The best books for looking inside an adolescent’s mind

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the co-author of Small Teaching K-8. I hold Massachusetts teacher licensure in English 5-12, Library k-12, and School Administration 5-8 as well as an M.Ed. from Boston College.


I wrote...

Small Teaching K-8: Igniting the Teaching Spark with the Science of Learning

By Sarah Connell Sanders, James M. Lang,

Book cover of Small Teaching K-8: Igniting the Teaching Spark with the Science of Learning

What is my book about?

Compared to the 17% of teachers likely to leave the profession annually prior to the pandemic, now 50% of all teachers plan to quit or transfer by the end of the school year. On top of that, a much higher proportion of teachers are showing symptoms of depression than the general adult population. We are exhausted. Working conditions are more stressful than ever. And, if the prospect of overhauling your entire course scares you, I want you to know that you’re not alone. Start by making the small changes outlined in Small Teaching K-8 to reduce time spent planning and grading while subsequently increasing learning outcomes for your students.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Uncommon Sense Teaching: Practical Insights in Brain Science to Help Students Learn

Sarah Connell Sanders Why did I love this book?

I am not a cognitive scientist; I am a practitioner. Nevertheless, having a complex understanding of how the adolescent mind works is key to my success as a teacher.

I love this book because it explains the process of moving information from the working memory to the long-term memory in the simplest of terms.

By Barbara Oakley, Beth Rogowsky, Terrence J. Sejnowski

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Uncommon Sense Teaching as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Top 10 Pick for Learning Ladders’ Best Books for Educators Summer 2021

A groundbreaking guide to improve teaching based on the latest research in neuroscience, from the bestselling author of A Mind for Numbers.

Neuroscientists and cognitive scientists have made enormous strides in understanding the brain and how we learn, but little of that insight has filtered down to the way teachers teach. Uncommon Sense Teaching applies this research to the classroom for teachers, parents, and anyone interested in improving education. Topics include:

  •  keeping students motivated and engaged, especially with online learning
  •  helping students remember information long-term, so…


Book cover of The Creativity Code: How AI is Learning to Write, Paint and Think

Sarah Connell Sanders Why did I love this book?

Why should we be emphasizing creativity in classrooms? In short order, our students’ careers will require them to augment the work of machines.

ChatGPT and DALI-2 are only the beginning. Du Sautoy explores the implications of artificial intelligence on the future of work. The Creativity Code is a reminder that technology is only as creative as its programmers—at least, for now. 

By Marcus du Sautoy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Creativity Code as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Will a computer ever compose a symphony, write a prize-winning novel, or paint a masterpiece? And if so, would we be able to tell the difference?

As humans, we have an extraordinary ability to create works of art that elevate, expand and transform what it means to be alive.

Yet in many other areas, new developments in AI are shaking up the status quo, as we find out how many of the tasks humans engage in can be done equally well, if not better, by machines. But can machines be creative? Will they soon be able to learn from the…


Book cover of In the Wild Light

Sarah Connell Sanders Why did I love this book?

Lovers of John Green’s Looking for Alaska and Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep will appreciate this YA-novel.

In the Wild Light is a coming-of-age story about two friends plucked from rural poverty to attend an elite boarding school. Addiction, class, and friendship are major themes in this excellent portrait of an adolescent’s mind. 

By Jeff Zentner,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked In the Wild Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal

I've always loved when the light finds the broken spots in the world and makes them beautiful . . .

Cash's life in his small Tennessee town is hard. He lost his mom to an opioid addiction and his grandfather's illness is getting worse. His smart but troubled best friend, Delaney, is his only salvation. But Delaney is meant for greater things, and she finds a way for Cash to leave with her. Will abandoning his old life be the thing that finally breaks Cash, or will it be the making of him?

From the…


Book cover of I Was Told There'd Be Cake

Sarah Connell Sanders Why did I love this book?

Sloane Crosley’s first collection of literary essays is a hilarious celebration of emerging adulthood.

Her vulnerability and clever wit are on display as she navigates the hijinx of making a life in New York City. Crosley’s distinct writer’s voice has stuck with me through my transition from teacher to author. 

By Sloane Crosley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Was Told There'd Be Cake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of 2018's much buzzed about Look Alive Out There...

Wry, hilarious, and profoundly genuine, Sloane Crosley's debut collection of literary essays is a celebration of fallibility and haplessness in all their glory.  The New York Times bestseller that both captured and influenced a generation.

From despoiling an exhibit at the Natural History Museum to provoking the ire of her first boss to siccing the cops on her mysterious neighbor, Crosley can do no right despite the best of intentions -- or perhaps because of them. Together, these essays create a startlingly funny and revealing portrait of a…


Book cover of Such a Fun Age

Sarah Connell Sanders Why did I love this book?

I read this novel in one sitting because I was so taken by Reid’s portrayal of ‘parent vs. caretaker.’

As teachers, we navigate these challenging relationships every day. Such a Fun Age shows the rawness and imperfection of parenthood alongside the precariousness of taking responsibility for someone else’s child.

By Kiley Reid,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Such a Fun Age as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Best Book of the Year:
The Washington Post • Chicago Tribune • NPR • Vogue • Elle • Real Simple • InStyle • Good Housekeeping • Parade • Slate • Vox • Kirkus Reviews • Library Journal • BookPage

Longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize

An Instant New York Times Bestseller

A Reese's Book Club Pick 

"The most provocative page-turner of the year." --Entertainment Weekly

"I urge you to read Such a Fun Age." --NPR

A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and…


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Legacy of the Witch

By Kirsten Weiss,

Book cover of Legacy of the Witch

Kirsten Weiss Author Of The Mysteries of Tarot: A Work of the Imagination

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

When I joined the Peace Corps in the early nineties, I wasn’t allowed to take much luggage. I decided to bring a Tarot deck, figuring I’d finally have time to learn it while parked in an Estonian forest. That Tarot deck opened up a world of Renaissance mysticism and magic, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Tarot cards and readings feature prominently in many of my cozy mystery novels, not the least of which are the Tea and Tarot mysteries. Now my imaginary Tarot reader from that series, Hyperion Night, has recently written his own Tarot guidebook, The Mysteries of Tarot.

Kirsten's book list on how to read Tarot

What is my book about?

Seeker: As societies grow increasingly fragmented, hopelessness, nihilism, division, and despair are on the rise. But there is another way—a way of mystery and magic, of wholeness and transformation. Do you dare take the first step? Our path is not for the faint-hearted, but for seekers of ancient truths...

Legacy of the Witch is a spellbinding, interactive tale of a woman’s midlife quest to understand the complexities of her own heart. A paranormal women’s fiction murder mystery for anyone who’s wondered if there might be more to their own life than meets the eye…

Legacy of the Witch

By Kirsten Weiss,

What is this book about?

Seeker: As societies grow increasingly fragmented, hopelessness, nihilism, division and despair are on the rise. But there is another way—a way of mystery and magic, of wholeness and transformation. Do you dare take the first step? Our path is not for the faint-hearted, but for seekers of ancient truths.

All April wants is to start over after her husband’s sudden death. She’s conjuring a new path—finally getting her degree and planning her new business in bucolic Pennsylvania Dutch country. Joining an online mystery school seems like harmless fun.

But when a murdered man leaves her a cryptic message, she catches…


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