5 Professional Development Books Every Teacher Should Read

5 Professional Development Books Every Teacher Should Read


Being a middle school or high school teacher in today’s world is hard enough, but keeping current with lesson plans that are both relevant and engaging can be daunting. Teaching should be a rewarding and exciting career, but it isn’t without its difficulties. Keeping up-to-date with professional development can make your job less intimidating, but you aren’t limited to the boring professional development curriculum of the past.  Instead, there are many modern and out-of-the-box curricula, instructional aides, texts, and lesson plans that can elevate the professional development for new teachers, senior teachers, and administration alike.

Whether you are a new teacher or you've been in the teaching profession forever, these professional development books are the perfect summer reads to help you start off the new school year on the right foot. I'm really partial to the last one!

Using these 5 professional development books every teacher should read, professional development becomes engaging, educational, and inspiring, creating just the right spark to make it through a challenging school year. Lacking professional development is no longer a valid excuse for diving into a new school year unprepared – there are many sources to help advance your educational knowledge. Professional development using these 5 books every teacher should read will provide an exciting and new approach to standard professional development.


5 Professional Development Books Every Teacher Should Read

1. Fish: A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results, Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen - About the Seattle Fish Market, Fish analyzes the rehabilitation of a dreadful, morale-lacking business environment and how the Fish Market provides a striking contrast of fun and excitement. Lundin makes comparisons between the Fish Market and "stuffy" workplaces, and the comparisons that he draws can easily be applied in a classroom setting, both among staff, and among students.

2. 10 Mindframes for Visible Learning: Teaching for Success, John Hattie and Klaus Zierer - Hattie and Zierer aim to provide a strong foundation for maximizing success in classrooms. By highlighting mindframes such as assessment, feedback, collaboration, success criteria, and communication, 10 Mindframes for Visible Learning provides beneficial professional skills for both new and seasoned teachers.

3. Teaching: Level 1: Everything I wanted to know when I started out as a teacher, Sergio Travieso Teniente - Broken into six sections, Teaching: Level 1 takes plenty of personal experience and organizes it into a visceral guide to teaching. Teniente discusses teachers, content, presentation, preparation, the classroom, and the student, while providing real-life examples and advice.

BONUS! Another great account of teaching struggles is See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers, by Roxanna Elden. Elden shares entertaining and insightful experiences from hundreds of teachers and offers up advice on challenging scenarios.

4. Teach Like a Champion 2.0: 62 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College, Doug Lemov - Following first edition Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College, Teach Like a Champion 2.0 discusses teaching strategies, classroom modeling, sample lesson plans, and other techniques that will help your high school students prepare for higher education.

BONUS! Get the Teach Like a Champion Field Guide 2.0: A Practical Resource to Make the 62 Techniques Your Own to accompany the text!

5. Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator, Dave Burgess - Accompanied by Lead Like a Pirate: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff, and Learn Like a Pirate: Empower Your Students to Collaborate, Lead, and Succeed, Teach Like a Pirate applies concepts of seminars of the same name by providing new techniques and inspiration to increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an educator. 

SUPER BONUS! Check out A Lesson Plan for Teachers, New or Old (Experienced, that is!) Guidebook. Written with first-hand accounts and struggles of a young teacher, this read is sure to provide beneficial advice, or at least make you feel a little less crazy as the year progresses!

With these 5+ engaging professional development books, the challenges and struggles you are faced with throughout the school year will seem conquerable and commonplace. No one ever said teaching would be easy. They only said it would be worth it. Proper preparation, commitment, and the right attitude can take your teaching career a long way, and these professional development books are crucial resources for teacher survival. Check out further professional development resources at the Facing History Professional Development website.


