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Honor Educators with the Gift of a Book!

May 2, 2011

 According to the National Education Association (NEA), tomorrow, May 3, is National Teacher Day, a day where “thousands of communities take time to honor their local educators and acknowledge the crucial role teachers play in making sure every student receives a quality education.” We can’t think of a better gift to give your child’s teacher than a book for their classroom library, and we know teachers (and librarians) would be especially touched by books that feature dynamic, innovative educators. Below, we review a few of our recent favorites. If you have favorite books for elementary, middle school or teen readers that feature teachers and school settings, please share them in the comment section below. Also, tomorrow we will be running another post especially for teachers- this is something we plan to incorporate more often and we’d love to hear from you what you would like to see!


To Come and Go Like Magic by Katie Pickard Fawcett

To Come and Go Like Magic, just out in paperback, is a quietly powerful and moving story with a vivid setting and very real characters, including one inspirational teacher named Miss Matlock.  The heroine is 12-year-old Chili, a girl who longs to leave her small Appalachian town and see the world.  When Chili develops a friendship with the mysterious, world-traveled Miss Matlock who has returned to Mercy Hill as the substitute 7th grade teacher, she discovers a lot about friendship, community, the world and herself.  The author creates a beautiful story of discovery, hope and forgiveness and tackles many themes including love, coming of age, community, and class, in an accessible and real way, making this book perfect for book clubs or classroom discussion (age 10+). 


Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don’t) by Barbara Bottner

 Our heroine Missy doesn’t like books, when she’s lucky enough to have the most enthusiastic librarian ever (she even dresses the part for story hour!) What’s a little girl to do? She complains to her oh so patient mother and suggests that they move, her mom gently reminds her that there is probably a library and a librarian in every town. So while each of Missy’s classmates find the book that’s just right for them, Missy pouts and rejects all of the suggestions offered, until she eventually finds the perfect word in the what will be the perfect book for her. What changes her mind? A word that makes her laugh!

And keep an eye out this Fall for An Annoying ABC, the latest collaboration from this author and Illustrator – I swear I recognized some of the children from Miss Brooks in this charming new alphabet book that takes a classroom full of kids from cranky to sublime.

The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School by Candace Fleming

Mr. Jupiter is the new 4th grade teacher and he’s got his hands full with a classroom full of rambunctious students. A contemporary chapter book with a fresh take on Aesop’s fables, where every one of the students gets an education and gets to know themselves a bit better as well. Fun for grownup readers in the budding romance between the new teacher and a fellow staffer at the school.

The kids had more to learn and more story to share, so don’t miss out on the sequel, The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School!



Muchacho by Louanne Johnson and Tutored by Allison Whittenberg

I frequently hear from educational accounts that teens want to read books about kids like them, with backgrounds that they can relate to. There seems to be a special need for multicultural characters and well-written books that deal with race issues and urban life in a non-preachy way. Two recent books that would be great to recommend are Tutored by Allison Whittenberg and Muchacho by Louanne Johnson (available in paperback May 10). In Muchacho, Eddie is a young Hispanic teen living in New Mexico, and getting into trouble with his gang member cousins. He is also a secret reader, and when a teacher gives his English class a poetry writing challenge, he finds both a passion and a way to express his conflicted feelings about his life. He also meets a strong, smart girl named Lupe who pushes him to be a better man. This is a moving depiction of a boy struggling to find his place in the world and would be inspirational to reluctant readers. Tutored also features a romance between two very different teens, Hakiam and Wendy. She is upper middle class, high achieving and the only African-American at an all white school. She meets Hakiam at a volunteer job she takes, tutoring kids at an inner-city community center. Hakiam has lived in foster care for most of his life, and is now helping raise his cousin’s baby while attempting to study for his GED. The teens start a somewhat rocky romance, and Whittenberg balances their story with issues of welfare, class differences, and prejudice amongst people of the same race.


The Magical Ms. Plum by Bonny Becker

Ms. Plum is the teacher we all wish we had. She knows exactly what each child needs to help them with their issues, and her magical cabinet has all of the answers.  Like any great teacher, kids who get to be in her class never forget her impact.  If you or your child have a special teacher in your life, this is the perfect thank you (and/or a gift card to your favorite independent bookstore!).

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather permalink
    May 2, 2011 8:55 am

    Thank you for acknowledging Teacher Appreciation Day! While gifts are always wonderful to get, yes, books, or even a gift card to a bookstore, for the classroom library are always needed and greatly appreciated! With all of the budget cuts, it is very hard to keep a well-stocked library that meets the needs of all the kids in the class.

  2. Angela K Sherrill permalink
    May 2, 2011 12:46 pm

    Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard and The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt are two of my favorites for teachers.

  3. Deanna permalink
    May 3, 2011 1:09 am

    I should also mention a classic on our list, Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! A collaborative effort between Seuss (post-mortem), Lane Smith and Jack Prelustky, this is a joyful book that celebrates unorthodox teaches methods.

  4. May 3, 2011 6:05 am

    This is a great idea -books are great gifts!

  5. May 8, 2011 5:02 pm

    Great idea – and choices!

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