I will admit that I'm not an avid reader. It's not that I don't enjoy it- actually I find it very relaxing- but I'm a rather slow reader and I'm easily distracted (perhaps some undiagnosed ADHD). I usually wait until summertime to read for fun and/or inspiration. Otherwise, I'm so consumed by school that I don't focus and it will take forever to finish a book. Therefore, most of my reading consists of blog posts, journal articles, tweets and other material related to my profession. But today's prompt is not just about reading, it asks me to list a book I am thankful to have read and has inspired me to be better at what I do. I actually need to name two.
The first is New Kids in Town: Oral Histories of Immigrant Teens. This is one I read last year with one of my students. I bought it from Amazon for $0.01 (yes, one penny-it's not a typo) plus $3.99 for shipping. A used book published in 1991-definitely an oldie but goodie. I bought it for insight, but turned out it was not only an eye-opener but also greatly inspiring. It tells stories of 11 immigrant teens, all from different backgrounds, but all came to America for the same reason: a better life. In my opinion, it's a must-read for any secondary level educator because these kids are everywhere.
The second is the good book - The Bible. I didn't grow up reading it and didn't discover it until I was 18. It introduced me to my Creator and Savior and helped me find myself. Even though I've never read it cover-to-cover, I've read (and reread) a good portion of it. It has taught me to be loving and compassionate, to not fret or fear, to be content and grateful and most of all, to know that I have a hope and a future. Even though I don't teach from it or discuss it with students, this book inspires me to be the best teacher I can be.
While these two books are very different, both have made an impact on my teaching. Both inspire me to care for and respect my students for who they are. Both have taught me that no matter where they come from or what obstacles they face, they all have the potential for greatness. Both have taught me to be more compassionate and less stereotypical. I don't teach English as a Second Language, I teach students whose second language (or sometimes their third or fourth) happens to be English. I don't just teach, I inspire and these books have inspired me to inspire them.