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Summer Must-Reads for Principals to Recharge their Batteries

Fill your leadership bucket with these meaningful titles, perfect for school leaders

Summer is when I finally find the time and heart space to read those titles that I've been stockpiling all busy year! It's funny though. Even though I've left the classroom and become a school principal, people still ask me if I enjoy my summer's off. I kindly inform them that, although summer is the traditional downtime for most educators, principals work year round.

You see, I am always thinking about my students and my staff. I can't not think about them! They are my extended family; the people I've been called to serve in my community.

Therefore, even if I'm working in the garden, on a road trip with my sweet family, or scrolling on my phone on a lazy Tuesday morning - I'm always a school principal.

Summer Time Bucket-Filling Reads

I love reading - I really do! However during the school year, it's tough for me to find the energy (not to mention the time) to read for pleasure or for fun. I'm so envious of those of you who have found ways to work reading into your daily routine. I'll keep trying, but for now, I tend to stockpile my wishlist of great titles and save them until the calmer summer.

In the summer, I am not as regimented about my own bedtime. After all, it's okay if I sleep in a little when I don't have to be at school for crosswalk greetings!

If you are looking for a few great summer reads that are great for school principals and leaders but are also great for the soul, then check out this list. These are some of my favorites ~ even though I've read them before, a few of them are on my "must read again!" list this summer.

Do you have other great reads that you recommend principals enjoy in the summer? Please leave your list in the comments below!

Summer Must-Reads for Principals and School Leaders to Recharge their Batteries

Brad Montague is a brilliant genius in my opinion! This book is equally fun and inspirational. Packed with illustrations that cut through the nonsense and touch your heart, you'll fall in love this with gem of a book. Called a "modern day Mr. Rogers," there is so much to love about this read! That's why it's #1 on my list.

(psst! Check out #10 which is also by Brad Montague! It's a book that I plan to share with my school staff this fall.)

Third grade teacher Kyle Schwartz asked her students to complete the prompt, "I wish my teacher knew..." As administrators, you can fill in the blanks of the range of responses that students share, from the sweet and funny to the downright devastating. This book started the viral hashtag and global movement, #iwishmyteacherknew

This book has filled my bucket and has become one that I give to my new teachers at the end of their first year. The timing is perfect - they are starting to see that the student in class is sharing just the tip of their iceberg.

You see, I find that even though I often navigate tough situations with my students, reading this book (or even just paging through it now and then) helps me remember my purpose and my calling. It's a keeper and a great gift to give others!

This true-story book is very special to me. From page 1, I couldn't put it down. Once you read this book, it will permanently make its way to touching your heart as a person.

After a devastating accident leaves him paralyzed for life, Henry's path is forever changed. And as his is changed and he tells us about it ~ your life will be changed, too.

One thing that I didn't anticipate from this book but that was a special bonus was how much it made me appreciate everyone around me. In sunshine and in shadows, we are never alone. I hope you enjoy this moving title as much as millions of others have!

Henry's outlook on life inspires me to lead mine to the fullest. Enjoy!

Not your traditional summer reads, my friends. I love these books in the summer, nonetheless. They are packed with simple wisdom for men and women with quotations from history's bravest overcomers and innovators.

So why did they make this list, you may ask?

During the month of July, I commit to journaling every day. I simply open one of these books to a quotation or story that inspires me. Then I take out my favorite journal, set a timer for 15 minutes, and write from the heart about what this reading meant to me.

If you're looking for other ways to practice self care, check out these practical tips for managing stress as a principal, or these journal prompts for educators.

This book is something different, something very special. An obituary writer in a tiny town has captured the small but beautiful joys of so many in this book.

It was November of 2020 when I first read this book at the recommendation of a principal mentor of mine. Six months into leading during a global pandemic, and I was overcome with grief and sadness. For my school. For my students. For their parents and families. For those who were losing their lives to COVID-19. I brought this book with me on a weekend getaway over Thanksgiving Break and couldn't put it down.

The timing of the reading was perfect. If you are feeling heavy, burned out, or are experiencing a low season in your leadership, I encourage you to start here. It's a special little book in my life and has helped me "find the good."

Title #7: Rootbound: Rewilding a Life by Alice Vincent

This is a beautiful book about nature, finding oneself after getting lost in success and life, and so much more. As a hobby gardener who is often too busy leading school to grow tomatoes, this book is really a fascinating read! You don't have to be an avid gardener or even someone who likes plants to enjoy this book.

After living a life driven by success and achievement (to which many principals can relate), the books main character becomes like a close best friend, taking us on travels near and far in a raw and tender way.

An easy book to get lost in this summer. A must read for adventure-loving school leaders!

Title #8: The Midnight Library: A Novel by Matt Haig

Part sci-fi fantasy; part nostalgic wondering what life would be like if we chose a different path. This book was the fastest 300-page read of my recent life; I simply couldn't put it down.

As a school leader, I constantly reflect on the impact that my words, actions, and inactions have on my students and staff. This book follows Nora on a mesmerizing journey through time to explore "what ifs."

It's touched my heart as a person who longs to make a deep impact in life, and to find meaning in the small things.

A fun, heart-felt, powerful read for the summer!

Title #9: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Believe it or not, I've never actually picked up this book! Instead, it is my go-to Audible book for any road trip longer than my commute to work.

This title has been around for ages and if you haven't listened to it or read it yet, today is the day! This is the sign you've been waiting for.

After being diagnosed with terminal cancer at a very young age (with small children and a wife and a move to a new community), Randy Pausch - a computer science professor - sets out to write and deliver his last lecture to his students and colleagues.

Part memoir, part inspirational journey, The Last Lecture is timeless and real. If you're planning any road trips this summer, take this precious title along with you. Perfect for the whole family and very poignant.

Title #10: The Circles All Around Us by Brad and Kristi Montague

This is the must-buy children's book for all principals this year! Especially as we navigate cyberbullying, volatile politics, and mounting social conflicts in our world right now.

Even though I am a secondary schools principal, I am a huge fan of children's books. And when I learned that Brad Montague (author if Title #1 above!) was writing a children's book, I couldn't wait for it to launch! Even cooler is that his wife illustrates with him.

You see, I have found that children's books are a great way for me to connect with both staff and students. Over the years, titles like Say Something! by Peter H. Reynolds and What Would You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom have been my North Star during the school year.

If you are a fan of either of these "children's books", then you've got to check out this title. I am confident you'll be sharing it with your teachers and students in the fall!

What are you planning to read this summer? Post in the comments below so we can all start adding to our library list!

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