The best books about teachers

Who picked these books? Meet our 61 experts.

61 authors created a book list connected to teachers, and here are their favorite teacher books.
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By Robert Specht,

Book cover of Tisha: The Wonderful True Love Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaskan Wilderness

Kirsten Fullmer Author Of Love on the Line

From the list on girls who don’t need to be saved.

Who am I?

I have always been fascinated with stories about women who step outside the norm and accomplish their goals. Books that tell of girls who are shy or insecure, but find inner strength in the face of adversity, inspire me. My mother wasn’t afraid to guide me toward these stories when I was young, and I gave books with this theme to my daughters as well. It doesn’t matter where you start from, it only matters where you think you can go, and I love books that share this idea; especially stories of women who do amazing and unexpected things.  

Kirsten's book list on girls who don’t need to be saved

Discover why each book is one of Kirsten's favorite books.

Why did Kirsten love this book?

This book is about Anne Hobbs, a nineteen-year-old girl, who in 1927 travels to Alaska to run a ramshackle, one-room schoolhouse. Along the way, she is exposed to more than just the elements. Against the local’s advice, she allows Native American children into her class and falls in love with a half-Inuit man. In this fascinating and charming story, Anne learns the meaning of prejudice and perseverance, irrational hatred, and unconditional love. 

This story taught me that we, as girls, can do important things and change the world around us. Anne was sweet and shy, but through showing compassion and concern, she made a change in her community. It wasn’t easy and she faced hardship, but she was successful and content within herself. Why do I love this book? First of all, the book is an adventure about survival in the wilderness. Anne had people watching out for her and…

By Robert Specht,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The beloved real-life story of a woman in the Alaskan wilderness, the children she taught, and the man she loved.
“From the time I’d been a girl, I’d been thrilled with the idea of living on a frontier. So when I was offered the job of teaching school in a gold-mining settlement called Chicken, I accepted right away.”
Anne Hobbs was only nineteen in 1927 when she came to harsh and beautiful Alaska. Running a ramshackle schoolhouse would expose her to more than just the elements. After she allowed Native American children into her class and fell in love with…

Book cover of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Kevin Clouther Author Of Maximum Speed

From the list on literary fiction about the passage of time.

Who am I?

I live in the past, even as the wellness industry tells me to be present. I try to be present! Of course, I also worry about the future. Time for me, inexorably, moves both backward and forward. I’m always writing things down, scared of forgetting. How do other people do it? That’s why I read fiction (or one of the reasons). As Philip Roth said of his father in Patrimony, “To be alive, to him, is to be made of memory—to him if a man’s not made of memory, he’s made of nothing.”

Kevin's book list on literary fiction about the passage of time

Discover why each book is one of Kevin's favorite books.

Why did Kevin love this book?

The popularity of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie may have obscured its structural genius.

Never have I read a book so comfortable drifting between present and future within a single paragraph, even a single sentence. The short novel simultaneously exists inside a classroom in the 1930s and throughout the lives the students will later have as women.

If the Scottish author Muriel Spark had a literary model for this design, I’ve yet to discover it. Sometimes an artist creates something entirely new.

By Muriel Spark,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The brevity of Muriel Spark's novels is equaled only by their brilliance. These four novels, each a miniature masterpiece, illustrate her development over four decades. Despite the seriousness of their themes, all four are fantastic comedies of manners, bristling with wit.
Spark's most celebrated novel, THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE, tells the story of a charismatic schoolteacher's catastrophic effect on her pupils. THE GIRLS OF SLENDER MEANS is a beautifully drawn portrait of young women living in a hostel in London in the giddy postwar days of 1945. THE DRIVER'S SEAT follows the final haunted hours of a woman…

Shirley Chisholm Dared

By Alicia Williams, April Harrison (illustrator),

Book cover of Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress

Carole Boston Weatherford Author Of Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement

From the list on children’s books to fuel big dreams.

Who am I?

Carole Boston Weatherford, author of Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre, has over 60 books, including the Newbery Honor winner, BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom, and three Caldecott Honor winners: Freedom in Congo Square, Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. Recent titles include Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe, R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul, and The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop. A two-time NAACP Image Award winner, she teaches at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

Carole's book list on children’s books to fuel big dreams

Discover why each book is one of Carole's favorite books.

Why did Carole love this book?

I can still remember when Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman elected to Congress. Unabashedly, “unbought and unbossed,” she also threw her hat in the ring in the race for president—the first woman to run. I dare anyone to read her biography and not be inspired.

