Book of the Month

Since 2018 #slowchathealth has selected a Book of the Month. Sometimes these are chosen by myself but usually they are 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

“You Just Need to Lose Weight”: And 19 Other Myths About Fat People by Aubrey Gordon(3/23)


The host of Maintenance Phase, one of my favorite podcasts, is back again with her second book, and like the first one, it’s very, very good. In “You Just Need to Lose Weight,” Aubrey Gordon equips readers with the facts and statistics to reframe myths about fatness in order to dismantle the anti-fat bias ingrained in how we think about and treat fat people.

Each of the easily digested (no pun intended) chapters break down myths and biases, some of which had me questioning my own beliefs. The book aims to encourage deeper conversations about fatness, fat people, and systemic anti-fatness, and I have already woven elements of this book into my classroom material. The author also provides suggested opportunities for action, further resources and citations, and makes it quite clear to readers that this should NOT be the only book you read by a fat person about fatness and anti-fatness. The list of further books to read is extensive!

PBL Simplified by Ryan Steuer(2/23)

pblAs an experienced teacher, I know the power of project based learning, but was never taught how to incorporate it into my instruction. This book from Ryan Steuer has given me the confidence to weave PBL into my classes. It’s obvious that the author has much experience in this area, and knows how to break PBL down into manageable steps to empower even the most nervous teacher.
Readers benefit from the author sharing powerful stories from his own journey towards effective implementation and I am confident that I can bring project based learning to my students next semester.
This book is an easy read, well laid out, and one that teachers will return to again, and again.

Look out for tweets from Jordan Manley, who is leading the PBL conversation from a health and physical education angle.

Choose Joy: Relieve Burnout, Focus on Your Happiness & Infuse More Joy Into Your Everyday Life by Sophie Cliff (12/22)

joy2I’m guessing that, like most teachers at this time of the year, you are feeling exhausted, both mentally and physically. In Choose Joy, certified positive psychology practitioner Sophie Cliff is here to help. This book is a wonderfully positive read that also includes insights, exercises and reflections to help keep burnout at bay, find balance, reduce stress and that way you react to it, identify core values (I’m incorporating this into my health classes), and ultimately figure out what brings you joy and how to embrace it more. Coming off the back of 3 tough years, I’m the perfect vessel for Sophie’s message.

Choose Joy is an empathetic and empowering resource for anyone struggling with burnout and self-limiting beliefs. The practical advice Sophie offers is something that we can all benefit from.” – Mary Jelkovsky, bestselling author of The Gift of Self-Love.

The Seven Circles: Indigenous Teachings for Living Well  by Chelsey Luger & Thosh Collins (11/22)

ThoshWhen wellness teachers and husband-wife duo Chelsey Luger and Thosh Collins founded their Indigenous wellness initiative, Well for Culture, they extended an invitation to all to honor their whole self through Native wellness philosophies and practices. In reclaiming this ancient wisdom for health and wellbeing—drawing from traditions spanning multiple tribes—they developed the Seven Circles, a holistic model for modern living rooted in timeless teachings from their ancestors.

In The Seven Circles, Luger and Collins share intimate stories from their life journeys growing up in tribal communities, from the Indigenous tradition of staying active and spiritually centered through running and dance, to the universal Indigenous emphasis on a light-filled, minimalist home to create sacred space.

The Intersectional Environmentalist by Leah Thomas (10/22)


An essential read, this book addresses the most pressing issues that the people and our planet face, examines and dismantles privilege, and looks to the future as the voice of a movement that will define a generation. Leah Thomas shows how not only are Black, Indigenous and people of color unequally and unfairly impacted by environmental injustices, but she argues that the fight for the planet lies in tandem to the fight for civil rights; and in fact, that one cannot exist without the other.

“[The Intersectional Environmentalist] shares data in an accessible, compelling, and engaging manner, and explores a variety of topics, including ableism, veganism, green energy, representation and more. It’s dense, but not overwhelming, and it also provides a “tool kit” and a supplementary reading list, to help you expand your knowledge once you finish this book.” – She Does the City

Wolfpack by Abby Wambach (9/22)


When I found out that I had the opportunity to attend an audience two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA World Cup champion Abby Wambach I knew I had to make her latest book a book of the month. This is an easy, and inspirational, read and quite a few coaches I know give copies of this book to their athletes. Although the message of this book is aimed at women, the message will speak to all genders.

