Tuesday, January 02, 2018

2017 Recommendations from Some Amazing People

I love getting book recommendations from people and I have learned that for me as a reader and learner, I am lucky to have so many people whose reading lives I learn from. It is easy to get stuck in one kind of book or to read books that one group of friends is reading But I find that the more friends I talk to about their reading, the richer my own reading (and my life) becomes.

I am lucky to talk to and learn with so many people about the things we read. Each one of these people is a unique reader. I am in a school filled with teachers who read. I have students who read. I am in a district with colleagues who read. I have family members and friends who read. I am connected to NCTE friends and Nerdy Book Club friends and Literacy Connection friends and Choice Literacy friends and so many others. And then there are social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Goodreads. I am thankful that so many people share their reading lives on social media.

This week I asked some people I learn from to share a book that they recommend. 2017 was not the best reading year for me and I don't want to miss the must-reads that others believe are important. I had no idea I'd get so many amazing responses. I loved so many things about the responses. First of all, I got very few duplicates which is so interesting to me. What was more interesting was that when I did get duplicates the reasons for recommendations the same book were different. I also love all of the different ways people wrote to me about the books they loved. So many ways to recommend books that work! I love my friends and my TBR stack is set for years! 

I am sharing this list as a way to get the word out about books you may have missed. But I also hope you find a book from someone new, someone you might connect with and who might become part of your learning circle. Connecting through books is a pretty fabulous way to connect. Enjoy!

From Stella Villalba, @stellavillalba

I know this is a book that many Latinx wished they had when they were growing up. Julia, is messy, loving, rebellious and in a constant battle between cultural expectations and her family upbringing. There are more questions than answers for Julia and amidst of all these chaos, she's trying to figure out who she is as a second generation member in her family. Julia wants a big life for herself. She finds comfort in words, in writing which is a concept her parents have a hard time understanding. A beautiful written book about identity, hard truths, anxiety, culture and changing times.

From Chris Lehman @iChrisLehman

Beautifully and powerfully handles teenage experience, love, and identity. Follows a Muslim young woman as she navigates tradition, change and perception. Perfect for High School and beyond.

From Jennifer Serravallo  @JSerravallo

I read this weird and shocking and awesome adult book that I got on rec from one of the NPR Fresh Air book reviewers. Short Sci Fi stories. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado.

Another that I loved and I had to write! Trevor Noah's Born a Crime. Less funny than I thought it would be, but so much more interesting. 

From Cornelius Minor @MisterMinor

...as you know, I'm the kind of reader where the book that I am currently reading is always my favorite... I was so moved by Claudia Rankine's Citizen that I've been reading all of her literary friends, associates and influences. This led me to a deep dive into Eve Ewing, Ben Passmore, Roxane Gay, Samantha Irby & Remi Kanazi... Basically, I can't decide. They are all my favorite... So here are my few sentences.

No one taught me more than Roxane Gay this year. Her book, Hunger, is not just a text, it is a literary moment. Moving forward, life for me will be bifurcated into two parts -- life before deeply considering the issues that Gay presents in this book and life after. Gay does not just offer a critical look at issues facing girls and women, she fosters critical understanding and catalyzes her readers to deliberate action. As an educator, this is important. As a human, this is essential.

From Julia Torres @juliaerin80

I recommend Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds because it is a real, true, original, masterpiece that is accessible for all readers, yet keeps the reader's mind working on several levels.  Reynolds said one of his goals was to humanize those who perpetrate violence...He did that, and so much more.

I also recommend Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur because she harnesses the power of poetry to be at once personal and universal.  Students like it because they can relate to its message(s).  I loved it for the same reason, and also because it is visual, artfully crafted, and uses uncomplicated language to explore complex ideas.

From Jason Blair @epesart

Daring Greatly—  Brene Brown.