By Alicia Williams, April Harrison (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shirley Chisholm Dared as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover the inspiring story of the first black woman elected to Congress and to run for president in this picture book biography from a Newbery Honor-winning author and a Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe New Talent Award-winning illustrator.

Meet Shirley, a little girl who asks way too many questions! After spending her early years on her grandparents' farm in Barbados, she returns home to Brooklyn and immediately makes herself known. Shirley kicks butt in school; she breaks her mother's curfew; she plays jazz piano instead of classical. And as a young adult, she fights against the injustice she sees around her,…

The Blazing World

By Siri Hustvedt,

Book cover of The Blazing World

Phoebe Hoban Author Of Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty

From the list on genre-bending artists: inside and out.

Who am I?

I grew up in a creative family. My father was an illustrator before becoming a children’s book author and novelist. My mother, a trained dancer, became my father’s collaborator, illustrating their internationally-known Frances books. They inspired me and encouraged me to develop my own talent. I started writing at nine, and have never stopped since. I became a journalist, writing about culture and art for The New York times, New York Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and Vogue, among others. I am also the author of three well-received artist biographies: Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art; Lucian Freud: Eyes Wide Open; and Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty.

Phoebe's book list on genre-bending artists: inside and out

Discover why each book is one of Phoebe's favorite books.

Why did Phoebe love this book?

Hustvedt creates a very compelling picture of the inner and outer life of a female artist in the contemporary art world, notorious for both its sexism and ageism. The protagonist comes up with a clever ploy for achieving the same success as a male artist: she takes on a male artist’s persona and name, and hires a male artist to impersonate her in public, a convoluted ploy with great potential to ultimately backfire. Don’t want to provide any plot spoilers!

By Siri Hustvedt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Named one of the New York Times Book Review’s 100 Notable Books of the Year ** Publishers Weekly’s Best Fiction Books of 2014 ** NPR Best Books of 2014 ** Kirkus Reviews Best Literary Fiction Books of 2014 ** Washington Post Top 50 Fiction Books of 2014 ** Boston Globe’s Best Fiction of 2014 ** The Telegraph’s Best Fiction to Read 2014 ** St. Louis Post Dispatch’s Best Books of 2014 ** The Independent Fiction Books of the Year 2014 ** One of Buzzfeed’s Best Books Written by Women in 2014 ** San Francisco Chronicle’s Best of 2014 ** A…


By Alfred Habegger,

Book cover of Masked: The Life of Anna Leonowens, Schoolmistress at the Court of Siam

Wendy Bashant Author Of The Same Bright Moon: Teaching China's New Generation During Covid

From the list on teaching abroad.

Who am I?

I’ve been a teacher for over 30 years and a traveler for longer. As a child, I lived in Germany and Japan. When I grew up, I continued to travel, teaching and living in Thailand, London, and China. I’ve written book chapters, poetry, travel pieces, and won a number of writing prizes: the 2023 New York Book Festival prize and a finalist for both the Peter Taylor Prize for Literature and the Gival Press Novel Award. A graduate of Middlebury College (BA) and University of Rochester (PhD), I now live in San Diego with my husband and two cats, teach adult literacy, and work as a volunteer at the San Diego Zoo.

Wendy's book list on teaching abroad

Discover why each book is one of Wendy's favorite books.

Why did Wendy love this book?

Perhaps the most famous teacher abroad is Anna Leonowens, who was immortalized in the musical The King and I. A lowly Victorian woman single-handedly reshapes the history of Thailand. If you want to read that story you can read Margaret Landon’s Anna and the King of Siam.

Far more interesting is Anna’s true story: a con artist, who lies about everything that happened to her. Habegger’s biography Masked sorts through the lies and fiction. He offers a complicated narrative of a biracial woman who told exaggerated tales of enslavement, romance, and her imagined role in democratizing Thailand. Her life becomes one of fancy and self-invention. Both sadly are traps too often seen in myths crafted by self-absorbed travelers living abroad.

By Alfred Habegger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A brave British widow goes to Siam and-by dint of her principled and indomitable character-inspires that despotic nation to abolish slavery and absolute rule: this appealing legend first took shape after the Civil War when Anna Leonowens came to America from Bangkok and succeeded in becoming a celebrity author and lecturer. Three decades after her death, in the 1940s and 1950s, the story would be transformed into a powerful Western myth by Margaret Landon's best-selling book Anna and the King of Siam and Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical The King and I.