Whether you are a new teacher or you've been in the teaching profession forever, these professional development books are the perfect summer reads to help you start off the new school year on the right foot. I'm really partial to the last one!
Happy Teaching!
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Michele Luck
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7 Awesome Books for Teaching Government

7 Awesome Books for Teaching Government


Often, middle and high school students have been conditioned to associate government with the current political arena, but the study of government incorporates so much more. Teaching middle and high school students about government includes the teaching the inner-workings of the judicial, legislative, and executive branches, but also geographical studies, and general U.S. and World History. Current events are always relevant and educational, and delving deeper into the history of our government can provide your students with a vital and inciting foundation to encourage learning about government.  


Reading novels or informational text in the Government classroom can be a great way to get your students engaged in your lesson. These seven books are a great start toward creating a more engaging and interactive classroom. I just love the first on on the list!



Give your class a great educational foundation to government with these 7 awesome books for middle and high school government students. By incorporating attention-grabbing, historically accurate books, with current events and political study, you encourage learning at a deeper level and your students will have the opportunity to combine learning with engagement. Using these 7 awesome books for teaching government, your lesson plans will elevate from adequate to elegant!


 

7 Awesome Books for Middle and High School Students


1.     Americanah – By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah follows two young lovers as they escape Nigeria and are separated, one off to America and the other to London. Ifemelu faces racial challenges while pursuing an American education and Obinze struggles to survive in England, both returning to Nigeria once a political shift occurs.

2.     The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – Author Michelle Alexander examines racial profiling and targeting and illuminates the sheer number of black men behind bars. By translating race into a criminal justice issue, America is able to mask the lack of racial progress since Jim Crow laws were decimated.  

BONUS! After reading The New Jim Crow, split students into two groups. Have half of the students collaborate on the current criminal justice and politics regarding racial profiling. Have the others study racial profiling around the time of Jim Crow. Have students search for comparisons and disparities, using a class-wide Venn Diagram to draw parallels.


3.     The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Part-time Indian Junior challenges his destiny on the Indian reservation by attending school in an all-white school, exploring his dreams through adolescence and his teen years. Sherman Alexie’s words coupled with illustrations by Ellen Forney, this read presents an emotional take on Native American living.

BONUS! Let students research life on an Indian reservation, including the accounts told from Alexie's novel, photos from online sources like the Journal, and other media that may support their research. Have them share whether they would have enjoyed life on the reservation, what things they may have had to forgo if living on a reservation, and draw parallels to their own lives.


4.     Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics (Transgressing Boundaries: Studies in Black Politics and Black Communities) – Democracy Remixed, by Cathy J. Cohen, analyzes survey results from the Black Youth Project, exploring political ramifications of black youth and their experiences.

5.     Sleeping Giant: The Untapped Economic and Political Power of America’s New Working Class – By Tamara Draut, Sleeping Giant explores the political power held by the today’s working class. Draut combines personal accounts, expert analysis, and in-depth studies to discuss the working class, racial and gender exclusion, and today’s Fight for $15 minimum wage battle. 

BONUS! Debate activity! Have students take opposing positions on the Fight for $15 minimum wage battle. Hold a classroom debate, discussing pros and cons of raising minimum wage in America.


6.     Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America – Martin Gilens criticizes America’s political climate and designation as a democratic country as it only patronizes the opinions and desires of its upper 1%. Gilens discusses and analyzes policy changes and draws shocking and disparaging conclusions across socioeconomic lines.

BONUS! Reflection time! Have students research some of the top one-percenters of America. Draw comparisons from Affluence and Influence, explore political decisions influenced by the 1%, and then have students reflect on political persuasion they would desire if also a part of the 1%. How does this translate into democracy? 

7.     Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance – The 44th president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, tells a personal account of his adolescence and coming of age in America, faced with the truths of his father’s past and the racial inequalities of his present.



Reading novels or informational text in the Government classroom can be a great way to get your students engaged in your lesson. These seven books are a great start toward creating a more engaging and interactive classroom. I just love the first on on the list!

