Each month #slowchathealth highlights 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 – #slowchathealth Books of the Month
Beginners by Tom Vanderbilt (2/21)
Introducing yourself to a new skill is one of the most life-enhancing things you can do. February’s Book of the Month, BEGINNERS by @tomvanderbilt investigates this. Why do so many of us stop learning new skills as adults? Are we afraid to fail? Have we forgotten the sheer pleasure of being a beginner?
This book seems to be everywhere in my social media feed right now, and rightly so. It’s an engaging read and is proving to be the reset I needed in life entering 2021.
What new skill will YOU introduce yourself to in 2021? I just treated myself to a ukelele and will learn to play, motivated to do so by Tom Vanderbilt’s words.
Superbetter by Jane McGonigal (1/21)
Regular readers of the blog will know how important this book is to me, and I have blogged about elements of it and how I’ve incorporated some of the content into my best SEL lessons.
The book has encouraged me to live life gamefully and has ensured that I never have a bad day, collecting power-ups like Sonic collects rings!
Drawing on hundreds of studies, McGonigal shows that getting superbetter is as simple as tapping into the three core psychological strengths
• Your ability to control your attention
• Your power to turn anyone into a potential ally
• Your natural capacity to motivate yourself and super-charge your heroic qualities
The book contains nearly 100 playful challenges anyone can undertake in order to build these gameful strengths and I have used many of them with my students to great success.
The Gratitude Project by Jeremy Adam Smith (12/20)
I blogged about gratitude recently and was inspired to purchase this book after checking out resources from the Greater Good Science Center who were involved in the creation of this book. The Gratitude Project explores gratitude’s deep roots in human psychology—how it evolved and how it affects our brain—as well as the transformative impact it has on creating a meaningful life and a better world. The book takes the science behind gratitude and delivers it in short essay format that is easily accessible and makes for a book to which you will return, time after time. I’m enjoying taking my time to read this book and I think you will do too. This book offers more than just platitudes—it offers a blueprint for a new and better world.
No Shame by Dr. Lea Lis (11/20)
Regular visitors to the blog will know of Dr. Lea Lis as The Shameless Psychiatrist, the voice of sex-positivity who has released a gem of a parenting book. As father to two young children I can see that this will serve as a no-nonsense reference guide to raising my kids to be confident and respectful in terms of relationships, boundaries, consent and intimacy. I want my boys to have joy-filled and emotionally rewarding relationships and this book will guide my conversations both now and over the coming years.
There is much in this book that transfers over to the #HealthEd classroom from consent, to masculinity, to relationships, to sex, gender, identity and self-esteem.
Zera’s Guide To Saving The Planet by Zoe Asanti (10/20)
When my #HealthEd students analyze their wellness, many choose to focus on environmental wellness as an area in which they can grow. This new book from Zoe Asanti, aimed at young children does just that! The illustrations (by Cory Lampkin Jr.) in this book are adorable and they introduce us to Zera, a bubbly young kid who is probably gonna change the world when she’s older. Until then, you can follow her adventures as she shares wisdom (beyond her young age) with readers, providing tips on recycling, reducing waste, and incorporating more plant based meals into their diet. Not only does the book encourage young readers to make change, but they can even make notes in the book – encouraging them to essentially start creating their own manifesto for change.
Because Zoe, the author, is a huge foodie, she has added four of her favorite plant-based recipes to the back of the book, and the first one I’m looking forward to making with my two young sons, is the Strawberry Banana Smoothie Bowl. This book would make a great gift to the young
kids change-makers in your life.
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (9/20)
“Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers is a page turner… among the first novels to chronicle the AIDS epidemic from its initial outbreak to the present—among the first to convey the terrors and tragedies of the epidemic’s early years as well as its course and repercussions…An absorbing and emotionally riveting story about what it’s like to live during times of crisis.”
An award winning book, soon to be a TV show. I’m looking forward to diving into this book before it becomes the show that everyone will be talking about.
Lesson Planning for Skills-Based Elementary Health Education: Meeting the National Standards by Holly Alperin and Sarah Benes (8/20)
Selected as our book of the month for SO many reasons. Because there is a dearth of resources for elementary health teachers. Because I want students of all ages to put into practice the health skills that they need to lead healthier lives. And because ANYTHING from these two educators is ABSOLUTE GOLD! I have reviewed one of the previous books before an I am delighted that they have turned their focus towards the elementary level.
As with their previous text, this book offers innovative, tried-and-true ways to implement health education and will be an extremely valuable resource for anyone tasked with teaching students in this most important age group. You will use this text to build a new curriculum or to supplement your existing curriculum, providing a smooth transition from a content-based approach to a skills-based approach.
Stumped for ideas? This book contains over 130 lessons and activities that you can adapt to best suit the needs of your students and community. If you teach elementary health – BUY THIS BOOK. If you know someone teaching elementary health – TELL THEM ABOUT THIS BOOK!
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson(6/20)
There’s been such a buzz about this book and it’s on the latest awesome #ProjectLitBookClub list of recommended reads. I’ve chosen this because it’s PRIDE Month, because I need to read more books from Black authors, because I need to read more books from the LGBTQIA+ community, and because I need to read great books. Period.
The book promises to be “both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.
The Story of More by Hope Jahren (5/20)
Earth Day inspired me to select the latest offering from Hope Jahren, the author of the popular book Lab Girl, and I am so glad that I did so. I blew through this book in less than a week and thoroughly enjoyed that way the author matter-of-factly presented our history of creating more, and traveling more, and consuming more without really thinking of the consequences. Not only does she explain the current and projected consequences of global warming—from superstorms to rising sea levels—but she also presents readers with the actions that we all can take to fight back.