But who was Leonowens and why did her story…

Book cover of Women's Lives, Women's Legacies: Passing Your Beliefs and Blessings to Future Generations

Merle R. Saferstein Author Of Living and Leaving My Legacy, Vol. 1

From the list on legacy and legacy projects.

Who am I?

In my 26 years as a Holocaust educator, I worked closely with hundreds of Holocaust survivors helping them to pass along their legacy of remembrance to thousands of students and teachers. When I retired, I developed and began teaching a course entitled Living and Leaving Your Legacy®. Since 2012, I have taught 64 classes and have spoken to audiences locally, nationally, and internationally. My goal is to help people understand that how we live our lives becomes our legacy. I have worked with individuals at the end of their lives helping them to do sacred legacy work and have trained hospice staffs and volunteers to do the same.

Merle's book list on legacy and legacy projects

Discover why each book is one of Merle's favorite books.

Why did Merle love this book?

When I first considered becoming a legacy educator, Women’s Lives, Women’s Legacies was the first book I read on the subject of legacy. This comprehensive book written by Rachel Freed presents women with the opportunity to explore their entire lives with the goal of creating something in writing that is a record of who they are and what has mattered in their lives. The book is divided into three sections: The past where readers examine family history and the legacies of feminine ancestors, the present where they explore who they are and where they came from, and the future where they put their legacy into words. Each chapter affords the reader the opportunity to reflect and create a legacy work to leave behind.

By Rachael Freed,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women's Lives, Women's Legacies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Women's Lives, Women's Legacies: Passing Your Beliefs and Blessings to Future...


By Rachel Harrison,

Book cover of Cackle

Clay McLeod Chapman Author Of Whisper Down the Lane

From the list on bad neighbors.

Who am I?

Neighbors. We’ve all got ‘em, right? We believe we’re the good ones, and we pray we don’t live next door to the bad ones… but sometimes it’s inevitable that we share our property lines with those ill-suited for neighborly behavior. Horror books about bad neighbors are the perfect window into our own communities. We can peer into the lives of others without worry of getting caught. We can tiptoe through their rooms and rummage through their drawers… Who knows what we might find. Are they witches? Serial killers? Devil worshippers? Only their dirty laundry will tell. 

Clay's book list on bad neighbors

Discover why each book is one of Clay's favorite books.

Why did Clay love this book?

A bewitching book from beginning to end. Harrison knows how to blend her horror with humor, along with an added dash of pathos to make her characters feel achingly real and relatable. What would you do if you moved to a new town, only to discover your neighbor just-so-happened to be a witch? Fair warning to those afraid of spiders: This book is crawling with the little homewreckers.

By Rachel Harrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A darkly funny, frightening novel about a young woman learning how to take what she wants from a witch who may be too good to be true, from the author of The Return.
All her life, Annie has played it nice and safe. After being unceremoniously dumped by her longtime boyfriend, Annie seeks a fresh start. She accepts a teaching position that moves her from Manhattan to a small village upstate. She’s stunned by how perfect and picturesque the town is. The people are all friendly and warm. Her new apartment is dreamy too, minus the oddly persistent spider infestation.…

Black Teacher

By Beryl Gilroy, Bernardine Evaristo,

Book cover of Black Teacher

Wendy Webster Author Of Mixing It: Diversity in World War Two Britain

From the list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain.

Who am I?

I’m a historian and writer and worked in universities all my life. I love writing and everything about it—pencils, pens, notebooks, keyboards, Word—not to mention words. I started writing the histories of migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain (and their entanglement with the history of the British Empire) in the 1980s and then kept going. When I studied history at university, migrants and refugees were never mentioned. They still weren’t on historians’ radar much when I started writing about them. Here I’ve picked stories that are not widely known and histories that show how paying attention to migrants and refugees changes ideas about what British history is and who made it. 

Wendy's book list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain

Discover why each book is one of Wendy's favorite books.

Why did Wendy love this book?

I still remember discovering Beryl Gilroy‘s book—it’s one of the very rare memoirs by Black women about living in England in the 1950s and 1960s. There were many single women who migrated to Britain in what was called—much later—the Windrush generation. Most of Gilroy’s memoir is about teaching in London schools, but although she’d done teacher training in Guyana she was rejected by many schools before she got her first teaching job. Her perspective on teaching in an East End London school reverses racial stereotypes. She describes it as an encounter with dirt, disease, backwardness, and ignorance, and all of it pretty uncivilised—just the same conditions that are attributed to her in racist taunts and slurs. She has some low moments but takes much of this in her stride. The memoir bears witness to the appalling racism she experiences but is entertaining and exhilarating.

