My Teacher-on-Summer-Vacation Reading List

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Anyone who knows me at all knows that I love to read. To me, there is nothing better in the summer than lying on whatever flat/comfy surface is available (couch, chair, beach towel, hammock etc.) and reading my book all afternoon. I could easily spend the whole summer reading mysteries, but I know from experience that the months of July and August should not be a total hiatus from teaching. (That makes September really, really difficult!) So, here's a selection of what I'm reading this summer while wearing my teacher hat:

1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

A colleague of mine mentioned wanting to read this book because she feels that there is not enough time for individual reflection (for students OR teachers) in today's schools. The go-go-go schedule and the emphasis on collaboration and oral participation often found in classrooms and faculty meetings exacerbate the problem. This struck a chord with me. As a language teacher, I tend to put a premium on interpersonal communication at the expense of individual reflection. I'm hoping that this book will help me understand how the needs of introverts and extroverts differ, so that I can adjust my instruction to accommodate all learners better.

2. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

According to Kahneman, we think according to two systems: fast/intuitive/emotional and slow/deliberative/logical. I'm not sure how I'll be able to apply this to my teaching, but any information about how the brain works is valuable for improving my instructional practice. 

3. It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by Danah Boyd

This book explores why teenagers are so drawn to technology (especially social networks) and explains why rigid, punitive rules that prevent them from using that technology are harmful. I think I already understand and mostly agree with the premise of this book, but it will be useful in understanding how teens interact with each other today. (They didn't have Facebook in my day! And I walked to school barefoot in the snow uphill both ways!)  

3. Something by Alfie Kohn

Again, I think Alfie and I are already on the same page about many things, but I've never read any of his books. I have a hunch that he will get me really fired up about teaching and excited to try new techniques and strategies.

4. Todos se van by Wendy Guerra

As I write this, it's been five years since I finished my master's degree in Spain--meaning that it's been five years since I've had any meaningful, extended, immersive experience in a Spanish-speaking country. This is a terrible situation for a Spanish teacher. Without regular "injections" of Spanish, my fluency will degrade quickly. I think this book came up as an Amazon recommendation, and it fit my criteria for summer Spanish reading: contemporary, prizewinning but popular, with short chapters. It'll be a good way to improve my Spanish and expand my knowledge about current Cuban culture.

5. Paper Towns by John Green

Okay, I admit it. I read The Fault in Our Stars. And saw the movie. And cried at both. I like reading YA novels because they're usually fast, enjoyable reads, and I like having something to talk about with my students. Since I really can't stand most TV, it's gotta be books.

6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I'm not sure if this is YA, but it's kind of fulfilling the same purpose as Paper Towns. I heard a bunch of students talking about it last spring and bought it for my 14-year-old nephew. He said it was great, so I'm going to read it too. 

What's on your summer reading list? Any suggestions? 


  1. Thinking Fast and Slow is a tough yet interesting read, it'll keep you busy for a while!

  2. Thanks, Jared! I've heard that from others too. That might be a more long-term project. :)

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