Summer Reading to Encourage Professional Development

A compilation of titles to engage, motivate, and inspire educators for another year of teaching and learning.

By Dawn Dodson


teacher surrounded by books

Take a deep breath. You did it! You completed another year of teaching and learning. Now is the season to revive, motivate, and get inspired for the upcoming school year. Just as your pupils left for summer break armed with the proverbial summer reading list, it’s important that you, the teacher, have a list of your own. Reading for enjoyment is a necessary requirement during this time frame, but also including at least a few professional development titles can help whet the appetite and arouse some transformations for the year ahead. The following is not only a list of professional development titles, but also ways in which to share the ideas that arise as a result of your reading.

Common Core Reading Titles

Transitioning into the Common Core State Standards is quite a task, and understanding what the standards look like in action is a part of the job. There are many titles that help explain, organize, and give pointers on how to transition and teach the new standards. Here are some great titles:

  • Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehman
  • With Rigor for All, Second Edition: Meeting Common Core Standards for Reading Literature by Carol Jago
  • The Common Core Writing Book, K-5: Lessons for a Range of Tasks, Purposes, and Audiences by Gretchen Owocki

Instructional Strategy Titles

Looking for a different strategy to introduce a specific concept or skill? How about some suggestions on improving pupils’ collaborative work or independent study skills? The plethora of instructional strategy books out there is amazing, and reading about another teacher’s experience can help motivate positive change in your own instructional style. It will also give you some great pointers on how to enhance your instructional strengths. These titles include, but are surely not limited to, the books below:

  • What a Writer Needs, 2nd Edition by Ralph Fletcher
  • Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action by Harvey “Smokey” Daniels and Stephanie Harvey
  • Classroom Confidential: The 12 Secrets of Great Teachers by Laurel Schmidt
  • A Room with a Differentiated View: How to Serve ALL Children as Individual Learners by Joanne Yatvin

Inspirational Titles 

Do you need inspiration? After a year of work, it’s beneficial to read about other teachers, pupils, and their successes. Success stories can be quite motivating. Pupils who overcame obstacles to find success, and the teachers who supported them, are always great stories to read. In today’s world, inspiration can lead to motivation, and motivation gets us ready for the year ahead. Delve into some of these inspiring books:

  • Not Quite Burned Out, but Crispy Around the Edges: Inspiration, Laughter, and Encouragement for Teachers by Sharon M. Draper
  • The Greatest Catch: A Life in Teaching by Penny Kittle
  • Why Are All the Good Teachers Crazy by Frank Stepnowski
  • See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers by Roxanna Elden

Share Your Discoveries

Once you’ve stumbled upon a great idea, or have been inspired to do something a little different in the upcoming school year, it’s important that you share your learning. Here are some ways to communicate your new knowledge:

  • Organize a Book Club: A suggestion to change up the traditional reading club is for each person to read a different title and report back to the group nuggets of helpful information. After the meetings, readers may choose to read a new title or swap those they found interesting in order to get all the details. Keeping a book list of interests to the group can help narrow selections for members of the group. 
  • Find a Blog: There are many teacher blogs out there willing and waiting for discussion threads and feedback. Publishers of teacher development books often have a place to join discussions on specific books and instructional strategies.
  • Record Your Learning: Keep a learning log of your reading. As we often ask pupils to record new ideas, questions, thoughts, and reactions, we teachers need to do the same. At the conclusion of the book, take a look at your notes. These notes can help us make the most of our reading, and help us remember those great ideas we had while we were reading the book.

Lesson Planet Articles to Inspire Your Own Reading List:

New Year’s Resolutions for Teachers 

Cathy Neushul provides inspiration and motivation for creating change in the upcoming year, or school year. The suggestions discussed in this article can motivate further reading.

Collaborative Discussion: Common Core Basics for Back-to-School 

An article by Judith Smith-Meyer that discusses the importance of speaking and listening skills, and how to develop them within the classroom based upon CCSS. The information shared here can be applied to any classroom grade level.

A Summer Reading List for Math Teachers 

Donna Iadipaolo lists five books that are both inspirational and motivational for math teachers. Each title is accompanied by a brief annotation to entice the reader.