Top Ten Books to Add to your Summer Reading List


It is finally starting to act like spring which means that summer will be here before we know it. Ah, summer–a time in which all educators take their annual three-month vacation. Yeah, right. Most educators utilize the summer break for graduate coursework, planning and preparation for the upcoming school year, and hopefully to squeeze in some much-deserved family time! In the hopes that you are also able to carve out some time to read, here is a Top Ten list of titles to consider!


#1 – Dare to Lead by Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW

Written by Dr. Brené Brown…need I say more? Dare to Lead is her work on shame, vulnerability, and daring greatly applied to the work environment! I also recommend checking out her Dare to Lead Hub for accompanying resources to help you dive into this gem! Not familiar with Dr. Brown’s work? Check out her widely-viewed “The Power of Vulnerability” TED Talk!


#2 – Take Time for You by Tina H. Boogren

Educators are notorious for neglecting their own needs for the sake of everyone else. Based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Dr. Tina Boogren dives into addressing our self-care needs at each level of the pyramid. With an active Facebook group lead by Dr. Boogren and accompanying Solution Tree Reproducibles, the ongoing support to apply this work is second to none! If you are looking to apply this same work with students, check out Motivating & Inspiring Students:  Strategies to Awaken the Learner. (Dr. Boogren is a co-author with Dr. Robert Marzano, Darrell Scott, and Ming Lee Newcomb.)


#3 – They Call Me Mr. De by Frank DeAngelis

Grab a box of tissues and dive into this newly released title by the retired principal of Columbine High School in Colorado. Frank DeAngelis was the principal at Columbine on April 20, 1999. Despite experiencing unspeakable tragedy as the building leader, he pledged to remain principal until every student in the Columbine feeder schools had graduated. Now a national speaker and consultant on leadership and school safety, Mr. De shares his story of not only heartbreak & loss but also of hope & resilience. A powerful read you won’t want to miss!


#4 – Unleashing Great Teaching by David Weston & Bridget Clay

Based on the research and experience from the Teacher Development Trust (UK), this book is a practical guide to help you implement effective professional learning! Multiple examples, checklists, and easy-to-implement ideas designed to remove barriers and foster continuous improvement are included.  A webinar recording is also available to assist in the processing of the content in this book. Whether you lead at the district, building, or team level, this book can help you “unlock the secrets” of great professional development!


#5 – All Learning is Social and Emotional by Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, and Dominique Smith

“Social and Emotional Learning” (SEL) has become the latest education buzzword. However, it is sometimes misunderstood to be just for certain content or specific groups of students. Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, and Dominique Smith contend that ALL learning is social and emotional. What educators say, how we interact, what materials and activities we choose…it all has an impact on students and their learning. This book describes their model for integrating SEL into every classroom and with every student, every day!


#6 – Fierce Conversations:  Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott

When considering basic skills, “communication” is always on the list. However, it however, it is anything but basic. It is absolutely critical to the growth and success of any organization. Fierce Conversations gives you ways to transform everyday conversations both at work and at home. You can also explore the Fierce Conversations Blog for additional related content. SHAMELESS PLUG:  ESU #3 is hosting a “Fierce Conversations Workshop” this summer…click here for additional details or to register! (If tackling tough but important conversations is something near the top of your list, Difficult Conversations by Stone, Patton, and Heen as well as Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Greeny, McMillan, and Switzler are recommended!)


#7 – Leading with Focus:  Elevating the Essentials for School and District Improvement by Mike Schmoker

Following up on his best selling book “Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning” (ASCD, 2011), Mike Schmoker shows district and school leaders how to apply his work to their roles. He gives practical advice for simple, focused leadership with streamlined practice focused on student learning. If you are looking to move your district’s continuous improvement process from theory to practical implementation for maximum impact on a daily basis, this is the book for you!


#8 – Professionally Driven:  Empower Every Educator to Redefine PD by Jarod Bormann

Growth mindset + intrinsic motivation + sustainable autonomy = Professionally Driven Educators! Jarod Bormann, a Technology Integration Specialist at Keystone AEA in Iowa, aims to move educators past the traditional top-down, sit-and-get professional learning experiences. It puts teachers in the driver’s seat to research, integrate, reflect, and share their own personalized learning journey as a true professional. The Professionally Driven website includes many support materials, including sample journeys, printable materials, videos, articles, and more!

(If personalized professional learning is what you are after, Personalized PD:  Flipping Your Professional Development by Bretzman, et al. is also highly recommended.)


#9 – Invent to Learn (2nd Edition) by Sylvia Libow Martinez & Dr. Gary Stager

In this recently released second edition of the proclaimed “bible of the maker movement in schools,” educators can use this practical guide to tap into students’ natural inclination to tinker. This book can help you to launch a makerspace in a learning environment and guide you to infuse the making mindset in all learning environments, every content area for every student. The Invent to Learn website is a highly recommended resource, including their blog and list of resources sorted by chapter, type, and topic!


#10 – Whatever you want!

Summer is the perfect time to dig out that book you’ve been wanting to read forever. Enjoy a lazy morning on the front porch with a cup of coffee and the latest intriguing mystery by your favorite author. Spend the entire afternoon in the shade with a trashy romance novel and a gossipy tabloid magazine. Whatever it is, summer is about slowing down to take some time for yourself and your to-read list!


Post Written by Kate Carlson, Instructional Technology Consultant – ESU #3 LaVista, NE

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