NEHS Common Reader

The process of selecting a Common Reader for the NEHS was handled differently this year due to the COVID-19 crisis. In normal times, the Advisory Council would have discussed all of the recommendations received from NEHS Advisors at the annual Sigma Tau Delta convention. Since that meeting was cancelled this year, the Advisory Council corresponded virtually and selected The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead, as the 2020-2021 Common Reader.

Depicting the factual history of the Florida Dozier School for Boys, Whitehead carefully and quietly pays homage to the boys incarcerated at Dozier while searing the minds of his readers, forcing a confrontation with the concepts of slavery, race, and abuse, but also with the uplifting ideas of courage, dignity, and perseverance. With this text, Whitehead solidifies his place as one of the most significant writers of the 21st Century. As The Underground Railroad gave readers a visceral journey through the slave years of the 1800s and beyond, this text will challenge, trouble, and enlighten NEHS readers. In a Time Magazine review of the novel, Frank Rich concludes his review with this statement, solidifying the selection of this text as the Common Reader: “A writer like Whitehead, who challenges the complacent assumption that we even fathom what happened in our past, has rarely seemed more essential.”

Applicants for the Merit Scholarships are to read this text and select a prompt as the basis of their application submissions.

  • Essay Prompts will be posted on November 2.
  • Scholarship Applications accepted: Dec. 1, 2020 - Jan. 14, 2021.

Purchase from Better World Books

The Nickel Boys