· Make failure your fuel: Transform failure to wisdom and power.
· Lead from the bench: Lead from wherever you are.
· Champion each other: Claim each woman’s victory as your own.
· Demand the effing ball: Don’t ask permission: take what you’ve earned.

Check out the podcast that Abby hosts with her wife Glennon Doyle and the Barnard Commencement address that led to the writing of Wolfpack.

Behind Their Screens: What Teens Are Facing (and Adults Are Missing) by Emily Weinstein and Carrie James (8/22)

behindThis is a book that I’m reading both as a teacher and also a parent that just allowed his first born to own a cell phone (!).

I don’t know enough about how teens navigate the world using their devices, and although I’m expected to ‘teach’ students how to stay safe online, I’m too far removed from my teen years to fully appreciate the role that screens play in their lives.

In Behind Their Screens, Emily Weinstein and Carrie James, Harvard researchers who are experts on teens and technology, explore the complexities that teens face in their digital lives, and suggest that many adult efforts to help—“Get off your phone!” “Just don’t sext!”—fall short.

Hacking Teacher Burnout: 8 Steps to Go from Isolated to Empowered So You Can Overcome Any Challenge by Amber Harper (7/22)


If my social media feed is to be believed, we are seeing rates of teacher burnout, and educators leaving the profession, higher than ever before. For that reason AND because Amber Harper was a fellow keynote presenter at the recent SHAPE America virtual ‘Back to School Summit’ I HAD to make this a book of the month selection.

Amber has a great website and a hugely successful podcast series (see below), and much to offer to teachers who need more than just Kenny G and a warm bath to help them take control of the stressors in their lives.

This book spins burnout to burned-in with the following aims:

✓ Discover your burnout type (everyone has a type?)

✓ Take actions that are best for you, depending on your burnout type

✓ Move through burnout rather than fight against it

✓ Make time for things that bring you growth and joy

✓ Become a thriving teacher, both personally and professionally

✓ Prepare for hardship before it hits and conquer it when it does

How to Grow. Nurture Your Garden, Nurture Yourself by Marcus Bridgewater (6/22)


In this transformative guide, TikTok’s most popular gardener, Marcus Bridgewater—aka Garden Marcus—offers lessons for growth rooted in lessons from the plant world to help cultivate the soul.

Marcus Bridgewater has been compared to Bob Ross and Mister Rogers for his soothing TikTok videos that relate botany to humanity. A gardener “who shares tips about caring for one’s plants and oneself” (New York Times)

As someone who knows the wellness benefits from being outside and in my garden, but also doesn’t have the confidence in his own gardening ability, THIS might be the book I need the most this summer.

How to Grow isn’t a gardening book. It is a self-help book that draws inspiration from the garden. Original, timely, and filled with nurturing wisdom, it takes perennial knowledge from plants to teach us about ourselves and opens our eyes to what we are capable of achieving.

The Peak Performing Teacher by Mike Kuczala (5/22)


Cultivating focus, re-energizing oneself, and improving daily habits are essential for educators’ well-being and the good that they pass along to students. However, finding the time to implement new habits can be hard. Because small changes are easier to plan for and realize, Kuczala concentrates on the habits that are most likely to yield significant improvements. This book guides educators in meaningful self-reflection by providing:

  •  Five critical practices to increase productivity and decrease anxiety
  • Reflection prompts and vignettes to guide readers in developing self-care strategies
  • Practical checklists and templates to help educators maintain goals

52 Ways to Walk: The Surprising Science of Walking for Wellness & Joy, One Week at a Time by Annabel Streets (4/22)

52I love this book so much, that I’m going to weave it into my #microblog submission in May. Walking is wonderful, I’m preaching to the converted, I know. This book however, presents 52 different ways in which to level up your daily stroll with bite-sized chapters revealing the science behind walking.

