May 4, 2021 is National Teacher Day. According to the National Education Association, “[N]ever have our nation’s teachers been more appreciated and seen—as they continually adapt to ensure successful learning for all students.” To increase appreciation, let’s explore titles in EVPL’s collections about teachers, the education profession, school, and learning. A special thanks to the many EVPL team members who contributed their favorite items to this list. Due to a large number of submissions, not all were able to be featured in this issue.
Sideways Stories from the Wayside School by Louis Sachar
Accidentally built sideways and standing thirty stories high (the builder said he was very sorry for the mistake), Wayside School has some of the wackiest classes in town, especially on the thirtieth floor. That’s where you’ll meet Bebe, the fastest draw in art class; John, who only reads upside down; Myron, the best class president, ever; and Sammy, the new kid-he’s a real rat. More than nine million readers have laughed at the wacky stories of Wayside School. So what are you waiting for? Come visit Wayside School!
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, Suzanne Kaufman
Illustrations and simple, rhyming text introduce a school where diversity is celebrated and songs, stories, and talents are shared.
Miss Nelson Is Missing by Harry Allan, James Marshall
The kids in Room 207 take advantage of their teacher’s good nature until she disappears and they are faced with a vile substitute.
Pete the Cat and the Surprise Teacher by James Dean
Everyone, even teachers, can learn something new at school in this Pete the Cat I Can Read adventure from New York Times bestselling author-illustrator, James Dean. When Pete goes to school, he finds out his teacher is out sick and the substitute teacher is . . . his mom! It’s up to Pete to teach the teacher what school is all about. Beginning readers will enjoy this story about Pete and his mom working together to make the most awesome teaching team ever! Pete the Cat and the Surprise Teacher is a My First I Can Read book, which means it’s perfect for shared reading with a child.
First Day Jitters by Julie Dannberg
Everyone knows that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach just before diving into a new situation. Sarah Jane Hartwell is scared and doesn’t want to start over at a new school. She doesn’t know anybody, and nobody knows her. It will be awful. She just knows it. With much prodding from Mr. Hartwell, Sarah Jane reluctantly pulls herself together and goes to school. She is quickly befriended by Mrs. Burton, who helps smooth her jittery transition. This charming and familiar story will delight readers with its surprise ending. Fun, energetic illustrations brighten page after page with the busy antics surrounding Sarah Jane. First Day Jitters is an enchanting story that is sure to be treasured by anyone who has ever anticipated a first day of school.
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a menacing, kid-hating headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. It’ll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves and Matilda may be just the one to do it!
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Beginning from Auggie’s point of view and expanding to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others, the perspectives converge to form a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope.
Scholastic’s The Magic School Bus follows Ms. Frizzle and her class as they set off on field trips. The Magic School Bus takes kids on a virtual bus ride. Magically transforming into a plane, submarine, spaceship, or surfboard, this bus carries Ms. Frizzle and her students on super adventures and teaches them about science.
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
During the 1967 school year, on Wednesday afternoons when all his classmates go to either Catechism or Hebrew school, seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood stays in Mrs. Baker’s classroom where they read the plays of William Shakespeare and Holling learns much of value about the world he lives in.
Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell
Teacher Erin Gruwell inspires her class of at-risk students to find their own voices by writing diaries.
To Sir, with Love by E.R. Braithwaite
With opportunities for black men limited in post–World War II London, Rick Braithwaite, a former Royal Air Force pilot and Cambridge-educated engineer, accepts a teaching position that puts him in charge of a class of angry, unmotivated, bigoted white teenagers whom the system has mostly abandoned. When his efforts to reach these troubled students are met with threats, suspicion, and derision, Braithwaite takes a radical new approach. He will treat his students as people poised to enter the adult world. He will teach them to respect themselves and to call him “Sir.” He will open up vistas before them that they never knew existed. And over the course of a remarkable year, he will touch the lives of his students in extraordinary ways, even as they in turn, unexpectedly and profoundly, touch his. Based on actual events in the author’s life, To Sir, With Love is a powerfully moving story that celebrates courage, commitment, and vision, and is the inspiration for the classic film starring Sidney Poitier.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
A reserved teacher at an English all-boys school marries a London dance-hall girl.
Kevin Kline stars as Arthur Hundert, a dedicated and inspiring classics professor who has devoted his life to teaching at a prep school for boys. New student Sedgewick Bell, the headstrong son of a powerful senator, joins his class and inexorably alters Mr. Hundert’s life. It is a clash of wills and personalities as these two people seemingly battle for the hearts and souls of the other students at St. Benedictus.
Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody) is a substitute teacher who shuns emotional connections and never stays long enough in one district to bond with his students or colleagues. Troubled and lost, Henry lands at a public school where an apathetic student body and disinterested parents have created a frustrated, burned-out group of teachers and administrators. Inadvertently, Henry becomes a role model to his disaffected students and bonds with a teenage runaway who is just as lost as he is.
Composer Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) believes that he’ll eventually write a transcendent piece of music, but in the meantime, he’s taken a job at an Oregon high school. Though at first the job frustrates him, and his unconventional methods often draw the ire of the straight-laced vice principal (W.H. Macy), Mr. Holland grows to love his students as the “temporary” position stretches into a decades-long career — and in the end, they reveal just how much they love him back.
Thank you to all the teachers in our lives!
Jake K. is a librarian at EVPL Central. He loves discovering answers to life’s pressing questions and helping people explore the amazing powers of the library.
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