Book of the Month

Each month #slowchathealth features a book of the month. Sometimes this will be chosen by myself but usually it will be based upon the recommendations of my PLN. Each month the blog post is updated so that the most recent book of the month is featured BUT you can find ALL of the books in this Amazon list.

Roll Call – Past #slowchathealth Books of the Month

Humanizing the Classroom by Kristin Stuart Valdes (9/19)


As a health and physical education teacher it is easy to see the crossover between the aims of my subject areas and that of social emotional learning (SEL). Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making can all be found in and among our national standards.

Looking for a text that would help me further improve my teaching of SEL skills I was intrigued to see members of my PLN recommend Humanizing the Classroom by Kristin Stuart Valdes. The reviews online are great and the author herself has let it be known that she is keen to interact with educators embracing her book. I use role play in class as a way for students to practice certain health skills and this book will help me frame those activities more effectively.

Check out a review of the book by Dr. Scott M. Petri, a social studies teacher who reviewed the book on his own excellent blog site.

Born to Walk by Dan Rubinstein (8/19)


This is one of those books that you have to read with a highlighter pen as there are so many quotable gems in every chapter. Really well written, extensively researched and amazing coverage in terms of topics and mileage covered Dan Rubinstein has written “the ultimate hymn to walking”.

The author looks at the impact that the simple act of walking can have on the body, mind, society, economy, politics, creativity, spirit and the family. Each chapter will inspire you to look at your own walking habits and make changes for the better. #PhysEd and #HealthEd teachers alike will find material in this book that you can weave into your conversations with students.

Check out the authors own site here.

Dare to Lead by Brenè Brown (7/19)


Undeniably an unstoppable author right now, Brenè Brown seems to be everywhere, with a great social media presence, and awesome website and a Netflix special that you must see. Named as one of the Best Books of the Year by Bloomberg, Brenè Brown uses research, stories and examples to answer the following questions in the no BS style that millions of readers have come to expect and love. – How do you cultivate braver. more daring leaders, and how do you embed the value of courage in your culture?

She’s definitely a friend of teachers and you will also want to see her ‘Daring Classrooms‘ project too!

Growing Up Great. The Ultimate Puberty Book for Boys by Scott Todnem (5/19)


This is the puberty book for boys that you have been waiting for. It fills a much needed gap in the market and approaches the sticky, yucky, and wonderful elements of puberty that can be difficult to navigate for teens and parents alike. Written in a wonderfully empathetic style this book echoes the authors own approach to teaching, and life. I appreciated the inclusive and non judgmental nature of the book in terms of the materials covered, the full-color illustrations and importantly the language used throughout. This book doesn’t seek to replace the (awkward) conversations between parent and child, but will act as a great resource that can be used together, or individually. I don’t have pre-pubescent sons (yet) but still bought a copy to share with friends who are currently having puberty conversations with their own young men.

Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (4/19)


Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, one of the world’s leading researchers into adolescent neurology, explains precisely what is going on in the complex and fascinating brains of teenagers–namely that the brain goes on developing and changing right through adolescence–with profound implications for the adults these young people will become. The author herself thinks that you should be teaching this information to your students.

I think that understanding the teen brain should be part of the education curriculum for teenagers. They should learn about their own brains and how they’re changing because I think it’s empowering for young people to know and understand more about why they might be feeling a certain way.

This is a good entry-level neuroscience book for those wanting to explore the topic. Marci Reichert from the Health Teacher Central Facebook Group recommended  “Brainstorm” by Dan Siegel and “The Teenage Brain” by Frances E Jensen as being better books. She even designed a whole course around the teen brain remodeling so reach out to her if you want to take this topic to a deeper level with your students.

Read an interview with the author in Why Teens Should Understand Their Own Brains (And Why Their Teachers Should, Too!) from NPR

Sexploitation by Cindy Pierce (3/19)


As #HealthEd teachers become more confident in their teaching of skills-based health they are looking to tackle new content areas that perhaps they previously felt were too difficult to navigate. When someone recommended Sexploitation to me I immediately located an audio version on Hoopla from my local library PLUS ordered a copy from Amazon.

Parents are hoping that teachers are talking about this, and teachers are hoping that parents are. With parents and teachers both avoiding the P-O-R-N conversation, this book aims to develop readers comfort around this topic so that we can give kids the confidence and courage needed to draw boundaries based on their own values not those put upon them. Look out for a book club conversation on twitter coming soon. Free excerpt.

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (2/19)


The authors pinned tweet on her twitter page is acknowledgement of how strange it feels for her that Educated was chosen by President Obama as one of his books of 2018. This book is shocking, visceral, heartbreaking but ultimately full of hope. Tara Westover was raised by a family that didn’t believe in public school education, and the only world that she knew was that of the local mountains that sheltered her from the outside world. Surrounded by brutality, her ‘education’ was harsh, interspersed with violence and yet she was able to move beyond this world and on to bigger, brighter things.

It will be hard to have not noticed how popular this book has become, featuring on nearly every ‘Best Book List of 2018’. I listened to the audiobook and found it a difficult and yet addictive experience. Educated is an inspiring reminder that knowledge is, indeed, power. Book club questions.

Calm by Michael Acton Smith (1/19)


I chose this book as our first selection of the year because it will guide my #OneWord2019. If you are reading this an you are an educator you MUST download the FREE Calm app, AND then apply for the FREE teacher membership which gives you access to the paid content. It really is an amazing wealth of audio and written content that you can use with your students almost immediately.

This book is visually gorgeous, and promises simple tools, tricks, and habits to find tranquility and focus, improve creativity and productivity, achieve better mental and physical health, and ultimately transform your life. Who doesn’t want that in their lives, or want to encourage their students to incorporate these practices into their stressful lives?

