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8 Summer Must-Reads for Upper Elementary Educators

June 14, 2020 No Comments

I don’t know about you, but my summer TBR is (unrealistically) long! There are tons of great teacher reads this summer that I’m excited about. If you’re looking for inspiration for professional books, check out the titles below!

The Power of Making Thinking Visible: Practices to Engage and Empower All Learners by Ron Ritchhart and Mark Church

If you haven’t heard this latest buzzword, you probably will soon. I started using visible thinking routines in my teaching this year, and was thrilled with how they got kids thinking, interacting, and communicating. I’m really excited to read this new edition to learn more about implementing thinking routines every day!

Reading to Make a Difference: Using Literature to Help Students Speak Freely, Think Deeply, and Take Action by Lester L. Laminack and Katie Kelly

We know that literature has the power to impact students’ thinking in many ways. And that exposing our students to multicultural literature simply by putting books out on the shelves isn’t enough. I’m looking forward to learning some actionable ways to use reading and books to help students become agents of change.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

I’m just at the beginning of learning about what it means to be actively antiracist. I have so much more to learn, especially as an educator, about race, racism, and antiracism. Jason Reynolds is one of my favorite kid lit authors, and I have no doubt this book will be incredibly impactful on both my personal and professional life.

Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension by Sara K. Ahmed

This one goes hand in hand with some of the books I’ve already mentioned. I’ve largely avoided “sensitive” topics in the past with my students, but I think now, more than ever, is the time to let them out into the open in the classroom in respectful ways. This book looks full of great tips to create a trusting, open environment where students can discuss social comprehension topics like race, gender, and much more.

Digital Citizenship in Action: Empowering Students to Engage in Online Communities by Kristen Mattson

Teaching students to be digital citizens who are part of an online community > teaching kids how to use computers. Especially with teaching virtually this past spring, this is always on my mind. I love that Mattson focuses on what students can do and how we can help them get there, instead of just the many don’ts we often teach when it comes to technology in the classroom.

Fewer Things, Better: The Courage to Focus on What Matters Most by Angela Watson

Boy, could I have used this book during distance learning! I constantly felt overwhelmed between my school life and my home life. I’m all about learning some strategies to identify what’s important instead of trying to do it all! Angela Watson has years of classroom experience, so I know she’ll have some practical advice for prioritizing!

Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst

I’ve read tons of books about teaching students to read, but I’m really interested in Beers’ and Probst’s focus on the relationship between the book and the reader. (If you’ve heard of the “Book-Head-Heart” framework, these are the authors!) Any strategies that empower our students as readers are ones I need to have in my toolbox!

The Curious Classroom: 10 Structures for Teaching with Student-Directed Inquiry by Harvey “Smokey” Daniels

Inquiry is a HUGE part of what we do in the library and it’s part of every classroom, too. I’ve had a lot of PD when it comes to student-led inquiry, but I’m looking forward to this book for a quick refresher. I love that there are lots of real world examples (and photos for us visual learners). Plus, I think it’ll be a good springboard for collaborating with classroom teachers interested in using inquiry learning with their students.

Whatever you’re reading this summer, whether it’s for school or just for fun, I sure hope you enjoy it!

And if you’re not ready for professional reading quite yet, just pin for later!

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Alyssa Teaches

Alyssa Teaches


I'm Alyssa! I've taught first and fourth grade and am now an elementary school librarian in Virginia. I have a teacher husband, three kids (6, 5, and 2), and a new pup! I love creating resources, Coca-Cola, and chocolate!


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