10 Summer Reads for Teachers

  • Big Ideas Learning Consultants

After 180-days under the artificial lights in your classroom, you have earned some ME time in the sun. Grab your flip flops, a comfortable chair, and get ready to soak in some rays – it’s summer break!

Many teachers like to unwind over the summer months by escaping into a good book. Summer break seems to disappear in the blink of an eye, so the question becomes, how do you prioritize what to read this summer? Are you looking for a fantasy to be transported to another place? Do you want to solve a mystery, or are you looking for a good love story?

Your friends at Big Ideas Learning have put together a list of summer reading options that should spark your interest.


1. The Lead Learner

by Michael McDowell

To make a lasting impact, redefine your leadership.  

Discover a new model of educational leadership, one that ensures growth for all students in both core academic content 
and 21st-century skills. With practical examples, stories from the field, and numerous activities and reflective questions, this insightful book takes you step-by-step through the work of the learning leader, helping you meet the unique learning needs of staff and students―and get the biggest impact from your own limited time. 

You’ll also find ways to:  

  • Ensure clarity in strategic planning
  • Establish coherence throughout the system
  • Enact system-wide capacity-building processes
  • Craft your personal leadership skills

Available at Amazon Books and Barnes & Noble.




2. Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting

by Clare Pooley

Nobody ever talks to strangers on the train. It’s a rule. But what would happen if they did?
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Authenticity Project comes an escapist read that will transport you, cheer you, and make you smile—and make you, too, wish you had Iona’s gift for bringing out the best in everyone. 

Available at Amazon Books and Barnes & Noble.




3. The Latecomer 

by Jane Hanff Korelitz

A complex novel that builds slowly and deliberately, The Latecomer touches on the topics of grief and guilt, generational trauma, privilege and race, traditions and religion, and family dynamics. It is a profound and witty family story from an accomplished author, known for the depth of her character studies, expertly woven storylines, and plot twists.

Available at Barnes & Noble or Amazon Books.




4. What School Could Be

by Ted Dintersmith

During the 2016 school year, innovation expert Ted Dintersmith took an unprecedented trip across America. He visited all fifty states, seeking to raise awareness about the urgent need to reimagine education to prepare students for the career and citizenship demands of an increasingly innovative world.

As he traveled, though, Dintersmith met innovative teachers all across the country — teachers doing extraordinary things in ordinary settings, creating innovative classrooms where children learn deeply and joyously. Each day, these students are engaged and inspired by their teachers, who in turn help children develop purpose, agency, essential skill sets and mind-sets, and deep knowledge. The insights of these teachers offer a vision of what school could be, and a model for how to help schools achieve it.

Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon Books.




5. The Joyful Teacher: Strategies for Becoming the Teacher Every Student Deserves

by Berit Gordon

The Joyful Teacher provides a structure to help K-12 teachers across all content areas reflect on their professional development needs, set goals that work, and access practical strategies that will help them meet those goals. While anyone can pop in and extract strategies for what's needed right now, the goals and strategies are organized in a progression to set teachers up for the most success and highest impact. Coaches and administrators will also find numerous ways to support the teachers they work with and help them feel and be effective.

Each chapter begins with a self-assessment checklist to help you find which goal and strategy will be your entry point. Within each strategy you'll find step-by-step instructions, explanations for why and how the strategy works, a detailed "how to," supports and indicators to help you know if the idea is working, and references to help you continue exploring if you want to learn even more. Berit includes grade band suggestions and grade level modifications to help you make the strategy work best for you and your students.

There is no "right" place to start and no goal that is more sophisticated or more important than any other. The Joyful Teacher helps you prioritize what is most essential for what you need and choose goals and strategies that work for you and your students. Where will your journey begin?

Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon Books.





6. Atlas of the Heart

by Brene Brown

In Atlas of the Heart, Brown takes us on a journey through eighty-seven of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. As she maps the necessary skills and an actionable framework for meaningful connection, she gives us the language and tools to access a universe of new choices and second chances—a universe where we can share and steward the stories of our bravest and most heartbreaking moments with one another in a way that builds connection.

Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon Books.




7. One Day I Shall Astonish the World

by Nina Stibbe

Nina Stibbe's new novel is the story of the wonderful and sometimes surprising path of friendship: from its conspiratorial beginnings, along its irritating wrong turns, to its final gratifying destination.

Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon Books.





8. Developing Expert Learners 

by Michael McDowell

Building upon the groundwork from Rigorous PBL by Design, this resource provides practices that strategically support students as they move from novices to experts in core academics. This book provides:

  • An actionable framework for developing student expertise
  • Practical guidance for creating a culture that cultivates expertise and builds student efficacy
  • A unit and lesson template that clarifies the steps students must take to build, deepen, and apply core content knowledge and skills
  • Your students with a way to advance in their learning through a process for selecting instructional, feedback, and learning strategies

  • Strategies for improving your professional expertise individually and collectively


Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon Books.




9. It Won't Be Easy; An Exceedingly Honest (and Slightly Unprofessional) Love Letter to Teaching

by Tom Rademacher

Tom Rademacher wishes someone had handed him this sort of book along with his teaching degree: a clear-eyed, frank, boots-on-the ground account of what he was getting into. But first he had to write it. And as 2014’s Minnesota Teacher of the Year, Rademacher knows what he’s talking about. Less a how-to manual than a tribute to an impossible and impossibly rewarding profession, It Won’t Be Easy captures the experience of teaching in all its messy glory.

Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon Books.




10. I Wish My Teacher Knew; How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kids

by Kyle Schwartz

One day, third-grade teacher Kyle Schwartz asked her students to fill-in-the-blank in this sentence: "I wish my teacher knew _____." The results astounded her. Some answers were humorous, others were heartbreaking-all were profoundly moving and enlightening. The results opened her eyes to the need for educators to understand the unique realities their students face to create an open, safe and supportive place in the classroom. When Schwartz shared her experience online, #IWishMyTeacherKnew became an immediate worldwide viral phenomenon. Schwartz's book tells the story of #IWishMyTeacherKnew, including many students' emotional and insightful responses, and ultimately provides an invaluable guide for teachers, parents, and communities. 

Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon Books




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*book descriptions/summaries from publishers' overview