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Summer Reading Recommendations for Teachers

Looking for summer reading lists or recommendations? In this collaborative post, a group of secondary teachers shares ideas for professional and personal reading options for summer…or any time of year.

Nothing says summer like the feeling of the sun on your skin, the sand between your toes, and a stack of books you want to read calling your name.

Throughout the school year, teachers are consumed by reading, studying, and annotating literature they will teach during the academic calendar. The arrival of summer marks a nearly audible sigh as teachers everywhere soak up the freedom of being able to read whatever they want for a couple months. It’s a liberating, joyful feeling.

Choice in reading is perhaps the number one strategy for teaching reading in the twenty-first century. It’s no wonder why teachers themselves appreciate the time they have to relax and become totally engrossed in a book…no strings attached.

Because everyone loves a good book recommendation, we are sharing our summer reading lists with you, and we’d love to hear what’s in your stack as well!

As for me, I like to read books in several different categories over the summer.

  1. For my Soul:  Fearless by Max Lucado (I love the way he addresses our society’s pervasive feelings of worry and fear. Thoughts of global calamity, violence, debt, death, and insignificance consume people’s minds and control our behaviors. Lucado gives tips and advice for overcoming these anxieties (and more) while focusing on what really matters in the middle of a storm.)
  2. For Enjoyment:  Jodi Piccoult’s Small Great Things (Some argue this story of modern racism, prejudice, and justice is the most important novel Jodi Piccoult has ever written. I just started this one and so far, I’m totally engaged.)
  3. For Teaching:  Deeper Reading and I Read it but I Don’t Get it (I’m always looking for books on reading comprehension. These two have useful information about how students process information they read as well as practical classroom application ideas.)

I’m so interested and intrigued by these titles recommended by some of our colleagues! I’ve read a few of these, but not all, and I’m definitely going to be looking into them soon!

Make Writing: 5 Teaching Strategies That Turn Writer’s Workshop Into a Maker Space, by Angela Stockman – I am so intrigued by the concept of blending maker space and writing workshop. I love the idea and hope to get some great practical inspiration from Stockman. ~ Betsy from Spark Creativity

Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream: I am getting ready to use these, and it has been several years since I have read either. As for something fun, a few romance novels–really, anything by J.R. Ward, Julie Garwood, or Karen Marie Moning will do. Because really, a good vampire, or Scotsman, or even just some fun fluff is really what we all need sometimes! ~ Rebecca Gettelman

The ALA Notable Books for 2017. Right now I’m tacking The Only Road. I want to find more diverse stories for students to devour – stories with characters that may or may not look, act, or think like them. ~ Leslie from Story Trekker

At the top of my list is Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain, because I love to take a break from the classroom and just enjoy a good novel (or six!) I also plan on re-reading some of the Murderous Math series including Angletron which I am hoping to get a class set of this year for when we get to trigonometry.  ~ Doc from Education with DocRunning

I love to enjoy some James Patterson over the summer, but this year I’ll be reading some fun math books, too! I just ordered Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail by Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years). Apparently after leaving acting, she went back to school for mathematics and now writes fun math books for teens and children. I’m excited to dive in! ~ Amanda from Free to Discover

Summer reading list....leisure and professional development book recommendations FROM classroom teachers FOR classroom teachers.

I have a really long list! Of course, I have some textbooks that have to be first priority. I’ve been working on Loving the Lord With All Your Mind by Elisabeth George for a while now, so I want to finish that. I would like to read Brave New World, considering the current state of affairs in our country, and I’ve heard good things about Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. I would also like to read at least one YA novel, but I don’t have one picked out yet. I’d be open for suggestions! ~ Whitney LaDon from The Poetry That Is Life

I have SO many young adult books on my list summer. I want to assign a full choice reading assignment with my seniors, so I want to read some works that might interest them for recommendations. ~ Doc Cop

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: This book made waves this spring with the release of the mini-series on Netflix. It caused quite a stir and sparked debates about teenage suicide and rape. I’d like to read the actual novel since it’s so timely and will be something that students continue to discuss in the fall. ~ Meredith from Bespoke ELA

I want to read The Lightning Thief because my students LOVE it, and I feel like I will be able to better connect with them if I have read this book that they are so excited about. If I can show some (genuine) enthusiasm for their favorite book, maybe they will be more likely to ask for suggestions from our classroom library! ~ Olivia from Distinguished English

I need some humor this summer, so I’m going with Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling and The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I follow Mindy on social media and love her social commentary: she is spot on and hysterical. I’m reading Adams because I think I will actually teach it next year and I’m embarrassed I haven’t read it yet. I missing a lot of references! ~ Amanda from Engaging and Effective

The HyperDoc Handbook: Digital Lesson Design Using Google Apps by Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis: I have loved incorporating Hyperdocs activities into my classroom and look forward to finding more innovative ways to use these. ~ Lyndsey from Lit with Lyns

Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer by Heather Lende: Given the atrocities that continue to occur around the world, I love the ironic point of view of a book written by someone who lives and breathes death every single day but still manages to find the “good.” I think this book has great potential to spark discussion in secondary ELA. ~ Meredith from Bespoke ELA

I have so many books on my reading list for the summer! For professional reading, one book I will be reading is They Say/I Say by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstock. We will use this book at the College-Ready Writer’s Program (part of the National Writing Project) that I will be co-facilitating. The book should provide useful templates for teachers who scaffold their instruction for argumentative writing. For personal reading, I plan to read A Man Called Ove and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. In preparation for next school year, I also expect to read Heart of Darkness, The Stargazer’s Sister, Rules for a Knight, and The Circle. No doubt, I’ll be reading voraciously this summer. ~ Kim@OCBeachTeacher


If you’re anything like us, your list of books you want to read is longer than your summer. What titles would you add to this list? Everyone loves a good book recommendation, and we would LOVE to hear yours! Leave your ideas in the comments so that we can check them out. Happy reading!

This post is the first of an inspirational collaborative series for teachers. The entire series includes:
  1. In Defense of Teachers: Do We Really Have Our Summers Off?
  2. Top 10 List: The Craziest Thing Happened in the Classroom Today…
  3. Our Favorite Decor for the Secondary Classroom
  4. Must-Try Organizational Tools and Classroom Procedures
  5. How to Rejuvenate Over the Summer
  6. Summer Reading Recommendations for Teachers
  7. Creating Literacy-Rich Environments all Summer Long
  8. Be Inspired: Favorite Quotes for Teachers

Summer reading ideas for teachers...recommended by teachers! Read, relax, rejuvenate, and get inspired! Check out these personal and professional book recommendations, and tell us about yours!

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  1. I love many of these PD books. I struggled to get into Teach Like a Pirate (I know, I know) so I’ll try again another day. I read Mindy Kaling’s book a couple years ago, it is laugh out loud funny. I just finished book number six of fiction reading for the summer and I’m working through a stack of PD books. I’ve enjoyed your collaborative posts! Happy reading!!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Kristy! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series. My biggest takeaway from Teach Like a Pirate was the ideas for generating lesson hooks. I found them so inspiring. I’d love to hear what fiction books and PD books are on your list!

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