By Beryl Gilroy, Bernardine Evaristo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Teacher as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The rediscovered classic: an unforgettable memoir by a trailblazing black woman in post-war London, introduced by Bernardine Evaristo ('I dare anyone to read it and not come away shocked, moved and entertained')
Benjamin Zephaniah: 'A must-read. Her life makes you laugh. Her life makes you cry. Get to know her.'
Jacqueline Wilson: 'A superb but shocking memoir ... Imaginative, resilient and inspiring.'
Christie Watson: 'A beautiful memoir of one woman's strength and dignity against the odds.'
Steve McQueen: 'Gilroy blazed a path that empowered generations of Black British educators.'
David Lammy: 'This empowering tale of courage, resistance, and triumph is…

My Dark Vanessa

By Kate Elizabeth Russell,

Book cover of My Dark Vanessa

Daisy Alpert Florin Author Of My Last Innocent Year

From the list on the pain of growing up.

Who am I?

My Last Innocent Year is about a young woman losing innocence and gaining wisdom (the flip side of the coin) as she does the hard and necessary work of becoming herself. As Isabel navigates the transition from child to adult, she discovers that adults are, in fact, as lost and confused as she is. The books I have chosen are ones that explore the sometime (often) painful process of growing up and the joy that comes from learning that our voice matters. As the mother of three teenagers, I feel I’m witnessing this transition in real time.

Daisy's book list on the pain of growing up

Discover why each book is one of Daisy's favorite books.

Why did Daisy love this book?

Hailed as the first novel of the #MeToo movement, Russell’s debut grabs you by the throat and never lets you go.

Vanessa Wye is a bright, insecure fifteen-year-old when she meets Jacob Strane, her magnetic and manipulative English teacher. Before long, their relationship crosses the line into abuse.

Beautifully written and emotionally gutting, Russell succeeds above all in showing the long tail of abuse. We watch as Vanessa loses her innocence twice; first, at the hands of Strane and later as she realizes that what she thought was a great love story was in fact anything but.

By Kate Elizabeth Russell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My Dark Vanessa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An instant New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2021 DYLAN THOMAS AWARD

'A package of dynamite' Stephen King

'Powerful, compulsive, brilliant' Marian Keyes

An era-defining novel about the relationship between a fifteen-year-old girl and her teacher


Vanessa Wye was fifteen-years-old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.…

The Savage Kind

By John Copenhaver,

Book cover of The Savage Kind

Valerie Nieman Author Of In the Lonely Backwater

From the list on young women saving their own lives.

Who am I?

Like my narrator Maggie, I was a child, then a teen wandering the woods and dreaming of a life. I’ve always hated those books/TV shows/films where women, especially young women, are helpless and reliant on a man to get them out of trouble. I gravitate toward stories where females figure out their own paths, not always to a happy ending. I’m still a wanderer today, mostly solo, from New York City to the vast Highlands of Scotland, and while the world can seem scary, I’m confident and free on my own. 

Valerie's book list on young women saving their own lives

Discover why each book is one of Valerie's favorite books.

Why did Valerie love this book?

I was on a panel with John and really enjoyed reading his novel, set in the 1940s. Two teenage girls, Philippa and Judy, are brought together through school and their shared admiration for teacher Christina Martins. A rape—or was it?—and a murder turn this story into a noir tale wrapped in the secrets they keep from others, and themselves. The narrative is uniquely structured with a voice that may be one or the other, not revealed until the end.

By John Copenhaver,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

2022 Lambda Literary Award Finalist in LGBTQ Mystery

Two lonely teenage girls in 1940s Washington, DC, discover they have a penchant for solving crimes-and an even greater desire to commit them-in the new mystery novel by Macavity Award-winning novelist John Copenhaver.

Philippa Watson, a good-natured yet troubled seventeen-year-old, has just moved to Washington, DC. She's lonely until she meets Judy Peabody, a brilliant and tempestuous classmate. The girls become unlikely friends and fashion themselves as intellectuals, drawing the notice of Christine Martins, their dazzling English teacher, who enthralls them with her passion for literature and her love of noirish detective…

The Noisy Classroom

By Angela Shante, Alison Hawkins (illustrator),

Book cover of The Noisy Classroom

Pierce Freelon Author Of Daddy & Me, Side by Side

From the list on children's reads by Black women from North Carolina.

Who am I?

