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Summer Reading Recommendations

Summer is the perfect time to dive into some good books! We asked three alums for a few recommendations to help you jumpstart your summer reading lists. Enjoy!

By Sara-Kay Mooney

June 9, 2021

A line of books in a library

Rahul's Recommendations

Rahul Nair (Charlotte-Piedmont Triad ‘19) taught fourth-grade math at Union Hill Elementary. He will be attending Washington University in St. Louis to pursue his JD, where he will be focusing on corporate and financial law.   

"Think Again" by Adam Grant

As educators, we preach the importance of learning—yet, we often forget the importance of relearning and admitting we are wrong. Organizational psychologist Adam Grant explores embracing the unknown and how we can all be better at embracing the joy of being wrong. Grant eloquently describes how we often act as preachers or politicians, defending and preaching our view, when we should be acting as scientistsconstantly thinking and analyzing our views.  As fluid as education—and frankly the world— has been the last 12 months, Grant's work should appeal to all of us, and why we need to think again, again.  

"Caste" by Isabel Wilkerson

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson pens a brilliant analysis of how race and caste have affected American society and how they might be more intertwined than we might want to believe. Wilkerson manages to elicit difficult questions about how American society has vilified and subjugated minorities with riveting prose and insightful comparisons to the usage of castes in other societies. As someone who spent half of his life in Mumbai, I found the comparisons between the caste system in India and the institutionalized racism and essentially a caste system here in the United States compelling. 

On My List: "How To Avoid a Climate Disaster" by Bill Gates 

Arguably, the largest threat to human existence is that rise in global temperatures could soon lead to irreversible damage to Earth. Well written and easy to follow, Gates lays out practical and wide-ranging suggestions to get us to net-zero greenhouse emissions.  Tapping into experts from physics, chemistry, political science, and finance, Gates lays out a comprehensive plan to avoid a catastrophic climate disaster. 

Aprille's Recommendations

Aprille Morris-Butler (Charlotte-Piedmont Triad ‘19), a Leroy “Pop” Miller Fellow, is entering her third year of teaching High School Sciences in Charlotte.  

"Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" by Beverly Daniel Tautm, Ph.D

Although the title would imply that this book only discusses the experiences of Black students, it delves into conversation about non-Black POC as well. Meant to help explain racial identity development, it walks us through what this looks like in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. I especially loved the portions of the book that deal with how our needs change as we move through predominately-white structures and systems. 

"Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools" by Monique W. Morris

This book dives deep into an often overlooked group in education: Black girls. Morris uses personal anecdotes to humanize statistics and evoke a sense of sympathy that I believe everyone who works in education needs to have. Pushout centers the experience of the students we serve, while highlighting the need for trauma-informed policies and practices. A must-read! 

On My List: "Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women a Movement Forgot" by Mikki Kendall  

Recommended to me by a friend, Hood Feminism shines a light on why so many Black, queer, and disabled women feel excluded or can’t relate to the large-scale feminist movement sweeping the nation (think: "girlboss"). I look forward to spending some time with it this summer.

Joey's Recommendations

Joey Eckstrom (Charlotte-Piedmont Triad ‘10) is completing his fourth year as the Assistant Principal at Cabarrus Opportunity School in Cabarrus County, which is the district’s alternative school. Prior to this role, Joey attended UNC Chapel Hill for his master’s degrees in Public Administration and School Administration. He taught at Garinger High School as a corps member in Charlotte.

"Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America" by Ibram X. Kendi

The subtitle of Stamped thoroughly sums up the book. Kendi takes an in-depth look at the history of American racism, starting from the Renaissance to modern history. It provides context for certain events throughout American history through the lens of race and racism, which are often overlooked or glossed over in textbooks. I enjoyed reading it as a former social studies teacher, as it gave new insight into different periods of time—from the American Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement to the election of the first African American president. I think it would appeal to others because there are a lot of “aha!” moments and reminders of the past.

"The Feedback Fix: Dump the Past, Embrace the Future, and Lead the Way to Change" by Joe Hirsch

I am reading this for my school district’s summer leadership program. Hirsch tackles the topic of feedback and makes an argument that traditional feedback (i.e., an annual end-of-year performance review) is an outdated byproduct of the Industrial Age. He then provides examples of how to change how we provide feedback, making it more “feedforward.” I liked the book because it provided a lot of insight and best practices to support staff members in obtaining their professional goals and improving their performance. He ties in numerous examples from various fieldsfrom business to education. For educators specifically, he provides examples of how to approach feedforward as school administrators and teachers alike, especially using strategies to help students foster a love for learning.

On My List: "The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventurers, and the Dawn of Empire" by Susan Ronald 

I bought the book over 10 years ago and I never found the time to read it. I’ve finally cracked it open and it is providing a better understanding of Queen Elizabeth I, the competition between her and other monarchs in Europe, and the origins of colonialism. I’m looking forward to finishing it!