Must-Read Books for ELA Teachers

Not exactly a list of “beach reads,” but if you are looking for a few books to enhance your teaching craft and knowledge this summer, these are the ones we find ourselves recommending, referring to, and quoting on a regular basis as we work with teachers around the country.

Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and
What You Can Do About It

Kelly Gallagher

This is the book that we all agree every teacher should read. Gallagher meticulously lays out the current, common practices in schools that are actually working against literacy and creating a generation of nonreaders. Alongside his research, he also provides the practices that can reverse the spiral and build lifelong readers.


Shades of Meaning: Comprehension and Interpretation in
Middle School

Donna Santman

This book illustrates how to teach readers the skills and strategies of comprehension and interpretation within the framework of a reading workshop. As Santman says “I never teach my students about the text, but rather a strategy for reading the text.” A great book to help teach critical reading skills for grades 4-12, though it is written with middle school in mind.


Time For Meaning: Crafting Literate Lives in Middle and
High School

Randy Bomer

Thoughtful and practical, Time for Meaning confronts the realities of today's classrooms: overcrowded curriculums, unfriendly colleagues, choppy schedules, and resistant learners. Bomer suggests ways to transform these obstacles into opportunities to rethink the true purpose, meaning, and design of literacy education. He offers guidelines for

  • helping students choose topics that are important to them — so important that they'll have the energy to work through the writing process;
  • prompting initial responses to literature and moving toward polished pieces of writing;
  • using writing as a tool for thinking and inquiring — an essential habit of mind for students to develop;
  • understanding what makes for poor student research writing and how to improve it; and
  • planning curriculums that focus on story in fiction and memoir.

Writing Instruction That Works: Proven Methods for Middle and
High School Classrooms

Arthur Applebee and Judith Langer

Published in 2013, this book contains the results of a six-year, comprehensive research study on writing instruction in the United States. It outlines the quantities and kinds of writing students are doing in all major subject areas, what kind of instruction they are receiving, what practices have been sidelined, and how poverty, technology, high-stakes testing, and English language learners impact writing instruction. The book is helpfully balanced with multiple examples and case studies of exemplary instruction.


Teaching Adolescent Writers and Improving Adolescent Writers
Kelly Gallagher

Yes, we do like Kelly Gallagher! His books are always packed with compelling research, but the data is gently woven into a host of on-the-ground, pragmatic strategies and anecdotal evidence from his own classroom. These books answer all the, “but how do I address______,” and the, “what does that actually look like in real time?” questions about teaching teen writers.


What’s a book that you think every teacher should read? Leave us a comment.