Summer Reading 2019


It would not be summer without summer reading books!! Here are just a few of the titles I’ve read. For more, check out my GoodReads page!

Radical Kindness – The LIfe-Changing Power of Giving and Receiving BY Angela C. Santomero

Written by the co-creator and producer of Blue’s Clues as well as the PBS series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and other children’s series, I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone I know – students, colleagues, friends, family …

The book is organized as a brisk, friendly read with practical pointers, reminders and guidance for living more graciously and kindly with one another, Santomero offers worthwhile words on every page about adding more kindness in every aspect of our lives. She talks about the random, small acts to spread kindness such as tucking your chair in whenever you leave a location to the larger acts to spread more kindness in our local and global environment such as getting involved in meaningful movements (and she offers examples). I love Santomero’s section titled “Active Listening 101.” She scribes step-by-step to do’s to be fully present when someone else is speaking. This important communicative skill is too often taken for granted. Children are taught how to speak, read, write from an early age on but very little formal instruction is ever offered on listening. With today’s technology distractions, active listening is more imperative than ever to improve communication and strengthen relationships. I’ll be referring to Radical Kindness again and again.

————————————————————————————————————–Dry BY Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Truth be told, I had personal reasons for wanting to read this book. Some of my very dear family members live in Southern California, and I know firsthand of their already imperative need to conserve water and the many residents who scarily ignore that need. Moreover, I met Neal Shusterman when he paid an enjoyable visit to the school where I taught quite a few years back. I enjoyed Unwind immensely but hadn’t read his more current work until now … and this story does not disappoint.

Co-authored with his son (how cool is that?!), this story was a literal page-turner for me. The narrative centers around a disastrous drought that overtakes Southern California, leaving the region with an empty water supply, and follows the plight of a group of teens who ban together to attempt survival. Dry reads as a cautionary tale that is all too possible. What was truly intriguing was the fast yet scarily believable way friendly neighbors turn into dangerous threats within the span of a few calamitous days. The Shustermans develop characters with eery realism and I couldn’t stop reading.


Meet Cute – Some People Are Destined to Meet BY Jennifer L. Armentrout and various authors

This varied collection of “how they met” short stories has something for everyone – romantics and realists alike. Read them all at once or read one at a time. I myself couldn’t put the book down, finished it in two sittings and still could have read more. 

Some memorable highlights:
– Jennifer Armentrout’s sweet story about finding love from a missing library book 
– Jocelyn Davie’s illustration of beating the statistical odds to meet again (I’d love to see this one as a movie!!)
– Nina LaCour’s piece about two girls meeting via a customer service complaining Tweet! 
– Nicola Yoon’s metaphoric look at breaking up and making up (some great lines to underline here)
– Katie Cotugno’s narrative of two teens hiding out from the police at a party gone wrong 
– Katharine McGee’s futuristic (yet realistic) flirting fun
– Meredith Russo’s transgender transition tale
– Julie Murphy’s surprise on reality dating show contestants 
and more…


Fact Vs. Fiction – Teaching Critical Thinking Skills in the Age of Fake News BY Jennifer LaGarde and Darren Hudgins

I’m so glad I purchased this from ISTE! I will be using it in some manner in each of my classes this year. As the authors write, “… helping our students develop the skills they need to discern fact from fiction, in a world where creating viral content is the first goal and getting the facts right comes second (if at all), is the fundamental skill of citizenry” (7). In a world where fake is taken for fact, it’s more imperative than ever for students to have ample practice with critically questioning, thoroughly researching and articulately discerning between credible and fake news, and weak vs. provable narratives. There are many, many sources linked within this book. I even have a bulletin board idea for commenting with kindness. Stay tuned!

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