“With its thought-provoking and evidence-backed weekly walk routine, 52 Ways to Walk will encourage everyone to improve how they walk, while also encouraging them to seek out new locations (many on their own doorsteps), new walking companions (our brains age better when we mix up our fellow walkers), new times of the day and night, and new skills to acquire while walking.”

Not only is this a book that you can return to again, and again, but if you are a Physical Education teacher looking to encourage a lifelong love of movement in your students, you’ll be able to justify taking your class for regular walks. Intentional walks. Walks that weave in the wonderful ways in which walking can help us physically, socially, and mentally.

This book reveals “how walking may be the best-kept secret of the supremely healthy and happy, the creative and well-slept”

Listen to the author talk with Jason Wachob on the mindbodygreen podcast.

The Essential Sex Education Book for Parents: Guided Conversations to Have With Your Tween & Teens by Daniel Rice (3/22)

dan-rice-1You might already know the author, Dan Rice, from his stellar work at conferences across the country. Or you might know him from his amazing advocacy work with Answer. Dan is a leading voice in the field of sex education and one that I trust implicitly. His influence is evident in my teaching and he continually challenges me to be a better teacher…and now a better parent too.

In his new book, you will find out how you can tackle the sometimes difficult subject of sex in a way that encourages your child to open up, be honest, and not feel ashamed. This modern guide helps you confidently discuss 70 essential sex education topics. Each subject features an easy-to-understand explanation, as well as questions and prompts designed to help you start meaningful dialogues.

In this, much needed book, Dan now provides me with the language and methods I need to have ‘difficult and awkward’ conversations with my own children. The book clearly lays out why these conversations are important, and how might be the best way to navigate them so that both parent and child can benefit both now, and in the future.
The outstanding feature of this book are the “guided conversations” that give parents and caregivers a jumping off point to start a conversation. Prompts are suggested to help keep the conversation flowing. Not only are these questions and prompts valuable at home, they will also be useful for educators in classrooms.

Pair the book with this NPR podcast episode – A Sex Ed Update For An Internet-Enabled Generation.

Also, please consider making a donation to Answer, to their work with young people to have the information they need to make informed decisions, which reduces their risk of an unwanted pregnancy and transmission of sexually transmitted infections.

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee (2/22)

the sum

From the financial crisis of 2008 to rising student debt to collapsing public infrastructure, Heather McGhee has found a root problem: racism in our politics and policymaking. But not just in the most obvious indignities for people of color. Racism has costs for white people, too. It is the common denominator of our most vexing public problems, the core dysfunction of our democracy and constitutive of the spiritual and moral crises that grip us all. But how did this happen? And is there a way out?

The Sum of Us is a brilliant analysis of how we arrived here: divided and self-destructing, materially rich but spiritually starved and vastly unequal.

Watch Heather McGhee, author of THE SUM OF US, in conversation with Chris Jackson

MOVE! The New Science of Body Over Mind by Caroline Williams (1/22)


Caroline Williams is a science writer, editor and consultant to New Scientist magazine and seems to be everywhere on my social media feed promoting her new, and highly popular, book. Presenting the latest science writing on the many benefits of movement, the NYT Book review said “Williams writes in a familiar, dinner-party style, delighting guests with tales of her exploits….”. You’ll appreciate the well researched data being presented to you in an easy to digest manner. “Lucid, informative, authoritative, fascinating”, the author presents readers with an inspiring movement manifesto that will make you think more deeply about your relationship with, and ability to harness the power of, movement.

Listen to Caroline talk with Jim Davis for the Good Athlete Podcast, or check out her engaging conversation with Dr. Wendy Suzuki below.

Hacking Modern Teaching by Mike Roberts (12/21)

51HfInJcY2LAs teachers reflect on one of the most challenging years of their careers there will undoubtedly be a sense of relief as we look forward to a ‘return to normal’, a return to pre-pandemic pedagogy. However, Mike Roberts asks that you pause and reflect on some of the lessons learned, and the changes made to your teaching style during the last 18 months or so as you adapted to the needs of your schedule, your students, and the constraints placed upon you. Mike suggests hacks and easy-to-implement ideas that teachers can weave into their planning. By embracing some, or all of these ideas, students and teachers alike can have a more effective, more manageable and ultimately more successful year in the classroom.
If you’ve thought about making change, if you’ve questioned the ways of the past, or you are simply relishing the idea of trying something new with your students, there is something for you in this book.

