Teachers: the ultimate book influencers

a stack of books recommended by teachers on instagram
Teachers and educators choose their favorite books to recommend to their students.

One thing we are especially thankful for this month: teachers and educators, who are working harder than ever in unprecedented circumstances to make sure kids are learning and happy. These bookstagrammers not only have great taste in books, but they also happen to be influencing the readers of tomorrow! 

  1. Jeanell (@jeanellnicolereads) recommends The Wild Robot by Peter Brown. “The illustrated middle-grade novel ties themes of science and nature, family and friendship, and adventure and home in such a tender way. I’ve read it multiple times and it’s still just as sweet.”
  2. Katlyn (@mrsbennettreads) says: “Everyone who works with kids in grades 3-8 should read and share Front Desk by Kelly Yang. It is a semi-autobiographical middle grade novel about Mia Tang, a Chinese immigrant in the 1990’s. Mia lives in the hotel her parents manage, and the book has all kinds of important themes about social justice, racism, being an English language learner, and friendship. Most importantly, when I read it aloud to my sixth graders, even the rowdiest class was engaged. Kids LOVE this book, and the sequel, Three Keys, just came out this fall!” 
  3. Christine (@ayearinbooksblog) recommends Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess. “Last week I had a student, a reluctant reader, come to class and say, ‘This is the best book ever! I had no idea it would be so good!’ I just love novels in verse, and I love how it engages students in a quick and powerful read. Solo is one of my favorites!”
  4. Layne (@jlm.bookstagram) says: “I would like to recommend Disability Visibility which is a collection of own voice essays written by people with disabilities and edited by Alice Wong. The reason I want to recommend this book is because disability awareness is something that needs to be at the forefront of educational practice. People with disabilities have shown society time and time again that they are innovative and creative, because they have to be. We live in such an ableist society that tries to force people with disabilities to conform to ableist standards. If we apply a disability inclusion lease to everything we do in education (and in general but especially education) then we will serve a wider range of students and therefore achieve greater academic success across the board. Disability Visibility pushed my thinking so much as a SPED educator and I think everyone needs to read it.”
  5. Nicole (@gluttonousshelf) says: “I always recommend Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison! First of all it’s a great text to use as a teacher because it’s an amazing example of an extended metaphor and figurative language in general. But I also recommend it because of the way it illustrates race and people of color are seen by society.”
  6. Crystal (@melanatedreader) says: “My recommendation for this week would be This Is My America by Kim Johnson. Although Johnson is a new author, she is one to watch for and her book gives you the same energy as Angie Thomas and Nic Stone. It is eye opening, suspenseful, educational,engaging, and relevant to the times we currently live in.”
  7. Cat (@_basicbookworm) says: “A book I love to share with my students is Your Name Is A Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow. I love this book because of the message that all names should be celebrated. Working at a diverse school I use this book to start an activity where we, as a class, learn how to correctly say each other’s names. This book is great for all ages and shows kids the importance and beauty of names from all cultures. It’s a book that I think should be in every elementary educator’s classroom library.”
  8. Leslie (@coffee.books.convo) recommends Internment by Samira Ahmed: “Internment is described as a book that takes place ‘15 minutes into America’s future.’ Ahmed captures how quickly nationalism can turn into something hateful and ugly amongst a nation. She shows how powerful children and teens can be when united against injustice. As they once were during the Civil Rights movement in Birmingham. This book is a must read, and I can’t wait to share it with my students. To show them that no matter how young they are, together they can make a difference in this world.”
  9. Katelyn (@heykatelyn_) recommends Scythe by Neal Shusterman. “I read Scythe a few weeks ago and then got to visit my eighth graders’ English classes to do an example book talk about it for their upcoming project. SO MANY of them were excited about it and wanted to check it out from the library. It was such a fun experience and I loved getting to share the book with them!”
  10. Andrea (@book.savor) says: “I love to teach Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat to my 11th graders. It never fails to wholly capture them with the beautifully worded story of an immigrant experience in the U.S. and a daughter’s reckoning with her maternal lineage. Students find so much to connect and identify with; it’s a heartening and fulfilling teaching experience!”
