I want three things from any professional book I read.
1) I want to be validated.
I hate to sound narcissistic, but in reality, I need to know I'm doing a thing or two right sometimes, and it's reassuring to find a version of my story on the pages of a highly esteemed author's book. I remember when I read The Book Whisperer and Donalyn Miller validated why independent reading is a nonnegotiable. To be able to say, "Hey, I do that too" or "I couldn't agree more" empowers my practice. Additionally, sometimes an author is able to articulate the "why" of what I do with research and explanations that I hadn't thought through well enough. She turns my unintentional practice into conscious competence.
2) I want to be inspired.
Every time I read Regie Routman's work, I am inspired to outgrow the latest version of my best self. She has a way of convincing me I can do better but without attaching the guilt of who I have been compared to who I want to be. Hope, optimism, perspective are empowering. I want to walk away from a book with a spring in my step.
3) I want to be challenged.
I've been hearing a lot about the "echo chamber" lately. Am I surrounding myself with only likeminded voices? As I previously mentioned, I enjoy and seek out validation but when approached with new voices and ideas, I have an opportunity to stretch and question my existing pedagogy. I'm currently reading Kids 1st From Day 1 by Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz. I'm familiar with their work, so I knew even before I read the first page that it would be an uncomfortable read at times, and they do not disappoint. Though the stretch is slightly uncomfortable, I welcome the challenge and come next year, my students will be better off because I have.
Are you seeking validation, inspiration, and challenge this summer? There are so many great reads out there. It's quite literally impossible to claim there's not one written just for you from teachers who are also in the trenches and can help you along your journey in whatever capacity you need it.
I'd like to extend an invitation to check out Gatekeepers. I'd like to think it offers validation, inspiration, and a challenge or two.
Go find your read!