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Five Summer Reads Educators Love

by Emily Hopkins
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I recently took to social media and the TCEA Community to ask educators, “What are your summer reading recommendations for educators?” There were so many fantastic responses. I want to send a BIG thank you to everyone who contributed! Five books came up consistently, so I highlight these with summaries. Then, I created a Wakelet collection with all the other recommendations (both professional and pleasure reads). While I’ve not read these five books personally, they’re now new additions to my “summer reads” list. Here we go!

1. “The Joy of Reading” by Donalyn Miller and Teri Lesesne

The Joy of Reading” is a book for everyone who wants to foster a love of reading. It challenges us to “create the conditions for joyful reading.” Heinemann describes this book as “a guide for teachers, librarians, administrators, and families to create the conditions for joyful reading. Donalyn Miller and Teri Lesesne draw from their decades of work with students, teachers, and librarians, providing practices that nurture joy while identifying factors that destroy joy, all with a clear understanding of the realities of today’s classrooms and libraries.” Through the book, we are challenged to look beyond the academic value of literacy and address what makes reading joyful and what makes that joy last a lifetime.

2. “Developing Digital Detectives: Essential Lessons for Discerning Fact from Fiction in the ‘Fake News’ Era” by Darren Hudgins and Jennifer LaGarde

Published by ISTE, this book seems to be a relevant and essential gold mine of lessons, resources, examples, social-emotional learning (SEL) connections, and even includes access to more than 100 downloadable resources. The official summary notes, “As the authors state: ‘Remember, the detective’s job is NOT to prove themselves correct. Their job is to detect the truth!’ This statement reflects the way they approach the lessons in this book, providing clear and practical guidance to help educators address and overcome this ever-expanding issue.”

3. “The Gift of Story: Exploring the Affective Side of the Reading Life” by John Schu

This one seems to be a favorite of librarians and educators! “The Gift of Story” aims to take us beyond the academic side of literacy and into the emotional and communal side. According to Stenhouse Publishers, “Presented through a study of five affective elements—healer, inspiration, clarifier, compassion, and connector— ‘The Gift of Story’ explores how the universal truths found in stories can change us, inspire us, connect us to others, answer our deepest questions, and help us heal.” And there’s a lot of great content from children’s authors and illustrators, along with some book suggestions.

4. “Game Changer” by Neal Shusterman

This is a sci-fi novel about a football player, Ash Bowman, who sustains an injury that leads him to an alternate reality where his life and the world are different. Not only that, but everything Ash does, every choice he makes, has consequences, like entering even more new dimensions. Many important topics are woven throughout this book, like racism, class, gender, sexism, etc. Common Sense Media says that “Readers who want a challenging science fiction tale with philosophical underpinnings will be surprised and excited by ‘Game Changer.’”

5. “Free Lunch” by Rex Ogle

Free Lunch” is a 2020 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award winner. It’s a story of the author, Rex Ogle, as a sixth grade boy whose socio-economic status does not match that of his wealthier peers. Read to share Rex’s experience of everything from bias and shame at school to poverty and violence at home. Helen Murdoch, a Social Studies Coach in Southern California says, “This book shows how poverty infiltrates every aspect of a child’s life from food to clothing to friends to holidays and family interactions. Of course, this is just one story, and everyone experiences poverty differently, but Ogle’s experiences will resonate with all ages.”

Additional Summer Reads Recommended by Educators

If you’re looking for more summer reads, check out the 60+ recommendations in the Wakelet below. Thank you again to everyone who contributed to this list on social media and in the TCEA Community. Have a great summer full of reading, relaxing, and fun, everyone!

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