I was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina where I was loved, nurtured, and mentored by several brilliant, creative, and powerful Black women. One of those women was Dr. Maya Angelou, who was close with my Grandmother, Queen Mother Frances Pierce, and was my mom's God-Mother. She and the other authors on this list are all women who I respect professionally and love dearly. I am a picture book author, a Grammy-nominated children's musician, and a father of two. I have read these stories to my children and am so proud to live in the great state of North Carolina with so many talented, genuine, and inspirational Black women.

Pierce's book list on children's reads by Black women from North Carolina

Discover why each book is one of Pierce's favorite books.

Why did Pierce love this book?

I fell in love with Alison's work when I first saw her Instagram profile: "@bunny_fart". Not only did I laugh out loud at the name on her profile, I was also blown away by her wonderfully creative illustrations and animation.

I love her award-winning collabo with author Angela Shante: The Noisy Classroom which follows a young girl who is nervous on her first day of school and her fun-loving, sing-songy teacher. It’s a charming glimpse into a relatable subject: that awkward feeling you get adjusting to an unfamiliar environment. Perfect for any family struggling to embrace a new change. 

By Angela Shante, Alison Hawkins (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Silver Medalist, 2020 Wishing Shelf Book Awards: Books for 6-8 Year Olds
Winner, 2020 American Fiction Awards for Best Cover Design: Children's Books
Finalist, 2020 American Fiction Awards for Children's Fiction

The first day of school is coming... and I'm going to be in the noisy class. Any class but the noisy class will do!

A young girl is about to enter the third grade, but this year she's put into Ms. Johnson's noisy class. Everything about the noisy class is odd. While all the other classes are quiet, Ms. Johnson sings and the kids chatter all day. The door…


By Phoebe Wynne,

Book cover of Madam

Luke Dumas Author Of A History of Fear

From the list on Scottish-set thrillers to keep you up reading.

Who am I?

I’ve loved Scotland ever since I spent a year studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh. In fact, I loved it so much that I returned to the University a couple of years later to complete my master’s degree in creative writing. Between the rugged dramatic landscapes, the stunning Gothic architecture, and the dark cold weather, Scotland was the perfect place to inspire a young aspiring suspense author such as myself—and the ideal setting for a creepy, atmospheric thriller like my debut novel. Although I’ve since moved back to the U.S., I’m always on the lookout for a Scottish-set thriller to take me back to the country where I left my heart but—blissfully—found my husband.

Luke's book list on Scottish-set thrillers to keep you up reading

Discover why each book is one of Luke's favorite books.

Why did Luke love this book?

I love atmospheric novels that tantalize the reader with a slow, creeping sense of dread.

I love novels with dark, moody, rain-lashed settings, especially Scottish ones. I also love novels that are smart and beautifully written, with a literary style all their own. Madam had all of that for me.

With its boarding-school setting and feminist themes, it reminded me of The Stepford Wives meets The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie—two of my all-time favorite novels.

By Phoebe Wynne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A contemporary gothic debut with a feminist edge, for fans of Naomi Alderman and Madeline Miller

'The simmering menace and mystery kept me absolutely gripped' - Jennifer Saint, author of Ariadne

'A highly entertaining and atmospheric read' - Kate Sawyer, Costa Book Awards nominated author of The Stranding

'Rebecca meets The Secret History. Gloriously dark, gloriously gothic' - Sara Collins, Costa First Novel Award-winning author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton

For 150 years, Caldonbrae Hall has loomed high above the Scottish cliffs as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for…


By LaVyrle Spencer,

Book cover of Years

Kara O'Neal Author Of The Inventor's Heart

From the list on romances with loveable, quirky families.

Who am I?

I love my family. I can’t do without them. I have three siblings, and I’m the oldest. My father is a hard-working Texas man who I like to compare to Gus from Lonesome Dove. My mother is a lady. Like Jackie. She’s a classic. This made for interesting suppers. We were expected to behave like royalty while our father wanted us to “pull his finger”. I can’t tell you the mischief that went on in my house. And the fanciness. Oh, my heavens, the fanciness. My mother has so many teapots. My family is the reason I can tell stories, and I applaud any author who makes family come alive.

Kara's book list on romances with loveable, quirky families

Discover why each book is one of Kara's favorite books.

Why did Kara love this book?

Years is a beautiful age-gap romance that also allows the reader to get to know a gentle older brother, a feisty mother, a risk-taking son, and many other townsfolk. The Heroine is a teacher, and the author paints such a beautiful picture of the students. Each of them has their own personalities. Years overflows with so much heartache, sweetness, and love that I have read it multiple times.

