Packs your bags, we’ll see you at Christmas!
Each month, Perkins School for the Blind curates a list of recommended books or films for students and their families to discover. These titles — with genres spanning fiction, memoir, classic literature, and everything in between — are selected for their ability to transport and spark conversations, both in the classroom and at the dinner table. With these titles, we’re packing our bags and heading for boarding school daze.
1979. After a dangerous confrontation with her mother, science-fiction fanatic Mori injures her leg—and loses her twin sister. Mori’s father sends her to boarding school, where she discovers fairies and begins to practice magic. Some violence, some strong language, and some descriptions of sex. Nebula Award and Hugo Award. 2010.
The Body in the Bonfire
Katherine Hall Page
Caterer Faith Fairchild agrees to teach cooking at the local boys’ boarding school to find out who’s been anonymously harassing an African American student. The remains of a student are discovered in the ashes after the annual fall bonfire. Some strong language. 2002.
The Boys from Dolores
Journalist interviews Fidel Castro’s classmates who attended the elite Jesuit boarding school Colegio de Dolores in eastern Cuba in the 1930s and 1940s. Intertwines their recollection of events from Castro’s formative youth with a chronicle of the revolution. Relates the fates of the students themselves. Some strong language. 2007.
Judith Dunbar is fourteen when her world changes dramatically. Her mother and sister are off to Ceylon where her father is stationed. Judith is to attend boarding school and spend holidays with her Aunt Louise. But at St. Ursula’s, Judith meets Loveday Carey-Lewis and ends up spending her holidays with Loveday’s family. It is there that Judith matures into a young woman just as World War II begins, further changing her life. Bestseller. 1996.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
A sophomore at a prestigious prep school, Frances Rose (Frankie) starts dating senior Matthew. When Matthew refuses to discuss his all-male secret society, the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, Frankie infiltrates the group via the Internet and orchestrates some spectacular on-campus pranks. For junior and senior high readers. 2008.
Winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature details his investigation into the life of 15-year-old Dora Bruder, who ran away from a French Catholic boarding school in late 1941, but left no further record until her deportation to Auschwitz nine months later. Translated from French. 1999.
The Duchess Diaries
1819. Miss Charlotte Boscastle, who runs the exclusive Scarfield Academy for Young Ladies, would be ruined if her journals were ever discovered. But the Duke of Wynfield, who is looking for a mistress–not a headmistress–finds the diaries. Some strong language and some explicit descriptions of sex. 2012.
Full-Court Quest: The Girls from Fort Shaw Indian School, Basketball Champions of the World
Linda S. Peavy
Documents the journey of ten American Indian young women from a Montana outpost to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Discusses their diverse backgrounds, boarding-school experience, and performance on the basketball court. Describes the aftermath of the championship game and its impact on the women and their community. 2008.
Goodbye, Ms. Chips
Heading back to her old boarding school to find a thief, Ellie Haskell must confront a secret from her own past when beloved games-mistress Ms. Chips dies unexpectedly, and Ellie becomes convinced that the death is related to the theft of the school’s prized Loverly Cup. 2008.
The Headmaster: Frank L. Boyden, of Deerfield
In 1902, when Frank L. Boyden became its headmaster, Deerfield was a country school with fourteen students. During the following half-century, Boyden developed the school into an academy equal in quality to Andover and Exeter. Today, he is known as one of the greatest headmasters in history. 1966.
The Headmaster’s Wager
Vietnam, 1960s. Percival Chen, a Chinese immigrant and the headmaster of an English-language school, has set up a good life. Accustomed to bribing local officials, Percival tries to ignore the country’s escalating conflict, but it soon tears apart his family. Violence and explicit descriptions of sex. 2012.
The Last First Day
As Ruth’s husband Peter prepares to retire from his headmaster position at a New England boarding school for boys, Ruth reflects on the years leading to this moment–and worries about what the future holds. Some descriptions of sex. 2013.
Last To Die
When teenager Teddy Clock’s foster family is murdered, just like his biological family, he is whisked away to a private school for traumatized children. While visiting her young friend Julian at the school, medical examiner Maura Isles realizes two other students have had experiences similar to Teddy’s. Some violence. 2012.
A Little Princess
Frances Hodgson Burnett
In this Victorian story, India-born Sara Crewe arrives at Miss Minchin’s boarding school in London with beautiful clothes and the good manners of a real princess. But Sara’s life changes dramatically when she is suddenly left penniless. For grades 4-7. 1904.
Only Time Will Tell
England, 1919-1940. Fatherless Harry Clifton grows up in Bristol with his mother Maisie’s poor family. Harry receives a scholarship to boarding school, where he befriends Giles, son of wealthy Hugo Barrington. But family secrets unknown to the boys create problems that last through their acceptance to Oxford. Bestseller. 2011.
The Passion of the Purple Plumeria
1805. Miss Jane Wooliston and her chaperone Gwen Meadows—secret spies in the war with Napoleon—are recalled to London when Jane’s sister Agnes and her friend Lizzy disappear from their boarding school. Colonel William Reid, Lizzy’s father, joins in the search and becomes attracted to Gwen. 2013.
The Secret Place
Dublin detective Steven Moran gets his chance to work with the murder squad when Holly Mackey brings him a student’s anonymous note about a stalled investigation—a year earlier, a boy was found dead on the grounds of her private girls’ school. Moran and Detective Antoinette Conway reinvestigate. Strong language. 2014.
A Separate Peace
The rivalry in the friendship of two roommates at a New Hampshire boarding school during the summer session of 1942 is dramatized by a crippling accident that leads to further tragedy. Some strong language. 1959.
Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully
Author of The Grand Complication (DB 53849) details his search for the man who had bullied him when they were at a Swiss boarding school in the 1970s. Describes life at the school, how the bullying affected him and his work, and discovering that his former roommate was a criminal. 2015.
The White Devil
Andrew Taylor’s father enrolls him in England’s elite Harrow School in an effort to keep him out of trouble. But problems follow the American teenager, as a mysterious death and a literary ghost force him to confront a mystery from the past. Some violence and some strong language. 2011.
After her teenage half-sister Shaylee is sent to an Oregon boarding school run by the Reverend Tobias Lynch, Julia “Jules” Farentino takes a teaching job there. Jules discovers her ex-boyfriend, PI Cooper Trent, working undercover to investigate the institution. Violence, strong language, and some descriptions of sex. Commercial audiobook. 2010.