I love this book for so many reasons. It has inspired and challenged me to dare greatly both personally and professionally. Vulnerability can be intimidating and empowering at the same time. This book changed my perspective, to shift from  focusing on those watching/judging me in the arena of life, to focus on those actually in the arena with me, supporting me unconditionally. We all need to find the courage to dare greatly in a world where we tend to seek vulnerability in others, but do anything to cover our own. A must read  for 2018!

From Regie Routman @regieroutman

An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice by Khizr Khan (Random House, 2017) is a must-read book for gaining inspiration, honoring the unique contributions of immigrants, and for realizing what’s possible with hard work, courage, dignity, and love. Khan tells his compelling story of growing up poor in Pakistan while never losing sight of achieving a better life in America. While he became a highly accomplished U.S. lawyer, he and his wife also suffered mightily as their American-born son was one of the first Muslims to die in the Iraq war. Kahn’s reverence for our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and American values—and his soaring spirit-- are a model of us all. Highly recommended for all readers and concerned citizens from middle school through adult.
From Troy Hicks @hickstro

Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi

I've listened to the Note to Self podcast for a few years, including the time when she did this challenge with her listeners. I shared the book with my 15-year-old daughter, and she got her friends to try the bored and brilliant challenge, too. It makes us ask serious questions about when, why, and how we are using tech in our day-to-day lives.

From Scott Jones @escott818

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers

I love when I can learn along with my students with a picture book. I already knew the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France. I already knew it welcomed immigrants and symbolized a new start. Yet, I was shocked to learn her right heel is not planted, but lifted, as if she is in mid-stride, breaking free from shackles of oppression. Having a class with many immigrant students, Dave Egger’s Her Right Foot sparked one of the most insightful and inspiring discussion of all the books I’ve read during this year’s #classroombookaday. After reading this aloud, one student pointed out, “The Statue of Liberty came from France, so she is an immigrant too, walking to great the other immigrants." I could tell it left the class with a feeling of hope and inspiration.

From Brian Lawless @mrlawless5

Train I Ride by Paul Mosier

I got all the feels from Rydr’s story, which balances real, raw emotions with great storytelling to provide a sense of home for a young girl in search of belonging. Ryder’s perseverance throughout her journey across the country to Chicago was heartbreaking and inspirational at the same time.

“I’m not the bad things that have happened to me. I’m nothing but who I choose to be.” - Train I Ride

One Last Word by Nikki Grimes

Beautiful, poignant Golden Shovel style poetry that pays homage to the influential poets of the Harlem Renaissance. Grimes’s original poems, entwined with the likes of Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson and others stay with you long after reading by highlighting real life issues of modern day that readers of all ages can relate to.

From Dylan Teut @dylanteut

Sarabella's Thinking Cap by Judy Schachner
While teaching first grade and while teaching undergraduates, I've seen plenty of them: Daydreamers.
Often times across classrooms, daydreaming is dismissed as a distraction. Judy Schachner writes an ode to daydreamers in this perfect picture book. Sometimes there are images that come across our thoughts and minds that are so eloquent and so magnificent, there is no way we could describe or recreate them in the real world. Using her magnificent techniques, Judy somehow finds a way to convey these daydreams across several spreads of this book. The story itself celebrates those among us (and who among us doesn't) who think beyond the realm of possibilities and imagine things beyond our wildest imaginations.

From Barbara O'Connor @barbaraoconnor

A book I loved in 2017: Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly. I LOVED this book with a capital L. I’m a sucker for a multiple viewpoint story, especially when each of them is so well developed and their individual stories so perfectly entwined. This book is masterfully written, heartwarming and just plain fun.  

From Pernille Ripp @pernilleripp

I didn't know what to expect as I cracked open the page of Dashka Slater's The 57 Bus. After all, a dual perspective nonfiction detailing the event of what appeared to be a horrific hate crime against a teenager in Oakland, California couldn't really be an amazing book. And yet from the moment the story started to unfold, it was evident that was not a clear case, nor a straightforward story and as the harrowing and heartbreaking tale came to light, my heart was sucked in deeper and deeper. This is simply one of those books you must read and then pass on so that others will be able to discuss it with you. There are a few books that will stay with me for a long time from 2017, and this book, The 57 Bus, is one of them.

