And the reading is eeeeeasy.
Time to pull out your bicycle, kayak, or barbecue. Or curl up in the hammock, on a lounge chair, or with your beach towel and READ! It’s easy to lose yourself in a book as you relax, rejoice and rejuvenate after a long school year. We’ve got some great summertime book suggestions for you. And we’d love to hear what you are reading for summer 2019 (because our lists are not quite long enough). So, get out your library cards, here we go!
I read aloud Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga to my daughters. We loved meeting Jude, who moves from Syria to Cincinnati to live with relatives, leaving behind her older brother and father. Jude’s spirit is humorous, inspiring, and contagious. I particularly loved the safe and supportive culture the ELL teacher established at Jude’s school, and Jude navigating growing up, a new school, and wanting to be seen and heard, all at the same time.
I am reading aloud The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden to get ready to meet the author and have a book club discussion at the Middle Grades Institute which we are all very excited about. We are currently cheering for Zoey and her family as they make some big decisions.
I’m also reading Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School by Carla Shalaby. This book is truly transformative in terms of framing education as
teaching love and learning freedom
and a place to imagine school as a
deeply human, wildly revolutionary site of possibility.
It is a close look at classroom cultures, structures, and teacher practices and how these impact students that are outside of the “norm.” It unflinchingly illuminates what this does to them, over time — how compliance and punishment cultures can harm our most vulnerable students, often for a lifetime.
I can’t wait to listen to the Ani Difranco read her book No Walls and the Recurring Dream. Ani’s songs were transformative for me as a woman in my 20s and still resonate today. I look forward to hearing about how and why she wrote many of the songs that impacted my life and understanding about finding my voice, speaking up, and artistic expression. And, if you haven’t heard it, she released an album with the songs mentioned in the book, redone, acoustically, and it is a stunning thing of beauty.
I loved The Overstory by Richard Powers, which made me look at trees differently, and summertime is a great time for looking at trees! What begins as a series of short stories centering trees becomes a complex ecosystem that was so compelling I may just have to read it again.
When I interviewed VT students about the books they love I heard two messages loud and clear: books with diverse representation AND fantasy!
Once & Future meets both of those requirements. It’s a retelling of King Arthur set in a future without homophobia, racism, sexism, or reliance on the gender binary. BUT also without a viable earth or checks on the Mercer Corporation, Capitalists in Chief. Ari Helix is the 42nd incarnation of King Arthur. With the help of Merlin and her motley band of knights, she finds herself on a quest to find her parents, avenge her home planet, defeat Mercer, and unite the universe.
Finally, teaching is hard work! I need all of the resilience I can get, so I’m spending some time this summer with Elena Aguilar’s Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators and the Onward Workbook.
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake is written in simple yet elegant language that expresses complex ideas beautifully. I have never read a book that so perfectly captures what it feels like to have a crush. Almost everybody in my family read it separately but I bet it would make a wonderful read aloud.
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden is on this coming years Vermont Middle Grades choice award list. This book, written by a Vermont author, has become one of my daughter’s favorites. She says it is super scary and very cool. I can’t wait to read it!
Black Appetite. White Food. Issues of Race, Voice, and Justice Within and Beyond the Classroom by Jamila Lyiscott is a book that I look forward to reading, savoring, and then re-reading many times. I saw the author speak last fall and was deeply moved by her insights about education and systemic racism. The book interweaves critical analysis, poetry, and practical tools to inspire and support transformation. Ever the teacher, Dr. Lyiscott even includes optional exercises at the end of each chapter to deepen understanding.
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty is a whirlwind of adventure, magic, and hilarious dialogue. The author calls her work “historical fan fiction” or “speculative fiction.” She draws on Islamic lore to vividly paint a fascinating world (or city, rather) of the djinn. The main character is morally ambiguous, brave, and did I mention hilarious? She’s the best protagonist I’ve met in a long while. I can’t wait to dig into the rest of the trilogy this summer.
I’m reading two highly recommended new YA books that come with rave reviews. The first book is The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater, based on recommendations from so many great reader friends. The second is Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosozcka. This graphic novel was my gift to my fifteen-year-old son, but I want to read it myself.
I’m looking forward to reading the newest book by Daniel Pink, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. I love Pink’s readable psychology, and I think there are always great transfer and applicability to education settings.
I’m really excited to read Educated by Tara Westover. I have literally been saving this book for summer 2019. Memoirs always interest me, and this one unites with my love of education.