From a Walking Tour with the Presidents Centers Activity, to a U.S. Document Analysis Bundled Activity, many online government activities can accompany these 7 awesome books for teaching government to elevate your Middle and High School lesson plans. Introduce your students to a part-time Indian, the Black Youth Project, or our 44th president, and you'll not only educate them on government, but instill a desire to delve deeper and learn more about the governmental workings of our nation.

Happy Teaching!

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Michele Luck
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7 Great Books for Teaching Middle & High School Economics

7 Great Books for Teaching Middle & High School Economics


Teaching Economics in middle school and high school builds a strong foundation for government and civics studies, but also prepares your students for critical life lessons. Economics is a worldwide issue - every culture, every country, and every person is influenced by their economic situation and the economics occurring in the society around them. Encouraging economic study in your social studies lesson plans, using CCSS and common core standards, will allow your students to develop proficiency in an area that will be beneficial both within their history career and in their personal lives. You can use dull economic textbooks and additional reading to teach economic content, or you can use these 7 great books for teaching middle and high school Economics, which are sure to relay the important content to your students, but also to spark a further interest in economic study which will further your students' education.


I love these awesome books for helping teach economics concepts to my middle and high school students. They help to introduce the finance and math subjects in a way to reach more kids in my classroom. I especially love the first one!

Help your middle and high school students to study up on government and economics with drab, regurgitated textbook material, or inspire a strong foundation in economic knowledge by encouraging your students to delve further into the world of economics. Use these 7 awesome books for middle and high school Economics students to provide an alternative and exciting study in economics. With these 7 great economics books, your students will develop an academic foundation in world government and economics, but also in personal economics, which will benefit them significantly in their adult lives.


7 Awesome Books for Middle and High School Economics Students


1. The Cartoon Introduction to Economics: Volume One: Microeconomics - One of two volumes, The Cartoon Introduction to Economics: Volume One: Microeconomics by Yoram Bauman, Ph.D., presents a hysterical take on Microeconomics. Perhaps the most brilliant take on teaching Economics, Bauman discusses price theory, individual vs. group outcomes, strategic interactions, market interactions, elasticity, and more.

BONUS! Also pick up The Cartoon Introduction to Economics: Volume Two: Macroeconomics to round off the study. Volume Two includes topics such as unemployment, recession, inflation, and more macro study.


2. The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind the World's Most Disruptive Company - John Rossman transports readers into the mind of Jeff Bezos as he established the world's largest Internet retailer, discussing Amazon's third-party seller program, enterprise services, revolution of Internet industry, and transformation from book retailer to primary online retailer for all things purchasable.

BONUS! Explore the World's Most Innovative Companies of 2017 and read about how Amazon tops the list.


3. How to be The Startup Hero: A Guide and Textbook for Entrepreneurs and Aspiring Entrepreneurs - The Startup Hero, by Tim Draper, serves as a revolutionary guide for aspiring entrepreneurs, addressing the struggles they will encounter and offering tips for embarking on the entrepreneurial road. This book will demonstrate the many layers of entrepreneurship and economy to your students.

4. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything - By Steven D. Levitt, Freakonomics is a popular yet unexpected take on economics, asking all of the "right" questions that you'd never expect to hear from an Economist. An entertaining method to educating the general public on economics, Levitt dives into economic theory with a humorous approach.

BONUS! Radio link! Have students choose a Freakonomics Radio Archive episode, study it, and then present it to the class. Tie it into topics learned from the Freakonomics book.


5. The Everything Economics Book: From theory to practice, your complete guide to understanding economics today - The Everything Economics Book by David Mayer and Melanie Fox breaks down complicated economic knowledge and makes it easier to understand, presenting topics like trade, market intervention, unemployment, inflation, supply and demand, foreign exchange markets, and economy measurement.

6. The Armchair Economist: Economics and Everyday Life - Steven Landsburg studies economic questions with a practical twist, exploring off beat topic like the safety of seatbelts, celebrity endorsements, oil spills, workplace safety, and more.

BONUS! Play The Island Game from the Center for Economic Conversion.