*I’m hoping to arrange a podcast interview with Mike. Watch this space!

Body Happy Kids by Molly Forbes (11/21)

Body Happy

This book pairs really well with Aubrey Gordon’s book (see below), and is written in such a lovely way. Molly Forbes shares her thoughts and tools to help support and raise resilient children and teens, encouraging them to love the skin they’re in. This book will challenge what many ‘think’ they know about body image – it did with me. This is a book that I want everyone who works with, or cares about, kids to read. It’s encouraged me to reframe my thoughts and check the language that I use.

#slowchathealth readers are encouraged to join the #BLBookChat on Twitter on December 30th, led by the awesome Cait O’Connor.

Connect by David Bradford & Carole Robin (10/21)


The ability to create strong relationships with others is crucial to living a full life and becoming more effective at work. Yet many of us find ourselves struggling to build solid personal and professional connections or unable to handle challenges that inevitably arise when we grow closer to others.

Filled with relatable scenarios and research-backed insights, Connect is an important resource for anyone hoping to improve existing relationships and build new ones at any stage of life.

Check out the authors’ website for more information.

Hear the authors on the Ten Percent Happy podcast.

What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon (9/21)

Talk Fat

Another recommendation from so many of my PLN, and a book that every #HealthEd teacher should read.

Anti-fatness is everywhere. In What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat, Aubrey Gordon unearths the cultural attitudes and social systems that have led to people being denied basic needs because they are fat and calls for social justice movements to be inclusive of plus-sized people’s experiences.

One person on my timeline wrote- “Aubrey Gordon’s writer’s voice is just like she speaks: funny and empathetic, with an undertone of confidence. I respected her before, but the book made me want to defend her with my life. It helped me define what kind of fat activist I am and that I’m not crazy or alone.”

The author also has her own podcast, Maintenance Phase, that is amazing! You will definitely want to check out the episodes on fitness testing and BMI. They will blow your mind!

What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Oprah Winfrey & Bruce D. Perry (8/21)

what happened

As recommended to me by SO MANY of my PLN. When questioning our emotions, it’s easy to place the blame on ourselves; holding ourselves and those around us to an impossible standard. It’s time we started asking a different question.

Through deeply personal conversations, Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry offer a groundbreaking and profound shift from asking “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”. In conversation throughout the book, Oprah and Dr. Perry focus on understanding people, behavior, and ourselves. It’s a subtle but profound shift in our approach to trauma, and it’s one that allows us to understand our pasts in order to clear a path to our future―opening the door to resilience and healing in a proven, powerful way.

The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life by Shawn Achor (7/21)


This is a book I’ve been meaning to circle back to ever since Shawn Achor‘s TED talk was shown to our Health & PE department. This is the book that inspired that TED Talk, which has been watched almost 24 MILLION TIMES!

New York Times bestselling author Shawn Achor reveals how rewiring our brain for happiness helps us achieve more in our careers and our relationships and as students, leaders, and parents.

Drawing on his original research—including one of the largest studies of happiness ever conducted—and work in boardrooms and classrooms across forty-two countries, Achor shows us how to rewire our brains for positivity and optimism to reap the happiness advantage in our lives, our careers, and even our health.

By turns fascinating, hopeful, and timely, The Happiness Advantage reveals how small shifts in our mind-set and habits can produce big gains at work, at home, and elsewhere.

Check out Shawn’s TED talk if you think this might be the type of book you need in your life right now.

When Are We Going to Teach Health?: Let’s Teach Health as If Each Child’s Life Depends on It – Because It Does by Duncan Van Dusen (6/21)


“Health requires education, and education requires health.” In “When Are We Going to Teach Health?,” Duncan Van Dusen,  CEO of CATCH Global Foundation, makes a novel, sometimes irreverent, case for the why, what, and how of prioritizing “Whole Child” health and SEL in K-12 schools.