By LaVyrle Spencer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As World War I threatens to take those she holds dear, a lovely schoolteacher grows to womanhood in the arms of a man who'd given up on love.

Devil's Chew Toy

By Rob Osler,

Book cover of Devil's Chew Toy

Sonja Griffing Author Of A Butter Brickle Debacle

From the list on subversive main characters that speak to us.

Who am I?

My writing motto is life & love in between the margins of a page. I believe that every character has a story that matters, so I write fully realized protagonists with real-life issues and life-defining relationships. I want my readers to see parts of themselves in my stories, and while I can’t write everybody, I can recommend the following character-driven books. Subversive means ‘seeking to undermine the power and authority of an established system.’ All these titles have characters that break the mold. They are unapologetically fat or queer. They are criminals and lore. They are trope-twisters and game-changers and everything you want in a well-written and satisfying tale.

Sonja's book list on subversive main characters that speak to us

Discover why each book is one of Sonja's favorite books.

Why did Sonja love this book?

This is my first ever Quozy, a sub-genre Rob Osler defines as a queer cozy mystery. For decades, cozy mysteries have brought to mind curious little old ladies or deeply thoughtful straight men with droopy mustaches. Devil’s Chew Toy spins that trope, giving us Hayden McCall, a guy who isn’t as interested in solving a mystery as he is in finding the dude he almost had a perfect date with. As for the strait-laced assistant…that person doesn’t exist here. Hayden teams up with the missing man’s dog plus his larger-larger-than-life lesbian BFFs, making the book hilarious, heart-warming, and profoundly satisfying. This is one of the finest-written books I’ve ever read, and it provides a bonus tour of Seattle’s greatest neighborhoods. I can’t wait for more Hayden and company.

Contains: LGBTQI+ main characters

By Rob Osler,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Devil's Chew Toy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Perfect for fans of T.J. Klune, Becky Abertalli, and David Levithan, this hilarious, big-hearted LGBTQ+ mystery follows an unlucky in love—and life—gay relationship blogger who teams up with a take-charge lesbian and a fiesty bull terrier to find a missing go-go boy and bring down an international crime ring.

Seattle teacher and part-time blogger Hayden McCall wakes sporting one hell of a shiner, with the police knocking at his door. It seems that his new crush, dancer Camilo Rodriguez, has gone missing and they suspect foul play. What…

The Courage to Teach

By Parker J. Palmer,

Book cover of The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life

Sue Knight Author Of NLP at Work: The Difference that Makes the Difference

From the list on supporting you in growing old (dis)gracefully.

Who am I?

NLP at Work has led me to many different countries and experiences and, most of all, an ability to choose how I live my life. NLP; Neuro Linguistic Programming is a way of studying how we do what we do, especially when we do things that are outstanding. The difference that makes the difference is the strapline, and that difference is invariably some unconscious, intuitive act – often rooted in how we think and what we believe. I have sought to present both the tools to study in this kind of way and some of the results of that – the techniques that can be discovered with NLP.

Sue's book list on supporting you in growing old (dis)gracefully

Discover why each book is one of Sue's favorite books.

Why did Sue love this book?

I am an NLP teacher and this book expresses all that I believe to be important about teaching and life. This is not a description of techniques but an inner journey to discover how to have the identity and integrity of a teacher whose teachings come from the heart. I quote, "When my students and I discover new uncharted territory to explore, when the pathway out of a thicket opens up before us, when our experience is illumined by the lightning life of the mind – then teaching is the finest work I know." And that approach and the way it is written about here is a metaphor for life. Profound truth, vulnerability, connectedness, not knowing, fearful heart... all these and more. This is how teaching should be. Books I love are filled with my post-it notes and this one is overflowing with them.

By Parker J. Palmer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Wisdom that's been inspiring, motivating, and guiding teachers for two decades

The Courage to Teach speaks to the joys and pains that teachers of every sort know well. Over the last 20 years, the book has helped countless educators reignite their passion, redirect their practice, and deal with the many pressures that accompany their vital work.

Enriched by a new Foreword from Diana Chapman Walsh, the book builds on a simple premise: good teaching can never be reduced to technique. Good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher, that core of self where intellect, emotion, and spirit…

Critical Perspectives on Teaching in Prison

By Rebecca Ginsburg (editor),

Book cover of Critical Perspectives on Teaching in Prison: Students and Instructors on Pedagogy Behind the Wall

Mneesha Gellman Author Of Education Behind the Wall: Why and How We Teach College in Prison

From the list on college in US prisons.