From Jen Allen 

I found the book nourished the mind, fed the soul, and inspired new creative professional development ideas that I could use with staff. The paper and notes included within the book are a bonus! 

From Bill Bass @billbass

Innovation As Usual by Paddy Miller and Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg
This is a business book but it has helped inform my work in my school district by making me think about how to create conditions where innovation can occur as opposed to being the person to drive innovation in classrooms. This approach has brought about more wide spread opportunities for the kids in my district as opposed to smaller pockets and has helped meet more of our students' needs.

From Karen Szymusiak @karenszymusiak

The Sound of Glass by Karen White
1. I love the author...Karen White - After skipping school one day in seventh grade to read Gone With the Wind, she knew she wanted to be a writer.
As a Gone With the Wind fan, I feel a real connection to this author.

2. I enjoyed the book's complexity, its characters, its multi-stories entwined into one.

3. The main character's stepmother keeps a "Journal of Truths" that includes bits of wisdom from her own mother and words of advice she wants to remember and pass on. As I read, I saved some of the "truths" I wanted to remember. Here are a few:
"My momma always said that to plant a garden meant you believed in tomorrow."
"The greatest moments in life are usually the smallest."
"Life doesn't get easier. We just get stronger."
"Everybody carries their hurts in different ways, but everybody's got them. Everybody. Some people are just better at hiding them."

From Ann Marie Corgill @acorgill

Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity Through Projects, Passions, Peers, and Play

The whole idea that creativity is collaborative and how we build on the thinking of each other. I think about just the friendship with you and all the people you’ve introduced me to and how I’m a better teacher because of being able to think and learn with others....the other thing I like about this book is the big idea of that expectant view of children we must have—instead of seeing kids through a deficit lens. One of Pernille’s latest posts really made me think more about this and how I must do a better job of peeling off the layers and seeing, finding, helping kids live joyfully and showcase their

natural talents and gifts.

Can I Touch Your Hair: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham and Charles Waters
Irene is from Birmingham. 

I love the way she and Charles Waters, her co-author, talk about race through their eyes as children. He’s black and she’s white. Each two page spread has one poem written from her perspective and one from his. I can imagine great conversations with kids around these and great models for writing.

From Penny Kittle @pennykittle

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios traces a high school relationship as it becomes increasingly dangerous. Girls in my class are passing this around and discussing it with insight and courage. An essential book by a superb writer.

What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan considers the factors that led to a college freshman’s suicide. My classroom library has too few books on the raw struggle of mental illness. This book shows how complex anxiety and depression are, especially when students make the first move away from home.

From Kristin Ziemke @kristinziemke

Come with Me by Holly M. McGhee is a terrific addition to any classroom library and a must-have mentor text for lessons in media literacy. In this beautiful picture book a little girl is frightened by all that she sees, hears and feels in the news. Throughout the story her parents model how to "choose brave" and engage in small acts to make the world a better place. The little girl conquers the loud, negative narratives of the media and is empowered to take action to create a positive influence on her part of the world.  

This picture book is appropriate across the grades, but finds a perfect home in 3rd-5th and is tailored to upper grades when paired with the explanation of the book from Holly M. McGhee on her website The Story Behind Come With Me.  Here Holly details how acts of terrorism have changed mindsets for what it means to feel safe. Though despite these acts, courageous individuals make choices to each day to build bridges of hope, connection and love. Holly charges readers to put good into the world, to believe in humanity and to contribute as an agent for compassion "because as small as it may seem, your part matters to the world.

From Kelly Gallagher @KellyGToGo

I have two favorite professional books in 2017: Tom Newlirk's Embarrassment and Maja Wilson's Reimaging Writing Assessment. Newkirk's book is centered around this question: "How can we create conditions of support so that students can fail publicly without succumbing to embarrassment, or more like;y, finding ways to 'hide' so they can protect themselves?" Wilson's book eloquently argues the case against using rubrics to assess student writing, and explains how using them can harm the development of young writers. Both of these books are thought-provoking, and both of them have made me go back and re-examine my practices.

