Summer Reading Recommendations

We asked some team members from Opportunity Education and the Quest Forward High Schools to share what’s on their summer reading list. They came through with a range of book recommendations: some support professional and personal growth while others are just fun “beach reads.”  Enjoy! 

Recommendations for Professional and Personal Growth

Sarah Earnest, Quest Forward High School

How Full is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton
This short book explores how even small interactions impact your relationships, productivity, and mindset. It has lots of practical helpful advice on how to “fill the buckets” of those around you, build culture, and nurture positivity.

Teach like a Pirate by Dave Burgess
This book intrigues me. It encourages educators to increase student engagement by bringing passion and excitement into the classroom.

The Writing Rope: A Framework for Explicit Writing Instruction in All Subjects by Joan Sedita
I chose this book for my own reading list this summer. Writing is such a crucial skill —  throughout high school, college, and your career.


Jolene Zywica, Opportunity Education

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Al Switzler, Ron McMillan, Joseph Grenny, Emily Gregory, Kerry Patterson

I highly recommend this book. It changed how I communicate with people at work and in my personal life, and it helps me lead and collaborate in ways that are genuine, honest, caring, and direct.

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott

This is another book that improved my communication skills. Hard conversations are still hard, but I can navigate through them with more confidence because of the strategies I gained.


Rachel Jerez, Opportunity Education

Understanding by Design: Professional Development Workbook by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins
I spent plenty of time thinking about backward design in grad school, but I wanted to dive back in as I pulled together resources for our schools. And I am so glad I did! The fundamentals in this text are ideas that all educational professionals should revisit. It comes with templates and examples, and it reminded me of some important unit design concepts I’d forgotten.


Kris Davison, Quest Forward High School

The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness by Jonathan Haidt

I recommend this book for both educators and parents. It’s a wake up call regarding teenage anxiety and how it’s impacted by social media and cell phones.


Ed Vogel, Quest Forward High School

Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland and J.J. Sutherland

This book is about working smarter, better, and faster. And that’s something that can be applied to improving long-term student group work.

The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues by Patrick M. Lencioni 

This talks about the “HHS” of being a better team player, which is being hungry, humble, and smart. It’s a great book for leadership and team building.

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

This is one of my favorite books and is a perfect choice for those who want to do some soul searching. It helped me when I felt lost and reminded me about the “can/want paradigm” — just because you can doesn’t always mean you want to.


Recommendations for the Beach

Shannon Carey, Opportunity Education

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

This book is historical fiction, set in the 1930’s during the Great Depression. It tells the story of the Pack Horse Library Project, which was championed by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The program employed librarians to deliver books and other reading materials on horseback, creating jobs and improving literacy in eastern Kentucky. I enjoy reading about strong, independent women so this is a favorite.

The Women by Kristin Hannah 

Another one of my favorites where the protagonist is a strong, independent woman. This is the story of a woman who joins the Army Nurse Corps after her brother is shipped out to serve in Vietnam. It’s a realistic portrayal of the conditions that the nurses in Vietnam faced.


Elizabeth Lehnertz, Opportunity Education

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

This was the first book I read that was set during the COVID pandemic. Reading the book brought back the emotions associated with that unknown time period. I don’t want to give away too much about the story, but it’s a fun read with a surprise at the end.

Educated by Tara Westover

I really enjoyed this memoir of a young woman’s experience growing up in a survivalist, isolationist family. It is an inspiring story, and a testament to the power of education, regardless of the format.


Get the latest in our newsletter

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.