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All-School Read

Fostering Community Through Shared Intellectual Experience 

In a world where the 24- hour news cycle, online gaming, and social media constantly distract and compete for our attention, the faculty at Northwood School believe in the power of reading to instill compassion, creativity, mindfulness, and well-being in our students.   

Countless studies show that reading promotes empathy, imagination, neuron stimulation, and heightened connectivity.  

“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist.  We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense.  Now we’re seeing that something else may be happening biologically.” 

---Gregory Berns, Researcher and Director of Emory University’s Center for Neuropolicy 


Northwood School's All-School Read is designed to foster a sense of community by encouraging a shared intellectual experience across the school. The All-School Read tradition at Northwood has been in place for more than thirty years. Recent titles have included The Boys in the Boat (Daniel James Brown), The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates (Wes Moore), The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives (Dashka Slater), Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand), Where You Go Is Not What You'll Be (Frank Bruni), The Bridge of St. Luis Rey (Thornton Wilder), Freakonomics (Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner), and I Am Malala (Malala Yousafzai). Each spring, a committee of faculty, staff, and administration selects a book to be read by all members of the school community before arriving the academic year begins. 

Our theme for the 2022-2023 school year is Creating Meaning. 

The Power of Meaning by Emily Esfahani Smith

This book was nominated by faculty member Kelvin Martinez.  Here is a personal note from Mr. Martinez about why he chose this book for our community.  

The Power of Meaning was published in 2017, and ever since I read it, I have gifted it to family members, students, and players for their birthdays. What initially struck me was that even though the people who received this book and proceeded to read it came from vastly different cultures and upbringings, the principles within the book rang a similar chord to all. If you ask any of them, do you want your actions to mean something to you or somebody? Do you want to wake up on a Monday morning and feel a sense of purpose and know that whatever you are creating with your life matters? Do you want to lay your head on your pillow late at night and feel a sense of gratitude and reverence for the day you had because it mattered? The answer from all is a universal “yes”. The four pillars covered in this book, belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence, have all helped me and those to whom I have gifted the book in our never-ending journey towards creating purpose and meaning. Belonging talks about relationships with others. A fulfilling life begins with belonging and meaningful relationships we develop with others. The second, purpose, talks about our feeling of contributing to others and society. Storytelling talks about the way in which we make sense of our place in the world. Lastly, transcendence is about connecting to something bigger than ourselves. I hope you find these four pillars empowering in your journey to creating meaning this year!

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We encourage students to buy their copy from Lake Placid’s independent bookstore, The Bookstore Plus ( or from their own local, independent bookstore.

There is an audiobook version available on Audible:

There are also eBook version available on Kindle and other eReaders.

There is an eBook copy available through Northwood’s Overdrive account. If you are interested in that version, please contact the school librarian, Ms. Martin (

Watching film adaptations or reading online summaries like SparkNotes, while potentially interesting and time-saving, cannot compare to engaging with and connecting to the texts themselves.  Students will be cheating themselves, as well as infringing upon the Northwood Honor Code, by substituting these sources for actual reading.  In other words, you are required to read the books.  If so preferred, electronic (e-books) are acceptable for completing the readings.  

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