Best Summer Reading for Teachers – 10 Favorite Picks

Summer Reading for Teachers - 10 Favorite Pics. Picture of a woman sitting on a dock reading a book during sunset.

The students are gone. Your grades are submitted. Your classroom is cleaned up and packed up. No more lesson plans or lesson planning.

The perfect time for summer reading for teachers is here, and you can finally BREATH.

You can finally BREATH. 

Take a minute to BREATH – without scarfing down a soggy sandwich between preps. 

BREATH – without rushing to make copies while students line up at your door. 

BREATH – You are not in a meeting that could have been an email. 

The Importance of summer reading for teachers

You’ve worked your tail off this school year. And while we all know how hard teachers work for their students all year, you can’t show up for them without taking care of yourself. 

Effective teaching starts with self-care (yes, that goes for you too, new teachers).

The summer months serve as a great time to take a break, reset, and take care of the most important person in your life – YOU. Do not underestimate the power of rest this summer.

While many of you choose to engage in professional development and reflect on your teaching practice, don’t forget that this is your summer VACATION.

While there are so many ways to spend your free time this summer, reading great books over your summer break is a great opportunity to unwind, relax and enjoy your summer. 

While I value good non-fiction and books about best practices for student success, teaching skills and classroom management, this blog post is all about getting lost in some great page-turning fiction. 

While this book list doesn’t include all of my favorites. I’ve compiled a list of SOME of my favorite books.  All have given me the “escapism” I so desperately crave from good fiction.

Many have had a lasting impact on me. This list includes a few National Book Awards nominees. The majority are New York Times best sellers.

Here is my personal list of recommendations for summer reading for teachers.

1. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

There’s a reason this is first on my list of summer reading for teachers.

While the question, “What’s your favorite book?” is hard for this bookworm to answer, this in one of three that immediately comes to mind.

Summer reading for teachers 1 - A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is, at its core, a story about an unlikely bond between two Afghani women.

The story begins when Fifteen-year-old Mariam is sent to Kabul to marry an abusive man who is thirty years older than her. Almost 20 years later, fifteen-year-old Laila, is forced to join Mariam’s household as another wife. Despite their abusive husband and political unrest and oppression, Laila and Mariam’ friendship grows as they form a deep bond.

I recommend it to anyone who enjoys books that make them cry like a baby (we all need that every once and a while) and learns from themes of shared humanity despite cultural differences.

2. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

Ifemelu and Obinze are young lovers who leave Nigeria for American and England. In America, Ifemelu despite her academic success, is faced with the challenge what it means to Black in America.

Obinze, unable to immigrate to America, lives the challenging life of being undocumented in London. Over a decade and a half later, they are given a fresh start as they reconnect in a newly democratic Nigeria.

Summer reading for teachers 2 - Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This book is another one of my favorite summer reading for teachers and will live on my bookshelf rent-free for the rest of my life.

Between the love story, cultural complexity and laugh out loud moments, I tore through this book.

As an African-American who has traveled to Africa, had and have many students and friends from over 20 -ish different African countries, I still learned so much by reading this book.

I recommend it to anyone looking for a page-turning, literary read with rich characters, a rich plot, and complex but relatable themes of culture, love, and self-actualization. 

3. The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah

The main character, Winter, is the daughter of a Brooklyn kingpin. When Winter’s father is arrested, her life is upended. This doesn’t stop Winter from staying on her toes and at the top of her game.

You’ll get lost in Winter’s story as she uses her wit, street smarts, and beauty to succeed. I read this book in 2 days when I was 18.

Summer reading for teachers 3 - The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah

This book single-handedly reignited my love of reading good fiction.

I recommend it for anyone looking for a quick read about a remarkable young woman navigating an exciting, yet ruthless, city.

I finished this book over the course of two days. This makes it the perfect summer reading for teachers.

4. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisnernos

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is a novel focused on coming-of-age told through a series of vignettes.

The story centers on Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina in a Chicago neighborhood. Through her observations and experiences, Esperanza reflects on her identity, dreams, and the challenges she faces as she yearns for a better life.

Summer reading for teachers 4 - The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

There’s a reason this book is found in libraries, schools and homes around the country (and now on a list of summer reading for teachers). Although it’s technically consider a young adult novel, the book’s themes of cultural identity, community, and aspirations are highly relevant for adults and especially educators.

