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What We’re Reading this Summer


What We’re Reading this Summer



Tuesday, June 15, 2021



Build your summer reading list with Harmony SEL and Inspire Teaching & Learning.

Summer is here and it’s the perfect time to catch up on your reading list. This year looks very different from 2020, so we asked our team of educators and SEL ambassadors to recommend books that will help teachers recharge and prepare for an exciting school year ahead. We’re reading books that help us grow as SEL-informed educators, spark our imaginations and inspire big dreams, engage students and families, and support our goals for fostering inclusion and empathy. Do you see any of your favorite summer reads?






Books that Inspire Big Dreams

Whether you’re heading to the beach or the nearest hammock, these books will help you hit “refresh.”




Tell Your Story Before They Do: A Guide to Winning the Battle of You Versus You

Tell Your Story Before They Do:
A Guide to Winning the Battle of You Versus You

by Nate Howard


Why we love it:

None of us is perfect, and author Nate Howard invites readers to own their stories — wins and losses included — while exploring themes of identity, resilience, and more.




What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing

What Happened to You?
Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing

by Bruce D. Perry, M.D, Ph.D. and Oprah Winfrey


Why we love it:

Following an especially challenging year for many, “What Happened to You?” reframes the way we think about our journeys through trauma and healing with helpful questions and self-talk.




The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half

by Britt Bennett


Why we love it:

“The Vanishing Half” sweeps us up in a mystery that spans generations and reaches coast to coast, while asking deeper questions about identity, race, and family history.







Books for SEL Professional Development

Grow in your understanding of social and emotional development and enrich your teaching practice with these expert guides:




The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher

The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher

by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong


Why we love it:

With deep respect and appreciation for educators, Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong offer practical, time-tested advice to start the school year with confidence and success.




SEL from the Start: Building Skills in K-5

SEL from the Start: Building Skills in K-5

by Sara E. Rimm-Kaufman


Why we love it:

“SEL from the Start” walks teachers through CASEL’s five themes, offering insights and implementation strategies for emerging and experienced educators alike.




Rebound, Grades K-12: A Playbook for Rebuilding Agency, Accelerating Learning Recovery, and Rethinking Schools

Rebound, Grades K-12: A Playbook for Rebuilding Agency, Accelerating Learning Recovery, and Rethinking Schools

by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, Dominique Smith, and John Hattie


Why we love it:

This timely new book evaluates what we have learned about education since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and offers an optimistic and action-oriented approach to improving learning for students and educators going forward.




All Learning Is Social and Emotional: Helping Students Develop Essential Skills for the Classroom and Beyond

All Learning Is Social and Emotional:
Helping Students Develop Essential Skills for the Classroom and Beyond

by Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, and Dominique Smith


Why we love it:

“All Learning Is Social and Emotional” integrates SEL and academics with a refreshing whole-child perspective focused on equipping students for success now and in the future.




Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts

Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts

by Leslie C. Aguilar


Why we love it:

“Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts” explores practical strategies to respond confidently when you witness or experience stereotyping and biased comments and behaviors in the workplace and your community.







Books that Foster Empathy, Equity, and Inclusion

You’ll find classroom strategies and even more book recommendations in the Inspire module “Teaching Students Empathy.”





The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan

by Katherine Applegate


Why we love it:

Katherine Applegate’s best-selling novel teaches adults and children how showing compassion and empathy can change lives and grow into unexpected friendships.




Speak Up

Speak Up

by Miranda Paul and Ebony Glenn


Why we love it:

“Speak Up” encourages children to be proud of their identities and cultural backgrounds and advocate for themselves and their peers at school and in their communities.




The Eagles Who Thought They Were Chickens

The Eagles Who Thought They Were Chickens

by Mychal Wynn


Why we love it:

Author Mychal Wynn, the founder and CEO of the Foundation for Ensuring Access and Equity, offers age-appropriate opportunities to talk with students about self-love, cultural diaspora, systemic inequities, and the importance of strong mentors.




A Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water

by Linda Sue Park


Why we love it:

Based on the true story of Linda Sue Park’s family friend, “A Long Walk to Water” follows the life of Salva Dut and his story of survival and commitment to his community.







Books to Read Aloud with Students

Are any of these read-aloud books in your classroom library?




Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum

by Kevin Henkes


Why we love it:

“Chrysanthemum” offers a message of self-acceptance and support for students who feel left out or experience teasing.




The Jester Has Lost His Jingle/El Bufón Ha Perdido Su Gracia

The Jester Has Lost His Jingle/El Bufón Ha Perdido Su Gracia

by David Salztman


Why we love it:

This bilingual tale will bring joy to your classroom as students read together about the power of laughter and friendship.




We Don’t Eat Our Classmates

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates

by Ryan T. Higgins


Why we love it:

“We Don’t Eat Our Classmates” is an imaginative read for the first day of school, as it addresses the questions and feelings that come with meeting new peers and having unfamiliar experiences.




Thank You, Mr. Falker

Thank You, Mr. Falker

by Patricia Polacco


Why we love it:

Patricia Polacco’s story inspires creativity and reminds students, specifically students with dyslexia, that being smart comes in many different forms.




The Most Magnificent Thing

The Most Magnificent Thing

by Ashley Spires


Why we love it:

Students can explore the importance of persistence and managing feelings as a girl and her canine companion innovate to solve a problem.




The House on Mango Street

The House on Mango Street

by Sandra Cisneros


Why we love it:

Written for upper-grade elementary students, “The House on Mango Street” uses vivid language and short stories to explore the experiences of Chicana sisters growing up in Chicago.







Books to Share with Parents and Caregivers

In addition to these great resources for parents and caregivers, the Inspire module “Strategies for Communicating with Parents” can help you start key conversations for the new school year.





Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive

Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive

by Marc Brackett


Why we love it:

With “Permission to Feel,” educators and parents alike can develop their social and emotional awareness and apply research-based insights to support children as they learn and grow. The advice is clear, approachable, and practical.




School Happens

School Happens

by Michele Robinson


Why we love it:

“School Happens” is a handbook that gives parents and caregivers the tools to confidently engage with teachers, prepare for each grade level, understand assessment, and more.





These are just some of the books that have us turning pages this summer. We hope you enjoy some of our favorites as you recharge for the new school year!


*The publications listed in this blog post have been recommended by members of our team. This list is not sponsored by any of the authors or publishers represented in these recommendations.




Learn more at inspireteaching.org and access SEL-informed professional development with the Inspire Online Learning Portal.