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  • Writer's pictureAndroy Bruney

14 Must-Read Books for Science Teachers This Summer

As the school year wraps up and the lazy days of summer approach, it’s the perfect time to kick back with some good books. Whether you're looking to deepen your understanding of scientific concepts, discover new ways to engage your students, or just enjoy a captivating story, I've put together a list that's sure to inspire and entertain. So grab a comfortable chair, your favorite beverage, and let's dive into some great reads that are perfect for your summer break!

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Non-Fiction Books on Science

While it’s not my usual preference, I do enjoy occasionally refreshing my knowledge of the latest in science and the current discussions among prominent scientists.

While there are podcasts available, they don’t offer the depth that a well-written book can. Here’s a list of non-fiction science books that could be great for sparking intriguing discussions with your students next school year.

1. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysics for people in a hurry book

  • What’s It About? Tyson offers a whirlwind tour of the universe in a way that’s easy to grasp, even if you're not an astrophysicist.

  • Why You Should Read It: It’s a fantastic way to quickly get up to speed on some of the most fascinating concepts in astrophysics,

Check out the kindle version, or if you're like me and always on the move the audio version is pretty reliable.

2. The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Gene: An Intimate History book

  • What’s It About? Mukherjee delves into the history of genetic research, blending personal narrative with scientific history.

  • Why You Should Read It: Understanding genetics is crucial, and this book not only informs but also illuminates the ethical dimensions of genetic science.

3. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

  • What’s It About? Harari explores the history of humans, from the emergence of Homo sapiens to the present.

  • Why You Should Read It: This book provides a broad perspective on human development, perfect for discussing human evolution and societal change in class.

I strongly recommend the audible version for this one.

4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

  • What’s It About? The story of Henrietta Lacks and the cells that were taken from her without her knowledge, which have been used for countless scientific breakthroughs.

  • Why You Should Read It: It’s a powerful story that raises important questions about ethics in science, making it great for bioethics discussions.

I also recommend the audiobook for this one.

5. The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World

  • What’s It About? Who knew trees could be interesting?Wohlleben shares the wonders of the forest, describing how trees interact with each other.

  • Why You Should Read It: This book can change the way you think about ecosystems and is a wonderful addition to any environmental science or Biology curriculum.

Check out the audio version here but I recommend a physical copy or kindle version.

Books on Teaching Science

As a chemistry teacher I am always looking for new and innovative ways of making my teaching experience more practical and engaging. Here are a few recommendations to support the craft.

6. The Science Teacher's Toolbox: Hundreds of Practical Ideas to Support Your Students by Tara C. Dale and M. Jenice Goldston

The Science Teacher's Toolbox

  • What’s It About? This book is packed with strategies and ideas to enhance your teaching.

  • Why You Should Read It: It's full of practical tips that you can immediately apply in your classroom to engage students more effectively.

7. Teach Like a Champion 2.0: 62 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College by Doug Lemov

Teach Like a Champion 2.0: 62 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College

  • What’s It About? Lemov shares techniques to improve your classroom management and student engagement.

  • Why You Should Read It: While not specific to science, these strategies can be adapted to make your science classes more dynamic and engaging.

8. Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools by Ron Ritchhart

Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools

  • What’s It About? Ritchhart discusses how to create a thinking environment in classrooms.

  • Why You Should Read It: Encouraging critical thinking is essential in science education, and this book offers valuable insights into fostering that environment.

I recommend the audio book. But the paperback version works just as well.

Biographies and Memoirs

If you enjoy biographies and memoirs or, like me, are looking to broaden your reading horizons, here are some excellent additions to your reading list.

9. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Lab Girl
  • What’s It About? Jahren’s memoir blends personal narrative with stories from her life as a geobiologist.

  • Why You Should Read It: It's an inspiring read that provides a personal look at the life of a scientist, perfect for relating to your students.

10. The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan by Robert Kanigel

The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius
  • What’s It About?  Now a major motion picture The Man who Knew Infinity is the biography of the brilliant mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.

  • Why You Should Read It: It’s a story of passion and dedication to math, offering inspiration and a glimpse into the world of mathematical research.

11. Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon by Robert Kurson

Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon

  • What’s It About? This book recounts the epic journey of the Apollo 8 astronauts.

  • Why You Should Read It: It's a thrilling account of space exploration, perfect for inspiring awe and wonder in your students.

Science Fiction

After a long and exhausting school year, you might feel the need to escape reality for a while. I understand... so here are some fantastic science fiction recommendations, beginning with one of my personal favorites.

12.The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian

  • What’s It About? The Martian" is a gripping science fiction novel by Andy Weir that tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney, who is stranded on Mars after a fierce storm forces his crew to abandon the mission, thinking he is dead. Alone on the red planet, Watney must rely on his ingenuity, scientific knowledge, and a touch of humor to survive the seemingly insurmountable challenges he faces.

  • Why You Should Read It: Weir's meticulous research shines throughout the novel, making the science both believable and accessible. Readers will appreciate the detailed explanations of the science behind Watney's survival tactics. The Martian" can serve as an excellent example of practical applications of scientific principles. It can spark discussions on topics such as botany, engineering, physics, and environmental science.

13. Contact by Carl Sagan

contact by car sagan
  • What’s It About? "Contact," written by the renowned astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan, is a compelling science fiction novel that delves into the profound questions of humanity's place in the universe and the possibilities of extraterrestrial life.

  • Why You Should Read It: Sagan, with his extensive background in astronomy and astrophysics, brings a high level of scientific accuracy and plausibility to the narrative. Readers are treated to detailed and realistic descriptions of scientific processes and technologies.

The novel addresses profound questions about the existence of extraterrestrial life, the nature of human existence, and the intersection of science and religion. It challenges readers to think deeply about humanity's place in the cosmos.

As a science teacher, I found "Contact" to be a treasure trove of ideas and themes to bring into the classroom. The novel sparked lively discussions among my students about the possibility of extraterrestrial life and the ethical implications of first contact, making it a powerful tool for encouraging critical thinking and curiosity about the universe.

14. The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin

the three body problem novel

What's It about?: "The Three-Body Problem," the first book in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy by Chinese author Liu Cixin, is a masterful blend of hard science fiction and thought-provoking philosophical questions about humanity’s place in the cosmos.

  • Why You Should Read It: The novel intricately weaves historical events with speculative science fiction, creating a narrative that is both intellectually stimulating and deeply engaging. Liu Cixin's ability to fuse real scientific principles with imaginative scenarios is remarkable.

  • The Three-Body Problem" won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2015, making Liu Cixin the first Asian author to receive this prestigious honor. The recognition underscores the book's impact and excellence in the science fiction genre.

The Netflix series is also pretty good.

I hope this reading list provides you with some enjoyable and thought-provoking books to dive into this summer. Whether you're in it for the science, the teaching tips, or the compelling stories, there's something here for every science teacher. Enjoy your reading and have a fantastic summer filled with discovery!


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