Duncan shows why health drives academic success, what makes teaching health effective, and how to create a school environment that delivers and sustains healthy behavior. Using case studies, tips, and recommended actions, he describes proven youth empowerment and skills-based health education techniques to increase kids’ physical activity and healthy food choices and to decrease youth vaping.

Half of the proceeds from this engaging, and quick read will fund health education in low-income schools.

Listen to Duncan on the Author Hour podcast.

All Work No Play: A Surprising Guide to Feeling More Mindful, Grateful and Cheerful by Dale Sidebottom (5/21)

IMG_7581Written by one of our very own – Dale Sidebottom has tapped his energy and playfulness and poured it onto the page in his much-needed manifesto for reconnecting with joy and happiness on a daily basis.

Readers will identify where joyfulness can be found and added to their routine, learn simple hacks to increase levels of joy, and impact not only their lives, but the lives of those around them.

Teachers reading this be able to tweak some/all of Dale’s ideas to bring the joy to their students too! Guaranteed more fun and guaranteed closer individual connections, which can only lead to greater engagement and buy-in to your message.

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor (4/21)

downloadA parent was listening in on my Zoom teaching and sent me an email after she heard me talking about the value of using breathing to control stress. She thought I would like this book, but she was wrong – I loved it!

Named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR, Nestor takes you through the history of the simple act of breathing with a different focus in each chapter. I promise you, you’ll read this and find yourself tuning into your own breath. You breathe slower, then deeper, then faster, then longer until you realize that there is so much more to the simple act of breathing than you ever imagined. NOTHING matters if you’re not breathing properly!

Listen to the author in this podcast interview with Outside Magazine.

Watch the Life With Breath Webinar with James Nestor and Ed Harrold.

Read Life With Breath: IQ and EQ = New You by Ed Harrold.

Strange Bedfellows by Ina Park (3/21)


To those who work hard to de-stigmatize sex education, to normalize sexual behavior, to promote pleasure, make lessons inclusive, and have the confidence to do all of that while injecting in some humor – you are my heroes. If you are one of those educators, or striving to become one, I present to you, Ina Park – physician, medical consultant on STI’s to the CDC, past owner of a giant condom outfit, and author of the awesome new book “Strange Bedfellows. Adventures in the Science, History, and Surprising Secrets of STD’s“.

Covering everything from AIDS to Zika, Park explores STIs on the cellular, individual, and population-level. She blends science and storytelling with historical tales, real life sexual escapades, and interviews with leading scientists―weaving in a healthy dose of hilarity along the way. I was literally cheering for Herpes in chapter one and sad for the demise of pubic lice in chapter two. I am excited to continue diving into this book as it totally hits my sense of humor.

Read an excerpt from the book.

Hear the author on the ‘How We Talk About Sex’ podcast.

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.

Look inside the book.

Outside Magazine podcast interview with the author.

Superbetter by Jane McGonigal (1/21)

51+8cQMOuwL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_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.

Look inside the book.

Check out the Superbetter site.

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)

Lea Lis

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.

Click here to see how excited I was to receive my copy of the book!

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.

Look inside the book.

Check out the awesome reading guide.

Hear the author on the Books on the Go podcast.

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.

Listen to George M. Johnson on the Free Cookies podcast.

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 Girland 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.

Listen to a clip of the audiobook.

Listen to Hope Jahren appear on the Answers for the Family radio show.

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)

download-1 7.25.12 AM

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.

Watch the recording of the author speaking at New Trier High School.

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 ‘s “Decoding Boys“, ‘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.

Listen to a sample of the book!

Read a sample of the book!

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!

Discussion Guide for Educators.

Book Club Discussion Podcast.

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.

Visit Bonnie’s website.

Listen to the author on this podcast.

Sex, Teens, and Everything in Between by Shafia Zaloom (10/19)

51ghAylKEpL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_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.

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. 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!

Growing Up Great. The Ultimate Puberty Book for Boys by Scott Todnem (6/19)


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.

Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood by Carlos Andrés Gómez (5/19)


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.

Visit Carlos’ site.

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.

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