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Win My Professional Books for Free Holiday Extravaganza!

By Angela Bunyi on December 17, 2010
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

I am a fan of giveaway contests, but I always wonder why my name is NEVER pulled out of that hat. It made me think about the great feeling of winning something, however small it may be, and how I have the opportunity to give someone else that feeling through Top Teaching. This has resulted in my "Win some of Angela's professional books for free holiday extravaganza!" The concept is simple. I have books. I will send them to you for free. You simply contribute a good book suggestion in exchange. Read on for some professional book recommendations and a list of books that are being offered to you for free! 

Photo: Some of the titles I am offering to readers for free.


These Are a Few of My Favorite Things . . .


I'd like to start with a list of books that impacted me greatly as an educator. Many of my copies of these books are signed by the authors, so I will not be offering these today. However, if you are looking for some books that will make a difference in your thinking and in your level of motivation, read on.

Free books are listed at the bottom of the post with some disclaimers and regulations.

Mem Fox

FoxUntil recently, it was a ritual for me to read this book before school started up each year. The first time I read it, I found myself wanting to say, "That's right, Mem!" over and over again. With a subtitle that includes "Passionate Opinions on Teaching" — written by someone who knows what they are talking about — how could I have anything but pure love for this book? This has to be one of my all-time favorite reads. It is gleaming with quotable sayings as well. 


Tanny McGregor

Mcgregor I remember stumbling onto this book online. I was struggling with how to make reading comprehension strategies more tangible and concrete in the classroom. I first found Tanny's reading comprehension songs and bookmarks and did a search to see if she had published any books. She had, and Comprehension Connections was a great find. It's practical, easy to read, and has many lesson ideas. There are plenty of photos that will support you in launching your own lessons in the classroom, and I even took the extra step of creating a tangible comprehension strategy board based on her book.  

Katie Wood Ray

RayI have always had a special place in my heart for Katie Wood Ray. When I was first introduced to the workshop model, my teacher referenced her the most. When I was able to meet Katie Wood Ray in person, I was completely sold. What I loved most about her was her suggestion to simply study real pieces of writing. In Study Driven, you can find the confidence to launch your own writing unit focused on studying craft. It's not the easiest book to read, but my copy is highlighted from front to back, and the newspaper clippings she studies as a model have been used time and time again in our classroom. 

Rafe Esquith

EsquithRafe Esquith made it onto Oprah for a reason. If you think you put in a lot of school hours, you will change your perspective after reading Esquith's process for making a difference in East L.A. His premise is simple and stands today: There are no shortcuts. That really goes for every teacher (and student) out there. When you imagine that another teacher has it all together, you have to remember that a) they have spent many, many hours to create that appearance and b) our job is never complete. To do well in this profession, we have to accept that there are no shortcuts. Teaching using a cruise control setting will never work. 

Sharon Taberski

Taberski This author seems to be overlooked. I don't see Taberski's book on many lists for balanced literacy, but I think this book includes one of the most thorough plans for launching, setting up, and maintaining a literacy-rich classroom. I really like Taberski's practical plans and no-frills approach to writing. This book really gave me a sense of what she was doing in the classroom day after day. Sadly, she has since retired. 

Richard Allington

AllingtonMaybe it's because Richard Allington teaches at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, but I literally love every book he has written. He is a bit radical and outspoken in person, but I think it's healthy to have a little bit of Allington in your system in this profession. Too often we have to stop and defend what we do in the classroom. Allington can be your fire, if you let him. One of my favorite things about Allington is that he uses peer-reviewed, federally recognized research to make his point. My copy is littered with notes, post-it notes, highlighters, and even a spilled drink or two. It's been loved.

Alfie Kohn

KohnAnother radical book, but also a huge eye-opener for me. Forever more I will think twice about extrinsic rewards and children. This is not the easiest book to read, but I can assure you that there is life beyond incentive plans, bribes, and trinkets. 

Elaine Garan

GaranIf I had to say what professional book would be considered by Cliff Notes, this would be it. From spelling to basals, Garan carefully helps you support what we do in the classroom. Each section begins with a possible question you may receive from a parent. For example, "Why don't you use . . . ?" or "We did that when I was growing up . . . " I have used elements in the book in parent newsletters. It includes several key research findings and helpful lists as well.