From Katherine Sokolowski @katsok

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
I entered the elevator with Will on page one and my heart was clenched in a vice grip of worry, sadness, despair, love, hate, and anxiety that continued beyond the last page. While I finished this story almost three months ago, I often think of Will, of the racism that exists in our country, of the violence, and wonder what I can do to change it. Breathtakingly beautiful writing that will leave you in awe and wanting more.

From Leah Zuidema @lzuidema 

Right now I'm really enjoying Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. Around the new year I like to read books that help me rethink my routines and priorities. A few years ago, The Happiness Project (by Gretchen Rubin) got me thinking about how often I see my extended family and friends and what kind of attitudes I wanted to cultivate more intentionally. That book had me reconsidering my calendar for the year; this new one about liturgies has me thinking about the most basic things in the day. Warren takes simple activities like making the bed and eating leftovers, and she uses these to point to what is sacred about even the mundane things in life. She is poetic in her observations and in her language, and even though it is an easy read, I'm limiting myself to a chapter a day so that I can think about what she has to say. 

My other pick is Evicted: Poverty & Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. 

A friend recommended this one to me, and now I'm recommending it to everyone. The personal stories in this book are all interwoven in such a gripping way--like a novel, though this is nonfiction. Just when I'm caught up in one story and outraged on behalf of one person, the vantage point shifts to show the challenges from another perspective, and I have to admit that it's complicated--there aren't easy answers. Yet this book isn't depressing. The epilogue is a must-read (or a must-listen, if you prefer your nonfiction in audio format, as I do!). Desmond leaves us with hope by describing changes that could make a difference. Reading this book reminded me what a luxury it is that I have time/resources to read and reflect, and it motivates me to do what I can as an educator and citizen to make change where I can. 

From Ruth Ayres @ruth_ayres

I really enjoyed The Revenge of Analog: Real Things & Why They Matter by David Sax.  I'm not sure I could label it as my favorite, but I'm definitely glad I read it. ;)

From Jen Schwanke @JenSchwanke

I read a lot of children's books and young adult books, because I feel like it's important for my work. But in my rare moments of reading for pleasure, I enjoy reading adult memoirs that give me a glimpse into worlds different from mine. My mother thinks I'm crazy--she will ask, "Why do you always read about people who have such difficult lives?"--but I enjoy absorbing perspectives from people who have faced unspeakable challenges and can share their story with truth and hope.

My two favorites this year:

Sherman Alexie, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me

Alexie's life is deeply defined by his mother's troubled, cold, complicated influence. Though Alexie's life seems to have drifted far from his roots as an indigenous American Indian, he realizes he is still deeply tied to his younger self, because the ghosts of his parents continue to visit his thoughts and dreams. For me, a particularly profound moment in the book was when Alexie wonders why he was able to freely forgive his father--who was responsible for many dreadful incidents in Alexie's young life--yet finds it impossible to do the same for his mother, though he acknowledges her strength and commitment to her children. I loved how Alexie is able to be completely honest about his complicated feelings on forgiveness, fury, loyalty, and love.

Much of the book is written as prose, but it is peppered with passages of poetry that Alexie's talent for wordsmithing--there were times the words were so beautiful, I had to stop reading just to breathe.

Maude Julien, The Only Girl in the World

This book was about a childhood of desperate loneliness and incomprehensible challenge-- at the hands of parents deranged from their own difficult lives. It also revealed how the horrors of World War II left irreparable scars on survivors and their children. Though Julien's

story is terribly difficult, the underlying message was of perseverance and the relentless strength of the human soul. Easy to read? No. Worth it? Yes, yes, yes.

Part of why I loved this book was that it was a translation from French, and I find it hugely comforting that language does not get in the way of sharing an important story with the world.

