Take advantage of your poolside reading with these thought provoking and riveting books.  We’ve compiled 12 books to help you inside and outside the classroom as you prepare for any upcoming school year!


Teach Like A Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator

This book offers inspiration, practical techniques and innovative ideas to increase student engagement and to help you grow as an educator. Learn to develop lessons that draw students in, establish rapport and a sense of camaraderie in the classroom, and 170 brainstorming questions that will skyrocket your creativity. 

Why They Can’t Write: Killing the Five-Paragraph Essay and Other Necessities

In this book, John Warner argues that we’ve been teaching to the test with formulaic writing and assessments.  As a result, we deprive students of being creative and enjoying meaningful writing. Warner argues to kill the five-paragraph essay and refocus on developing a writer’s practice that helps develop students’ creative and expressive abilities. 

The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent and Lead a Culture of Creativity 

The traditional system of education is outdated, prioritizing the scheduled curriculum at the expense of students’ questions and curiosity. George Couros argues that this system isn’t fostering innovation, critical thinking or creativity, the very skills needed to succeed. To combat this issue, we need to be innovative to build innovative students. This book pushes us to empower our learners to wonder, to explore and to become forward-thinking leaders. 

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood … and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education

Christopher Emdin uses real stories with theory, research and practice to offer a new approach of thinking about urban education. He demonstrates the importance of creating a family structure and building communities within the classroom, using culturally relevant strategies like hip-hop music and call-and-response, and connecting the experiences of urban youth to indigenous populations globally.


Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

 Angela Duckworth is a classroom teacher turned celebrated researcher and professor. She uses her experiences and her findings to show that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” 

Not only can you apply the lessons to your own teaching career, but use it to inspire students when they’re struggling in class. Show how grit can be learned, regardless of I.Q. or circumstances. 

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize General Non-Fiction, Matthew Desmond provides an in depth look behind one of the most urgent issues facing America today. Most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. This book will transform our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating and uniquely American problem. 

Across Los Angeles several school communities are in underserved and challenging neighborhoods. As educators, understanding these possible underlying socio-economic factors will help us empathize with struggling students in the classroom. 

Educated: A Memoir

Honorably mentioned on both  Bill Gates AND Barack Obama’s 2018 Reading List, Tara Westover tells the story of how she never stepped foot in a classroom until she was seventeen. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara’s family distrusted the government and isolated themselves from mainstream society. Only with the push of an older brother that got himself into college, did Tara’s quest for knowledge begin. She walks us through her life and how education transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. 

Children gravitate toward strong and exciting stories, share Tara’s memoir and use it to legitimize education as a powerful tool to lift disadvantaged people from their current situations. Remind them how education opens doors and offers grand opportunities for willing participants. 

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman, renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive and emotional. System 2 is slower, more deliberative and more logical. This book provides insights and techniques to guard us against snap judgements and mental glitches that often get us into trouble. 

Most of the time bad choices are made when we operate from our system 1, acting impulsively and emotionally. Children are usually guilty of this (as with many adults) but with this book, you can show students how to tap into their System 2 to make better choices in and outside the classroom. 


All The Light We Cannot See

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this book reads like poetry with its beautiful and eloquent metaphor. It tells the story of a blind French girl and German orphan boy whose paths collide in occupied France as they both struggle to survive during WWII. 

Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

An oldie but a goodie, winner of the Pulitzer Prize as well, this book reads like a superhero comic book. It’s an epic story following two boy geniuses named Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay trying to cash in during the Golden Age of comic books in 1939. Add that the looming shadow of Hitler is about to fall across the world, this book follows Joe and Sammy’s old-fashioned American ambition in the heart of Manhattan at the cusp of WWII. 

Little Fires Everywhere

Named a Best Book of 2017 and soon to be a Hulu limited series, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, this book is about the idyllic, picture-perfect Richardson family getting upended with the arrival of a mother- daughter duo that draws the entire town in. 

Ready Player One

Made into a major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg, this book is set in the near future, in the year 2045, where reality is an ugly dystopia and people feel more alive jacked into a virtual utopia called Oasis, (hmm sounds familiar). The creator of Oasis has promised massive power and fortune if anyone is able to unlock its many 80s pop culture referenced puzzles and get to the end of the game, ultimately lighting a fun and interactive read to find out who survives and who wins. 

What's your favorite summer reading book?

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