Who am I?

I have been involved with teaching in prison for the last 22 years, and have taught everything from creative writing to meditation to college classes across carceral facilities in New York, California, and Massachusetts. As the founder and director of the Emerson Prison Initiative at Emerson College’s campus at Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Concord, I constantly work with faculty and students who are navigating the teaching and learning environment under some of the most adverse circumstances. These books have helped me feel less alone in this work.

Mneesha's book list on college in US prisons

Discover why each book is one of Mneesha's favorite books.

Why did Mneesha love this book?

There has been a gap in the literature of books speaking to what it actually means to teach students in prison, and Ginsburg’s book contributes to filling it. Through careful curation, Ginsburg’s edited volume is a highly useful resource for anyone considering teaching in prison, or looking for reading to reflect on teaching that has already taken place.

By Rebecca Ginsburg (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Critical Perspectives on Teaching in Prison as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This volume makes a case for engaging critical approaches for teaching adults in prison higher education (or "college-in-prison") programs. This book not only contextualizes pedagogy within the specialized and growing niche of prison instruction, but also addresses prison abolition, reentry, and educational equity. Chapters are written by prison instructors, currently incarcerated students, and formerly incarcerated students, providing a variety of perspectives on the many roadblocks and ambitions of teaching and learning in carceral settings. All unapologetic advocates of increasing access to higher education for people in prison, contributors discuss the high stakes of teaching incarcerated individuals and address the dynamics,…

Children Tell Stories

By Martha Hamilton, Mitch Weiss,

Book cover of Children Tell Stories: Teaching and Using Storytelling in the Classroom (Multimedia DVD included with the book)

Margaret Read MacDonald Author Of Teaching with Story: Classroom Connections to Storytelling

From the list on storytelling for teachers.

Who am I?

I am passionate about the importance of telling stories in the classroom. My career has been as a children’s librarian in public libraries, but with much time spent telling stories in schools. My daughter and her husband followed in my footsteps as storytellers and found that using storytelling in the classroom has so many benefits. We all offer workshops for teachers, write articles encouraging storytelling, and try in any way possible to grow the corps of teachers who discover this joyful addition to the classroom.

Margaret's book list on storytelling for teachers

Discover why each book is one of Margaret's favorite books.

Why did Margaret love this book?

It is exciting to encourage students to start telling stories too. This book had lots of good ideas that I use in my storytelling classes for children. Kids enjoyed activities like rolling a yarn ball back and forth across a circle as they add to a story. The book includes 25 easy-to-tell tales for student beginners. And I learned from watching the DVD Children Telling Stories: A Storytelling Unit in Action that was included.

By Martha Hamilton, Mitch Weiss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Children Tell Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The revised edition of this award-winning guidebook on storytelling in the classroom includes over 80% new material. The authors provide compelling rationales for the value of storytelling, links to state standards, detailed storytelling unit tips, uses throughout the curriculum, and bibliographies. Includes a multi-media DVD with demonstrations of storytelling by the authors, teachers and students, plus related materials and resources.

Book cover of The African American Guide to Writing & Publishing Non Fiction

Randall H. Duckett Author Of Seven Cs: The Elements of Effective Writing: 41 How-To Tips for Creators

From the list on learning how to write effectively.

Who am I?

I love language and its power to inform, inspire, and influence. As I wrote Seven Cs: The Elements of Effective Writing, I researched what others have said about writing well and honed it down to these resources, which I quote. During my decades as a journalist and marketer, I developed and edited scores of publications, books, and websites. I also co-wrote two travel guides—100 Secrets of the Smokies and 100 Secrets of the Carolina Coast. I’ve written for such publications as National Geographic Traveler and AARP: The Magazine. A father of three women, I live in Springfield, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, with my wife, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. 

Randall's book list on learning how to write effectively

Discover why each book is one of Randall's favorite books.

Why did Randall love this book?

Jewell is a gem. She published this guide for Black writers around the turn of the new century, but it’s full of valuable advice for creators of all ethnicities. An educator, Dr. Parker Rhodes is a New York Times bestselling author of children’s books that include Ghost Boys and Black Brother. Her emphasis in this tome is on motivating readers to tell their life stories vividly and to find inspiration all around them in their communities. Part literary analysis and part how-to guide, the book teaches about crafting biographies, memoirs, personal essays, and other nonfiction into publishable pieces. In my book, I advise readers to “diversify voices” when they write. Parker Rhodes’ words influenced how I think about researching and crafting my work for all types of readers. 

