Being hired as a new teacher can be such an amazing and exciting feeling, but yet can also feel overwhelming and terrifying at the same time. There is so much that teachers are expected to do that can feel difficult to figure out where to start with planning and prioritizing.
One of the best things you can do as a new teacher to prepare for a new school year is to read. Read a lot. Read as much as you possibly can. Read books about the subjects you plan to teach. Read books by experts who have already been through it all. Even if you do not agree 100% with everything that you read, the more you read, the more you will begin to form your own opinions and teaching philosophies.
Building up my professional library has been so beneficial for my teaching. I still reference and review books that I bought before I even entered the classroom my first year and continue to add new titles to my collection regularly.
Here are some of my favorite books that I recommend that have helped shape my career as a reading teacher over the years.
1. The Morning Meeting Book
While this isn’t technically a book specifically for a reading teacher, building relationships and classroom community is my number one priority in my classroom. Establishing a morning meeting routine on a daily basis is a great way to being to build that positive classroom atmosphere.
This book discusses and provides examples on how to use greetings, sharing, group activities, and morning messages to engage students and start off each day in a positive manner.
One of the awesome things that I LOVE about morning meeting is that you can make it as academic as you want. For instance, you can use it to review sentence structure or grammar in your morning messages, share feelings using new vocabulary words (Ex – Today I’m feeling jovial because _____.), greet one another by telling what book you’re currently reading, etc. The possibilities are endless!
If you are worried about not having enough time to implement morning meeting, I suggest creating a meeting that focuses more heavily on incorporating academics and reviews into the meeting. This book suggests a thirty minute daily meeting. However, I am able hold a very successful and meaningful ten minute morning meeting with my fifth graders on a daily basis.
2. The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child
This book was such an inspiration when I started teaching reading. Miller shares ideas on how to “awaken the inner reader in every child.” She discusses in detail her famous Forty Book Challenge, which encourages students to find books they love from various genres and read as many books as they can throughout the school year for pleasure.
Miller’s style of teaching is contagious. She dismisses mundane worksheets and book reports and encourages teachers to set up a classroom library filled with high-interest books to help foster an innate love of reading in all of her students.
This is a must read for new reading teachers or veteran teachers who are looking to increase reading engagement with their students.
3. Guiding Readers and Writers (Grades 3-6): Teaching, Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy
This book is the HOLY GRAIL for language arts teachers. In fact, any of the books by Fountas & Pinnell are amazing resources. This just happens to be the first one I ever got and my most used and loved book in all of my professional reading collection. My mom, who happened to be a reading specialist, gave me this book when I first started teaching. At the time, the school I was teaching at did not have a solid curriculum to follow. It was kind of a free for all. As a first year teacher, I felt so lost. This book saved me so many times and I followed just about everything they suggested.
If you plan to teach reading and writing workshop, this book will help you get started. The authors provide information on how to structure a reading and writing workshop, as well as organize and manage your classroom during your ELA block. The book is broken up into multiple sections such as Independent Reading, Guided Reading, Literature Study, Teaching for Comprehension and Word Analysis, and The Reading and Writing Connection. Each chapter is extremely comprehensive and provides suggested lessons and activities, sample student work, anchor charts, and more!
4. The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers
Ok so this is the book I had been waiting for my entire teaching career. The Reading Strategies Book is SO teacher friendly. The chapters in this book are organized by goals, such as teaching reading engagement, supporting print work, teaching fluency, etc. Within each goal, Serravallo highlights one or more skills the reader needs to work on, such as inferring or synthesizing. Then she provides dozens of strategies students can try help them accomplish those skills and reach their goals.
Each strategy is organized with the strategy identified at the top, followed by teaching tips, prompts to use, and a visual aid such as an anchor chart. The pages also identify which book levels each strategy would be appropriate for!
I love how you can just open this book up to the page you need and you have everything you need one spot to teach your lesson. It is such a time saver to use!
5. The Wild Card: 7 Steps to an Educator’s Creative Breakthrough
This is another book that isn’t specifically catered to a reading teacher. However, it’s a new book that can and will benefit both new and veteran teachers. Hope and Wade King cowrote this book as a guide to help teachers find their creative breakthrough in their classroom with their students. They encourage you to “be the wild card” aka the person who makes a difference in a child’s education and life. The included a “toolbox” section at the end of the book with practical ideas for the classroom. The authors remind you to think about why you chose the teaching profession in the first place and encourage you to stay on track with your “WHY”. It’s a very inspirational and motivational read for any teacher.