From Stacey Ross @book_glitter

That Neighbor Kid by Daniel Miyares

It is a wordless, mostly black and white picture book with the exception of an exchange of "Hi" from the two characters midway through the book. The children are separated by a fence, and the boy is building a treehouse as a curious neighbor girl peeks over the tall fence. What I love about the book is that the boy begins tearing the pieces of the fence down in what appears to be motivated by the need for building supplies- or is it? As he tears it down, it makes an opening for the girl to join him and to add her expertise to the project. As the friendship blossoms, Miyares's use of color expands illuminating happiness. The story ends with the children covered in paint sharing a proud moment in front of their completed treehouse. This book made me think about the talk of building walls to keep others out and the opportunities for sharing proud moments and illuminated happiness we will miss.

From Janet Rinefierd @janetrinefierd

Professionally... The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor encouraged me to reflect on how happiness is a tool for success instead of a result of success. As a leader, this book inspired me to guide our school staff to consider the power of a positive mindset and how mindsets affect day-to-day lives and work. It helped my team establish a culture goal that we own together and the seven principles Achor shares can help us to understand how mindsets play a significant role in impacting the climate created in schools and classrooms.

Personally... Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult is a great read. It explores social truths that although were uncomfortable to read about are a reality that should not be ignored in light of current injustices and the state of our nation. 

From Olivia Van Ledtje @thelivbits

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie

If you like creepy, suspense-filled stories then this book is for you! Tessa Woodward solves a century-old Chicago ghost mystery, and shows the world how brave girls can be!

Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes by Booki Vivat
This is the 2nd graphic novel showing the FRAZZLED adventures of Abbie Wu! You'll fall in love with her necrotic and hilarious mishaps, and you'll end the book 
begging Booki to hurry up with book number three!

Anybody's Game: The Story of the First Girl to Play Little League Baseball byHeather Lang
Kathryn Johnston wanted to play baseball more than anything, but it was 1950 and 
girls weren't allowed to play. This book will show you how a determined Kathryn showed the world that girls can do ANYTHING they put there minds to, including playing baseball!

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood
If you want a book that will give you heartbeeps for girls and women, this is the right pick! You'll read the stories of women who made a difference in the world.
They were rabble rousers and visionaries who blazed a trail for kids like me!

From Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan @ClareandTammy

Here are a couple of books we loved this year.

Enticing Hard-to-Reach-Writers, Ruth Ayres

Ruth's book is one that touched our hearts - We love the way she weaved stories of being a mother, a teacher, and a writer. The research and stories Ruth shares helps us think about the “why” behind students’ actions so that we can become better listeners and more attuned practitioners.

Journeys: Young Readers Letters to Authors Who Changed Their Lives

We love this collection of letters from The Library of Congress Center for the Book and Weekly Reader annual essay writing contest. They show students the power of books and the power of their writing.

Piecing Me Together, Renee Watson

Piecing Me Together is about perspective. Perspective about going to a school filled with

students from a different race. Perspective about what it is like to go to school in one community and live in another. Perspective about how it feels when others continually assume you need help. As moms, teachers, and mentors, this book made us think about the assumptions we make in our own lives. It challenges all of us to question our assumptions about race, class, and gender.

After the Fall, Dan Santat

After the Fall explores themes of resiliency, growth mindset and perseverance and is a book that resonates with people of all ages. It is a sure hit with kids and also great to use with adults in leadership and professional development sessions.

From Louis Borden @LouiseBorden

So I will choose one from my nonfiction stack:

Amy Herman’s VISUAL INTELLIGENCE : Sharpen your perception, Change your life

Published by HMH in 2016 and I read the Mariner paperback edition pub. in 2017.

I gave Christmas copies this year to friends in publishing - because the book really led to new thinking and new learning about the art of perception. The author has a law and art background and is a consultant with the Navy Seals, Scotland Yard, the FBI, educators, and others. She trains people to see more closely and improve crucial communication by studying works of art.

Additionally, today, on the last day of 2017, with snow flurries and bright sunshine out my window, I’m just finishing the new paperback edition of the 2007 book THE LONG ROAD HOME by Martha Raddatz (called by the Washington Post: “ A masterpiece of literary nonfiction that rivals any war-related classic that has preceded it.”

