Book Recommendations for Educators

Looking for some reading in 2016 to strengthen your practice as an educator? These are resources to guide thinking about creating affirming classroom environments, healthy identity development, centering youth voice and experience in your practice, and reflecting on the experience of being a teacher and addressing issues of identity.   
 

1. The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families
     by Stephanie Brill & Rachel Pepper

Brill and Pepper give concrete information about transgender and gender expansive identities, what it means to affirm transgender and gender expansive young people, and resources for families with transgender children regarding their medical needs and educational experiences.  

2. To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher
     by Bill Ayers

Ayer’s reflections on his experience as a teacher are insightful, poetic, and inspiring. His book is available both in a text version and in a graphic memoir version. This is one of my favorites to revisit when I need a boost about the beauty of teaching.  

3. Healthy Sexuality Development: A Guide for Early Childhood Educators & Families
     by Kent Chrisman & Donna Couchnour

This is an invaluable resource to help frame our understanding about the fact that sexuality is a part of every person’s development and gives tips for ways to minimize shame and clearly outlines developmental stages of sexuality development. NAEYC recently published an article, Understanding Healthy Sexuality Development in Young Children  by Lorena Counterman and Donna Kirkwood that deals with the same topic through the eyes of an early childhood practitioner.

4. Negotiating the Self: Identity, Sexuality, and Emotion in Learning to Teach
    by Kate Evans

Evans helps us think about what role teacher identity can play in a classroom environment.  A particularly wonderful book for queer identified educators, it serves as a tool to reflect upon the sometimes slippery road of what it means to be both queer and a teacher. She weaves queer theory in with interviews of four pre-service teachers to craft a book that helps us examine school climates in relation to homophobia and acceptance.  

5. Queer Youth Advice for Educators: How to Respect & Protect Your Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Students
    by Abe Louise Young and Youth Contributors

This little manual packs a meaningful punch! Using a combination of statistics and student voices and stories to address the multitude of ways LGBTQ students are impacted by hostile school climates, as well as how they impacted by having a supportive educator.  

6. Flaunt It!: Queers Organizing for Public Education & Justice  
   by Therese Quinn & Erica R. Meiners
 
 

A critical look at the practice of militarization of public education Quinn and Meiners take on the ‘hidden’ curriculum in schools. They urge us to understand how activism and education are linked and to examine the systemic erasure of queerness and racial identities.  


 

7. Ella Baker & the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision
    by  Barbara Ransby

Ransby’s biography of Ella Baker’s organizing work within the Civil Rights movement, while not directly about school systems, does center around Baker’s methodology of keeping youth voices central to the movement. Her work with Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee is often overshadowed, but was hugely influential and successful. Her strategies are inspiring as we think about our responsibilities to the students we teach and how essential young people are to social movements and change.  
 

8. Teaching Trangress: Education as the Practice of Freedom    
     by Bell Hooks

hooks’ takes the time to remind us of our highest ideals as teachers, to teach towards freedom; and she recognizes all of the humanity that exists within the classroom and reminds of the power that our overlapping identities, experiences, and emotions hold as pedagogical tools. 

9. Educating for Insurgency: The Roles of Young People in Schools of Proverty
    by Jay Gillen

This is a book by a teacher in the Baltimore Public School system, who reminds us of how central youth experience and voice is to change movements. Gillen urges us to listen to what young people are communicating and to understand what is required for political change.  

10. Troubling Intersection of Race and Sexuality: Queer Students of Color and Anti-Oppressive Education
      by Kevin K. Kumashiro 

This edited collection features chapters by queer students of color and academics alike. With a refrain about the silences that exist within our educational systems for students with intersectional identities, we are called to examine how our practices erase experiences of queer students of color.