Monday, September 4, 2017

Summer Reading List 2017

Jason Reynolds (SWOON)

Today, Labor Day, marks the end of summer....

This summer, I traveled to seven different places, and only one of the trips was for pleasure. However, from the time that school ended which was June 23rd until today, labor day, I read almost fourteen books. (One of the books I could not finish.)

Reading is a habit that I have developed, and you know how hard it is to break habits. I do read for pleasure, but I also read with the idea of what books can I introduce to my students and fellow educators. Being a high school teacher and a literature consultant, I need to make sure that I read all of the time so that I can rattle books off the top of my head when it’s needed. So, I make the time.

Now, the time is not always in big chunks. Mostly, I fit it in when I can: waiting for an appointment, on a plane, while waiting on my food in a restaurant etc. You feeling me? You don’t need a lot of time to read; you can fit it in whenever you can.

I love to read, because it causes me to focus and think. Yes, it helps me to focus. Whenever my thoughts are out of control, I sit down with a book, and my thoughts settle down. When I read a book like Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi, with lots of characters and a complex plot, I can only focus on that book, and oh, how I love, at times, to be transported to another time and place.

I also love reading because it gives me insight into people, and I just love folks' stories. My empathy meter is to the roof, and that’s mainly because of books.

For my summer reading, I decided to attempt to read all five books that were on Bill Gates’s recommendations for summer reading. I finished two of the books, Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and A Full Life by Jimmy Carter, before school got out. However, the other three were part of my summer reading. The other books that I read this summer mostly came from people’s recommendations.

Here is my summer reading list:

1. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. (Bill Gates’ list) I can’t even began to explain how this book spoke to my heart, and gave me a lot to think about such as systematic racism and how it seems to exist everywhere. You know, I thought about the idea that some folks just need a helping hand. I will definitely be sharing this one with my students. This would be great to use in a Coming of Age Unit or Identity Unit.



2. The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal. (Bill Gate’s list) This books is a fictional look at what could happen to families when they are faced with the decision of organ donation. One family’s tragedy can end up being another family’s joy. This is a story that will be with me for awhile.



3. Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari. (Bill Gate’s list) I tried... I tried... I really tried, but I just could not finish this book. Wordy and DEEP. However, I did get a few things from this books such as we keep trying to change the students by giving them medications, but why don’t we change the schools.


4. My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me by Jennifer Teege. I am so happy that Jennifer wrote this book. Such a great look at a woman grappling with her issues by looking into her past. I know that I am still coming of age, and it’s good to know that I am not the only grown woman who is coming of age.


5. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. At an Advance Placement Institute, a participate mentioned this book to me, and you should have seen the joy on her face when she talked about it. When I returned home from the Institute, she sent me an email to remind me to read the book, and I am happy that I did. This book tells a very complex story of what could have happened during the holocaust, and she brings the story to the present day. I can see doing a unit on Genocide and including this book and My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me along with some other books.


6. Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson. I picked up this book at the International Literacy Conference this summer, AND it was ALL OVER twitter. So, I read it, and it is incredible. This book is about a girl who is faced with the challenge of being courageous. I absolutely love the message of facing our issues instead of turning away from them.


7. Some Possible Solutions by Helen Philips. So, I was in St. Louis, and I finished the book that I was reading on the plane ride to St. Louis, and my digital reader was dead, and I forgot the charger. Y’all, I must have something to read at all times. So, I found a quaint bookstore in a very swanky neighborhood. I told the bookseller that I would like to read his favorite book, and he picked up this book. Great, collection of short stories that I thoroughly enjoyed.


8. Reading In the Wild by Donalyn Miller. My fellow, literature teachers, READ THIS BOOK! One of my many teaching bibles for sure.


9. Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Several people told me to read this book, and it is wonderful. Such a great book to teach empathy and strength. I have copies in my classroom, and I am going to use it to remind my students and myself to always, always, go with radical kindness.




10. Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds. Y’all know that I love Jason Reynolds and his writings. This book does not disappoint. I did not know that there was a Black/Hispanic spider man.... There are going to be some super excited children of color excited about this one.  LOVE, LOVE this book!


11. Solo by Kwame Alexander. Kwame did it again. This is an incredible book that is written in verse like many of Kwame's books. The protagonist is RICH and Black and lovable. I was deeply moved by this charming story.


12. What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons. This book was Well-Read Black Girl book club selection for August. This book deals with grief in the most beautiful way. I love the writing style and the storyline.... completely, beautiful story.


13. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Y’all this book is everything that you could possible ask for in a good story: suspense, love, endurance, love, suffering, love, LOVE! I love this book soooooo much. Cleverly written and every character is delightful!


14. Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven. At the end the school year, one of my students gave me this book with the most moving letter. I purposefully read this book right before school started so that I could talk to her about it. It is a beautiful story that reminded me that teenagers need a whole lot of Grace and Mercy.


What a wonderful summer full of wonderful books.....

Soon and very soon, I will be starting the 10 to 40 book challenge with my students. I am encouraging them, myself, and you to read between 10 to 40 books between September and June.

Join us if you dare!

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