It’s time! Time to add more titles to your personal and professional “TBR” (to be read) stack. Choice Literacy contributors have suggestions for you to pick from and pack in your luggage, load on your Kindle, and request from the library for the summer. Read, repeat, and read some more.
Shari Frost, a literacy professional developer and frequent Choice Literacy contributor, has a book in mind that we won’t be able to put down. She says, “The Warmth of Other Suns written by Isabel Wilkerson is my top recommendation. Ms. Wilkerson has compiled individual stories of African Americans who migrated from the south to the north and midwest during the 1940s-1960s to escape segregation, Jim Crow laws, and discrimination. The stories are inspiring, tragic, dramatic, heartbreaking, joyful, and triumphant. Warning: Do not pick up this book unless you have a couple of days to devote to reading it.”
Literacy coach Melanie Quinn has a few books to recommend. “I don’t know how I missed Katherine Bomer’s book, Hidden Gems: Naming and Teaching from the Brilliance in Every Student’s Writing. It was published a few years ago but I have found it now and am loving it. It is a great read and I think it will be so helpful in my work as an instructional coach working with teachers to find the brilliance in their students’ writing. I also recently saw Natalie Goldberg speak and purchased her new book, The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language. I pulled out my writer’s notebook and am hopeful her talk and book will keep me motivated to get in my seat and write! I am in the midst of reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed and loving it. A book of grit, raw honesty — a great read and page turner — and the author lives in Portland so I hope I run into her and tell her how much I love her writing! My book group’s June book is an adult graphic novel, Are You My Mother? written by Alison Bechdel. It sounds very funny and entertaining, about a mother-daughter relationship, a closeted gay father and all the trappings for a fun read in the sun!”
Katherine Sokolowski teaches fifth grade and blogs at http://readwriteandreflect.blogspot.com. She says, “When thinking about a book I feel that teachers just shouldn’t miss, I have to go with Bob Staake’s Bluebird. This picture book does not need words to tell a story that will move you to tears. When sharing it with my fifth graders this year, it drew a gasp from every single group. Conversations flowed, meaning was debated, and points were made. The book trailer ends with a great question to ask ourselves: Have you helped a friend today?”
Diane Sweeney, consultant and author of Student-Centered Coaching, recommends The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. She says, “This is a book that gets under your skin in a good way. You will become utterly attached to Hig and his dog as they fight to survive after a devastating plague tore through the world, wiping out much of the population. Here’s the surprising part. While it would be characterized as a post-apocalyptic story, it is rich with loyalty, hope, love, and even humor. Written in a spare and poetic style, I found myself enraptured by this novel and I plan to read it again.”
Literacy consultants Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan have a recently-published book: Assessment in Perspective: Focusing on the Readers Behind the Numbers. They say, “Our pick for a summer professional book read is Brain Rules by John Medina. We heard it referred to in so many conference sessions this year that we had to read it. It is applicable to everyone — teachers, coaches, staff developers, administrators, and parents. The research in this book helps us understand how the brain works so we can design instructional experiences that maximize learning and engagement. It is packed with research and practical information — and you can read it at the beach! Our pick for a children’s book is Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. We love the message in this book — it is so powerful and provokes deep conversation with students. It is about missed opportunities and the power each of us has to show kindness. Our favorite quote from the book is, ‘This is what kindness does. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.’”
Donalyn Miller (also known as “The Book Whisperer”) teaches fourth grade and says, “In the summer, I enjoy catching up on books I can share with my students, and I try to read a book a day for every day of summer vacation. I am looping up to fifth grade with my class next year. As I read, I imagine specific children who might like each book. I cannot wait to bring new books to them on the first day of school. I am looking forward to reading Kathi Appelt’s new book, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, which follows two young raccoons on their adventures as new scouts who must protect the swamp from feral hogs, developers, and other dangers. Kathi is a fellow Texan and no one describes the native animals, plants, and regions of our state as well as she. Honestly, I would rather travel through a Texas swamp in the pages of a book than trudge through one in real life. Kathi uses such beautiful, playful language in her books, too. You can tell she is a poet!”
Jennifer Vincent blogs at Teach Mentor Texts and works with beginning career teachers. She recommends Energize Research Reading and Writing: Fresh Strategies to Spark Interest, Develop Independence, and Meet Key Common Core Standards by Chris Lehman as a must-read. “I had the pleasure of seeing Chris present at NCTE last fall and was impressed with his ideas about rethinking how teachers support students through research reading and writing. The ideas in this text are differentiated so they can be applied across levels and are useful for any content area. A great resource!”