Susan Riley | April 2014

The 2014 Teacher Summer Reading List

One of the things I most enjoy as an educator about the summer is being able to catch up on some reading that I don’t have time for during the school year.  Being able to relax, enjoy a cup of coffee and crack open a new book is a much more joyful experience during those summer months when I’m not bogged down with hectic schedules, deadlines, graduate coursework (I remember those Master’s degree days!) and everyday life!  But as I get to this point in the year, I’m never sure what should be on my reading list that won’t waste my time, and is a good mix between reading list for teaching inspiration and reading list for fun.  Enter the 2014 Teacher Summer Reading List!

This reading list of books below are resources that I swear by and fun, summer reads that I just couldn’t put down.  After all, it’s all about balance!  If you’re looking for books to add to your library, we’ve got you covered.  Take a peek!

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Teacher Resources/Inspiration Books

The books in this section are located on the shelves that surround my office.  These are the ones I can’t do without as an educator and turn to time and again when I need to be inspired for new ideas.  Additionally, I tend to be someone who likes practical and conversational language.  So most of these books are written in that way.

artful teaching

Artful Teaching

This wonderful, short guide is a practical resource for anyone looking to better understand arts integration and gather some foundational strategies and skills.  The book is organized well and is a great starter for anyone looking to integrate the arts.

thinking visibleMaking Thinking Visible

This book is part instructional guide and part workbook.  It shares so many strategies for bringing student thinking out into the open, and provides step-by-step directions for each strategy discussed.  Additionally, it has an option to come with a CD of supplementary resources that work in conjunction with the book and I highly recommend this version of the book.


I have recommended this resource before and I’ll do so time and again because it’s just that good.  This is a MUST HAVE for every teacher, administrator and professional developer’s shelf.  Over 200 different ways to brainstorm using doodling techniques!  I can’t tell you how many times I have used this with success at all age levels – kindergarten through adults.  Plus, for a non-drawer like me, they take time in the beginning of the book to show you how to take some sketch notes and doodle with intention.

pathwasysPathways to the Common Core

We use this one in our Common Core through the Arts course and it receives rave reviews every single time.  Lucy Calkins does an amazing job of unpacking the literacy standards in a way that makes their organization and intention clear.  Plus, because of the way that the standards are explained, it becomes extremely easy for the arts to see all of the possibilities for authentic integration with the Common Core.

Assessing 21st Century Skillsassessing

If I had to choose one book to have on my shelf for assessment, this would be it.  Full of rubrics, templates, samples, and ideas, this book truly showcases how to assess any area with integrity.  Author Laura Greenstein takes great care to differentiate the various types of assessments and how they can and should be used.  Assessments can so often be presented in an overwhelming way, but this book makes them practical and if possible, even gets you excited for assessment in your classroom.

evaluationTeacher Evaluation that Makes a Difference

With SLOs/SGOs on the minds of so many educators, this book comes along at just the right time.  Written by Robert Marzano and Michael Toth, two giants in the world of education explore how to develop teacher evaluation systems that remain true to their original intent.  A word of caution: this is the most academically-written book on this reading list, so expect some more brain power work will be needed when reading the material.  But for anyone who is concerned about how to write an SLO effectively, this is a great guide.

two sidedTeaching for the Two-sided Mind

I first picked up this book in a graduate course and have kept it with me ever since.  It’s a helpful reminder of all of the ways that our minds process information and how we can reach and teach all learners who site before us.  A short read at only 195 pages, this book provides right-brain techniques and specific classroom activities that are effective in teaching students of all abilities – from our special needs students to our gifted learners.

artistThe Artist’s Way

This is an oldie but a goodie.  I’ve had this for over 15 years and I still turn to it’s yellowed pages to help guide my reflection practice and help me to process complex information.  More of a workbook than a sit-down-and-read type of literature, this book guides you through processes that artists use in their work.  This book will help anyone discover and explore their own creative genius.