Ralph Fletcher

FletcherThis $6.99 book changed the way I looked at Writer's Notebooks. It is one of the reasons I push for students to carefully select and purchase their own Writer's Notebook each year. Each chapter is written so that you can read it in a few minutes and/or you can read it to your class. A great read-aloud for you and your students at the beginning of the year, it helps me remember what writing is REALLY about.

Lester Laminack

Laminack I am a huge Lester Laminack fan. I saw him when he was an SDE presenter and immediately cancelled all of my other sessions to spend the day with him. I gobbled up every word he had to say. After that, I saw him at three other conferences and attended any session I could with him. I have selected this book in particular because it includes a CD that demonstrates how Laminack might teach a lesson on certain elements of writing. 


Let the Bunyi-Book-Giving-Fest Begin!

It's time to spread the cheer and give someone else the opportunity to read some great books. The giveaway works as follows:

~ Read my post.

~ Think about a book that has strongly impacted you in the classroom.

~ In the comments section, share that book title and why it's a great read.

~ Tell me how great I am. Just kidding.

~ Include a book off the list below and leave a contact email.

~ In one week I will raffle off any titles that have been requested by more than one person. The winner will receive that book for free, possible highlighter marks and all. I'll contact you via email for an address. 

Ten Titles Up for Grabs:

Rafe Esquith — Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire and There Are No Shortcuts

Kathy Collins — Growing Readers (signed) 

Katie Wood Ray — About the Authors

Debbie Miller — Reading with Meaning

Ralph Fletcher — Boy Writers and Poetry Matters

Harvey Daniels and Steven Zemelman — Subjects Matter: Every Teacher's Guide to Content-Area Reading

Ellin Oliver Keene — Mosaic of Thought

Janet Angelillo — Grammar Study

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics — Cartoon Corner (asked about in my last post)


Happy holidays to you and your family!










Comments (138)


Great teaching strategies for sure! Thank you for sharing. I'll add your titles to our master-list shortly.




Thanks...I'll email you tomorrow if you have won.




I really like the idea of mentor texts book you suggested. I am very interested myself!

And I'll let you know if you win tomorrow.

Merry Christmas,



Yes, I included this in another post (both PDF and DOC format). You can find it here:


Hope that helps...



You are not too late. Thanks for the book suggestion. Your title is a sign of the times. Test pressure is so high right now!




Thanks! I'll let you know tomorrow if you are selected as a winner.



Well aren't you a funny one. :) It's only been three years before I have finally given up about comment numbers = a good post mindset, but I was happy to have such a good turnout for this book list creation. :)

Come back tomorrow for the winners. To be officially drawn by an 8 year old and a 4 year old in the morning.



Thanks for all the kind words. I think I was able to gain just as much from all of the readers' suggestions as well.

Come back shortly for the list of winners and master list of suggestions.



I loved the fairly new book Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov. It highlighted some things that I already do like infusing joy in the classroom. Also, it gave me some quick new techniques like calling on students to repeat another student's answer that I feel have greatly improved my instruction (and my principal loved).

If I were to choose, I would pick Growing Readers by Kathy Collins. By the way, I love your posts (and all of the other teachers posts) on Top Teaching, I get so many wonderful ideas for my classroom. :)

In regards to post #2, #118 is the same.

It's hard to think of just one book..Book Whisperer came to mind right away, although someone mentioned it. Also, Comprehension Connections was another one too. However, you already mentioned it. So I'll go with I Can Write Like That! It's a book full of mentor texts for craft lessons. I use it often in writer's workshop.

Yes, you are totally great and wonderful and I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for a fun giveaway!

If I won, I would pick Cartoon Corner off the list as a first choice and There are no Shortcuts as a second choice. Thanks! hennypenny1@live.com


Could you post a picture or share the files you used to create the bulletin board for the Tanny McGregor book about the reading strategies? Thanks!