The image above is of my pleasure reads…at least a second if not third run through of Anne Lamott’s book Almost Everything: Notes on Hope on the top of the list, because who doesn’t need more hope?! The Nightingale is historical fiction set in France during the second world war and promises to sweep me away to another time and place. Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach is also set during WWII, but is more of a thriller. And speaking of thrills…Denise Mina’s Conviction is described as a wild weird suspense tale whose main character is a podcast addict (reminds me of someone I know). Thrilled to escape with her.
Jay McTighe & Judy Willis’s Upgrade Your Teaching: Understanding by Design Meets Neuroscience combines two of my professional interests: the science of learning AND thoughtful instructional planning.
I’m continuing a long-standing policy of doing absolutely nada in terms of work-related reading during the summer vacation.
(See also: vacation, winter).
My plan is to positively wallow in crime. First order of business? Catching up with Jessica McDaniels, Manchester-based detective inspector and troublemaker extraordinaire. The latest three books in the 13-book series are Nothing But Trouble, Eye for An Eye, and Silent Suspect. No, you can’t read them out of order. At this point in the series, some very old chickens are coming home to roost and it’s all a bit nail-biting. Speaking of sins of the fathers, Rebus may finally have run out of rope in Ian Rankin’s latest, In A House of Lies. I’m much more agnostic about reading this series in order. Just grab one and knock yourself out.
Out of order and proud of it is #3 in Val McDermid’s new Edinburgh-based series: The Skeleton Road. It’s lovely and terrible and filled with buildings and weather, which I heartily approve of, and long sins of war, which I don’t. Still, a really good read. Passes the Bechdel Test.
The new Logan McRae isn’t out until next April and the next Vera Stanhope mystery’s set in November, so that leaves me with Dervla McTiernan’s The Ruin, with its promise of both gritty mystery and a potentially haunted house. Victories all around!
Should I mention the rest of the large stack of fictional criminal endeavors I have cued up to read this summer? Or are we already all worried enough? Oh, all right, one more: Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of the Founding of Oklahoma City, Its Chaotic Founding, Its Apocalyptic Weather, Purloined Basketball Team and the Dream of Becoming a World-Class Metropolis.
What’s that, you say? Sounds more like American history than crime?
I’ve got at least two purely professional books in my stack this summer. I’ve never read Parker Palmer’s classic The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life, but it keeps getting mentioned, so I’m going to give it a go. I’m also very interested in how we cultivate growth cultures for both students and adults, so I’ve also got An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Developmentally Deliberate Organization by Bob Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey in the stack. This one was recommended at a workshop I attended at the Deeper Learning conference at High Tech High.
I feel a little bit like Chicken Little lately, as my concern panic about climate change (i.e. the apocalypse) has really ramped up after diving more into the current science and politics.
(Especially as summarized in this paper, Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy, by University of Cambria sustainability leadership professor Jem Bendell). My Facebook feed has become a horror show of climate change headlines. I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do with my climate reckoning. So, obviously, I’m going to do some reading. My penchant for dystopian literature comes in handy here, and I’m currently reading Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1). This story follows a young woman living in an eerily familiar near-future world wracked by climate tragedy as she navigates the nature of change itself.
Inspired by Butler’s musings on the nature of change, adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds encourages us to embrace and dance with change rather than futilely resist. I’ve also been grappling with how to connect with others around these concerns, so I’ve collected Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Non-violent Communication by Oren Jay Sofer and Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work that Reconnects Joanna Macy & Molly Young Brown as texts to help me navigate these conversations. Finally, inspired by numerous recommendations by friends, I have Richard Powers’ The Overstory on my nightstand so that I might touch some beauty in all of this.
The above books capture my excitement for exploration and travel. My last trip driving cross country was in 1997 and I think it’s time for another. I have been specifically reading about the Northwest. I was there 3 years ago to visit a friend and was amazed by the beauty. If you are looking for a destination, please consider the Northwest. My other “Northwest” interest is, and has been, Alaska. It’s a bit of a wish but maybe one day it will happen.
As a self-confessed foodie, I love to try my hand at pretending to be a chef. I’ve been following Chef Jamie Oliver for a few years now and get excited every time I get a new cookbook from him. I was raised by British parents, thus British meals, and can connect with Jamie as his cooking represents the Brits very well. He has a rustic and simple style and he’s quite a character as well. Also wanted to keep it local! The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook brings it a little closer to home with a similar style to Jamie but with a Vermont infused menu.
What are you reading this summer?