12 Teachers Share Their Most Important Books

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March 23, 2018

When The Meemic Foundation offered a grant for teachers to spend on Scholastic books, the main question on the application was: “What books impacted you the most – as a child and as an educator?”

We got some great responses. And in honor of National Reading Month in March, we’re sharing some of our favorites.

“I fell in love with the ‘Little House’ series as a child. I also loved Beverly Cleary books. I use these books in my classroom. We even make butter like they did in ‘the olden days’ to celebrate the end of ‘Little House in the Big Woods.’ We then use the butter on a pancake breakfast.”
Dawn V., Big Bend, WI
“When I was younger, I could not get enough of the ‘Nancy Drew’ series or the ‘Trixie Belden’ series. I loved mysteries. Then, I went through a period in my teen years of enjoying romance or horror. There was not a lot of quality teen fiction when I was young. It has only been as an adult that I have seen the genre explode. Through books such as ‘Touching Spirit Bear,’ ‘The Giver’ or ‘The Last Book in the Universe,’ I have been able to open the world of reading to students who otherwise would never think to touch a book.”
Andrea P., Wyoming, MI
‘Harry Potter’ of course! Every child should be imbued with a sense of empowerment and wonder at a young age. The themes of loyalty, determination and doing the right thing are still with me today.”
Colleen S., Woodridge, IL
“How can I choose only a few? As a teen, I fell in love with ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ In college, I was required to read a LOT of picture books and young adult books. I love children's books because they make difficult concepts accessible to children. Today, my favorites include ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events,’ ‘The Crossover,’ ‘Wonder’ and books with diverse characters.”
Robin B., Milwaukee, WI
“I loved ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ since I was very young. I was always intrigued by an author that could come up with such a unique story with strange characters. I still read it!”
Jamie S., Byron Center, MI
“The books that really impacted me as a child were the ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ series. The ‘Harry Potter’ series and the ‘Chronicles of Narnia.’ I try to stay with the times and what the students are reading. As an educator, I really looked towards Deepak Chopra books to enlighten me about everyday things that happen and to get a new perspective on life.”
Bart P., Chicago, IL
“There are several books that impacted me the most as a child and as an educator. First and foremost was ‘Matilda.’ I could relate to Matilda finding solace in books, and it caused me to enjoy reading even more than I already did. I often found escape in the story, and went through many copies of the book. Additionally, ‘The Giving Tree’ is another book that really impacted me as a child. It taught me to always be generous in spirit and give whatever I am able to. Further, and most importantly of all, it taught me that no matter what status you currently are in life, there is always something you can contribute. As an educator, I think texts by Dr. Ross Greene, ‘The Explosive Child’ being foremost, have really provided me a wonderful foundation and changed the way that I view and interact with children with emotional and behavioral disorders.”
Barry W., Stevens Point, WI
“The books that impacted me the most were historical mystery novels. These directly impacted my teaching as I now hold a BS in history with a minor in earth science, along with my teaching certificate.”
Eric K., Whitmore Lake, MI
“As a child, I loved the ‘Winnie the Pooh’ series.  My father would read to us every Saturday morning as my siblings and I would jump into my parents’ bed, while my mom would go to the kitchen to prepare our breakfast. It was a very special time during my childhood and brings great memories of my family. … I remember ‘1984’ having a huge impact on me. Of course, it was 1972 at the time. ... As a teacher, I read, among a variety of books, ‘Lafcadio, the Lion that Shot Back,’ by Shel Silverstein to my classroom every year, for over 30 years. Even when I was teaching middle school-aged students, they would find it enjoyable and would beg to borrow my book whenever they could.   …  I also like to read an abridged version of L. Frank Baum’s ‘Wizard of Oz.’ I then have the students make comparisons of the book to the movie, and they are shocked at the differences. I find it to be a good writing project for them to compare and contrast the book to the movie.”
Carolyn L., Glendale Heights, IL
“As a child, a maroon bound book of diverse poetry styles was my favorite. It was given to me by a school librarian who was a published poet and encouraged me to write. I also enjoyed reading ‘Anne of Green Gables’ and discussing the book with my mother.  As an educator, my favorite book for students is ‘Wonder’ by R.J. Palacio. It opens the eyes of intermediate students to a broader world around them and the struggles some go through. As an educator, my favorite book for colleagues is ‘Mindsets in the Classroom.’
Cheri A., Sherwood, WI
“A book that deeply impacted me as a child was ‘Ender’s Game’ by Orson Scott Card, which was just the coming-of-age story that I needed when I read it in seventh grade. It also opened my eyes to the science fiction genre.  As an educator, one book which has greatly impacted me is ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck.  The message of this book has empowered me, as a professional and as an individual, to constantly grow and increase my optimism and confidence. It has also helped me instill those same values in my students, as well as my own son.”
Daniel Y., Livonia, MI
“As a child, the books of Judy Blume were influential in my wanting to read chapter books.  As an adult, many books have influenced me, but one in particular that was pivotal is ‘Esperanza Rising’ by Pam Munoz Ryan. This is one of the books that I read in preparation for taking the Target Language Proficiency test that was required for my certification.”
Tammee P., Beardstown, IL
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