Summer Reading: Not Just for Kids!

Inspiration in print

Canfield, Jack.  Chicken Soup for the Teacher's Soul: Stories to Open the Hearts and Rekindle the Spirit of Educators.  ISBN:  978-1558749788
With short, easily digested entries, the compilers of this volume have assembled a tribute to people like you who make a difference in the lives of children.  This is a collection of testimonials, cartoons, inspirational quotes, and stories that touch the heart.  There’s something for every educator here, from preschool through college.

Codell, Esme Raji.  Educating Esme: Diary Of A Teacher's First Year.  ISBN: 978-1417623075
This is a brutally honest account of a teacher’s first teaching year in inner city Chicago—her joys, her frustrations, her dedication, her bold approach to reaching and teaching her students.  You may disagree with her at times, but most teachers can probably relate to those ups and downs of the first year of teaching.

Diffenbaugh, Vanessa. The Language of Flowers: A Novel.  ISBN: 978-0345525550
Forgiveness, compassion, and redemption are themes that run through this novel. Victoria, a damaged young woman who spent her childhood in foster care, has difficulty trusting others and prefers to isolate herself.  Her talent for working with flowers, however, becomes a way for her to help others and perhaps allow happiness into her life.

Fox, Mem.  Radical Reflections:  Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning, and Living.  ISBN:  0-15-607947-X
Beloved children’s author and university professor Mem Fox shares her strong opinions about literacy and the way we teach or ought to teach.  After reading it, you’ll be inspired to hold sacred those times for read-alouds and examine your practice around writing instruction.  This is great food for thought as you wrestle with high stakes testing and the implementation of new standards.  This book is as relevant today as it was in the heyday of the “whole language” movement.

Lamott, Anne.  Bird by Bird: Some instructions on Writing and Life. ISBN: 978-1439558164
For those of you responsible for writing instruction or interested in writing for publication, Anne Lamott shares the realities of the challenges writers face in this funny and engaging book.  Inspired by the work of Natalie Goldberg, Lamott offers advice that can help you and your students find new energy and passion for writing.  (See the entry below for an audiobook recording in which Lamott provides a follow-up to this book.)

Lamott, Anne.  Word by Word.   978-1880717578 
This award-winning recording of a live performance given by Lamott is a follow-up to her book above.  Learn how to simplify your writing process and write from the heart.

Miller, Donalyn.  The Book Whisperer:  Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child.  ISBN:  978-0470372272 
Written by a sixth grade language arts teacher and author of the Book Whisperer blog, this book offers practical solutions to many problems literacy teachers face.  Miller’s mission is to turn “dormant” readers into enthusiastic ones and she does it by giving kids choice about what they read and by finding kid-friendly alternatives to traditional methods.  Use her book to help you gain a greater insight into your students’ reading interests and then help them to grow from there.

Pipher, Mary Bray.  The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community.  ISBN: 9780156027373.
Anthropologist, psychologist, and therapist Mary Pipher (author of Reviving Ophelia) works in Lincoln, Nebraska helping refugee families from all over the world as they adjust to life in America.  She shares heartwarming and heartbreaking stories of families who’ve endured tremendous hardship and tragedy, yet have a tremendous capacity for love and joy, and the desire for a better life.  The book will provide you with a deeper appreciation of the challenges your refugee families face. 

Principe, Gabrielle. Your Brain on Childhood: The Unexpected Side Effects of Classrooms, Ballparks, Family Rooms, and the Minivan.  ISBN: 978-1616144258
Do you think today’s children spend too much time in front of a screen and not enough time outdoors?  Do today’s kids have too many structured “activities?”  Principe , a researcher in the cognitive development of children, writes with wit and humor about the disconnect between what childhood looks like for many children today and what the latest brain research has revealed.  She offers an approach to child rearing that is more in keeping with what our biology intended.  Food for thought for teachers concerned about the happiness and well-being of those in their care.

Silvey, Anita, editor.  Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book.  Life Lessons from Notable People from all Walks of Life.  ISBN:  978-1-59643-395-3  
This is a wonderful volume that you can peruse like a coffee table book.  Noteworthy people in the fields of science, politics, sports, and the arts speak briefly about one book from their childhood that influenced them.  Interesting to read, and a great way to discover or re-discover some gems you might want to share with your students.

Tenkely, Kelly.   In this post  on her popular blog about technology in schools, Tenkely shares the story of the dream that she coaxed into reality.  In 2011 Tenkely started Anastasis Academy, a private Christian school that embraces a new way of “doing school.”  Her passion for teaching and learning, inquiry, project-based learning, technology integration and thinking outside the box is sure to inspire! 

Wong, Harry K. and Rosemary T.  :  The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher.  ISBN:  0-9629360-2-2
This is a book you could read every summer and find something new to focus on for the upcoming year.  It’s loaded with practical advice about those small details that can make a huge difference in your day-to-day teaching and classroom management.  Topics include setting expectations, lesson design, procedures, and establishing routines.  The book blends nicely with the Responsive Classroom philosophy.   Veteran teachers and those new to the profession can benefit from what the Wongs have to say.


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