I recommend this one for teachers interested in learning more about students from Latin American countries. Cisneros’ (who is also an amazing poet) writing is simple, beautiful and will have you laughing, crying and feeling for the characters in the book.

5. Neverwhere by Neil gaiman

Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman, is an urban fantasy novel that takes readers into the hidden world of London Below, a dark and magical realm existing beneath the streets of London.

The story follows Richard Mayhew, an ordinary man who becomes entangled in this mysterious world after helping a young woman named Door. As he navigates through dangers and bizarre characters, Richard discovers his own courage and resourcefulness.

Summer reading 5 - Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I recommend this for those who don’t typically read fantasy, but love an escape into an intriguing fictional world. I discovered this book on sale at my local library for 10 cents! I was immediately pulled into Gaiman’s imaginative storytelling and rich world-building. Relatable themes found throughout the novel include. bravery, compassion, and self-discovery.

This is the ideal summer reading for teachers looking for an escape from the mundane.

6. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch is a science fiction thriller that explores the concept of parallel universes.

The story follows Jason Dessen, a physics professor, who is abducted and wakes up in a world that is not his own. In this new reality, his life is completely different, and he must navigate through multiple universes to return to his original world.

Summer Reading 6 - Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

I recommend Dark Matter as summer reading for teachers who are interested in a total mind f*&! that’s well written.

Despite being a science teacher, science fiction is not a genre I typically read. However, after the fine folks of Reddit repeatedly suggested this one, I finally gave in and didn’t regret it.

And if you need anymore convincing there are two additional pieces of information that make help you to bite the bullet: 1. I devoured this book in ebook format (I typically prefer physical paper books). 2. It is currently a series on Apple TV.

7. Dark Places by GIllian Flynn

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn is a chilling mystery about Libby Day, the sole survivor of a family massacre when she was a child.

Years later, Libby is contacted by a group of amateur investigators who believe her brother, who was convicted of the crime, is innocent. Libby is forced to revisit her traumatic past and uncover the truth.

Summer reading 7 - Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

This is a great summer reading for teachers choice for lovers of psychological thrillers. Flynn (whose books have made it to the big screen and HBO) is one of my favorite authors as she has mastered the marriage of commercial, checkout-aisle type fiction with amazing prose and strong characters. I’m also a sucker for an ending I didn’t see coming.

8. Homegoing by yaa Gyasi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is a powerful novel that traces the parallel paths of two half-sisters and their descendants over three hundred years.

One sister is sold into slavery, while the other remains in Africa. The book explores the impact of the transatlantic slave trade on multiple generations.

Summer reading 8 - Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This is another one of those books that will never leave my home library.

Why it’s recommended as summer reading for teachers: Teachers will find “Homegoing” both educational and emotionally moving. The book provides a deep understanding of the African diaspora and its long-term effects on individuals and families.

It’s an excellent choice for teachers looking to gain insights into cultural and historical contexts, which can enhance their teaching and empathy in the classroom.

9. The Push by Ashley Audrain

The Push by Ashley Audrain is a psychological drama that delves into the complexities of motherhood.

Blythe Connor is determined to be the kind of mother she never had, but her experience is far from what she imagined. As she struggles with her own traumatic past, she becomes increasingly convinced that something is wrong with her daughter, Violet.

Summer reading for teachers 9 - The Push by Ashley Audrain

This summer reading for teachers pick explores family dynamics and psychological depth with strong writing that will keep you engaged.

The book’s tension and emotional intensity make it a gripping read, while its themes of parenting, trauma, and resilience will resonate with readers.

10. The Maid by Nita Prose

The Maid by Nita Prose is a charming mystery about Molly Gray, a hotel maid who finds herself at the center of a murder investigation.

Molly, who struggles with social skills and misinterprets the intentions of others, discovers a dead body in one of the rooms she cleans. As she tries to unravel the mystery, she also learns important lessons about friendship and trust.

Summer reading for teachers 10 - The Maid by Nita Prose.

Teachers will love “The Maid” for its endearing protagonist and engaging plot. This summer reading for teachers pick highlights the importance of empathy, understanding, and looking beyond surface appearances—valuable lessons for educators. Its lighthearted yet poignant narrative makes it a delightful and thought-provoking read.

I hope this list of summer reading for teachers helps you find the perfect book to relax with this summer. Enjoy your well-deserved break!

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