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Top 12 Summer Must-Read Books for Educators

Meghan Mathis

Top 12 Summer Must-Read Books for Educators Summer’s here at last and you’ve been enjoying all those things you dreamed about during the school year - sleeping in past 6AM, watching a TV show without having to grade papers at the same time, getting to all those chores you put off during the school year.  But as the days pass, you might find yourself thinking about next year…and what you might like to do better.

With that in mind, here are 12 excellent resources that are guaranteed to give you plenty of inspiration to try something new next year, tweak a unit to make it better, or add something to your classroom to really inspire kids to learn. 


They’re all entertaining, easy-to-read, and full of instantly usable ideas.  Enjoy!

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The First Days of School - How to Be an Effective Teacher

by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong

Many of you have probably read or at least seen a copy of this book.  It is one of, if not the most popular “new teacher” book out there.  I urge you to re-visit it.  It’s a quick, easy, enjoyable read and I never look through it without coming up with at least three things I want to try differently in my classroom.

Teacher Under Construction: Things I Wish I'd Known!: A Survival Handbook for New Middle School Teachers

by Jerry L. Parks

As a middle school teacher, I had to include this one.  Full of insights and ideas – I know several teachers who swear by the “5-10-15-20” rule of classroom management.  If you work with this exciting and challenging age group, I urge you to take a look at this book.

I Read It, but I Don't Get It: Comprehension Strategies for Adolescent Readers

by Cris Tovani

While I would love to meet Ms. Tovani someday, it’s probably best that I don’t – many people are get a little uncomfortable when hugged by strangers, and I don’t think I’d be able to stop myself from giving her a big ol’ bear hug. 

When I first started teaching middle school I was assigned two different sections of Reading classes.  Both were filled with Learning Support students who were reading far below grade level.  I had no curriculum, no objectives, nothing.  I used this book and the next book on this list to literally build a curriculum from scratch.  She saved that year for me.  This book is filled with instantly usable strategies for adolescent readers who can read fluently, but can’t answer questions about what they’ve read.  It’s a GREAT book.

Do I Really Have to Teach Reading?

by Cris Tovani

I have included another book by Cris Tovani because this one is really for the subject-area teachers who want to know how to boost students’ comprehension of the material they are covering in class.  The idea that “all teachers teach reading” is becoming a popular concept in education, and this book will really help you understand how you can do it without sacrificing time or the information you want to cover.

No Room for Bullies: From the Classroom to Cyberspace Teaching Respect, Stopping Abuse, and Rewarding Kindness

by Jose Bolten and Stan Graeve

In this day and age, none of us can afford to be blasé about bullying.  This book is written in a great format – with sections that discuss what parents can do when their child is being bullied, how to improve school climate, etc.  There is also a great section on cyber-bulling – which feels very timely given recent events.

Learning to Love Math: Teaching Strategies That Change Student Attitudes and Get Results

by Judy Willis, M.D.

Math can be a tricky subject to get your students excited about every day.  This book offers excellent strategies for many different levels of education.  It’s a great resource if you are searching for a way to inspire your students to develop a lifelong love of mathematics.

Building Academic Vocabulary - Teacher's Guide

by Robert J. Marzano and Debra J. Pickering

Increasing amounts of research link instruction utilizing vocabulary in context and student achievement.  This book gives you a variety of strategies and ideas for making sure that when you teach vocabulary to your students, you are doing it in a way that will be most beneficial.

Vocabulary Games in the Classroom

by Robert Marzano and Lindsay Carleton

This text goes hand-in-hand with #7.  It gives many different game ideas to use in your instruction.  Some take time to set up, but once you do they will be instantly usable for the rest of the year. It is a wonderful tool for making sure vocabulary in your room is utilized in a fun and beneficial way.

Summarization in Any Subject: 50 Techniques to Improve Student Learning

by Rick Wormeli

The name sort of gives this one away, doesn’t it?  50 great ideas for making sure you review and summarize what you’ve taught in class – a crucial part of any quality lesson.  It aids you in brushing up on some of the techniques you are currently using and coming up with a few more just to keep your lessons fresh and interesting!

Teaching Science with Interactive Notebooks

by Kellie Marcarelli

Interactive notebooks are awesome.  They provide students with opportunities to show you what they have learned in a variety of ways.  They give you an easy and on-going assessment options.  In short, they rock.  This book gives you step-by-step instructions on what they are, their many uses, and (perhaps most importantly) day-by-day instructions on getting them up and running smoothly in your classroom.  Why not try something completely new this school year?

A Framework for Understanding Poverty

by Ruby K. Payne

A fascinating read if you work with students who live in poverty.  Ms. Payne does a wonderful job asking questions of the reader that really make you think while giving you insights that might help you understand the world your students navigate when they aren’t in your classroom.

Launching the Writing Workshop: A Step-by-Step Guide in Photographs

by Denise Leograndis

I decided to end with this one because it was the topic of our last teacher in-service, so I’m thinking that maybe it’s a hot-topic for other teachers as well.  This is a great resource to review this summer – it really breaks down the writing workshop and makes it manageable and useful.  The photos ended up giving me tons of ideas.  This book will tell you how to get started, walk you through making writing lessons a blast, and will give you so many ideas that by the end of the year your students will be begging you for more writing time.  Who can beat that?


I hope you’ll take a moment to check out some of these awesome resources at some point during the summer break.  I know you’ll be happy that you did – and you’ll head back to your classroom with some fresh, exciting new ideas!

What is your recommended teacher resource book? Share in the comments section!

Photo Credit: Flickr photo taken by Anjum

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