  11. Kristen (@bookcish) recommends Dear Justyce by Nic Stone. “I teach Critical Reading, which is an intervention class for students who are reading well below grade level. Across the board, my students are more melanated and have a lower socioeconomic status than the average student at the high school. They view my class as a punishment and worry that they will be treated like a “little kid” and be given “baby” books and lessons. I had the privilege of getting an e-ARC for Dear Justyce over the summer. It’s officially a companion/sequel to Dear Martin, but it can stand alone. It has a lower reading level, but it is still high interest because (yet again) Nic Stone has given a voice and face to an all-too-common narrative that so many choose to ignore. These two factors put it in the sweet spot for my students. The writing is accessible, yet the content is young adult and relatable. Furthermore, PRH has a classroom unit guide that offers a lot of insights, prompts, and resources. I’m so glad this book is finally released, and I can’t wait to read it with my students.”
  12. Marinna (@booksinsix) recommends Scythe by Neal Shusterman. “This is one of my go-to books to press into students’ hands! It is fast-paced with complex ideas, which hooks kids quickly.”
  13. Andrea (@andreabeatrizarango) says: “A book I love is Efrén Divided by Esnesto Cisneros. As a Latinx teacher, one of my biggest passions is championing #OwnVoices diverse reads that allow my students to see themselves represented within the pages. And while I’ve read many books about the immigrant experience, Efrén Divided was the first middle grade book I read that showcased the reality of many of my ESOL students — kids born in the States, but living in fear for their undocumented parents. The author paints a reality all too common and relevant in our public schools, making this book a must-add for any classroom, regardless of demographics.” 
  14. Kate (@thesaltybookworm) says: “As a kindergarten teacher, one of my favorite read alouds, which was also my favorite as a child, is Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day. Keats created Peter, a young Black boy, because he felt, at the time in which this was written, children of color were missing from children’s books. He was adamant that all children deserve books about them and characters that mirror themselves. And you thought the book was just about a snow day! Additionally, as a previous middle school teacher, my go-to recommendation would have to be The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  The main character, Ponyboy is raised by his two older brothers and his gang of friends. This is a story that sparks a love of reading, even in the most apprehensive of readers. I find it difficult to find anyone who didn’t enjoy some aspect of reading this incredible novel. I always tell my students that Hinton published this story when she was 16!  You can be a writer at any age!”  
  15. Jami (@mysharedstacks) recommends Guts by Raina Telgemeir. “Guts is a graphic novel from the Smile series by Telgemeir and it is such an amazing, forward-thinking read for middle/high schoolers. It centers around anxiety and how it presents itself in terms of physical symptoms and how those feelings are not “wrong” or “abnormal”. Young, anxious eyes will find this incredibly comforting, relatable, and hopeful as the main character learns to feel strong and in control about her mental health.”
  16. Heather (@bookdigits) recommends Clean Getaway by Nic Stone. “I am currently reading it with my 5th grade class and it has brought up some great discussion topics. The kids are excited to guess what will happen next, and are learning about civil rights issues — both historical and present day. And most importantly, they can see themselves in the main character — one of their first impressions of the book is that the boy in the cover looks like one of their classmates! Also, I highly recommend the author’s IG live series on decolonizing the classroom!”
  17. Victoria (@floury_words) says: “I teach mythology, so obviously I gravitate toward stories based on myths. I’d recommend The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones. The whole point of storytelling and oral tradition is to teach a lesson or illustrate a point— So in a myth, what happens when you do the wrong thing or step out of line? In the case of this book the Elk Woman will come back to haunt you and she’s going to seek revenge. Combined with the themes of intergenerational trauma, the pain of being separated from your kids and leaving your home to start over, you’ve got a beautifully heart wrenching story about four Blackfeet friends who have to pay the price because they were entitled teenagers.”
  18. Corinne (@bookpiphany) says: “We Want to Do More Than Survive by Bettina L. Love is an absolutely essential read for anyone who is seeking to eradicate injustice and oppression in education or otherwise. Love calls for the complete abolition of all interconnected systems of oppression, as reforms only create new opportunities for white rage to react and regrow its limbs: we must envision a radical, sustainable new future. If you have been feeling disheartened, this book will reinvigorate you and put you back on the path to fight for abolition.”
  19. Maddy (@mads_lit) says: “I am obsessed with anything Jason Reynolds writes. I recently read his book Ghost with my students, and they loved it! He makes literature fun and approachable for them, and they are also able to recognize themselves in his work, which they are unable to do with many books included in school curriculums nowadays.”
  20. Emma (@onegirlreading) says: “My fourth graders always enjoy Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan. It is a story about a young, privileged Mexican girl fleeing to California during the Great Depression and settling into farming life. Not only is it an inspirational story of hardship and hope, but also covers immigration, racism, and classism, providing a great discussion of migrant farming life and the workers’ rights movement in California.”