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Beat The Heat - Summer Reading Books To Chill Out With

The end of summer may be closer than we care to admit, but there is still plenty of time to make the most of what is left. One of the best ways to do so is to catch up on summer reading.
Diving into a good book can help stretch our thinking, teach us something new or transport us to another place. The list below is a diverse offering of books that will do just this.


The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science is a Still a Boys’ Club, Eileen Pollack
Pollack describes the struggles that face women obtaining STEM degrees by using her own path towards a B.S. in physics from Yale and ultimately her career trajectory towards creative writing. While the first half of the book provides a detailed description of her education and experience, the second half of Pollack’s work is an incredibly important conversation about the disparity of opportunities, educational and financial, for women in math, science, and engineering fields
The Battle for Room 314: My Year of Hope and Despair in a New York City High School, Ed Boland
Boland describes his transition from development director at an education non-profit to classroom history teacher in the New York City Public Schools. Boland describes the uncertainties and the struggles that face first year teachers everywhere while specifically describing obstacles for urban teachers. While Boland’s memoir at times does not take into account the understanding that teaching requires multiple years of trial and error, he does make a compelling case for teacher burnout, preparedness, and systems of support within public schools.

Fiction and Poetry

All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

Doerr intertwines the stories of two teens, Marie-Larie, a blind French girl, and Werner, a member of Hitler’s Youth, during World War II, during the months after D-Day and the Allied bombings in France. Each chapter of the novel alternates between the stories of each youthful character and creates a narrative that focuses on the backdrop of war, struggle, and the events that shape each young person’s coming of age.  Doerr won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for this work.
Dark Energy, Robert Morgan
Morgan’s collection of poems examines how science and the natural world collide with the deeply introspective quality of poetry. His writing suggests that scientific research, specifically physics and the exploration of space, require quiet reflection and poetic musing. Morgan’s focus on scientific study and the art and form of poetry makes for incredibly engaging and moving writing.

Young Adult

The Crossover, Kwame Alexander
Alexander tells the story of middle school student Alex Bell and his twin brother Jordan in this Newberry Award winning book.  Told in verse, The Crossover explores Alex’s love of basketball, his relationship with his father who used to play professional basketball, and the struggles of adolescence. Kwame Alexander’s style and form is inventive and an excellent primer for engaging young adults in poetic forms.
Bone Gap, Laura Ruby
Ruby modernizes the Greek myth of Persephone and her abduction by Hades by recasting the story as a thriller set in a small, rural town.  A finalist for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature, Bone Gap tells a magical and mysterious story of loss, abduction, and ultimately empathy. Ruby’s prose is both stylistic and engaging for young adult readers and serves as a good foundation for examining writing style. 

Looking to refresh your teaching toolkit? You can find more great content in NMSI's Laying the Foundation sample lessons.