What's in Your Pool Bag? Summer Reading Recommendations for Literacy

01 June 2016
Are you in need of ideas for summer reading? This post includes suggestions for books that will help you improve your reading instruction.

"What's in your pool bag?" How do you like the sounds of that quote?  Are you ready to start packing your pool bag? If you're not out yet, just hold on.  It won't be long! 

Last month, our blogging team chatted about helpful post topics, and as much as we all need a complete detachment from school, summer is a great time to leisurely read up on teaching practices and current research. Our team thought it might be good to share titles you might look for if you're wanting to step up your game in a specific teaching domain. Since I am a reading specialist, I thought I'd share a few suggestions for literacy instruction that I have found helpful and a few I have on my reading list. Later in the month, we will share professional books for math, writing, English as a Second Language, Gifted and Talented, and more. You may be familiar with a few of these literay titles through discussions with your colleagues. Some you may have already read, and some may be just what you need. (I hope.) If not, we do have a few reading specialists in our group, and they may share others which may be new to you later in the month.
Are you in need of ideas for summer reading? This post includes suggestions for books that will help you improve your reading instruction.
One on my list to read this summer is Readicide.  Richard Allington is a favorite of mine, and he wrote the forward for this book. The author, Kelly Gallagher, has been referenced in quite a few VSRA presentations I've attended including one from Nell Duke this past spring as she talked about Project Based Learning, and honestly, the title just grabs me. For years, we have been working on building a culture of reading in our building, and I am anxious to see what advice is shared through this title. I believe it will include what NOT to do, and I suspect there will be a few suggestions. 

Speaking of building a culture of reading and readers, I highly recommend two books by Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild if you're working to get your students to read more. They are light reading and perfect for the summer. I've gotten the pleasure of hearing Donalyn speak, learning about her philosophy, and even talking one-on-one with her briefly. She is truly an inspirational speaker with a long career in the classroom, and that has value to me. The one thing I noticed about Donalyn is that we're about the same age, so that means that she began her career during the Whole Language era, a time when we taught with themes, wrote with purpose, and used fantastic literature. Of course, Whole Language had pitfalls, and we now have common standards whether you're a Virginia teacher or in a Common Core state. Still, I think for me, personally, that was a great time to teach. I loved that we were able to be creative and make choices for our students, and we were doing PBL before it was known as PBL. The ideas shared in these books emphasize the importance of student choice, being knowledgeable about a wide range of books in order to talk with your students about them, allowing them to share with each other through book talks and conferences, and goal setting. Certainly, you will not be disappointed with these!

If you are looking for a book to beef up your vocabulary instruction, the oldie, but goodie I'd recommend is Bringing Words to Life by Isabel Beck, Margaret McKeown, and Linda Kuchen. It has been revised and a second vocabulary book, Creating Robust Vocabulary is also a great choice. Recently, a teacher was looking for vocabulary teaching ideas in our 3-5 Teacher Group, and these books have easy to implement ideas that you can use with any selection you choose. For me, the biggest take away from these books is the importance of word selection. Tier 2 words, or high utility "stretch" words are the words you need to preteach and practice 12-15 times. I'd love to hear what you loved most about this book if you choose to pick it up. One of former blogger, Melissa at Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late did a series of posts on this book if you are interested in exploring it further. [Here] is the link to those posts. 

How about a book to help you with the reading routine?  Well, these books are great choices for routines. The Daily Five and The CAFE Book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser are perfect for the elementary classroom. There is no particular order that you should read them in, and if you'd like to learn about a book discussion group for them, [click here for CAFE] and [click here for The Daily Five]. 

Another great choice for reading routines, and in particular, small group instruction is Next Step: Guided Reading in Action. Jan Richardson's books have become staples in most professional libraries, and she's written a K-2 version as well as a 3-5 version. Certainly, these books will help you have a much more productive small group lesson. Time for small group is limited, so we need to make things focused and efficient for optimal growth. [THIS LINK] has wonderful guides for book discussion and study.

What books would you recommend?  Please share them in the comments below. If you need other ideas or help in other areas of teacher, be sure to come back for future professional development book recommendations.

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Are you in need of ideas for summer reading? This post includes suggestions for books that will help you improve your reading instruction.

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