforts were not in vain: the boys’ exploits and eventual imprisonment helped spark a full-blown Danish resistance. Interweaving his own narrative with the recollections of Knud himself, here is Phil Hoose’s inspiring story of these young war heroes.

Jack wouldn’t give up.

After a dear family friend died of pancreatic cancer, Jack Andraka decided to create a better method of early detection. It took two hundred letters before Jack found lab space to pursue his idea and months of work to make it a reality, but in the end, he did it. Jack’s early-detection test for pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancers has the potential to be over four hundred times more effective than the medical standard and cost only three cents. Jack was fifteen at the time.

Jack’s story is not just one of dizzying international success; it is a story of overcoming depression and homophobic bullying and finding the resilience to persevere and come out. His account inspires young people, who he argues are the most innovative, to fight for the right to be taken seriously and to pursue their own dreams. With hands-on science experiments included, Jack’s memoir empowers his generation with the knowledge that we can each change the world if we only have the courage to try.

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic-a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.

In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annex” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

Colonel Chris Hadfield has spent decades training as an astronaut and has logged nearly 4000 hours in space. During this time he has broken into a Space Station with a Swiss army knife, disposed of a live snake while piloting a plane, and been temporarily blinded while clinging to the exterior of an orbiting spacecraft. The secret to Col. Hadfield’s success-and survival-is an unconventional philosophy he learned at NASA: prepare for the worst-and enjoy every moment of it.

In An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Col. Hadfield takes listeners deep into his years of training and space exploration to show how to make the impossible possible. Through eye-opening, entertaining stories filled with the adrenaline of launch, the mesmerizing wonder of spacewalks, and the measured, calm responses mandated by crises, he explains how conventional wisdom can get in the way of achievement-and happiness. His own extraordinary education in space has taught him some counterintuitive lessons: don’t visualize success, do care what others think, and always sweat the small stuff.

You might never be able to build a robot, pilot a spacecraft, make a music video or perform basic surgery in zero gravity like Col. Hadfield. But his vivid and refreshing insights will teach you how to think like an astronaut, and will change, completely, the way you view life on Earth-especially your own.

Making the grade(s)

Guaranteed to make learning SAT vocabulary words quick, easy, and fun, SAT Words To Go is conveniently designed to allow you to master words found on the New SAT while you’re on the run.

  • Strengthen your vocabulary by learning and using word families
  • Explore word roots—the key to deciphering unfamiliar words
  • Maximize your SAT performance with practice sessions

Both a toolbox of fresh tips and an amusing snapshot of parental love and wisdom colliding with teenage apathy, The Perfect Score Project rivets. In the book Debbie does it all: wrestles with Kaplan and Princeton Review, enrolls in Kumon, navigates khanacademy.org, meets regularly with a premier grammar coach, takes a battery of intelligence tests, and even cadges free lessons from the world’s most prestigious (and expensive) test prep company.

Along the way she answers the questions that plague every test-prep rookie, including: “When do I start?”…”Do the brand-name test prep services really deliver?”…”Which should I go with: a tutor, an SAT class, or self study?”…”Does test location really matter?” …”How do I find the right tutor?”…How do SAT scores affect merit aid?”… and “What’s the one thing I need to know?”

The Perfect Score Project‘s combination of charm, authority, and unexpected poignancy makes it one of the most compulsively readable guides to SAT test prep ever – and a book that will make you think hard about what really matters.

Exam-Busting Tips is the one-stop expert guide to co-ordinating your lifestyle and your review during any exam period, no matter what your level of education.

Keeping calm

In this powerful book, a pediatrician specializing in teen and adolescent medicine offers a breakthrough mindfulness program to help you deal with stress in healthy ways, improve communication, and reduce conflicts with family and friends.

Being a teen is stressful! Whether it’s school, friends, or dating, the teen years are full of difficult changes-both mentally and physically. If you’re like many teens, you may have difficulty dealing with stress in effective ways. You aren’t alone, and there are things you can do to stay calm, no matter how stressful life becomes. All you need to do is stop, breathe, and be mindful and aware in the present moment.

The Mindful Teen offers a unique program based in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) to help you deal with stress. The simple, practical, and easy-to-remember tips in this book can be used every day to help you handle any difficult situation more effectively-whether it’s taking a test at school, having a disagreement with your parents, or a problem you are having with friends.

If you’re ready to uncover your own inner strength and resilience through mindful awareness and take charge of your life, this book will show you how.

