The light at the end of the tunnel is visible to teachers all over the country: summer vacation. The summer months are a chance to develop our proficiency in three different R’s: Reset, Revitalize, and Relax. In the same way that we teachers take different approaches to how we teach curriculum, these R’s are approached in different ways. Speaking for myself and many of my colleagues, there is a fourth R that most of us add on: Reading.
In addition to the reading we will do for fun and as a much needed escape, I offer 5 inspirational books for teachers that can help assist in your efforts to thoughtfully reset, revitalize, and relax through reading. I am a member of Future Ready Librarians on Facebook and recently asked the group what books they have in the hopper to inspire them over summer break. These are the top books mentioned.
The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child
by Donalyn Miller
This book is a celebration of children’s freedom to read and a fantastic read for teachers and librarians that feel the standardization of reading and the dreaded state assessments fly in the face of a child’s development as lifelong readers. Anyone that has ever felt that packaged reading programs totally remove the joy of reading from students and teachers will appreciate The Book Whisperer. The only way for a child to truly become a reader is by engaging in books intellectually and emotionally and Donalyn Miller will inspire you to influence your students to do just that.
Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters
by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst
Authors Beers and Probst in their past books have shown teachers how to develop students’ close reading skills, but this book, like Miller’s, focuses on the on going problem of students’ lack of engagement in their reading. This book reads like a vision of what reading could be through four strategies for classroom teachers to consider when approaching the teaching of reading. The title is perfect because thinking in this country regarding curriculum and standards—and how they are used or misused needs disruption. This book provides hope and insight into teaching reading with one’s heart and reflecting on how a book can change us. This book, written in a conversational tone, posits that we need to teach reading for a better tomorrow rather than as a strategy to garner higher test scores and improve data.
Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator
by Dave Burgess
Dave Burgess is an award-winning social studies teacher from San Diego, California and is widely known for his high-energy, creative style. In Teach Like a Pirate, Burgess offers practical and innovative ideas to advance teacher creativity and increase student engagement through 30 captivating hooks and 170 brainstorming questions that work on classroom culture and building relationships. In my estimation, positive relationships are the first step in building engaged learners and something that is often forgotten, or put on the back burner in the almighty quest to assess. In today’s educational climate of canned and tired curricula, we can all benefit from some form of transformation as teachers, and Burgess’s energy comes through loud and clear and gives me hope that that energy is contagious and can lead to some pirate-inspired treasure hunting for a chest full of inspiration.
Shake up Learning: Practical Ideas to Move Learning From Static to Dynamic
by Kasey Bell
If you are familiar with other books written by Kasey Bell, you might think that this one follows the same ideas she is known for; the ways that we can use technology to spark learning and engage students. It is not that. According to many readers of Bell’s book, it is a page turner and one that could not easily be put down. In it, she describes that “technology is not the solution, but an opportunity to improve learning.” So many teachers have from time to time (myself included) searched for that magic elixir to transform learning and have viewed technology as the panacea for this purpose. Bell highlights specific changes that we teachers need to embrace to set in motion the paradigm shifts that really matter for ourselves as teachers and most importantly for our students.
Reading in the wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits
by Donalyn Miller
Here we have come full circle from choice 1 to choice 5 with Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild. It is a continuation of the conversation she began in The Book Whisperer and although some have touted it as a reworking of her first book, I must disagree. I see it more as a confirmation that all the frills and furbelows that many so-called “experts” proclaim about how to teach reading are just that. Using survey responses from adult readers and students alike, this book offers five key reading habits for building lifelong readers. It is a departure from the tired “one size fits all” approach and gets into the real ways to create inspired and thoughtful readers that read for the sake of reading. Miller’s style and approach is truly inspiring and demystifies the hows and whys of reading instruction: How it really should be done and why the way we are doing it is not working.
So here we are, at the end of my picks for summer reading for teachers to inspire and motivate them. True, the 10 months that lead up to summer vacation are draining on many levels, but I think we can all agree that the drain is absolutely worth it because it is something we love to do.
This list is just a sampling of the many books out there to inspire teachers, and general reading to recharge one’s batteries is vitally necessary. So read what helps you to reset. Read what helps you to revitalize. Read what helps you to relax. But by all means, read. Happy Summer and here’s to an inspiring break!
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