By Jewell Parker Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The African American Guide to Writing & Publishing Non Fiction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In college and graduate school, Jewell Parker Rhodes never encountered a single reading assignment or exercise that featured a person of color. Now she has made it her mission to rectify the situation, gathering advice and inspiring tips tailored for African Americans seeking to express their life experiences. Comprehensive and totally energizing, the African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Nonfiction bursts with supportive topics such as:

·Finding your voice
·Getting to know your literary ancestors
·Overcoming a bruised ego and finding the determination to pursue your dreams
·Gathering material and conducting research
·Tapping sweet, bittersweet, and joyful memories

The Girl Who Died

By Ragnar Jónasson,

Book cover of The Girl Who Died: A Thriller

Yrsa Sigurdardóttir Author Of I Remember You: A Ghost Story

From the list on Nordic horror guaranteed to get rid of “hygge”.

Who am I?

I am an Icelandic writer, best known for crime fiction although I have also written horror and children’s books. From a young age I have been a fan of creepiness and horror. My threshold for the macabre is thus high, maybe best witnessed by me noting that my first crime series featuring lawyer Thora was a cosy crime series, only to be reminded that in the first installment the eyes of a dead body were removed with a teaspoon, in the second a child was killed and the third featured decapitation. Whenever I need a reprise from writing crime I revert to horror, the best received of these being I Remember You

Yrsa's book list on Nordic horror guaranteed to get rid of “hygge”

Discover why each book is one of Yrsa's favorite books.

Why did Yrsa love this book?

If small-town creepy mystery is your thing, then the setting of this book´s setting is the mother of all such premises. The book takes place in a small, remote fishing village with only a handful of inhabitants. None of which are exactly warm or welcoming to newcomers. We witness odd goings-on through the eyes of a young teacher, hired to teach the two children residing in the minuscule community. To add to the claustrophobic atmosphere of the situation, the attic room the protagonist is provided is haunted by the ghost of a young girl. This book is atmospheric and best enjoyed in a solitary environment, read by candlelight. Highly recommended for those in need of a creepy, ghostly fix.    

By Ragnar Jónasson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'Is this the best crime writer in the world today?' The Times

'A world-class crime writer . . . One of the most astonishing plots of modern crime fiction' Sunday Times

'It is nothing less than a landmark in modern crime fiction' The Times


After the loss of her father, Una sees a chance to escape Reykjavik to tutor two girls in the tiny village of Skalar - population just ten - on Iceland's storm-battered north coast.…

Finding the Right Fit

By Gregory Lemoine,

Book cover of Finding the Right Fit: Your Professional Guide for International Educator Recruiting Fairs and Amazing Stories of a Teacher Living Overseas

Francesca Spencer Author Of Welcome to the State of Kuwait

From the list on capturing culture through observation and humour.

Who am I?

Funny stuff happens all the time in my wafty, solo-travelling life. Sometimes that funny stuff will only become apparent after the proverbial dust has settled and I’m no longer in imminent danger or at my wit’s end: the hilarity of a situation reveals itself when I’m telling the story. Travelling alone puts you in a vulnerable position of being open to ‘the moment’ far more so than when you are travelling with someone else. I get a sense of place and people and write about what happens true to my voice which is intrinsically connected to my funny bone—an intention to capture culture through accurate observation and tragi-comic humour. 

Francesca's book list on capturing culture through observation and humour

Discover why each book is one of Francesca's favorite books.

Why did Francesca love this book?

Greg Lemoine and I share several parallels. We are both teachers on the international circuit, we have both completed a tour of duty in Kuwait and we both see the funny side. But what we share most is an insatiable appetite for travel and an inherent nosiness for learning about culture, discovering new places, and adventure, which sometimes finds its way onto a page.

With Finding the Right Fit you get two books in one: a guide to international teaching containing helpful tips and advice on how to land a job overseas, and a very entertaining memoir of someone who has years of experience in the field. As a solo traveller, Lemoine sees humour and comedy that come about when left to your own devices.

By Gregory Lemoine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Finding the Right Fit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In "Finding the Right Fit: Your Professional Guide for International Educator Recruiting Fairs and Amazing Stories of a Teacher Living Overseas" you will learn the ultimate step-by-step guide to succeeding at an international educator's job fair. In this guide, you will find tips to successfully prepare for interviews, how to present your most qualified self, and you will be engrossed with the narratives of many passionate educators who enjoy their work overseas. International educator recruiting fairs are unique experiences. Take this book with you and share it with other educators.