You may have 101 textbooks about your chosen subject, but this is the only one you’ll ever need on how to de-stress for your exams. Coping with stress while taking exams can be more testing than the papers themselves. De-Stress for Exams will ensure you enter the exam hall with a clear head and a calm attitude – which are essential for tackling a test with the best possible chance of success.

Exam-Busting Tips is the one-stop expert guide to co-ordinating your lifestyle and your review during any exam period, no matter what your level of education.

A superb high quality hypnosis audio MP3 download by Glenn Harrold combining skilled hypnotherapy techniques with state of the art digital recording technology.

From the UK’s best selling self help audio series. Using post hypnotic suggestions, powerful echoed affirmations and visualisation techniques, this recording has been carefully designed to help the listener feel completely calm and composed when taking an examination or test of any kind. It will help you to achieve a peak performance state when it really counts while taking your examination.

From the Best selling Diviniti Publishing Hypnosis range which regularly features at the top of the Nielsen Book track UK self-help audio chart.

Extra-curricular activities

Vine superstar Lele Pons — “one of the coolest girls on the web” (Teen Vogue) — teams up with number-one New York Times best-selling author Melissa de la Cruz (The Isle of the Lost) in this lovable debut novel about the wilds and wonders of high school that’s as laugh-out-loud addictive as Lele’s popular videos.

A status-obsessed senior unexpectedly falls for a freshman because of his Danny Zuko audition in their high school’s production of Grease in this outrageously funny epistolary novel set in 1991.

The folded notes collected for this book represent correspondence surrounding one Tara Maureen Murphy, senior at South High c. 1991-1992.

A status-obsessed senior unexpectedly falls for a freshman because of his Danny Zuko audition in their high school’s production of Grease in this outrageously funny epistolary novel set in 1991.

The folded notes collected for this book represent correspondence surrounding one Tara Maureen Murphy, senior at South High c. 1991-1992.

Back to school books (for the grown ups)

An essential book for parents to help their children get the education they need to live happy, productive lives from The New York Times bestselling author of The Element and Creative Schools

Parents everywhere are deeply concerned about the education of their children, especially now, when education has become a minefield of politics and controversy. One of the world’s most influential educators, Robinson has had countless conversations with parents about the dilemmas they face. As a parent, what should you look for in your children’s education? How can you tell if their school is right for them and what can you do if it isn’t? In this important new book, he offers clear principles and practical advice on how to support your child through the K-12 education system, or outside it if you choose to homeschool or un-school. Dispelling many myths and tackling critical schooling options and controversies, You, Your Child, and School is a key book for parents to learn about the kind of education their children really need and what they can do to make sure they get it.

An essential book for parents to help their children get the education they need to live happy, productive lives from The New York Times bestselling author of The Element and Creative Schools

Parents everywhere are deeply concerned about the education of their children, especially now, when education has become a minefield of politics and controversy. One of the world’s most influential educators, Robinson has had countless conversations with parents about the dilemmas they face. As a parent, what should you look for in your children’s education? How can you tell if their school is right for them and what can you do if it isn’t? In this important new book, he offers clear principles and practical advice on how to support your child through the K-12 education system, or outside it if you choose to homeschool or un-school. Dispelling many myths and tackling critical schooling options and controversies, You, Your Child, and School is a key book for parents to learn about the kind of education their children really need and what they can do to make sure they get it.

A practical guide to understanding teens from bestselling author and global youth advocate Josh Shipp.

In 2015, Harvard researchers found that every child who does well in the face of adversity has had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult. But Josh Shipp didn’t need Harvard to know that. Once an at-risk foster kid, he was headed straight for trouble until he met the man who changed his life: Rodney, the foster parent who refused to quit on Shipp and got him to believe in himself.

Now, in The Grown-Up’s Guide to Teenage Humans, Shipp shows all of us how to be that caring adult in a teenager’s life. Stressing the need for compassion, trust, and encouragement, he breaks down the phases of a teenage human from sixth to twelfth grade, examining the changes, goals, and mentality of teenagers at each stage.

Looking for audiobooks for young children? As well as our back to school books we have a range of audiobooks for kids of all ages. Check out our selection here.

Steve Partridge

Steve is from the UK and has lived in London, Bulgaria, and Berlin. He studied Christian theology at King’s College London and spent several years working in publishing. His articles, books reviews, interviews and essays have been published in a range of digital and print magazines. In 2012, he was shortlisted for the Brighton Fringe Festival Writers Prize. His obsession with books and writing led him to start his own ‘BookTube’ channel on YouTube (to which you should probably subscribe). You can find him talking nonsense on Twitter @StPartridge.

  • 1

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *