In our spring issue, we asked readers to send in book suggestions to help others compile a summer reading list. Thanks for everyone who sent in their ideas. Here are some suggestions:

We used “Who was Harry Houdini?” to study a timeline of Houdini’s life from 1874-1926. It had short chapters, so we read a chapter a day and graphed the timeline afterward. The students were surprised to find out that he dies on Halloween. We took a poll and some of the students said it was just another trick; the other half said that he really did die on that day. The students could not wait to see what happens on the next day.

— Vivian Hays, Isu Ozark Center, Joplin R-8


It’s definitely difficult for me to choose just one book – or even a few! – to recommend. I absolutely love reading and view it as an integral practice to my personal and professional growth. I try to read a mixture of professional development and personal development books. I fell in love with reading at a young age, thanks to my parents, and continue to read for pleasure as an adult. My favorite genres are historical fiction and non-fiction, autobiographies, and military/war novels.

Here are her ideas:

• “Fewer Things Better: The Courage to Focus on What Matters Most,” by Angela Watson

• “Happier Now: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Embrace Everyday Moments,” by Nataly Kogan

• “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose,” by Joe Biden

• “We Should All be Feminists,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

• “The Nightingale,” by Kristin Hannah

• “Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom – Lisa Delpit

• “Getting Things Done,” David Allen

• “Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom, William Ribas, Deborah Brady & Jane Harden

• “Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning, John Spencer & A.J. Juliani

• “Lessons from the Classroom 20 Things Good Teachers Do, Hal Urban

— Molly K. Beck, social studies teacher, Ladue Horton Watkins High, Ladue


This school year I have had several books that come to mind, especially with all the different areas that I enjoy sharing books. However, one stands out in that I still talk about it or hear reference to it or witness one of my students being reflected in what the book shared. The book title is long and the research conducted was years ago, but it has a place in any educator’s hands that works with young teens today: “iGEN: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood and What That Means for the Rest of Us.

It is obvious our teens are connected to the internet. They cannot image life without a phone or device. This book looks at the similarities and differences of this new generation and what concerns them. Full of actual stories that are easy to read aloud where you will get agreeing nods from your students, the book also shares simple things that parents and adults who interact with teens can do to give them more confidence in becoming an adult. Everything I did intentionally with my library lessons have been rooted in this book. Simple things as communicating with others, working as a team, looking people in the eye when you listen and talk, practicing handshakes and even reassuring that I will keep them safe. Highly recommend this book title where I have even placed a copy of in my middle school library where I never find it resting on the bookshelf.

I could write more about it without spoiling it. My husband heard pieces throughout the time I was reading the book and even he brings up the book title to others sharing the research done on what makes this new generation unique and what roles we can play to make an impact.

— Teresa Young, Springfield R-12


My book recommendation for a summer reading list would be “Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World,” by Brooke McArley.

— Maureen Sylvestri, ELL Teacher,  Butcher-Greene Elementary, Grandview C-4


I’m a bibliophile who is usually reading a few books at a time in various formats. For example, I’m currently reading a book of Spanish short stories, “Elective Affinities” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in print, “Moving the Mountains” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in the Serial Reader app on my phone, and a couple of grammar handbooks as I try to select books for a new class I’m teaching in the fall. However, the book I most enjoyed this year was complete and utter fluff. This book was “Look Alive Twenty-Five,” by Janet Evanovich. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I read the first twenty-four books in the series last summer, and this one came out in November, and I sheepishly checked it out this spring. This book again follows the accidental bounty hunter Stephanie Plum through her adventures.

“Look Alive Twenty-Five,” finds her managing a deli whose previous managers have all disappeared and left behind only a shoe while she is also trying to capture a criminal rock singer. There’s a breakfast burrito truck incident as well as the usual debate between the mysterious Ranger and the Italian Moreli. Did it enrich my mind like Ruby Payne’s “A Framework for Understanding Poverty”? No. Are there beautiful examples of literary devices like I recently found in Fitzgerald’s “The Beautiful and Damned”? No. But did I laugh over the ridiculous characters? Yes. Is it formulaic? Yes, but that’s part of the charm. Is there a bit of adult content? Yes, but definitely not Fifty Shades territory. If you want to better your mind and expand your horizons, I have countless other recommendations, but if you need a quick read for the pool or porch that will make you laugh and take your mind away, I highly recommend “Look Alive Twenty-Five” or any of the previous 24 books.

— Jennifer Wright, Norborne R-8 High School


As many of us deal with children who are traumatized daily, we know how it affects a teacher, and most significantly the child. Dr. Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz wrote a book entitled “The Boy Who Was Raised as A Dog” in 2017. Despite all of the sadness you will endure while reading this book, there is still a chance to learn about love and healing. Dr. Perry creates a powerful case for early intervention for traumatized children to prevent sociopathy. The book is easy to read and quite informative. I highly recommend it.

— Anne Billington, elementary principal, Mexico Public Schools


I don’t know how I went so long before reading this book! Post-apocalyptic setting + Shakespeare = my new favorite book. “Station Eleven” opens at a production of King Lear, during which the lead actor suddenly dies onstage. Turns out, he had the fictional “Georgia Flu,” which becomes a pandemic and wipes out the majority of Earth’s population. The book then follows a traveling performance group made up of orchestra members and Shakespearean actors. It has so many good aspects – survival in a dangerous world, lost loved ones, the magic of words and theatre, the power of humanity in general. It’s FANTASTIC.

—Laura Latall, English Language Arts teacher and director of LHSU, Lebanon R-3


Just finished reading the “Me Before You” trilogy by Jojo Moyes. I very much enjoyed watching how the characters affected one another – how they were able to help the other ones grow, even as they were growing themselves. It just goes to show how much each person can bring to a relationship (any type of relationship) – everyone has strengths, and everyone has weaknesses, and those differences can make a relationship stronger.

I also read, “The Hate U Give” and was somewhat taken aback with my own naivete, as well as appalled at how human beings can treat other human beings because of their differences. The book was wonderfully written, and watched a young girl having to make very difficult, adult decisions that would even cause an adult to pause.

— Donna Chrum, special education, Frontier Middle School, Wentzville R-4


Need a little inspiration this summer? May I suggest reading “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail” by Ben Montgomery!

This is the story of Emma Gatewood, mother of eleven children and the wife of an abusive husband, who at age 67 decided to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. She did this in 1955 with no modern camping equipment or water purifiers, just a knapsack and wearing Keds!

Then she did the trail again two MORE times when she was even older, helping to publicize the need for trail improvements for future hikers. If you pick this book up this summer, you will enjoy a true tale of determination and endurance!

— Pat Nelson, Nell Holcomb R-4, Cape Girardeau