I've never been a big book reader. This is a tough thing to say because of my job (Elementary Library Media Specialist), but it's true. I'm not saying I don't like to read, because I do. However, most of my reading time is spent reading magazines (Sports Illustrated, MacWorld), newspapers, websites, and blogs. I'm surrounded by book readers - my wife reads daily and my children like to read. A large majority of my reading, however, is online. I don't have a problem with that, unless I go on vacation - then the stack of magazines next to my bed shrinks a little.

Over the last year, since I've been blogging and reading blogs, the amount of time I'm spending reading "Professional" material has increased greatly. While I've read a few titles here and there over the years, I've never really jumped on the book bandwagon. I feel I'm reading more than ever, but often wonder if I should be reading more books. There are a lot of teachers in my building that read a number of professional books throughout the school year and summer and I think this is great. Whenever I'm asked to purchase professional books for our school library, I do not hesitate. I've even ordered some for myself over the years, but haven't read them yet. This leads to the reason for this post.

Should I be reading more professional books?

In the past month, Chris Lehmann and Will Richardson have both published their summer reading lists. I don't have a list, but wonder if I should - or at least grab a title or 2 from their lists. Am I missing great material? I'm sure I am, just like I'm missing great material in blogs I'm not following. Would reading more professional books improve my teaching? Would it improve my thinking?

I've taken a step in the right direction, I think, and reserved Here Comes Everybody from my local library. It seems as though this book has been read quite a bit - I hope I enjoy it.

Are you reading professional books? I'm curious what you think.


  1. Inside Room 214 // July 15, 2008 at 1:27 PM  

    I am with you on this. I can't seem to find time to read a real book but do read most online. I have many audio books and listen to them everyday at the gym. I know more than a few people who say that isn't really reading but it works for me. I do bring a small notebook to jot things down that hit me as important.

  2. suzanne31381 // July 15, 2008 at 2:34 PM  

    Thanks for your post. I'm a huge book reader but not of professional tomes. Since I only read professional books all the way through grad school, now I read fiction whenever I can. Sadly, during the school year, that's only about 15 minutes before bed most nights.

    However, I feel I've practically earned taught myself a second graduate degree via the number of blogs, podcasts, etc. that I've inhaled in the last couple of years. I do try and stay informed and keep learning. I tend to do the audiobook/podcast thing in self-defense--I can't read a book or professional journal in the car, in the gym, or while I'm doing chores around the house.

    This past year I read A Whole New Mind (skimmed) and I've just recently been reading "Reinventing Project Based Learning." I just ordered "Here Comes Everybody," "Disrupting Class," and "Adventures of Johnny Bunko" because I felt like you do--that maybe I should read more professional books. (Do you ever wonder if maybe it's enough just to observe/hear the discussions about a book rather than actually read it?) We should compare notes!

    I have made it my mission this year to get my school or district to sponsor a professional book study our teachers can take for credit. I've said I'd facilitate and I've nominated some titles. That's what put a fire under me to finally purchase those 3 books myself. We'll see eventually whether I think it was worth it.

  3. diane // July 15, 2008 at 3:44 PM  

    The number of books I read per year has dropped significantly since I've become more deeply involved with RSS feeds, blogs, Twitter, etc.

    Since I do so much professional reading online, I tend to revert to fiction, particularly mysteries and classics, when I turn to print.

    I have read Blink, The World is Flat, Wikinomics, and Tough Choices or Tough Times. I've purchased Deer Hunting with Jesus (about rural poverty) on Doug Noon's recommendation, and reserved Here Comes Everybody, and The Future of the Internet at a local library.

    The summer is my playtime as well as self-directed PD time. Trying to balance all this with a part-time online job, and blogging is an exercise in creativity.

    But think of all the brain cells I'm stimulating!

  4. teryl_magee // July 15, 2008 at 3:59 PM  

    Like you, my reading of "real books" has dwindled significantly since I have taken up twitter, plurk, blogs, rss feeds, et al. I find that I am reading more and more professional material online and spending less time reading for my enjoyment or even professional books. When I do find the time to read the real thing I find myself reading children's novels. I guess I justify it because I teach 4th grade; I do need to relate to the children you know!

    However, since joining in on the plurk bandwagon I decided to jump in on a "book club." We will be reading Brain Rules and will be discussing on plurk and diigo. Maybe you can start back up there!

  5. suzanne31381 // July 15, 2008 at 4:06 PM  

    Oh yeah. Just remembered I'm supposed to be listening to 2 new Audible books: "Leading Up" and "You Don't Need a Title to Be A Leader."

    Who will write "You Don't Need to Sleep, Just Read Professional Development 24-7."?

  6. IMC Guy // July 15, 2008 at 7:23 PM  

    @room214 -I do agree that time is often part of the problem.

    @suzanne -I hope you at least enjoy the 15 minutes. Tell me about Johnny Bunko

    @diane -I like the exercise in creativity comment - well said!

    @teryl -Me, book club? I don't think so. :)

  7. Michelle // July 16, 2008 at 12:00 AM  

    I think ALL educators need to be actively literate and that variety is key. Reading online content, listening to audio books, magazines, newspapers, and, yes, actual REAL books are ALL valid and important. But, most importantly, as an educator, set an example and always have a REAL book that you are reading, professional or otherwise, and let kids know what book you are reading! (Don't forget to tell them about reading other forms of text as well!)

    I'd love to hear how this turns out for you--please keep us posted! :-)

  8. Ann Oro // July 16, 2008 at 6:53 AM  

    Summer is a time that I had always reserved for a reading fest. Over the winter, I joined Shelfari. You can see what I've read, am reading, and plan to read. I found Here Comes Everybody quite interesting in light of the amount of collaborative projects I've been working on this past year. Right now, I'm finishing up Made to Stick. I'm hoping to incorporate the ideas into my work with the teachers in my building this year. In each book, I pick up an idea. I hope you find the book interesting.

  9. Heidi Pence // July 16, 2008 at 7:16 AM  

    I mostly read professional articles that have been recommended to me by others. In our school district we have groups that get together once a month to discuss articles and books about latest trends in education. I read lots of articles online and have enjoyed those that are brought to my attention by social networking groups that I have joined. I like to read pleasure books too and I borrow these from our local library.

    I don't think that a person should get hung up about what or how they get their reading material. Reading should be a pleasurable thing. I used to get worried that my kids liked being on the internet so much. They were reading!! How can a person think that this is not a good thing. They still like a "real" book. It is not the media in which it is written, electronic or paper, instead think of it as food for the brain.

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