One of my favorite things to do over the summer break is to catch up on some professional reading. Considering the caseload most school counselors have, reading for professional development on school days is next to impossible. In fact, while I love scouting around for SEL books for my kiddos, I will admit it sure is nice to indulge in a non-kiddie SEL related book for a change! And what better time than summer break to get to it!

If you're looking for suggestions, here are some of my favorites:

1. UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World by Michele Borba

As the writer points out, we are part of a generation where teens today are a lot less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. In an age where we are self-absorbed and self-obsessed - termed 'the Selfie Syndrome' by Borba, children’s academic performance has been impacted for the worse and that in turn has also led to bullying behaviors. When children grow up not learning how to empathize, their ability to collaborate, problem-solve, and display integrity and resilience, is also hampered.

The author offers parents and educators a 9-step empathy building program with tips to guide kids from birth to life beyond college, to combat the growing empathy crisis among kids today. We had a book club for our IMPACT members where we got to chat with the author herself! Want more details on IMPACT, my membership for school counselors? Check out all of the details here!

2. Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom by Kristin Souers and Pete Hall

If there is one book that is both backed by ample research and the authors' (one of who is a therapist and the other, a veteran principal) own experiences working with trauma-affected students and their teachers, and that offers practical and comprehensive strategies for creating a trauma-sensitive learning space, this is it!

Childhood trauma has a profound effect on learning and teaching, and as a counselor, I would suggest you recommend teachers in your school to also read this book. This solution-focused book will help you gain a better understanding of how trauma adversely affects learning, motivation, and overall student success in the classroom, provides strategies for creating a safe space and building relationships, and helps you recenter and view disruptive student behaviors differently such that you are able to provide what students need to break out of this cycle. Most importantly, educator self-care techniques are an important aspect of this book.

3. Better Than Carrots or Sticks: Restorative Practices for Positive Classroom Management by Dominique Smith, Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey

As counselors, more often than not, we reach out for books that advocate for restorative justice. This book provides a practical approach in regards to setting expectations for positive student behavior and the honing of relational skills. Learning to develop a non-confrontational rapport with your most challenging students, is bound to be a huge takeaway. It shares how mutual understanding and respect yield far more positive results in the long run than punishment and finger-pointing would.

4. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

In this delightfully captivating book, Duckworth gives us an insight into the challenging lives of different professionals and children, and shows us the importance of cultivating tenacity. Through her learning from interviews with peak performers such as JP Morgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, New Yorker cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff, and Seattle Seahawks Coach, Pete Carroll, among others, and her years of research, you learn that grit can be learned irrespective of IQ or circumstances, and that what goes through your mind when you don't succeed makes all the difference and that has nothing to do with talent or luck. This is one book that is good for both professional as well as personal development.

5. Imagine No Child Left Invisible: Building Emotionally Safe Spaces for Inclusive & Creative Learning by Shelja Sen

This book reminds me of the TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on 'The Danger of a Single Story'. The author says, that from the time children are little, we start making stories about them. Schools are like factories where these stories are in constant manufacturing. Some kids who are at the top of the social hierarchy enjoy rich, diverse and colorful stories. But there are a number of students who spend most of their lives in school, holding on to single story where they've been branded as not good enough. These children are usually the ones that are invisible in the classroom, and through this book, Sen encourages, in a number of practical ways, teachers to build and nurture relationships with EACH child, in order to build an emotionally safe and inclusive classroom.

What are you reading this summer? Let me know in the comments!




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