Bookworm Scholarship

Funded by
Dror Liebenthal
Learn more about the Donor
1 winner
Application Deadline
Dec 31, 2019
Winners Announced
Mar 15, 2020
Education Level
Eligibility Requirements
United States
United States

Ray Bradbury, author of the iconic, dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 once famously said, “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

Books are how we record and understand our past, present, and future. They are our portals to other worlds, minds, and ideas. They fuel our creativity, inspire our ambition, and teach us empathy.

From art to science to business, the world tends to be shaped by those who read. The world’s most successful people attribute much of their success to reading, from legendary investor and philanthropist Charlie Munger (“In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn't read all the time — none, zero.”) to arguably the most successful storyteller of the modern era J.K. Rowling (“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”).

Whether it be fiction, philosophy, or physics, books and storytelling are one of the few forms that cut across nearly every country, culture, and creed.

The purpose of The Bookworm Scholarship is to support and inspire the next generation of readers, in the belief not only that they will continue to disproportionately impact the world, but also that they will lead, create, and strive with greater empathy, imagination, and ambition.

The scholarship is open to students at any educational level and field of study. The only application requirement is that students be big dreamers and avid readers who shape their goals and worldviews in some form through the books they read.

Students applying to the scholarship will be required to write an essay sharing how a book or author has influenced their ambitions. Essays on books from any genre will be considered.

From Toni Morrison (“If you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”) to Richard Feynman (“You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It's their mistake, not my failing.”), lovers of any author or genre are invited to apply to The Bookworm Scholarship.

While not required, working or volunteering at libraries, organizing book clubs, or engaging with the literary community in other ways will be a plus on student applications. The potential impact of the scholarship on students’ abilities to achieve their goals will be considered as well.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Writing Quality, Passion for Reading, Impact

Scholarship application

Essay Topic

What’s a key lesson you’ve learned from a book, set of books, or author, and how has this lesson shaped what you hope to achieve in your life?

The essay may focus on any genre. You are encouraged to make the essay personal! Discuss the lesson in the context of your own story. What are your ambitions? How do you hope to achieve them? How have the lessons you’ve learned from books helped you better navigate the world as you work towards your dreams?

500–1000 words

Winning Application

Rachana Sangem
University of MinnesotaOverland Park, KS
Snuggled in the couch, my favorite blanket thrown on top of me, with a book in my hands,The hug of night has its warm arms wrapped around me, and the silence is a rare commodity. No longer was the road behind my house piled up, the buzzing of a notification on my phone, the steady hum of the tv, or a constant conversation between my parents and sister. All that was left was me, my book, and the crickets chirping away at their friends. Within my little nook, I was both aware and unaware of my surroundings. Often, I was enveloped inside my book, learning about whatever had caught my eye at the library. When I was five, it was an Eyewitness book about the universe, and its many stars. I couldn’t help but think, were there other kids like me? Not just on earth, but on their own planets, surrounded by their own set of stars and a different sun that they loved as much as I loved mine? That eyewitness book opened up my eyes, and I started to care more about the other people in the world. When I went to India for the first time that summer, I met not just my cousins, but also our neighbors and the kids we played with in the street. Despite living on the same planet as me, they really were like aliens. Their stars, even though they were in the same sky, were oriented differently due to parallax. Their sun came up a little earlier, went down later, and was warmer than my sun. They lived a different life, under different stars, but they were just like me. We laughed, we played, and we got along despite our differences. When I was ten, the Percy Jackson series opened me up to a new world of myths, fun characters, and gods. I loved noticing the little differences between hindu and greek mythology, which, despite 800 years and 3600 miles separating them, somehow managed to mirror each other. Indra, the god of the heavens, and Zeus, god of the sky, both used a thunderbolt as their weapon, were the ruler of their respective set of gods, and resided at the top of a mountain. Where the greeks have Icarus, the hindus have Jayatu and Sampati. When they went too close to the sun, their wings burned and they fell to their death. These wonderful myths, along with the strange linguistic connections i found due to proto indo european language, helped me realize that the connections between my cultures existed. Though one was western, the other indian, and one was where I lived versus where i came from, what i hadn't realized was that they were one and the same. When I was fifteen, in what I still consider the most challenging class of my high school career, AP European History, we learned about the Black Plague, the spread of Christianity, and how the western world came to be. When I went home to talk to my parents about what I learned, they told me a different story, from the perspective of the conquered rather than the textbooks conqueror perspective. I simultaneously felt proud of how far the US and Great Britain had come but conflicted that they had to use wonderful countries like India to complete their objectives, and was forced to question the two viewpoints, unlearn what I was conditioned to believe, and try to eliminate the bias and find what was left. Throughout my life, I had the books that guided me through learning about others and their cultures. Sometimes, however, I had to write my own story, a combination of what I learned and what I felt. That story is what will come with me to college - not my textbooks, and not my picture books. My story is the one I decided how to write, the one where I learned how to get along with other kids without knowing their language very well, even though they were complete strangers. My story is the one where I chose to explore, and realize that though Christianity and Hinduism are different, I could understand how important it was, and appreciate that. My story is one where books guided me through life, allowing me to feed my curiosity and expand my knowledge. If it wasn’t for all these books- fun, boring, short, and long- I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I might not have been quite so accepting of other cultures, or perhaps I wouldn’t have realized that even what some people see as differences are really similarities. We are all different, and we are all special, but we are all simply human. That’s the moral of my story.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Dec 31, 2019. Winners will be announced on Mar 15, 2020.