This book is a page turner and a riveting and heart-breaking account of soldiers who served in Iraq and their families back home. I bought it at the Tattered Cover at the Denver airport on Wednesday for Pete and began reading it on the plane home. Raddatz really takes you into the war zone but also into the hearts of military families in America. So well-written.

From Aliza Werner @alizateach

Leaving My Homeland series: A Refugee's Journey From...(Afghanistan, Congo, Iraq, Syria, and more) by Helen Mason, Ellen Rodger, and more
Crabtree Publishing

Scouring the "NEW!" picture book shelves at my local library, I serendipitously ran across the four original books in this series. Immediately intrigued, as I was working on building a refugee text set for my third graders, I checked them all out and was absorbed by their content, clarity, and careful

balance in sharing a complex topic with children. Each book is engaging and informative as it uses a mix of both informational and narrative formats to share refugees' origins, journeys, and resettlement experiences common to people fleeing those countries. The nonfiction text is brought to life through the story of a refugee child and his/her family, providing a lens of humanity and authentic connection for readers. Children can learn about this global crisis in an honest, but approachable and age-appropriate manner. Suggestions are provided to readers for what they can do to help and to learn more. As an adult, I was able to learn about the refugee experience, its causes and effects, catalysts and responses, which is just one more reason you are never too old to read children's books!

From Patrick Andrus @patrickontwit

It was SO hard to pick, but I just tried to pick some of my favorites!

Middle-Grade Novel was Matylda, Bright, & Tender by Holly M. McGhee

*I remember reading this and not being able to put it down. The writing was incredible and beautiful. The friendship between Sussy and Guy was one of a kind and warmed my heart. The interaction they had with an animal was like no other. This was definitely a top read for me during 2017.

Young-Adult Novel was A List of Cages by Robin Roe

*This book definitely is at the top of my young-adult list. Donalyn Miller recommended it. I ordered it online, and read it in one day. One of the most powerful and heart-wrenching stories I experienced during 2017. The writing was incredible and sucked me in like no other story. My heart just hurt during several reading moments. A must read!

Novel Published for Adults was Beartown by Fredrik Backman

*Fredrik Backman is one of my favorite authors of novels published for adults. I was so excited he had a new novel hitting the shelves. Although I remember the story having a slow start, but eventually took hold of my mind and heart and didn’t let go until the last line. The story was strong with a stellar cast of characters. I’m not a hockey fan, but the story line centering around a hockey community was engaging, interesting, and a complete page-turner.

From Paul Hankins @PaulWHankins

How many times have I thought I felt "nostalgia?" And how many times has this feeling ever been "terminal?" At the end of the 2017, TED.com shared "The History of Human Emotions" from cultural historian, Tiffany Watts Smith. Always on the look out for titles that might work for my students' inquiry projects, I thought about Sara who was doing a project on "emotional intelligence." I ordered the speaker's The Book of Human Emotions: From Ambiguphobia to Umpty--154 Words from Around the World for How We Feel (Little, Brown 2015). I thought I had found a good book for 
Sara over the winter break, but what I really found was a sort of encyclopedia of emotion that I was able to enjoy during my time off that I might not have found if not connected to a larger world of text and textual connections.

From Shelbie Witte @shelbiewitte

The Book Of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Spending a week together, the two religious leaders spend time laughing, sharing, digging, challenging, and supporting one another. I found myself needing more Joy to counteract the negativity of 2017 and this book was just the right balance of philosophy, life lessons, and outlook to recenter my moral and ethical compasses.

From Jennifer Buehler @ProfBuehler

The main one I'm coming back to is LINCOLN IN THE BARDO by George Saunders. It's so deep
and moving, I'm struggling to come up with a way to explain all it offers and all it says to me. But I have now read it in hard copy form and listened to the audiobook (which I bought, along with the hardcover -- it's that good), and now ten months later through the resources of my library (the Overdrive app for free digital downloads), I am halfway through listening to it again.