This would make for a great book club read and would accompany any discussions in your classroom about environmental wellness. If you haven’t already lined up your #summerreads I urge you to consider adding this to your list.
Hacking Classroom Management by Mike Roberts (4/20)
This book is jam-packed with hints, tips, hacks to energize your teaching and motivate your students. I’ve been teaching for 25 years now and found myself nodding along as I read this. Nodding at the tips that I incorporate with success, and then nodding along at the ‘a-ha moments’ as I added another idea into my bag of tricks.
This book promises to help teachers build lasting relationships with their student, maximize teaching time, reduce behavior issues, enhance student ownership and improve parental involvement.
You can check out Mike’s own website here, and guest post for #slowchathealth here. Also, look out for Mike’s latest book – Chasing Greatness, 26.2 Ways Teaching is Like Running a Marathon.
The Joy of Movement by Kelly McGonigal (3/20)
THIS is the official #slowchatbook book club read of the SHAPE America convention in Salt Lake City. I’m calling upon attendees to read this book and get together for a discussion at the conference in April.
The bestselling author of The Willpower Instinct introduces a surprising science-based book that doesn’t tell us why we should exercise but instead shows us how to fall in love with movement.
The book promises readers that they will learn what they can do in their own lives and communities to harness the power of movement to create happiness, meaning, and connection. Kelly even recorded a personal message for us!
Listen to a sample of the book.
Read an excerpt of the book.
Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett (2/20)
At the start of every semester I survey my students and ask them what content they hope I’ll cover in our time together. Each year the number of students requesting that we talk about mental health, specifically coping with stress, anxiety and depression increases AND, they want to know what they can do to help their peers. For that reason I sought out this book to help me help my students.
Marc Brackett promises a blueprint for understanding our emotions and using them wisely so that they help, rather than hinder, our success and well-being. Too many children and adults are suffering; they are ashamed of their feelings and emotionally unskilled, but they don’t have to be. Marc Brackett’s life mission is to reverse this course, and this book claims to show you how.
Listen to Marc Brackett on the Curious Minds podcast.
Boys and Sex by Peggy Orenstein (1/20)
If you’ve been following trends on social media recently you will have seen a LOT of buzz about the latest book from Peggy Orenstein titled “Boys & Sex” which really is an eye-opening read regarding the attitudes that boys have to love, sex and masculinity. Her book is one of four that discuss the same topic and the second masculinity related #slowchathealth Book of the Month following on from SHAPE America presenter/poet Carlos Andrea Gomez and “Man Up“.
Peggy Orenstein tweeted “This year there’ll be a LOT of discussion, at least in our circles, about young men, masculinity, ethical sexuality, promoting emotional resilience & connection. My book & I’m excited about
@caranatterson‘s “Decoding Boys“, @michaelianblack‘s “A Better Man“. Both of those books are available to pre-order now.
If you want to get a sense of what the conversation is regarding masculinity, you should check out this article from the Atlantic, and this engrossing NPR interview. I promise you will want to purchase Peggy’s book after you hear this.
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo (12/19)
This is my book of the year and I have recommended it to anyone who will listen to me. As an educator looking to improve my ability to navigate difficult and uncomfortable conversations about race, this book has proven to be invaluable. It has helped me develop the language and skills that I need to engage more courageously and effectively.
The book has been very well received and every administrator and department chair in my building has read and discussed it. Additionally, the excellent support materials that accompany this text are invaluable. This might be the best $12 that you spend on a book!
Beyond Birds and Bees by Bonnie J. Rough (11/19)
When a job change took Bonnie J Rough to Holland she was surprised by the relaxed and egalitarian approach to sexuality. Bodies were normal, sex ed started in kindergarten, puberty was no surprise and dinner table conversation about sex were welcome. Recommended by Christopher Pepper, this book will speak to parents and teachers alike, and it’s been labeled a “brilliant book about sex, gender, justice and joy.” I’m excited to read the authors views on inclusive teaching, equity and consent which I hope will help me as a father, and as a teacher. Join in the book club conversation on twitter using the hashtag #slowchathealth.
Conversations about sex can be difficult, but if parents, teachers, and teens can’t navigate those conversations effectively, how can we expect them to have safe, consensual, and enjoyable relationships?
I was lucky to have been sent a copy of this book from the publishers and had to wrestle it from my junior and senior students who became engrossed in the (outstanding) real-life scenarios that then spurred some very honest and revealing peer-to-peer discussions.
In order to become a better health teacher (and better father), THIS is the type of book that I need to read so that I can meet my students (and kids) where they are at, encourage brave conversations, and ultimately guide them towards safer and more fulfilling relationships.
Look out for a guest blog post from the author and if you want to get a sense of just how great an educator Shafia is, you should find time to listen to this podcast which features some of her amazing students.
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. Additionally, the author has been very good at reaching out to teachers on social media who are interested in the book. I would encourage you to reach out to her if this book resonates with you.
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!
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.
You may have seen Carlos Andrés Gómez on stage at the SHAPE America conference sharing his views on toxic masculinity and his support of the free AXE Generation Unlabeled curriculum that cover a range of topics – from toxic masculinity and gender stereotypes to inclusivity.
Man Up is inspired by Carlos’ acclaimed one-man play, a powerful coming-of-age memoir that reimagines masculinity for the twenty-first-century male.
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)
A 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.
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.
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.
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.