Summer is the perfect time to recharge from the past school year and plan for the year ahead. One of the most effective ways to keep your teaching skills sharp is the same thing we encourage our students to do over the summer: read. This guide, compiled and curated by The Graide Network, will allow you to explore all the professional development options for reading this summer and decide which books will help you grow the most.
This is the perfect place to begin your summer reading journey. NCTE is famous for their well-chosen book lists, and this list of favorite books doesn’t disappoint. Check out classics like bell hooks’s Teaching to Transgress and books fresh off the press like Embarrassment: and the Emotional Underlife of Learning by Thomas Newkirk.
This eclectic compilation of education recommendations has something for everyone, and it even throws in a few popular teaching blogs at the end to expand our sense of what can be considered summer reading. If you need just one recommendation? Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits was recommended by the most teachers.
Personal learning networks? Blogging for education? The writers over at TeachThought have 20 cutting edge recommendations for proud techie teachers or teachers who want to dip their toes in the waters of ed tech.
If you’ve been having trouble getting into your students’ heads lately, here are some books that can help! Talks with Teachers has 15 books that can help you better understand everything from the science of motivation to the benefits of introversion.
If you’re an ELA teacher looking for books focused on writing and reading, this is the place to go. The team at We Are Teachers has five books that will get you (and your future students!) excited about topics like mentor texts and argumentative writing strategies.
If education guru Jennifer Gonzalez of Cult of Pedagogy could only recommend a single book to teachers, it would be How to Talk So Kids Can Learn. Check out this video to find out the six other books she recommends and why she loves them--you’ll feel like you’re in her living room chatting about your favorite books.
Widening Your Perspective
Many middle and high school teachers are realizing that teaching Young Adult fiction can motivate students to read more and can spark deep conversations about our society. Even if you don’t include YA in your curriculum, this list of the top YA novels from the past year will allow you to answer the question “What should I read next?” with confidence the next time a student asks.
When teachers are intimidated or bored by poetry, students can tell, and they often follow suit. The founder of the hashtag #TeachLivingPoets has all the resources you need to expand your poetry curriculum beyond Dickinson and Frost this fall: a collection of her students’ favorite slam poems, a master list of great poets writing today, and more.
If you’re an elementary school teacher wanting to incorporate new voices into your classroom library, don’t miss this amazing resource! Scholastic recommends 50 stellar children’s books written by Native American, African American, Asian American, and Jewish authors that can serve as “mirrors and windows” for students.
One simple way to expand your students’ literary perspectives is to pair canonical American and British books with books from other countries. NCTE has great examples of pairs--from picture book pairs all the way to The Great Gatsby & Let Sleeping Dogs Die--that might inspire you to read and teach in a new way next year.
This HuffPost list of 50 books written by black authors in the past 5 years includes hilarious memoirs that you’ll want to read by the beach in July and thought-provoking novels that you’ll want to teach in September--and everything in between. These books have won Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, and the hearts and minds of many who have read them.
“Diversity” is sometimes a code word for race, but many teachers are committed to showcasing as many kinds of diversity in their curriculums and libraries as possible. NCTE recommends 5 picture and chapter books about topics like divorce, poverty, and belonging that will surely get you thinking about the range of experiences that your students bring into your classroom.
Education World asked 20 principals from around the U.S. about the most important professional book they’ve read and why: the answers ranged from inspirational books like Tuesdays With Morrie to the 600 page fieldbook Schools that Learn. This list is worth checking out for the principals’ quotes alone!
Maybe you have a specific goal for your reading this summer: your school has a great culture but your assessments could be giving you better data, or your leadership is inspired but school-wide discipline has become an issue. ASCD’s book list, organized by topic, is perfect for narrowing down your choices and selecting the book that will make the best use of your time this summer.
Capterra scoured Amazon, Goodreads, and Education World for the 10 most read and reviewed books for school administrators and compiled them here. Although these books will stretch and challenge you even if you’ve been in education for years, these recommendations are particularly helpful for early career principals; one reviewer said of the last book on their list, “I wish I had read this 10 years ago.”
School leaders will always be educators first, but we can learn a lot from leaders outside the education industry, and this list makes it easy to do so! The Harvard Business Review’s Making Every Meeting Matter can make your meetings with parents more productive, Gary Chapman’s The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace might be a game-changer for your relationships with teachers, and Daniel Pink’s Drive will unlock keys about motivation that will help your whole school thrive.
Community and More
One of the best ways to get into summer reading is to join (or start!) a teacher book club. Cult of Pedagogy has a few important tips to make sure your book club runs smoothly, from a tech tool that will help you facilitate discussions to a list of goals that will help you narrow down your club’s reading choices. This is a must read!
If you want to join a large virtual community of teachers reading and discussing together, check out the NCTE Reads pick for the summer, Workshopping the Canon. This book will be perfect for you if you’ve been struggling to make older texts feel relevant to your students, and the NCTE Reads format will allow you to ask questions of the author, discuss with other teachers, and create new resources. You’ll be more than prepared going into the new school year.
Summer learning doesn’t have to stop at books! Edutopia has found no fewer than 30 documentaries that address U.S. education reform. You may have already heard of Waiting for Superman or The Race to Nowhere but there are many lesser known gems on here too that will get you fired up about teaching.