7. Economics Through Everyday Life: From China and Chili Dogs to Marx and Marijuana - Economics Through Everyday Life, by Anthony Clark, is considered a primer to economics for aspiring Economists. In a slow-paced introduction, Clark explores markets, taxes, inequality, jobs, business cycles, recessions, and more. Clark even includes true stories to provide a relative approach to economic study.

SUPER BONUS! Download Where Do Goods Come From? Interactive Resource - it's a FREEBIE!!! Use this resource to help instill the knowledge learned in these 7 awesome reads.


I love these awesome books for helping teach economics concepts to my middle and high school students. They help to introduce the finance and math subjects in a way to reach more kids in my classroom. I especially love the first one!

Most people think money, finances, and economics are boring, everyday topics that individuals are forced to learn but never enjoy. Those people are likely using academic textbooks to "learn" economics, but the only thing they're likely to retain is a resentment for how boring the topic is. These 7 great books for teaching middle and high school economics are sure to encourage your students to embrace the study of economics and not only retain, but enjoy, the knowledge! There are so many entertaining economics games and interactive lesson plans, and coupling them with these 7 great books for economic classes are sure to inspire your students to an economic wealth of knowledge!

Happy Teaching!

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Michele Luck
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7 Great Books for Teaching World Geography

7 Great Books for Teaching World Geography


Teaching World Geography is rewarding in many ways. Teaching geography in middle school and high school allows you to travel through time and space, leading a room full of eager World Geography students to new cultures in faraway places. Geography doesn’t have to be maps and memory drills; instead, interactive geography lessons can merge core content, images, diversity, technology, and emotional accounts, transporting your students across the world while remaining safely in their seats in your classroom. Boring geography studies are sure to go in one ear and out the other, but integrating these 7 great books for teaching world geography into your lesson plans will provide a new perspective on an otherwise difficult topic.

Reading full length books in World Geography can be a great way to address core content, integrate diversity, and practice skills. These seven books are at the top of my list when teaching my Geography students. I love the images the first one suggests!


Today’s teachers are on the brink of innovation, utilizing today’s technology with new teaching strategies, classroom community techniques, and other exciting lesson plans and ideas to integrate into their classroom. However, World Geography is still often seen as a topic of repetitive regurgitation. Memory practice and drills frequent the lesson plans of World Geography teachers, but your students aren’t likely to retain their geography knowledge once they leave your classroom. Instead, using these 7 great books for teaching World Geography will transplant your middle school and high schools students to a different place, allowing them to absorb general social studies topics while learning, and remembering, world geography.


7 Great Books for Teaching World Geography


1. Where Am I Wearing?: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes – Kelsey Timmerman’s Where Am I Wearing? transports readers alongside journalist Timmerman as he researches the manufacturers of his clothing, encountering poor working conditions and the poverty that riddles many of the workers he meets. Check out the 2012 version for bonus content updating the reader on a fair trade shoe factory.

BONUS! Have students research the countries of their own clothing, and design and share Paper Dolls Around the World with their classmates. You may be teaching teenagers, but they’re sure to engage in a tactile activity like coloring!

2. Material World: A Global Family Portrait – Material World, by Peter Menzel, Mann, and Kennedy, follows over a dozen photographers as they co-mingle with families from other cultures. Illustrating the cultural similarities and differences with striking photographs, Material World provides faces and names with whom your students will connect.

3. Women in the Material World - By Faith D'Aluisio and Menzel, Women in the Material World accompanies Material World: A Global Family Portrait, interviewing and intertwining with the lives of women around the world. 

4. The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny, and Landscape - By Harm de Blij,The Power of Place examines the importance of the culture and physical location into which a person in born. He explores language, technological advances, medical risks, environmental challenges, and more, while stressing the current political and social stance on geography.

BONUS! The Power of Place pairs great with any geography lesson, but integrating it early into a complete World Geography course will ensure a solid foundation for your geography students!

SUPER BONUS! Have students research a country and hypothesize about the differences they would encounter if they had been born in that country. Share with the class!

5. Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash - Garbage Land presents a nontraditional approach to exploring and learning geography. Author Elizabeth Royte studies garbage consumption around the world. Though teaching about trash isn't commonplace, this book provides a vital look at an aspect of culture and geography which is often overlooked.

6. Hungry Planet: What the World Eats - Like Material World, Menzel's Hungry Planet follows thirty families worldwide, taking an intimate look into their shopping carts, their kitchen cabinets, and on their dinner tables. Menzel studies what kind of groceries each family buys but also delves into the familial traditions that occur around the dinner table.

BONUS! Have students read excerpts from all three Menzel works (Material World, Women in the Material World, and Hungry Planet) and make charts to compare and contrast the clothing and food from different countries.


7. Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story - Douglas Preston, scientist and adventurer, uprooted his life in 2012 to set off on an exploratory expedition to find the White City, also known as the Lost City of the Monkey God, in Honduras. Preston recounts his experiences on the expedition, intimately discussing Honduran culture, the history behind the curse of the Lost City, the scientific findings of the journey, and the life-threatening disease that he and his fellow scientists contracted.

Reading full length books in World Geography can be a great way to address core content, integrate diversity, and practice skills. These seven books are at the top of my list when teaching my Geography students. I love the images the first one suggests!Though most traditional World Geography lesson plans include memory drills and skills practice, hoping that students will grasp the knowledge they are repetitively studying, they may not retain this knowledge. An interactive approach to teaching World Geography is more effective in presenting a point of view that your students will retain. Using these 7 great books for teaching World Geography alongside interactive lessons like this Five Themes of Geography Centers Investigation Activity, students will transport across the globe, experiencing and understanding other cultures, and building a strong foundation in geography that they may otherwise lack.


Happy Teaching!

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Michele Luck
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7 Incredible Books to Read with World History Students

7 Incredible Books to Read with World History Students




One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching World History is watching your students transform from observers of history to historians. World History offers a unique perspective on history and social studies as a whole; culturally-diverse viewpoints, experiences, and lesson plans present a new piece to the puzzle. From the Renaissance to world religions, cultural differences to comparisons between countries, teaching World History to your students can ignite an interest in the world around them. 

Reading full length books in World History can be a great way for addressing core content and practicing skills. These seven books are at the top of my list when teaching my history students. The first one is my absolute favorite!


Teaching World History doesn’t have to come strictly from a textbook. In fact, presenting different worldviews and cultural ideas will spur an interest in your students that mundane textbooks may not. While many World History books exist, the following 7 incredible books to read with World History students will provide a solid foundation for integrating culture and diversity into your World History lesson plans. Incorporate these texts into your World History lesson plans and encourage your students to embrace the cultural differences wholeheartedly. You’ll watch not only their minds transform, but also their hearts.

7 Incredible Books for World History Students
 
1. Life in a Medieval City - This book, by Frances Gies and Joseph Gies, contrasts factual Middle Age history with a delicate balance of realistic biographical text, entertaining writing styles, and engaging historical perspectives. Discussing French history before the Black Plague, Gies and Gies explore a time before modern conveniences, and what life would have been like in a city circa the Middle Ages.

BONUS! Pair this read with a Middle Ages Daily Life Activity which explores Middle Ages topics including clothing, food, entertainment, weapons, the Bubonic Plague, and more!


2. 1066: The Year of the Conquest - David Halwarth's 1066: The Year of the Conquest describes the time surrounding William the Conqueror's defeat of the English at the Battle of Hastings. Using a plethora of sources, Halwarth examines conflicting perspectives on commoners, kings, and who actually won the battle.

3. The Last Voyage of Columbus: Being the Epic Tale of the Great Captain's Fourth Expedition, Including Accounts of Mutiny, Shipwreck, and Discovery - Written by Martin Dugard, The Last Voyage of Columbus explores the Age of Exploration from a biographical perspective. Dugard writes through the eyes of Christopher Columbus as he retells his life in the year 1500 and the events that followed his discovery of the New World.

