To celebrate National Library Week, we talked books with our Advisory Board and Teen Advisory Council. Advisory Board members shared books that every educator needs, and our Teen Council members shared the best lesson they learned from a book.
The Advisory Board members weigh in on the books that every educator needs (and why).
“I have four essential books that every educator, parent, and human being should read! First, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl literally changed my life and my perspective on living. It is a short read, but written in such a humble way that you feel compelled to read it again and again, and you find something new to contemplate each time. Reviving Ophelia and The Other Wes Moore (by Mary Pipher and Wes Moore, respectively) are coming-of-age books that offer endless insights on gender roles, racial bias, adolescent barriers, and societal pressure that cannot be learned in any developmental textbook. For the ladies specifically, I cannot sing enough praises for Respect: A Girl’s Guide to Getting Respect & Dealing When Your Line Is Crossed by Courtney Macavinta and Andrea Vander Pluym. Every young woman who reads this book will feel like it was written just for her—perfect for individual sessions, girls’ groups, and classroom lessons regarding gender roles, respect, leadership, and social pressures.”
—Stephanie, school counselor
“There are several book series from Free Spirit Publishing that are my ‘go-to’ books! I love all of Cheri Meiners’s books (Learning to Get Along series) because they touch upon important skills in child-friendly language. At the back of each book are activity ideas and questions that make lesson planning a breeze. They also work great for whole-class, small-group, or individual lessons. I have also enjoyed the Safe and Caring Schools series by Katia S. Petersen. I work in K–4 buildings, so I use the preK–K, grades 1–2, and grades 3–5 books. They are great because they include clear lesson guides that incorporate many of the social-emotional-themed stories that I already own. Love both of these series!”
—Jenny, school psychologist
“Smart but Scattered by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare is such a great resource for supporting students who struggle with organization and executive functioning skills! The book opens with a great overview of what executive functioning is and how students with executive-functioning deficits are impacted at school. Subsequent chapters highlight a specific skill, such as ‘Strengthening Sustained Attention’ and ‘Increasing Goal-Directed Persistence,’ and they offer strategies and routines to build that skill. I used this book to design interventions when I was a middle school special education teacher. Now as director of special education, I have purchased this book for my staff!
“Practice Perfect by Doug Lemov is such a great book for teaching study skills. The strategies in this book have really helped me demystify the learning and studying process for kids and families. We read this book as a staff, and it has really influenced how we talk to our students about studying and learning skills to mastery.
“The Motivation Breakthrough by Richard Lavoie had such a profound impact on my development as an educator. Formerly as a special education teacher and now as a special education administrator, I interface all the time with students who appear to be unmotivated to learn. The tools I gained from reading Motivation Breakthrough help me see these students through a different lens. This book offers an effective framework for identifying the different types of motivators that educators can tap into to engage students in the learning process.”
—Allegra, director of special education
“Ruby Payne’s A Framework for Understanding Poverty is instrumental in understanding students and families living in poverty. Understanding the culture of poverty will allow our classrooms to be more responsive to the needs of students living in poverty.
“Mindsets in the Classroom: Building a Culture of Success and Student Achievement in Schools by Mary Cay Ricci is a great resource to use in conjunction with Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Ricci’s book provides easy-to-implement lessons on the brain and growth versus fixed mindsets, and it provides additional resources to be used with students when teaching them about growth mindsets.”
—Ashley, school-based interventionist
“Any book by Jon Kabat-Zinn is a must-read—specifically Wherever You Go, There You Are. Mindfulness has found a resurgence and seems more timely now than in 1994 when he wrote this book. Self-care is a must, and Kabat-Zinn has a masterful way of teaching one how to incorporate peace into everyday life. As the concept of mindfulness becomes more accepted and we are encouraged to practice it with our students, having the core knowledge from Kabat-Zinn will provide anyone with a great foundation. And a little relaxation is a wonderful thing.”
—Michele, school psychologist
“Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen is a great resource for teachers in low-income areas. It has wonderful information and practical strategies for raising achievement.
“When My Worries Get Too Big! A Relaxation Book for Children Who Live with Anxiety by Kari Dunn Buron is great for helping students who have anxiety and struggle to control their behavior. It gives step-by-step approaches to help students become aware of their stressors and what helps them calm down. This book uses the 5-Point Scale and has a foreword by Brenda Smith Myles, Ph.D.
“The last book I’ve recently begun to use is Teaching Children Empathy, The Social Emotion by Tonia Caselman, Ph.D. The book features lessons, activities, and reproducible sheets that help students become aware of others’ emotions and how to be empathetic.”
—Amy Peters, Compass Academy teacher
The Teen Advisory Council members reveal the best lessons they’ve learned from a book.
“The best lesson I have learned from a book is that you have to be careful of what you read, that some books can influence you the wrong way. I learned that you should stick to books you know are your type, ones that you are most comfortable with. I learned this from a bunch of books, such as The House on Stone’s Throw Island, The Girls of Something Hall (I don’t remember the titles very well), Dreadlocks, and a few others. They just weren’t my type.”
“The best lesson I’ve learned from a book is that life can’t be cured, but it can be managed. This is actually a paraphrased quote from the novel It’s Kind of a Funny Story. It is by Ned Vizzini, and it highly resonated with me because at the time, I was struggling with school and life in general. Basically, it taught me that life will never be perfect, but it is worth tolerating.”
“The best lesson I learned from a book was from the book I just finished reading: Every Vote Matters by Judge Tom Jacobs and Natalie Jacobs. I learned that students have rights in school and that their voices matter.
“From The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, I learned that we are all flawed. Even the holiest in the community is imperfect.”
Now it’s your turn. What book do you think every educator needs? What’s the best lesson you ever learned from a book? Share your answers in the comments below.
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