Summer Reads for the History Teacher

Grades submitted ✔

Classroom packed✔

End-of-Year Checklist turned in ✔

Now what?

If you are like me, you are hoping to find that elusive balance of relaxation and professional development. After a busy year in the classroom, I always look forward to these weeks to recharge and revitalize some parts of the curriculum that didn’t quite hit the mark last year. 

Both Thinking Nation’s Executive Director, Zach Coté, and I completed our MA in American History through the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (HIGHLY RECOMMEND!). Deepening our content knowledge had a massive impact on our ability to create engaging learning experiences and ignite our students’ curiosity toward studying the past. 

That’s why the Thinking Nation Team put together a curated list of our top recommendations for your summer professional development. Use this list to find some reads to get you inspired to take your teaching to the next level!


  • Keeping the Wonder: An Educator’s Guide to Magical, Engaging, and Joyful Learning by Jenna Copper, Ashley Bible, Abby Gross, and Staci Lamb
  • Reading Like a Historian: Teaching Literacy in Middle and High School History Classrooms by Samuel Wineburg
  • We Got This: Equity, Access and the Quest to be Who Our Students Need Us to Be by Cornelius Minor
  • Why Won’t You Just Tell Us the Answer: Teaching Historical Thinking in Grades 7-12 by Bruce Lesh


  • On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
  • Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers Who Helped Win World War II by Liza Mundy
  • The World: A Family History of Humanity by Simon Sebag Montefiore
  • A Queer History of the United States by Michael Bronski
  • The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer
  • The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough

Historical Fiction

  • We Are Not Free by Traci Chee
  • This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  • The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Four Winds by Kristen Hannah

We hope you find this list of recommendations as valuable as we have. Summer is the perfect time to invest in yourself and your teaching practice. By diving into these impactful books, you’ll not only deepen your own understanding but also bring fresh, engaging content into your classroom next year.

Take this time to relax, recharge, and get reinspired to enter your classroom with newfound knowledge, diverse perspectives, and enthusiasm for studying the past. 

Happy reading and enjoy your well-deserved break!


*For more book recommendations, join me on Instagram and Goodreads where I host The American History Teacher Book Club.