Summer Reading

Does anyone have suggestions for summer reading to inspire us in teaching English?  In past summers I've enjoyed Choice Words:How Our Language Affects Children's Learning, by Peter H. Johnston, A Reason to Read: Linking Literacy and the Arts, by Eileen Landay and Kurt Wooton, and Teaching as Story-Telling, by Kieran Egan.


Proust and the Squid by Marianne Wolf isn't light summer reading, but it is a terrific read.   Subtitle:  The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. I started with a library copy, but bought my own so I could write in it. Hardcover was published in 2007. In fact, picking up my copy to see the copyright date has me thinking I need to visit it again.


Hi-- having just completed another session in MA for teachers on factors that cause adult ELLs to struggle in learning, my mind is on cultural issues-- I always recommend that teachers of English learners, particularly those teaching ELs with moderate to high literacy, read Helen Fox's amazing book, " Listening to the World: Cultural Issues in Academic Writing" (1994)-- it is available on Google Scholar as a PDF.   Fox was (maybe still is) a teacher/tutor for foreign students in writing centers at two universities and compiled astonishing quantitate evidence of the depth and influence of students' cultures on their ability to understand, accept and fulfill assignments in various academic settings.  Though mostly about university level students, the influence of culture on students' work is just breathtaking..... I recommend it for ANYONE teaching adults from other cultures.  

I also highly recommend " If The Spirit Catches You, You Fall Down," by Anne Fadiman--1997--- another book that I found life-changing in helping me understand the implications of ignoring the cultural beliefs and influences that people from other countries come with as refugees or immigrants.  This non-fiction recounting of a Hmong family's inadvertent clash with the American medical system in Merced, California will shake you to your core.... a gorgeous piece of writing as well as a stunning story--and an indictment of the culture-centric nature of healthcare-- which has improved since the book was published.  

Robin Lovrien  

I have read this book years ago. Yes , this is an eye opening book about how cultural difference and language barrier can cause serious problems sometimes fatal. It is good to have this discussion about the importance of taking into consideration the cultural difference s and attitude towards every aspect of our lives including teaching and learning. it is often difficult to convince fellow teachers and administrators that when teaching non natives adultESLstudents we can't ignore or down play the importance of cultural difference.



When I saw this snippet in my digest  "this is an eye opening book about how cultural difference and language barrier can cause serious problems sometimes fatal" I immediately thought of The Farming of Bones, by Edwidge Danticat, a novel set in Haiti during troubled times.  Please know that it's a difficult read, but critical for understanding how language itself (pronunciation, in this instance) can also carry tremendous power or risk.

Ever since attending your session at the NYSTESOL convention last November, I have enjoyed following your comments and recommendations.  I found the PDF on Google.Scholar and downloaded it for reading this summer.  I'll be teaching a Level 3 adult ESL class in July and August, and some students have already indicated an interest in working on their writing.  I'm new to the field of teaching and I want to find the best practices to help the multi cultural students here in Syracuse.  They represent so many different cultures from all over the globe!



Thank you, everyone.  I'm adding these suggestions to my list.

Marian Olson, Plainfield English School


Thanks for starting this thread, Marian! I love getting recommendations for both professional books as well as cross cultural works --both fiction and non fiction. I will definitely access these recommendations. I've already downloaded the Helen Cox book on teaching writing, and I love Edwidge Danticat's work, so I will definitely look for The Farming of Bones.

I must concur with Robin on If The Spirit Catches You, You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman--1997. This book is profound. Other favorite cross cultural books include What is the What? by Dave Eggers, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language by Eva Hoffman, and Peter Hessler's works about teaching English, River Town, and living in and reporting from China, Oracle Bones. Have folks read The Sympathizer by Viet Than Nguyen, which won the Pulitzer for fiction last year? It's pretty fascinating! And one of my students just gave me Nguyen's new book, The Refugees, so I'm eager to start reading that one.

Reading English with an Accent: Language, Ideology and Discrimination in the U.S. by Rosina Lippi-Green was transformative for me. Since reading that book many years ago, I have grown to understand at a deep level how judging individuals by the way they speak is often discriminatory.

Regarding understanding our work as ESL teachers, I value Elaine Tarrone, Martha Bigelow and Kit Hansen's Literacy and Second Language Oracy. I also love Reading for Understanding by Schoenfield, Greenfield and Murphy, and everything by Stanford University professor Jeff Zwiers is gold!

Thanks, everyone! Keep the recommendations coming!

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition CoP