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Our summer reading recommendations for English teachers (by English teachers) continue. Check out these fiction and non-fiction picks:

A Prayer for Owen Meany by Jon Irving

“I fell in love with the characters, all of them, and spent days thinking about the book after I’d closed the cover. Strong, beautiful, thoughtful language and imagery.” –Gina Voskov

Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Storm in History by Erik Larson

“This is a story of science, nature, and the power of water, all wrapped up in a love story. Or the other way around. It documents the massive flood in Galveston, TX in 1900 that killed thousands. Absolutely gripping.”  –Gina Voskov

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Join us as we add to our list of summer reading recommendations by English teachers and for English teachers!


brian-boyd-lyricsCorinne Viglietta, an English teacher with BASIS DC in Washington, DC, offers these selections:

– My first pick is Brian Boyd’s Why Lyrics Last: Evolution, Cognition, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets. We all love the plays, but Boyd reminds us why Shakespeare’s sonnets are worth teaching, too. Drawing on psychology and history, Boyd argues that the sonnets reject narrative form in order to explore “the possibilities of verse without stories.” What I like most about Boyd’s approach is its emphasis on close, line-by-line reading, especially reading for patterns. Students working on explications of complex verse can look to this book not just for exemplars but for a celebration of the power of the lyric.

– My second pick is Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones. DC teachers will recognize the street names and landmarks in this now classic collection of short stories (often compared to Joyce’s Dubliners), but every reader can relate to these profoundly human tales of hope, loss, and community. “The First Day” is an unforgettable walk in a young student’s shoes. I remember feeling extremely honored to be an English teacher after I first read that story.


Mark Miazga, an English teacher in Baltimore, recommends these books:

– Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — a page-turning reflection on race, immigration, and identity. It feels like one of the first great novels about the internet age (blogging is a key component), yet it also has a timeless feel to it. Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet is a recent discovery as well–a moving, sprawling Australian family saga built with beautiful, lyrical language.

– A non-fiction book I recommend is the 2011 collection of James Baldwin’s writings released under the title The Cross of Redemption. It contains his essay “Why I Stopped Hating Shakespeare”, which is great, but, in general, I think he’s a major under-appreciated voice whose writing, especially his non-fiction, can be riveting and life-changing.


See our blog post from Tuesday for even more recommendations, and tell us about your own favorites in the comments below.

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Now that summer is here, we’re rounding up some summer reading recommendations–from English teachers, for English teachers. Let us know in the comments what you’re reading this summer and what you recommend.

Here are four recommendations from Jill Burdick-Zupancic, who is in her sixth year of teaching and currently teaches Honors English and AP Art History at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, VA. She is a Teaching Shakespeare Institute (TSI) alumna from 2012.

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That Shakespeare KidWe have teachers ask us all the time how to introduce Shakespeare’s language in a way that’s engaging to students.

One possible approach: young adult novels that weave the Bard’s words along with the kind of dialogue familiar to students.

“That Shakespeare Kid,” by Folger Education’s senior consultant Michael LoMonico, presents just this combination.

Fourteen-year-old Emma narrates the story of her friend Peter, who, after a bump to the head, finds himself able to speak only by using the words of Shakespeare.

What a pickle!

This excerpt picks up the story the day after the accident, when Emma sees Peter at the bus stop and finds his conversation much altered: (more…)

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