Innovation coordinator for instructional technology, information, and library media
Parkway School District
West St. Louis County, Mo.
The best book I read this summer, reread actually, was Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley.
Rae Anne Locke
Elementary library media specialist
The best book I read over the summer was undoubtedly Less by Andrew Sean Greer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize—beautiful and funny.
Two of the best books I read over the summer that I can’t wait to share with my students are Front Desk by Kelly Yang and Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead. In Front Desk, Mia’s trials and tribulations at age 10, working at the front desk at the Calavista Motel with her Chinese immigrant parents striving for the American dream, are outstanding—I didn’t want to leave Mia when done—and will be great for discussion. Bob is an enticing mystery and friendship story that many students will gravitate toward, and it is sure to be well-loved.
Learning center coordinator
Chinese American International School, Middle School
The best book I read this summer, hands down, was Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. I know I’m behind on this, as people have been talking about it for years, since it came out in 2014, but I finally got around to it and cannot recommend it highly enough for those who want to understand the problems of our criminal justice system better. The New Jim Crow did this for me, but Just Mercy made it hit home even harder by pulling me into such human and heartbreaking stories and also offering so much hope.
I also read The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater and will be pitching that to my older students who are looking for a good nonfiction book, as it takes some of the social justice issues that Just Mercy brings up around how youth are treated in our system and makes them accessible and compelling in a book for students.
Reading specialist and reading teacher
Wilson West Middle School
Sinking Spring, Pa.
I have been reading with my students in mind. I just finished Every Day by David Levithan, which is about a teen who jumps from body to body. He can’t inhabit the same person’s for more than one day. Pretty interesting concept!
I really enjoyed Solo by Kwame Alexander and everything by Jason Reynolds. I ordered a bunch of Reynolds’s books for my classroom.
Fourth grade teacher
Le Jardin Academy
For pleasure, I read The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol, but this has nothing to do with my teaching. Unfortunately, I did not read or discover any books over the summer for my students. Sad.
Moon Area High School
Moon Township, Pa.
The best book I read so far this summer was Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney. It was such a page-turner! I haven’t read much this summer that works for the classroom, but I did take a course called Spanish for Educators and look forward to integrating some of the strategies for my ELL students.
Digital learning specialist
Pulaski Community School District
LOL. With all of the conferences I’ve attended, unfortunately, I haven’t had any extra time this summer for pleasurable reading. I’ve done a fair amount of reading, but it’s all been school-related—granted, I enjoy that, but it’s not the same as sitting down with a great dystopian novel! Maybe over the next couple of weeks I’ll still be able to sneak something in.
Middle school English faculty
The King School
The best book I read this summer, without a doubt, was Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera. She came to speak to our middle school students during the academic year, and her book is a revelation. It encapsulates what it means to struggle with so many aspects of identity; Juliet takes on tough questions regarding her race, gender expression, sexuality, language, heritage, and culture all in one summer. I have students who are POC, speakers of a second language, nonbinary, LGBTQ+, etc., and I really want to recommend this book for our Independent Reading program and possibly use excerpts of it while teaching more canonical texts like To Kill a Mockingbird. My hope is that each student will build a personal library, both fiction and nonfiction, that continues to fill with resources that they can reference throughout their lifetimes. This library serves as an educational tool but also a space to feel less alone in a world that can sometimes feel very lonely.
Director of Innovative Learning
Five-Star Technology Solutions
Along the professional development line, I read Nicholas Provenzano’s new book, The Maker Mentality. I love Nick’s point of view, from what he’s done in the classroom to now running a makerspace in his school. He speaks it because he lives it. That makes it really meaningful to me.
I also have an advance copy of a book coming out in September that I was blown away by. I wasn’t really expecting that. It’s called You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino, who wrote George. I was intrigued by this one because it’s a middle grade book about a girl whose sister is born deaf. I was a special education teacher in my first education career, and I actually wanted to do deaf education but found out I kind of stink at sign language. But this book goes deeper, because it addresses the stigma of not only deaf culture vs. hearing culture but goes on to bring in race, and there are some other themes woven in there, too. I read it in one sitting.