The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963

Watsons Go to Birmingham Book Cover

During my first year as a Spanish teacher, every single student, teacher, and staff at my middle school got a copy of this book. We read it together over several weeks, and teachers were asked to incorporate the book into their lesson ideas as much as possible. I was working part time, and my principal said I was not obligated to participate. But, I fell in love with the characters and the story and I made sure we took time out of our classes every week to have a discussion of the assigned chapters.

I grew up in Colombia, and while I attended an American school, American history, and especially more recent history that was barely in the textbooks, was rather nebulous and disconnected from my own life. This book made me aware of events and circumstances that have radically changed how I approach people at school and in the larger community.

— Submitted by Bea Leiderman, Instructional Technology Coach, Goochland High School

Where the Sidewalk Ends

where the sidewalk ends book cover

This book helped me to realize that there are many different ways to look at things. The poems were so imaginative that they helped take me to different places.


Submitted by Suzanne Taylor, teacher at Randolph Elementary School

Among the Hidden

Among the Hidden Book Cover

This is an excellent series that was recommended by my former students. They enjoyed the series so much that I felt left out! It is a fast paced, keep you reading series that I really enjoyed for a summer read!


Submitted by Johanna Schmeichel from Randolph Elementary School

My Side of the Mountain

As a pre-teen, I lived vicariously through the story of a young boy who survived a year on his own in the woods. I was living in Colorado Springs at the time and would head up into the mountains as often as I could with my friends. I now live on the side of a mountain in Nelson County with a tree-house-like home overlooking the Afton Valley and enjoy looking for edible food in my woods–just in case I need to survive on my own!


Submitted by Debbie White, Chief Financial Officer

East of Eden

East of Eden Book Cover

This work of fiction heightened my awareness about the impact of free will on ones life. While “The rain falls on the good and the bad,” we choose how to react, and at the last, it is the sum total of all those choices which determines how we will be remembered.

Sherrill Kauffman, Enrichment Resource Teacher, RES

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, book cover

This Pulitzer winning book tells the powerful and little-known story of the great migration of Black, American citizens who fled the oppressive South in search of a better life for themselves and their families in the cities of the Northern and Western geography of our country. This tragic part of our American history was chronicled so well through the eyes of the three main characters. The book helped me to understand our current and very difficult American cultural and political situation and the greater need for acceptance between all of America’s citizenry.


Submitted by Cheri Wolff, teacher at Byrd Elementary School

Teach Like a Pirate

Teach Like a Pirate Book Cover

Teach Like a Pirate not only encouraged me to take some educational risks and step outside of my comfort zone to try new (and engaging) lessons, but it also gave me validation for many things I was already implementing in my classroom. TLAP turned me on to using a Twitter PLN to gain personal PD that interested me, which has connected me with incredible educators across the world. Additionally, I’ve read a large number of books that Dave Burgess Publishing has put out to aid my professional growth and to get me excited before, during, and after each school year.


Submitted by Jennifer Gates, teacher at Randolph Elementary School


Holes Book Cover

I first read this novel in 5th grade, and it was one of the first novels that I absolutely loved cover to cover. Before reading Holes, my mom had to bribe me to read with other rewards. After finding this book, and being transported to another world, full of mystery, friendship, and adventure, I was hooked on reading!


Submitted by Jennifer Eastwood, teacher at Randolph Elementary School