When the school year winds down and heads into summer, many teachers enjoy a classic sunny-day activity—reading! Reading takes you on a ride to a world of fantasy, adventure, or mystery, and the activity is packed full of relaxation benefits no matter the genre. According to the World Literacy Foundation, reading can reduce stress by 68%. After a hectic day in class, it’s no wonder that some teachers like to unwind with a good book. This summer, you can join in on the benefits of reading with these favorite books! 

We asked our Innovator Team for their all-time favorite reads, ranging from science fiction adventures to educational self-help titles. With all of their options compiled in this list, there’s surely one that’ll catch your eye. Check it out, and happy reading!

Fiction

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Published in 1937, Of Mice and Men revolves around the characters George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move throughout California in search of work during the Great Depression. Throughout the novel, Steinbeck explores themes of isolation and dependence as the pair faces obstacles in their journey. Steinbeck drew inspiration for the fictional story from his experience working alongside migrant workers in his youth.

—Recommended by: James Andrew Busie, 6th Grade Math Teacher

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

A Million Little Pieces tells the story of a recovering substance addict and alcoholic, who details coping with a twelve-step rehabilitation process. Although this book is a mix of true and fictional events, Frey’s semi-fictional memoir draws readers into his recovery journey of survival and redemption. In 2018, A Million Little Pieces was adapted into a film, starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

—Recommended by: Kashekia Smith, Middle School ELA Teacher

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Published in 1988 and originally written in Portuguese, The Alchemist tells the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, who sets off to find an extravagant treasure. One night, he dreams of a great treasure hidden away at the Egyptian Pyramids, and Santiago decides to travel thousands of miles in pursuit of his dream. The Alchemist explores themes of spirituality, fate, and wisdom; it is an international bestseller.

—Recommended by: Elisabeth Budd-Brown, Middle School Math Teacher

The Metamorphosis by Frank Kafka

One morning, salesman Gregor Samsa wakes up with an unusual sensation throughout his body—Gregor had inexplicably transformed into a giant insect! Kafka’s novel details Gregor struggling to adjust to his new form, as he fails to sleep comfortably, attend work, and interact with his family. Throughout the novel, the author examines the main themes of identity, expression, the absurdity of life, and the disconnect between mind and body

—Recommended by: Samantha Shaffner, English Language Arts Teacher

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

An American classic, To Kill a Mockingbird details the life of Jean (“Scout”) Louise Finch and her family living during the Great Depression in Maycomb, Alabama. The story is told through Scout’s perspective, and readers experience the family’s trials and tribulations through the lens of the six-year-old protagonist living in the South. Since its release in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird has gained nationwide recognition, earning a Pulitzer Prize in 1961. 

—Recommended by: Stephanie Reynolds, Assistant Principal

A Merciful Truth by Kendra Elliot

A Wall Street Journal bestseller, A Merciful Truth is a mystery novel revolving around the homecoming of FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick. After a series of deadly events in Mercy’s neighborhood, she teams up with Police Chief Truman Daly to uncover the truth. Mercy’s detective skills come into play as she must keep an eye out for any clues or rumors, but the investigation takes a sudden turn when she least expects it.

—Recommended by: Carla Corbin, High School Math Teacher

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

A prized book in English literature, Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 by Jane Austen. The novel revolves around the five Bennett daughters—Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, Catherine, and Lydia—and their lives during the Regency era in Great Britain. When the girls’ father, Mr. Bennett, pressures them to marry for economic gain, the five sisters push back. Instead, the story emphasizes the importance of marrying for love rather than social status or money. 

—Recommended by: Cyndi Snapp, 4th Grade Math Teacher

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Published in 1945, Animal Farm is an allegorical novel about a group of farm animals that plot to rebel against human farmers. The animals hope to create an equal and happy society free from human reign, but things don’t go as planned. Orwell drew inspiration for this novel from the historical timeframe of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union.


—Recommended by: Ashley Wittmer, K-12 Assessment and Data Analyst

Fiction Series

Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien

Tolkien’s three-part series revolves around the story’s main antagonist—Dark Lord Sauron—who creates Rings of Power as weapons to conquer Middle-earth. The fantasy-action storyline follows the War of the Ring through the main characters Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin. Lord of the Rings has quickly gained popularity in film and media since its release in 1954.

—Recommended by: Mary Gore, Middle School Math Teacher

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a comedy science fiction series based on author Douglas Adams’ radio show of the same name. The series revolves around the quests of the last surviving man, Arthur Dent, following Earth’s destruction. Arthur is rescued by an alien, Ford Prefect, who writes for the travel guide The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The pair explore the galaxy as Arthur discovers the truth about Planet Earth.

—Recommended by: Jen Lee, High School / College Science Instructor

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

On his eleventh birthday, Harry Potter discovered his true identity as an orphaned son of two powerful wizards. In fact, Harry realizes that he possesses unique wizardry powers of his own! The coveted seven-book series follows Harry’s adventures as he is summoned to a wizardry school where he meets friends that help him uncover the truth about his parents’ death and defend against dark forces.

—Recommended by: Jennifer Soehner, High School Science Teacher

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game is a science fiction novel set in an unspecified time period in Earth’s future. After an insectoid alien species attacks Earth, humans begin to train children from a young age in preparation for another invasion. One of these children is protagonist Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, who comes to realize his special abilities through training. The novel then follows Ender’s adventures in the Battle School and beyond to protect Earth—the fun and exploration continues in the following two books of this series.

—Recommended by: Duane Runyan, Middle School Math Teacher

Non-fiction

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

In this best-selling finance book, Ramsey teaches individuals how to budget and get out of debt through seven steps. Learn how to achieve financial stability and plan ahead for key financial events such as retirement and college. The Total Money Makeover has a long-standing position on The Wall Street Journal best-sellers list and continues to provide financial advice to millions.

—Recommended by: Lauren Taylor, High School Math Teacher

Behave by Robert Sapolsky

In Behave, biologist Robert Sapolsky surveys the science of human behavior and asks the main question: Why do we do what we do? To answer this question, Sapolsky draws on neuroscientific and psychological explanations. He even attributes behavior to factors beyond science and discusses the long-term social causes of human tendency.

—Recommended by: Buck Boomer, High School Science Teacher

There you have it—a list of top picks from teachers around the country. Dive in this summer alongside Harry Potter and his wizard friends as they combat evil forces, or tune into Robert Sapolsky’s analysis on human behavior. The choice is yours!

Feeling Inspired?

  • Contribute to our summer reading recommendations! Suggest a favorite that’s not on this list, or let us know you thoughts about one of these books by Tweeting out this link and tagging us an @Edulastic
  • Get to know our Edulastic Innovators—the teachers behind these recommendations! Check out our Innovator Spotlight page to learn more about the faces behind these suggestions.

💡 Teacher Tech Tip: Check out the passage-based question type in Edulastic to assess student reading comprehension!