BONUS! After reading The Last Voyage, analyze The Washington Post's Five Myths About Christopher Columbus. Were these myths discussed in the book? Solicit reactions from students.


4.  Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone - Martin Dugard tells the viewpoints of both Dr. David Livingstone and a journalist, Morton Stanley, as they embarked upon the exploration of Africa. Discussing all aspects of the exploration, from politics to personal encounters to the good and bad of their journeys, Into Africa discusses African exploration with a very intimate feel.

5.  Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World - Jack Weatherford, author of Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, recounts the Middle Ages and exploration in Asia during and after the time of Genghis Khan. Examining his leadership on a profound level, Weatherford introduces Khan to readers while seamlessly incorporating the history of the times.

BONUS! Create a Venn Diagram after comparing Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World to a History Stories article, 10 Things You May Not Know About Genghis Khan. What similarities did you find? Differences?


6. Guns, Germs & Steel - Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond, Ph.D., recounts tales of exploration and industrialization while boasting the human condition that influenced our modern world. He brings a scientific viewpoint to the table while also examining culture and society and how they were impacted by their environment, their early food production, religion, and more.

7. The Things They Carried - In The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien examines war, but also integrates perspectives on the soldier's innermost thoughts and circumstances, viewpoints from the surrounding world, and delves into truth in storytelling. Renowned by the Chicago Sun as "...controlled and wild, deep and tough, perceptive and shrewd," The Things They Carried brings an emotional aspect into an otherwise chilling account of war.

BONUS READ! Don't dismiss the idea of reading a picture book to or with your World History students. Sometimes, reading a simpler, aesthetically-pleasing children's book can enhance your student's understanding of an otherwise hard-to-grasp or emotionally-trying topic. Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People, and War takes its readers along for the ride with three elephants at a Tokyo Zoo who are influenced greatly by World War II going on around them.

SUPER BONUS! Once students have examined WWII from an emotionally engaging children's perspective, use the WWII Infographic Analysis Interactive Lesson to provide an intellectual perspective on the war.


Reading full length books in World History can be a great way for addressing core content and practicing skills. These seven books are at the top of my list when teaching my history students. The first one is my absolute favorite!World History textbooks are sometimes stereotyped as one-sided, biased, or otherwise ineffective at presenting the whole picture. Studying World History through a different lens, with the use of many external resources, will allow you to present both an emotional perspective which will capture your students and spur an interest in the topic, as well as a more clinical and historically-accurate perspective, which ensures that your World History students will grasp the knowledge needed for AP Testing, standardized testing, further Social Studies education, and college or higher level education. Engage students with a World Religions Comparison Activity, or sit down with a children's book to absorb the emotions surrounding war, poverty, and conflict. Presenting World History lessons in a diverse and engaging manner will incite a love for learning World History among your students.


Happy Teaching!

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Michele Luck
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7 Incredible Books to Read with U.S. History Students

7 Incredible Books to Read with U.S. History Students


Teaching U.S. History doesn't have to be boring; in fact, social studies lessons centered around gripping, modern reading strategies and interesting core content can be fun and exciting for your U.S. History students when you utilize these 7 incredible books to read with U.S. History Students. Including exciting historical texts in your lesson plans can and will encourage your students to delve deeper into the text, fostering a healthy interest in the U.S. History topic of your lesson plan and the historic era itself.



Reading full length books in U.S. History can be a great way for addressing core content and practicing skills. These seven books are at the top of my list when teaching my history students. The first one is my absolute favorite!



There are many books appropriate for your U.S. History students, but these 7 incredible books provide the core content needed to teach a historically engaging lesson plan. Teaching social studies with these texts will encourage a life-long interest in history for your U.S. History students. Thread the following texts into your next lesson planning session, sit back, and watch your students engage!