I was also blown away by STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING by Ibram X. Kendi. EVICTED by Matthew Desmond similarly left a big impression on me.
GENUINE FRAUD by E. Lockhart, LANDSCAPE WITH INVISIBLE HAND by M.T. Anderson, and VINCENT AND THEO by Deb Heiligman are probably my favorite YA titles of the past year.

Check out these fabulous essays:

From Nicole Mirra @nicole_mirra

George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. While on the surface it appears to be a piece of historical fiction recounting the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son and the intersection of the president’s personal grief with his public leadership during the Civil War, it is deep down a meditation on the messiness of democracy, tolerance, and truth. It is a story told by a cast of dozens, many of whom contradict each other, all of whom are searching for belonging and love. It is strange and hilarious and heartbreaking and tries to point a way forward for America at a time when empathy seems in such short supply. 

From Steph Harvey @stephharvey49

The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World that Values Sameness
Todd Rose
In The End of Average Todd Rose argues that no one is average. He notes that the average one size fits all model ignores our many differences and fails to recognize unique talent. He shares and

explores three principles of individuality: The jaggedness principle -that talent is jagged, the context principle--that we each have a unique set of behaviors based on situational contexts and the pathways principle--that we all take the road less traveled. I loved this book particularly the idea that all talent is jagged. Viewing kids through a lens of jaggedness encourages us to see what truly makes them individuals. And it is high time we value individuality over sameness.

From Antero Garcia @anterobot
One book I really appreciated digging into last year was Zoe Quinn’s Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate. Starting as a memoir from an independent game designer, Quinn’s experiences with online harassment are harrowing. However, while the book is a no-holds-barred account, it is written from a place of action and activism; the last third of the book offers specific lessons on improving online discourse and supporting broader communities of engagement and dialogue.


From Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts @katndmaggie.com

My family and I have adored Red & Lulu by Matt Tavares. Not only did the storyline capture our
hearts, but the illustrations are edged in our minds. The visual storytelling – the perspectives, use of color, and sequencing of images – really get into the heart of the holiday season and tap into the overall human experience.

We would also love to shout out to Sarah Moon's debut novel,
Sparrow. From the first page, Sarah's lyrical voice takes over and ushers readers into the world of Sparrow Cooke, an eighth-grade Black girl from Brooklyn, who finds peace in flying like a bird. This must-read YA novel of 2017 is delicate and strong, poignant and relatable, inspiring and affirmative to both readers young and old. 


  1. Wow! What a fabulous list! Thank you all so much. Happy New Year! xx

  2. Thanks so much for this terrific list! I'll be reading for awhile!I just finished DEAR MARTIN, which I totally loved! I don't see that on anyone else's list. Currently reading EMBARRASSMENT by Tom Newkirk. Only a few chapters in, but it seems totally brilliant!

    1. I have both of these to read too!

  3. Thanks for asking -- lots to add to TBR stack as well. Happy New Year!

    Clare and Tammy

  4. Thanks for sharing your 2017 faves!

  5. I think we should start a padlet or something, where people can share what they are currently reading! I love getting new ideas. And I love that there are so many different books on here, it's not a "group think" thing where everyone is reading the same thing.

  6. I too liked the End of Average. In fact, I gave it to the assistant Superintendent of my district. This book articulated so many things, but the strongest is that there is no average. I think this gets to the rub I have in education about assessment and development. People are complicated and we have strengths in all areas. If we could stop putting numbers on people we could truly change the world.

  7. Great stuff. Makes me want to grab each of these and devour them. Mark

  8. Now I have my reading list for 2018. Thank you for putting it together and thanks to all your contributors!

  9. Great titles! Now all I need is a snow (or cold) day to get some serious reading done.

  10. I would add the book, A Memory of Light. I heard about it at NCTE as a book that could save lives and I believe it can. A book about friendship, grief, and mental health. A book about working hard to move forward and lets readers know it's possible.

  11. I would totally recommend A Farewell to Arms. I would also recommend this online library AAB


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