Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Book Info

Grade Level
High School
STEM Concepts
Psychology, Sociology, First Aid, Electromagnetic Pulses, Neurology

An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions. Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP. For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.

Source: Lerner


Featured Video: A Game of Incursion

In the spirit of Ashes and other zombie apocalypse sci-fi, STEM Read is proud to present A Game of Incursion. This student video received an honorable mention in the STEMfest Explain It! Video Competition. We at the Teen Read thought that it deserved a spotlight here because of its creative blend of science fiction and science fact. If you like this video, please send us your comments, or share your own video or story. By: Students from Scottsburg High School Teachers: Connie Deardorff and Susan Jerrell Note that the video you are about to view contains content that may not be suitable for younger viewers. Parental discretion is advised. This video was created with the full support of the students’ parents, school administrators, and local law enforcement.

Zombies and Public Health

No matter how they came back from the dead, they’re coming for you, so be ready. Dr. Shibata discusses ways that a zombie apocalypse could come about and resources for protecting yourself, like the CDC’s “Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic” guide.

Explore Angela Grippo's Psychology Lab

See where Dr. Grippo and her lab assistants study brain function and the effects of stress on the brain.

This is Your Brain on EMPs

Dr. Angela Grippo discusses the human brain and the possible consequence of EMPs, neural disorders, and zombies on your gray matter.

Read Alikes

Did you devour Ashes like a zombie devours brains? Librarian Laura Mesjak from Cortland Community Library has more book recommendations for you. Watch this video for book suggestions on everything from the undead to wilderness survival.


Zombie ACT Math

Love zombies? Prepping for the ACT? Click here to play our Zombie ACT Math game!



Idea Sparks and Mini Lessons

These questions, prompts, and short activities provide quick ways to inspire interest and explore the STEAM concepts related to the book. Idea Sparks and Mini lessons can also be used for differentiation and to foster new ideas of your own.

Download the Lesson Plan

Scientific Argumentation

In this lesson, students will argue their side of the zombie conundrum. Students will research whether or not a person could actually become a zombie and present their findings.

Download the Lesson Plan

Zombie Challenge

In this activity, students must brainstorm a way to move Stacy/Stan through a field of zombies in order to deliver them to safety.  Through the engineering design process, students will problem solve, build, and test a creation that will get Stacy/Stan to the CDC.

Download the Lesson Plan

Video Discussion Guide

Watch the videos and then use these questions to facilitate classroom discussions about the topics presented.

Download the Video Discussion Guide

About the Author

Ilsa J. Bick

Ilsa J. Bick is a child psychiatrist, former Air Force major, student of film—and an award-winning, best-selling author of short stories and novels.  While in the Air Force, she served during both Desert Shield and Desert Storm; as a physician, she has worked extensively with children and adolescents, as well as inmates in a women’s prison. Having published widely on applied psychoanalysis and film, she has spoken on a variety of topics and presented her work in academic arenas and such popular venues as the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.  An avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast, she currently lives with her family in rural Wisconsin. Other titles by Ilsa include Drowning Instinct.

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