I am currently reading Test Talk, by Amy H. Greene and Glennon Doyle Metlon. This book gives you ideas on how to integrate test taking skills into authentic reading instruction. I really like the part of the book that suggests language to use during lessons to improve test scores. I plan on incorporating many of the ideas from this book into my classroom.

Thanks for your book suggestions. I am always looking for new books to read, and many of the ones on your list I had never heard of!

If it's not too late, I'd be interested in the Rafi Esquith, There Are No Shortcuts. :)

#101 I'm not sure how to leave my email for my book choice other than to type it here. sbashaw@npusc.k12.in.us



Thanks for the extra positivity! I have THE worst luck... but I'll keep my fingers crossed that my name gets pulled out of the hat! I'm mainly just popping in to tease a little bit... because I know you've made comments in the past about Beth's numbers! Look at who's raking in the comments now! Woo hoo!

Cheers, Amanda


I cannot thank you enough for this post! My initial reaction was elation at being able to see some of YOUR favorite professional reads (I am a voracious reader of professional teaching literature)...but THEN to also see everyone else's choices (as an educator that believes strongly in socio-constructivist methodology--that students learn more from each other than from a teacher--this was an incredible resource)...and FINALLY for you to be so generous as to raffle off books...what a BRILLIANT idea!

Many of my favorite books have already been mentioned, so I'll try to throw in a few that have not been yet:

1. Dinah Zike's foldable books are fantastic! I've only used her Math book so far, but plan on ordering the others. It is a great opportunity for my students to engage in math in a hands-on way.

2. 25 Quick Formative Assessment for a Differentiated Classroom by Judith Dodge is a great resource for varied methods of assessment in all subject areas.

3. Launching the Writing Workshop: A Step-by-Step Guide in Photographs by Denise Leograndis was instrumental in helping me to launch a Writing Workshop for the first time this year. Lots of great charts, mini-lessons, etc.

4. Trait-Based Mini-Lessons for Teaching Writing Grades 2-4: I was told this year that I could implement a Writing Workshop if I aligned it with the 6+1 Traits of Writing--this book has been a TERRIFIC resource for doing so.

5. Reciprocal Teaching at Work by Lori D. Oczkus. I'll admit that I actually have only read a few pages of this book so far, having purchased it last week. But I can already tell that it is going to be a book that seriously impacts my teaching.

Thank you Angela, for always inspiring me as a teacher and sharing your many creative ideas and resources with us. Thanks to everyone else for your book picks! I might be buying MYSELF a few Christmas gifts this year ;)

My book choice (if selected) would be Mosaic of Thought


Like I said with my last comment, Esquith seems to be pulling into the lead for motivational books. Thanks for sharing your story. I too have taught in an inner-city setting (I have an a concentration in urban-multi cultural education) and high achieving, affluent students. That shift is quite extreme, and both have some strong pros and cons.

And I am raffling you off for Boy Writers (unless I hear back from you before Friday). Each Fletcher title is being raffled individually.

Thanks for the kind words...



Esquith is either #1 or #2 on the top motivational books listed here. He is so inspiring, but I think I can settle with being 1/100 of him. It will still be 200% effort. :)

Come back Friday to find out our winners! Thanks for your book recommendation.



I am assuming you are talking about Fred Jones that writes about positive classroom instruction/management. I have never looked at his books, so thanks for sharing.

And you're welcome...this has been fun!


My favorite professional book is definitely Rafe Esquith's "Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire!!" This book came at just the right time for me. I had been teaching in a very affluent school with students who were almost all advanced and were excited about learning. Then, with a district shuffling, I ended up in an inner city school with all minority, impoverished, low-ability level students whose behavior problems far overshadowed their need for instruction! I was completely at a loss and felt like a failure... until I read this book! What an amazing, amazing role model for teachers! If I can be 1/8th of the teacher to my students that Mr. Esquith is to his, I will have a successful year! I'm so happy to see that on your list and am thrilled for the person that will be able to read it for the first time!

As for me, I'd love to be entered in the drawing for Ralph Fletcher's "Boy Writers and Poetry Matters." Getting my boys to write (not to even think about enjoying it) is definitely something I still struggle with, so this would probably be a great book to add to my "must-reads" for 2011.