7 Incredible Books for U.S. History Students

1. Triangle: The Fire That Changed America - Triangle is one of my all-time favorite U.S. History texts. I use it when teaching about the Progressive Era. Detailing the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire of 1911, Triangle illustrates a brutal time in which worker's rights, workplace safety, and child labor laws weren't commonplace. Author David von Drehle paints a vivid picture of New York City circa the early 1900s, telling the unabashed story of the era while highlighting the events of that fateful day.

Bonus! Incorporate NPR's The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire podcast archives to further engage your readers and bring the story to life.

Super bonus! Use the Gilded Age Complete Unit for U.S. History to build a strong foundation for the Progressive Era.


2. The Train to Crystal City - Another great U.S. History read for students is The Train to Crystal City: FDR's Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America's Only Family Internment Camp During World War II. Author Jan Jarboe Russell explores social studies concepts while following two interned teenagers as they face the struggles of daily life in an internment camp alongside the regular complications of adolescence. Allowing your U.S. History Students to bond with these two girls will present a less clinical perspective to World War II and internment camps.

3. The Long Way Home - David Laskin's The Long Way Home: An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War follows 12 U.S. immigrant soldiers, fighting alongside their fellow draftees during World War I. The Long Way Home tells a riveting, yet true, tale of the Gilded Age that will both educate your U.S. History students and also vividly paint an emotional picture of WWI and immigration.

Bonus! Bring WWI to life with this engaging Trench Warfare activity.


4. The Children's Blizzard - From the same author as The Long Way Home, The Children's Blizzard tells a similarly engaging tale of the 1800s American frontier. Opening the tale with hundreds of young pioneers who perished on the prairie following an unexpected cold snap and blizzard, David Laskin explores the Homestead Act, Westward Expansion, and American Settlement in 19th century America.

Bonus! Have students research the MinnPost's Minnesota History article recounting the blizzard that took so many teenage lives in 1888. Compare and contrast the brief article with Laskin's detailed account.


5. The Worst Hard Time - Timothy Egan, New York Times writer and author of The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, follows many families who suffered and persevered through the Great Depression, facing daily struggles of living and raising a family in the Dust Bowl, circa early 1930s.

6. Warriors Don't Cry - Autobiography Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High by Melba Pattillo Beals transports readers to 1957 when Melba faced the challenges and perils of high school. Except, Melba didn't have a normal high school existence. She faced incredible persecution from her classmates, was attacked and injured multiple times, and took a stand for Civil Rights. This book is a great introduction into the Civil Rights Movement, integration, and the Brown v. Board ruling that shook American schools in the 1950s.

Bonus! Allow students to re-enact Brown v. Board with the U.S. Courts re-enactment script. Or, encourage students to engage in debate regarding the ruling.


7. Dixie's Daughters - Encourage controversial reading on Confederate values and traditions and spur healthy debate about life in the South post Civil War. Karen Cox's Dixie's Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture (New Perspectives on the History of the South) details the efforts by the members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy as they worked to commemorate and preserve the Confederate lifestyle, memorializing the Confederacy beyond its time.

Quick Tips to Choose the Right Reads

  • Consider your audience! Your class may be more technically inclined, and your students may appreciate a clean, historically accurate viewpoint. Or, your students may benefit from a vividly illustrated piece with emotion and memoir.
  • Mix it up! U.S. History students can benefit from textbook material that is age appropriate and educationally advanced. They may also engage in a children's book, analyzing the images and simple text.


Reading full length books in U.S. History can be a great way for addressing core content and practicing skills. These seven books are at the top of my list when teaching my history students. The first one is my absolute favorite!
Compiling the many resources at your digital fingertips can move your U.S. History lesson plans from boring or dull to relative, interesting, and inspiring. Teaching U.S. History should be fun for you and your students! From a complete Primary Source Analysis bundled set to elevate student engagement, to interactive, era-specific walking tours, use these resources to allow your U.S. history students the opportunity to move beyond basic social studies lessons!

Happy Teaching! 


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Michele Luck
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