Summer is finally here! It’s a chance for teachers to find some time for reset and relaxation – which they most certainly deserve. But what would summer be without a little assigned reading? VAI’s team of educators have shared what books they’re exploring this summer, and how they help us view education in a little different light. So, pull up a chair and fix yourself some lemonade, here are four books to get educators thinking this summer:

Soundtracks by Jon Acuff

What’s it About: Acuff identifies a problem that a large percentage of the population faces but rarely talks about: overthinking. He offers research-based suggestions for how to turn unhelpful, unkind, and untrue thoughts into positive and productive thoughts.

How it Connects to Education: The past 15 months have taken a toll on us all. We have had to rethink how we go about day-to-day activities and reframe our classrooms to fit into new environments. Taking time to step back and evaluate your inner soundtracks may give you the new outlook on your work and reinvigorate your teaching in a new year!

The Choice by Dr. Edith Eva Eger

What’s it About: The Choice is about Dr. Edith Eger’s memory of being a Holocaust Survivor. She managed to survive Auschwitz, move to America, and earn her Doctorate in psychology. She worked with many military personnel on PTSD. Dr. Eger relates her patients’ stories into a beautiful comparison of how she made peace with her trauma.

How it Connects to Education: As I reflect on the message of this book, I think about the many ways children come into our classroom with trauma. How we as educators need to show compassion and empathy to what children bring into the classroom and how they cope with their trauma.

Talking to Strangers by Malcom Gladwell

What’s it About: I have been a fan of Gladwell’s and found this book to be thought-provoking. He argues that because we don’t know how to talk to strangers, we invite conflict and misunderstanding in ways that may surprise us.

How it Connects to Education: Knowing how and what to say to our students and parents can sometimes be a challenge. We need to be careful not to jump to conclusions based on the emotions we see. Gladwell dives into interesting research that teaches or reminds us that the emotions we see may have nothing to do with how someone feels.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

What’s it About: Linus Baker, a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, is tasked with traveling to Marsyas Island Orphanage where six dangerous children reside. Baker’s assignment is to determine whether the orphanage should close down. After meeting the children however, he begins to realize that being different isn’t the same as being dangerous, and that everyone needs a place to call home.

How it Connects to Education: Teachers are always going to encounter students who are different. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for these kids to get caught in systems that don’t have the time or resources to meet their specific needs. As teachers, we need to be intentional about creating spaces where these students feel welcomed and supported. This means educating ourselves and recognizing that different students need different things in order to grow.

Looking for more robust books to read this summer? Check out the full list of novels being explored by the educators at Van Andel Institute for Education! Share what’s on your summer reading list and tag us on social media at @we_are_vaei!