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Are you contemplating becoming a teacher? Perhaps you’re looking for a little extra push before you commit to the education major. If so, consider picking up a book about an educator to give you the motivation you seek.
Here are seven books about teachers, both real and fictional. Reading any of these inspiring books will remind you of educators’ impact on students’ lives.
To Sir, With Love is based on actual events of the author Rick Braithwaite’s life. In post-World War II London, opportunities were limited for black men, even those who served in the Royal Air Force and were Cambridge-educated engineers. Braithwaite took a teaching position on the East End with an angry, bigoted classroom of white teenagers.
Rather than adopt the teaching practices of his colleagues, Braithwaite addressed his students like humans and created a culture of self-respect. This opened the worldview of Braithwaite’s students and touched their lives, in turn altering Braitewaite’s life for the better.
Azar Nafisi is an Iranian university professor and memorist. In Reading Lolita in Tehran, she recalls her book club with former female students. The women came from varied religious backgrounds and political perspectives to read banned Western literature, including Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, and Lolita.
The book club and the books they read became more crucial as Islamic fundamentalists stormed universities and purged the curriculum. The memoir does a beautiful job of intertwining the stories of students and the books they read.
Wonder is a work of fiction but features an inspiring teacher named Mr. Browne. When August Pullman transitions to mainstream school and struggles to adjust, Mr. Browne vows to help Auggie have a good year. Through his monthly precepts, Mr. Browne encourages his students to be kind, curious, and good friends.
Educating Esme is nothing short of inspirational. This memoir details Madame Esmé’s first year teaching in a Chicago public school. Madame Esmé takes on the everyday challenges of a first-year teacher and the additional hardships of gang members, abusive parents and school bureaucrats.
Through it all, Madame Esmé manages to keep her head held high. Much to the joy of her students, she does the cha-cha during math class and roller skates during school hallways. In her book, Madame Esmé shares her down-to-earth approach to education with parents and educators.
Taylor Mali is a teacher and a slam poetry performer. Someone was making fun of his profession at a party and asked him, “what do teachers make?” He later wrote the poem What Teachers Make and the compiled book of essays in response. The book is a defense of teaching and why it is one of the most critical occupations in our society. Mali’s deep love for teaching is palpable throughout the book. If you’re looking for inspiration to teach, you’ll likely find it here.
Matilda is a classic tale of a gifted student and her excellent teacher, Miss Honey. Miss Honey helps Matilda by giving her additional reading material to further her growing abilities. She even defends Matilda from her abusive parents and the anger of Miss Trunchbull. Though she takes a particular interest in Matilda, Miss Honey treats her students equally, caring for all. If you haven’t yet read Matilda, you’ll want to add this to your shelf.
Soon after the Rodney King riots, Erin Gruwell became a teacher at a high school in Long Beach, California. Shocked at the racism and hostility she witnessed in her classroom, she had her students read The Diary of Anne Frank and meet Zlata Filipović, a Bosnian-Irish diarist who survived the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian war.
The Freedom Writers Diary itself is told in anonymous entries to protect the identities of Gruwell’s students. Filled with vignettes from 150 students, this is a story of how hard work and courage changed the lives of a teacher and her students. Since Freedom Writers was published in 1999, it sold one million copies and was made into a motion picture.
Choose one of these fantastic books about teachers and get inspired to educate. Then go out and thank your favorite professor for all they’ve done in your life.