Four Classic Books for a Teacher’s Summer

As your school year ends, it’s a good time to think about how you can grow in preparation for next year. Reading, of course, is a valuable catalyst for growth. Last year, I wrote a post on summer reading. If you haven’t yet finished that list, you might want to look over it now. Below are four more books that have enriched my own work as a high school social studies teacher. Perhaps they will benefit your summer.

The Seven Laws of Teaching

by John Milton Gregory

In the daily swirl of classes and students I sometimes slide into easy ruts and forget the disciplines that will yield the greatest results. This lucid book is a bracing corrective. It’s also short, providing a tremendous benefit-to-length ratio.

The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890–1914

by Barbara Tuchman

Tuchman explores Western civilization as it stood before the lightning strike of World War I. Political and cultural controversies, innovations in the arts, and the machinations of aristocrats, socialists, and anarchists created upheavals too soon forgotten once the war began. Revealing anecdotes abound, such as the one about the German Kaiser telling a composer that he was conducting his own music all wrong.

The Year of Decision: 1846

by Bernard DeVoto

As DeVoto says in the first chapter, “This book tells the story of some people who went west in 1846. Its purpose is to tell that story in such a way that the reader may realize the far western frontier experience, which is part of our cultural inheritance, as personal experience.” DeVoto accomplishes his purpose brilliantly. In a riveting narrative he tells of manifest destiny, the Mexican War, explorers, politicians, mountain men, and settlers (including the Mormons and the Donner Party).

The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers

by Robert Heilbroner

Economists sulk in the background of history and society. Adam Smith and Karl Marx are often invoked but seldom well understood, and figures such as David Ricardo and Thorstein Veblen lurk even deeper in the shadows. But from this obscurity they exercise great influence, and Heilbroner shines on them the needed light of historical context and clear explanation. The narrative is entertaining and the ideas are stimulating.

Where to find these books? You can always check your local public library. If you want to purchase your own copies, is a great place to start. It searches all the major online booksellers and gives the best prices for both new and used books.

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