Finding Your Elementelement

Ken Robinson is one of my favorite speakers and authors and in this sequel to his famous book, “The Element” he explores how to find your passion and use them to totally transform your life.  I found this book to be more helpful that his original because we all recognize that we are driven by a creative spark, but the real test lies in trying to find out what that spark really is for each of us.  This book outlines that process and then shares how you can use your passion once you discover it.

listeningInspired by Listening

My good friend, Elizabeth Peterson, wrote this book and it is truly a definitive resource for anyone looking to integrate music into their curriculum without fear.  Elizabeth has been both a music teacher and a classroom teacher and brings both of these perspectives together to help anyone use music integration with success.  Many teachers are afraid to try music integration because they say they “can’t sing” or that they “have no rhythm” but Elizabeth dispels those myths.  By using listening as the crux for integration, she provides teachers with listening guides, templates and resources to help bring their classrooms to life through music.

inventInvent to Learn

This book helps anyone understand the process of invention and how we can bring this to bear in the classroom.  This is one of those books that will get you excited to go back into the classroom and experiment with your students.  The authors do a terrific job of sharing how the engineering and design process can be leveraged across the curriculum and inspire all teachers to encourage their students to be tinkerers and makers.

sellTo Sell is Human

Another favorite author of mine is Dan Pink and in his latest book, he continues to expand my horizons.  Pink explores the idea of what “selling” means in our society and crushes the idea of the door-to-door salesman or the sleazy used car salesperson.  Instead, he contends that we are all selling something – and he takes a good deal of time in the book to explain how we as educators can use this knowledge to successfully transform our classrooms.

Fun, Summer Beach Reads

Teachers all need to take some time to unwind and just read for fun, too.  Here’s what’s on my summer-reading list for 2014, which includes some of my favorites that I read every year.


Now that it’s a movie, I’m going to make sure that I finally start reading the series!  Billed as a type of Hunger Games spinoff, this book has had an amazing reception.  Everyone that I know who has read it is hooked, and that’s always a great barometer for me.

signature of all thingsThe Signature of All Things

A great read by Elizabeth Gilbert who also authored Eat, Pray, Love.  This is her return to fiction and it follows the story of a girl born during the early 1800’s in Pennsylvania to an academically and financially wealthy family.  You’ll be pulled into the story by her willfulness and longing for both freedom and “normalcy” in a time when women had a very different role in society.  Alma is truly a poster-child for STEAM learning stuck in an industrial-age world.

kitchen houseThe Kitchen House

Taking place on a plantation before the civil war, this story explores the complex relationships between master and slave, and between house slaves and field slaves.  Raw, but exquisitely written, this story is at once frustrating and hopeful.


As someone who loved Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women book, this literary tale is so compelling.  March is the story of the father of the girls from Little Women, and chronicles his story during the Civil War while his wife and four daughters are at home in New England.  A short, but impressive, read!

acabarThe Gift of Acabar

I read this every single year and it always has the same, powerful effect on me.  A tale of a family living in the far-reaches of the north pole, this story truly begins when a young boy loses his father in a terrible accident and he needs to figure out how to carry on for his mother and sister alone.  A star, Acabar, comes to visit the boy as he recovers and provides him with what it truly means to live on this earth.

 What are your favorites Summer Reading list?  Anything we should add to this reading list?  

About the Author

Susan Riley is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM. This is the world’s largest online resource for educators interested in integrating the arts. She has presented at events and authored articles for many educational organizations including The US Department of Education, Palmetto State Arts Education, Edutopia, Education Week, Americans for the Arts, ASCD, and NPR. She regularly presents at national and international events each year. She is the author of three books and is a sought-after collaborator for innovative educational projects around the globe. Susan brings creativity, practicality, dedication and passion to the education landscape. She is well-respected for her pioneering work in the fields of Arts Integration and STEAM education with a standards-based approach. As an educator who taught for 10 years in public schools, as well as served in central office leadership, she understands the fast-paced change, challenges and promise of 21st century schools. As an entrepreneur, she has successfully taken what was once a simple education blog and developed it into a rapidly-growing and highly-respected educational institution. Her team of 15+ teachers, leaders and coaches support over over 500,000 educators each month worldwide. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan