Hump Day Book Look

Reading is breathing in. Writing is breathing out.


Summer is a perfect time for reading! Whether it’s leisure reading, professional development, or simply picking up a familiar favorite or two to catch up with an old friend — I think there is no better time than summer to really fill up your tanks with the stuff that inspires you to be the best version of who you want to be. Because reading is reading. Pulp fiction to trade paperbacks, Steinbeck to Shakespeare, audiobooks on Audible to well-worn pages of Jane Austen with detailed annotations in the marginalia: whatever it is, it’s keeping your brain muscles moving! And that is a very good thing.

I once heard it said that the books you are reading today is the person you'll become in five years. I really like that idea. Click To Tweet
During the school year, I teach American Literature and spend A TON of time digging into the finer points of fiction. But no school means that I can read whatever I want! So each Wednesday throughout the summer, I’ll try to post a sort of living, breathing “works in progress” reading list of a handful of books I’m working through, along with a few lines about what I’m learning as I go. Fair warning: I’m a “dabbler,” who works in spurts through a ton of different books at a time. Audiobooks, Kindle, PD reads, leisure reading, and a whole bunch of non-fiction books — usually for professional growth along the lines of personal branding or dedicated research for future projects on down the line.

This week’s audio book:*

Christopher EmdinFor White Folks Who Teach In the Hood (And The Rest of Y’all Too): Reality Pedagogy in Urban Education

Get Woke: I worked as a middle school tutor through the DC Reads program in college, and started my teaching career in the high needs public school systems in Prince George’s County, Maryland — just outside of Washington, DC. I’ve seen the challenges of working to close the achievement gap firsthand, and FWFWTITH came highly recommended as *the* definitive book in the field. Emdin’s work is deeply rooted in strengthening cultural awareness, which he does by drawing a powerful series of connections between today’s “neo-indigenous” students of color and the tribal histories of Native American populations whose cultures were systematically all but eradicated in schools of the 1800s and early 1900s in a misguided effort to “tame the noble savage.”

Verdict: Fascinating. Probably the best book I’ve read on cultural competency since Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Freire, 1968).

This week’s PD read:

Lindsey Blass and Cate Tolani – Power Up Your Classroom: Reimagine Learning Through Gameplay

Game On: Full disclosure — I bought this book because it was released EXACTLY ONE DAY BEFORE MY BOOK CAME OUT. And I’m like 99% sure it’s about the exact same topic. From a bigger publisher. With larger distribution channels. Annnnnnd a certain perfectly timed national conference with upwards of some 18,000 attendees that just so happens to coincide with it’s release. So while I’m thrilled to see that there is a growing market for game-inspired research and publication in the education sector, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that at least a small reason for me picking this one up was to get a feel for “the competition” (isn’t it brutal when teachers are pitted against one another?)

Verdict: Respectfully declining to comment on this one, as I’m super biased. I’m happy to borrow a trick from Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton, though, and say “but don’t take my word for it!” Sneak a peek at the first few chapters here.

This week on Kindle:

John Meehan – EDrenaline Rush: Game-Changing Student Engagement Inspired by Theme Parks, Mud Runs, and Escape Rooms

Brand New Eyes: It’s the craziest thing to see a book that you wrote come to life and be available to real, live people all around the world. Hearing people’s reactions has been humbling, exciting, and truly wild. The book is “brand new” to the world, but it’s actually something that I’ve been working on pretty much on a daily basis (writing, researching, editing, layout, design, marketing, etc.) for the better part of about a year and a half. So cool to have the chance to experience it again chapter by chapter through the eyes of people who aren’t me.

Verdict: You tell me! We’re doing a Voxer book study all summer long and would seriously love to hear your feedback.

*A quick note on Audiobooks: Two hours of commuting every day = lots of time to “read” in the car! And yes, audiobooks absolutely count as reading. The research is super clear on this point, especially for readers with learning differences — including folks with dyslexia like me — and I wholeheartedly encourage my students to do the exact same thing.

Author: John

John Meehan (@MeehanEDU) is an English teacher and school instructional coach at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia. He began his teaching career in 2010 as a career switcher through The New Teacher Project, after spending five years working in social media and event marketing. He is a 2017 ASCD Emerging Leader, and an alumnus of the 2016-2018 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council. In 2016, he was named one of Arlington, Virginia’s “40 Under 40” by the Leadership Center for Excellence. He is a past presenter and regular attendee at educational conferences throughout the United States, including the annual conference for National Catholic Education Association, ASCD Empower19, and the Play Like a Champion Today: Character Education Through Sports summer conference at the University of Notre Dame. He’s an avid runner who’s completed more than three dozen marathons, half marathons, long-distance road relays, mud runs, and obstacle course races. John lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

4 thoughts

  1. I listen to audio books when I sew. That way I keep up with my reading list, and get a project done at the same time. Listening to Michelle Obama’s book right now. Reading your book and hoping to use many ideas in my classes next year. I am enjoying it so far.

    1. Thank you so much Elizabeth! I LOVE audio books — and the National Council of Teachers of English just sent out an email last night, as a matter, of fact, where they sing the praises of this alternative form of “reading.” Such a fantastic way to multi-task and make great use of what might otherwise be lost time! Glad you’re digging the book — please keep me posted! Would love to connect at any time.

  2. Thank you so much for putting a term to reading many books at a time ..,”dabbler” … me too! I get a lot of grief from family/colleagues that don’t understand that concept, but for me it works and I’m so happy to know another dabbler. I’m never bored and interested in so many things to learn about … my book playlist is long this summer but of course EDrenaline is at the top and I’m in the Voxer book chat. Also dabbling in The Explorers Guild by Jon Baird, Remit Sethi’s What does rich look like to you 2edition, They Say, I Say by Gerald Graff and friends, Visible Learning Feedback by John Hattie, Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris and Total Focus by Brandon Webb. Just finished audio version of Chris Kyle’s life story and it was fantastic. Plus reading/grading summer work kids are turning in on CommonLit and of course your blog 😂 🙂. Thanks so much for giving me a term now for my varied reading interests … dabbler. Like it and going to own it. Have a good day!

    1. Heck yes! I loved Chris Kyle’s book. Dabbling is aok with me — mixing up my reading intake is the only way I can make my way through so many books each month. Keep it up!

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