If you’re an avid reader, I’m sure you’re looking forward to summer and having more free time to relax with some good books…preferably by a pool or on a beach or in a hammock. You’ve probably got some good easy, fun reads you’ve been meaning to get to for awhile. And maybe you’re also looking for a book that will challenge you to think about the way you taught last year, and what kind of changes you want to make so that next year is even better.

It’s rare that teachers get the opportunity to step back from the day to day tasks of the classroom and really reflect on the educational system as a whole and the role that we play in it. Here are 10 of my favorite books to help you do just that, and get you excited about improving your practice and connecting with students on a deeper level. Click any book cover for more info:

Join us for an online book club for teachers in July!


Will you be doing any professional reading this summer? Share your book list in the comments!



  1. Meaghan @Tale of Two Teachers

    Great list! I absolutely love Parker Palmer’s “The Courage to Teach” so inspirational!

    Right now I’m reading Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” and it has been so enlightening – I highly recommend it and I’m only 2 chapters in 🙂

  2. Raye

    I LOVED Readicide! So true and should be required reading by all “powers that be!”

    I am reading Word Nerds, Whole Brain Teaching and Total Participation Techniques this summer. Otherwise, I’m all about smut reading lol

  3. Learning Girl

    Thanks! Putting in some library reserves!

  4. Karen

    Some great reads there. I read Rethinking Homework a few years ago. While several on my staff agreed with what was said they were not willing to implement some of the strategies which was a true bummer. I’ve implemented several over the years.

  5. Terri Izatt

    I am excited about reading Book Whisperer and Teach Like a Pirate this summer. I am taking part in two book studies. It should be lots of fun!

    • Jennifer O.

      I read Book Whisperer last year and her second book, Reading in the Wild, this year. You will love it! They changed my perspective of independent reading and encouraging students to be life-long readers.

  6. @8amber8

    Great suggestions, Ang! I can’t wait to read!

  7. Shree

    Currently reading Drive by Daniel H Pink… Interesting to see it in the summer reading list 🙂 Will check other titles too…

  8. Karli

    I’ve already ordered Talk About Understanding: Rethinking Classroom Talk to Enhance Comprehension by Ellin Oliver Keene, but I’m sure I’ll add a couple of these titles to my list 🙂 Is there ever enough time to read everything we want?!?

  9. Barb

    Is there an available resource to find these and other professional books to borrow instead of purchase? My school has a small professional library – but nothing new in a few years.

    • Diane

      Also try asking about an inter-library loan in your school or local public library. Many libraries do them now for free or a very small fee. My local library used to do it for free but now charges $1 per book–still a great deal. As a last resort, you can buy the book and re-sell it on eBay, Amazon, etc. if you decide not to keep it.

      • Angela Watson

        Good ideas!

  10. Angela Watson

    Thanks, all, for sharing your favorites! Keep them coming!

    @Raye: You’re going to love Total Participation Techniques!

    @Barb: Have you checked your public library? I’ve found quite a few professional titles in mine! You can also try getting the Kindle edition of the books–those are much cheaper than getting paper copies. You can read Kindle books on pretty much any device (your smartphone, your computer, tablet, etc.) so it’s a good way to get cheap books even if you don’t own a Kindle.

  11. DrMcDougall

    Read each of these – finishing Teach Like a Pirate and then I’ll read the last, Readicide – and I can’t recommend them highly enough. As a teacher of 30 years, I feel it’s our responsibility to keep learning and always strive to improve our students potential for success – thank you!

  12. Amy Sandvold

    Thank you thank you for including The Passion-Driven Classroom! You totally made my day and I hope some more people take the time to read it this summer! Thank you for spreading the word!

  13. Valerie

    These look great. Any way that I can get the list in a format that can be printed out? I would like to post it in our teachers’ room to see if I can get some summer reading groups going.



    • Anne

      Books for Suggested Summer Reading Book Club:

      The Passion-Driven Classroom: A Framework for Teaching & Learning by Angela Maiers (Author), Amy Sandvold (Author)
      Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink (Author)
      Why Don’t Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom by Daniel T. Willingham (Author)
      The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller (Author), Jeff Anderson (Foreword)
      Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator by Dave Burgess (Author)
      Stop Stealing Dreams: Free eBook from Seth Godin
      Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It by Kelly Gallagher (Author)
      Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs by Cathy Vatterott
      When Teaching Gets Tough: Smart Ways to Reclaim Your Game by Allen N. Mendler (Author)
      The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life, 10th Anniversary Edition by Parker J. Palmer (Author)
      Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching by Angela Watson (Author)

      • Angela Watson

        Thank you for this, Anne! How helpful.

  14. Valerie

    Perfect- thank you so much! Now to recruit some fellow readers!

  15. Tara

    I definitely recommend “The End of Molasses Classes” by Ron Clark.

    It is EXCELLENT!!!!

  16. Donna

    Thank you for the list of recommended books! My library will be doing some searching for me. 🙂 I have just finished reading Hal Urban’s “Lessons from the Classroom – 20 Things Good Teachers Do”. It is EXCELLENT!! I HIGHLY recommend it to teachers of all grade levels.

  17. The Teacher Treasury

    Thanks for putting this list together. More teachers should spend more of their free time thinking about how to improve themselves and what professional development resources can help them make a difference.

    • Krystal L. Smith

      I agree! If we thought more about what was right instead of waisting time on what’s wrong (especially when it’s out of our control) we could perhaps be more productive!

  18. Jennifer O.

    My summer reading list includes Finding the Heart of Nonfiction by Georgia Heard, Grammar Matters by Lynne Dorfman and Diane Dougherty, The Story of My Thinking by Gretchen Bernabel, and of course Unshakeable.

  19. Krystal L. Smith

    Looks like I’ve found the book I will be reading in October! When Teaching Gets Tough sounds as if it will be a positive, motivating, and practicall read with tips and suggestions to help with the fall slump! Thank you for this list of recommendations.

  20. Thomas Bubb

    I’m sorry all I see are comments where are the books?

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