I’ll be the first to admit, my reading habits of 2017 were nothing compared to 2016. 2016 was my year of Kids Deserve It, Crash Course, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ken Robinson, graphic novels, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi, Ditch That Textbook, Explore Like a Pirate, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, Frederik Backman, The Zen Teacher, Play Like a Pirate, Ron Clark, and so much more. It was a balance of reading for educational purposes, leisure, and both. 2017? Not as much.
In the time of New Year’s Resolutions, I can talk about excuses for this (like a whole lot of grad school), but it’s more about how 2016 led to 2017. 2016 was a huge learning year for me. I was hungry for new information and strategies. I felt the need to be better, to do better. 2016 was “gimme all the knowledge!” I needed to get on everyone else’s level.
2017 was the time to put it into action. I went to the Ron Clark Academy, Get Your Teach On, and Happy Go Teach. 2017 was about doing everything I read about in 2016. Engagement strategies, hooks, relationships, room transformations, anything and everything. It was about turning goals into realities.
That action takes time and energy. In turn, I read less. That doesn’t mean I didn’t learn or develop professionally, though. My PLN came to rise, and I maybe learned to relax, just a little bit. I also learned about listening to podcasts during my “commute.” It’s all about how you use your time.
With that, my reading wasn’t as intensely a part of me, but 2017 still led me to some amazing books. Here’s my top 3 reads of the year…
The Mother of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis
I came upon this after her interview with Sam Sanders on his podcast “It’s Been a Minute” (Shout out to this podcast, too!). Mid-podcast, I ordered her book. I was laughing and crying at the same time. This woman commands the room (or car, from my listening experience). I needed to know more and hear more of what she had to offer. The book doesn’t disappoint. Jenifer doesn’t sugar coat things. She tells you about her life, the ups and the downs. The laughs and the pain. Stardom and bipolar disorder. I couldn’t put this book down. And I couldn’t stop laughing. Jenifer Lewis lives life to the fullest, a lesson to take into the new year, if you’re about that.
Beartown by Frederik Backman
To start, I’m a big fan of Backman’s previous work. A Man Called Ove rejuvenated my reading habits, and I laughed with other readers at the moments of Ove’s life when, with any other writing style, would have been something to cry about. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer had be crying my eyes out, but it also gave this sense of ease. My Grandmother… and Britt-Marie continued to solidify my love of Backman, but Beartown was a step away from his normal vibes. Tackling serious topics within the broad overview of sports and small town life, this book reeled me in and was a two day read over Winter Break.
Get Up or Give Up: How I Almost Gave Up on Teaching by Michael Bonner
If you’re a colleague and you’re tired of me raving about Michael Bonner, I’m sorry, deal with it, I’m still talking about him. He gained recognition after his students made a video to an educational song, and Mr. Bonner and his class appeared on Ellen. The book, though! It is honest and open about the struggles and rewards of teaching. It’s also a quick read, great for someone like me who needed a boost but was struggling to finish a variety of other books. Once you fall for Mr. Bonner in his book, he continues to share his positive mindset and love for his kids through social media (his Instagram stories will brighten each and every one of your days). He’s an advocate for his students and kids everywhere.
Now, go forth and read! Or, whatever you need to do to be a better you for yourself, your family, and your students.