Over Christmas break, I spent a lot of time with books. I wish I could say it was because I was reading . Although I did read a few books while traveling, the majority of my free time was spent unloading boxes of long-forgotten teaching books into my new apartment. Some were put on display in my new office. Some were simply put in a donation box. The books that I’m keeping (and love) will be turned into a series of book lists for teachers!
I’m going to post a new list each Sunday. They’re organized based on the requests I’ve gotten on instagram and posted below. If you have any other ideas for book lists, please comment with what you’d like to see!
For now, here is the schedule of must read book lists for the year:
- My personal top 5 picks: 1/14
- New teacher book list: 1/21
- Title I teacher book list: 1/28
- Funny books for teachers: 2/18
- Inspiring education reads: 2/11
- Books for teachers of urban youth: 2/18
- Books to improve instructional practice: 2/25
- Books to take your mind off teaching: 3/4
My Personal Top 5 Picks
1. Letters to a Young Teacher by Jonathan Kozol: This book, you guys. This is the book I wish I had my first year of teaching, and the book that brings the deepest emotions out of me now. Jonathan Kozol typically writes books about education policy, so I was not expecting to open something by him that reads like a novel. This book is a series of letters he wrote to a first year teacher in inner-city Boston named Francesca. He responds to her struggles with such warmth and kindness, while also being honest about white privilege that comes forth in the work of teachers and policymakers. The first letters are filled with “tough love”, while the last few are a celebration of her growth over the course of a year. No matter how long you’ve been teaching, it’s a beautiful reminder of how far you’ve come since your first day in the classroom, and will cause you to develop a much stronger appreciation for the teachers who mentored you in the beginning. The relationship between Kozol and Francesca is incredible, and makes me cry with every letter I read. If you order this, stick a box of Kleenex in your Amazon cart as well.
2. The Wild Card: 7 Steps to an Educator’s Creative Breakthrough Confession, this is still in the mail. BUT it’s the most hyped up book of all time, and for good reason. Hope and Wade King are incredible teachers with compelling stories to tell. This book is in the top 100 Amazon books and they haven’t even held the launch party yet. It’s doing better than the dang Hunger Games. Ranked higher than Harry Potter. Sold.
3. What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World by Taylor MaliFirst of all, watch this. Then, read this book. It’s a very quick read and a great refresher if you’re feeling burnt out. I read it over Christmas break, as pictured above, and it totally inspired me without shoving instructional methods down my throat. It’s a good read when you’re too drained to think of anything else and just want to remember why you have the greatest job ever.
4. Teach Like a Champion 2.0: 62 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College: Many of you know that I hold a pretty strong anti-charter stance, but Uncommon Schools does instruction RIGHT. This book is the best collection of instructional methods ever. There are easy to follow charts that help you fine-tune your practice in any and all domains. It’s designed for secondary, but can easily be adapted to elementary settings. Check your grade-specific teacher facebook groups- everyone loves this book across grade levels! It’s THAT good. High five, Uncommon Schools. You’re doing the charter thing right and the instructional thing better than any other book I’ve read.
5. “Multiplication Is for White People”: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children by Lisa Delpit If you’re wondering why Betsy DeVos is a terrible choice for education secretary, this book will spell it out. It covers all of the acronyms and policies that you may not have known much about before. Delpit discusses policies that were made within the past fifteen years and how they affect classrooms today, mainly for students of color. There’s another book before this, which I’ve also read, but this one is a much easier read and is more relevant to laws and policies that affect today’s classrooms.
Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments below!