I will be using the book in conjunction with the app in what I will be referring to as my #YearOfCalm.

Raising Ryland by Hillary Whittington (12/18)


This book was recommended to me by a few members of my PLN and my awesome school library has ordered it for me. I have taught two transgender students over the past few years and keen to learn more from this story. The author, shares her first-hand account of her raising a transgender child. After they discovered their daughter Ryland was deaf at age one and needed cochlear implants, the Whittingtons spent nearly four years successfully teaching Ryland to speak. But once Ryland gained the power of speech, it was time for them to listen as Ryland insisted, “I am a boy!” And listen they did. After learning that forty-one percent of people who identify as transgender attempt to take their own lives, Hillary and her husband Jeff made it their mission to support their child—no matter what.

As my own professional organization has encouraged educators to consider how they are helping those under represented in society, this book should hopefully allow me to greater understand the ways in which I can ensure that my classroom is a safe space for all. Reading guide.

Atomic Habits  by James Clear (11/18)

IMG_5316-1A New York Times best-seller, Atomic Habits has so much in it that transfers into the health classroom. The book is packed with evidence-based self-improvement strategies. Clear has spent years honing the art and studying the science of habits, and has created THE guide you need to break bad routines and make good ones.

Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little dif­ference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous. It is only when looking back two, five, or perhaps ten years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for getting 1% better every day, empowering you to master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

Crossover by Kwame Alexander (10/18)


Something different, and highlighted by the #ProjectLit educators on Twitter. A “rare verse novel that is fundamentally poetic..with also a quirky vocabulary element. I enjoyed this book and saw that many of the themes within could be used in #HealthEd class – friends influencing behavior, relationships with siblings and parents, and (without giving too much away) death. This listened to this on audiobook and immediately moved on to ‘Swing‘, another book from the same author.

Book club questions.

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv (9/18)


“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” reports a fourth-grader. Never before in history have children been so plugged in-and so out of touch with the natural world.

From the co-founder of The Children and Nature Network, the author directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation – he calls it nature deficit – to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as rises in obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder and depression.

This book resonated with me as a veteran #PhysEd teacher who has seen a change in student attitudes towards play, and being outside, but it resonated with me more as a parent of two young children. As someone who is privileged enough to have access to woods, trails, rivers etc it has made me more determined to ensure that my own kids have an increased opportunity to spend more time outside. Resource guide.

Healthy Brain, Happy Life by Wendy Suzuki (8/18)


Recommended to me by my coworker Jim Davis (who you HAVE to see present at a conference!). You might be aware of  Dr. Suzuki’s awesome TED talk on the brain-changing effects of exercise. In this book Suzuki makes neuroscience easy to understand, interweaving her personal story with groundbreaking research, and offering practical, short exercises—4 minute Brain Hacks—to engage your mind and improve your memory, your ability to learn new skills, and function more efficiently.

Why We Sleep by Dr. Matthew Walker (7/18)


Dr. Matthew Walker’s NYT bestseller is a “must-read”. The science of sleep is explained by this world-renowned neuroscientist and sleep expert. Sleep deprivation is likely to be affecting you as much as it is your students and yet we know that sleep can make us healthier, safer, smarter and more productive. This book was the second of the #slowchatbook club reads and I was totally engrossed by it. This book pairs sleep knowledge with strategies to increase sleep, ultimately making us healthier and happier.

As a result of reading this book, which was also read by my coworker Andy Horne, we have decided to devote two days of our sophomore health curriculum to the topic of sleep. I promise you – this book will change the way you view sleep!

Irresistible by Adam Alter (6/18)


TED presenter Adam Alter has written a “groundbreaking book” that will open your eyes to our obsession with likes, retweets and endless online surfing. This very readable book explains why our tech devices are intentionally irresistible, but importantly shows us how we can harness these addictive products for good. This book was our very first #slowchatbook club read and the author even joined in the conversation with us!

If you value the health and happiness of your family and students you will want to read this book.

Blue Mind by Dr. Wallace J.Nichols (5/18)


Close your eyes and imagine your dream vacation. Is water present? Perhaps you are taking a romantic walk on the beach, or are sailing near a Caribbean island. Or are you on the slopes, skiing in Europe. Maybe you even have photographs at home of you and loved ones with water in the image – many of life’s romantic moments take place by water. I have blogged about how I’ve taken some of the authors theory and used it with my students in conjunction with stress management.

Lesson Planning for Skills-Based Health Education by Sarah Benes and Holly Alperin (4/18)


This great text from #HealthEdHeroes of mine offers “strategies for designing lessons, plus teacher-tested and ready to use unit outlines, assessments, lesson plans, and learning activities” and this book doesn’t disappoint.

Holly and Sarah are well connected; you’ve probably seen them at a conference, perhaps even been fortunate to be in one of their longer professional development offerings. As such, they were able to connect with health educators in the field, including many SHAPE America Teacher of the Year honorees to gather engaging examples of health lessons, assessments and projects that have proven to be a success.

Other reading lists that you might like:

2018 Summer Reading List from We’re The People. A curated summer reading list that celebrates diversity and all its intersections.

The Great American Read downloadable checklist of 100 great books.

The Washington Post Summer Book List Like No Other

Esquires 20 Smart Books You’ll Want To Read At The Beach This Summer

I was recently asked in a podcast to name any book that I often recommend to others. THIS was the book that I mentioned.

If you are interested in what others are reading, I have been collating book recommendations from my PLN in a twitter moment entitled #summerreads. You will find so much inspiration within.

I also blogged about my own #summerreads list here.

9 thoughts on “Book of the Month

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