Thanks for all of your thoughts and inspiration, Angela! You truly are amazing! :)

Happy Holidays, Leah M.

Angela, Boy Writer's sounds great. Thanks, Melissa

Hi Angela, One of my favorite books is Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire. Mr. Esquith is such an inspiration! I am intrigued with his teaching style and hope some day I can become 1/2 the teacher he is! I would really like his other book, There Are No Shortcuts! Thanks so much! Sarah

I love Fred Jones, and I also really like the Daily 5. I got it at a workshop that totally changed how I teach and use centers. Thanks for holding this contest!!

Whittney Tomczyk


I have not read that one, but great authors and methodology. Inquiry based learning is an area I bet many of us could improve in. Myself included.

Thanks for contributing to our growing list of books.



Yes, revision is such a tough one for students. It's hard to move them away from writing a piece and being "done" into multiple sessions and revisits over time. Jane Nelson's book sounds like it would be a great read for newer teachers as well. I really need to create a master list of all these wonderful suggestions!

Thanks for sharing,



Georgia Heard was an early inspiration for me as well. A professor I had copied and passed out portions of the book for our classes (not exactly legal).

And thanks for the kind words. It sounds like you are doing wonderful things in the classroom with students as well.


Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action by Harvey and Daniels is one of my favorite education books. After reading it, I had a great grasp on using inquiry in the classroom, and I immediately incorportated their advice.

I also love Rafe Esquith's books. He is incredibly inspiring, and I would like to be him when I grow up!

I would choose Subjects Matter: Every Teacher's Guide to Content-Area Reading.

Hi Angela, I have the book by Rafe Esquith "Teach Like Your Hair's In Fire" and I love it! I would love to read the other one. I have just recently found Jane Nelsen's "Positive Discipline for the Classroom" and found it to be very helpful. I would also love to read "Grammar Study" because that is one area my 8th graders have problems with. I am one of those teachers that love to learn and I read everything I can that might help me be a better teacher. Merry Christmas!! Dana :)


So far, including your title suggestion, I have about three books that I am going to be ordering. Thank you. I haven't looked at it yet online, but based on your review it looks highly promising.

And yeah- another Dave Ramsey follower. I actually had to make a trip to Brentwood, a nearby town where there was massive chaos in the shopping area. His headquarters are across the street from the busy mall, which I find amusing. Glad to hear you are graduates of Financial Peace University. We started it ourselves but never finished the classes. :(

Happy Holidays,


I love Georgia Heard's Awakening the Heart. It inspires me to teach and to write poetry. Also like her book The Revision Toolkit. Great ideas for helping kids through the dreaded revision process. Also love and regularly use Strategies that Work by Stephanie Harvey and Ann Goudvis as well as Nonfiction Matters. Big thanks for all that you do for Children. I'd love to check out the Mem Fox Book.


It is a great book. I really liked hearing Collins in person. She just made a lot of sense and Growing Readers is heavily relied on by primary teachers for a good reason. I'll say good luck to you, as this is a signed copy. :)




I have never heard of this title before, but if I were a primary teacher I'd be strongly interested. It seems to be a common concern on how to help students become more independent at this level. Sounds like you found a great resource!




Thanks for the suggestions. And I have read Ron Clark's book and watched the movie. Actually, four teachers were able to spend the day with him at his school in nearby Atlanta. I can only imagine what it must be like to attend his school!



The two books that have totally impacted my teaching career are Interactive Think-alouds by Lori Ozkus and 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny by Phillip Done. The first book has totally changed the way I teach what I call good reading strategies. It provides hand signals, characters for dress up, and other fun interactive ideas for teaching reading skills (predicting, making connections, etc). It works! My kiddos immediately started using the hand signals and proper terminology and I saw a huge difference in their test scores. In fact, I saw most of my kids using the hand signals during our high stakes reading test. The other book, 32 third graders, is written by a third grade teacher and simply tells about his experiences in a third grade classroom. It is a run read that makes me love my job. The entire time I read it, I am laughing hysterically thinking this has happened to me. Angela, I love your posts each month!I would love Debbie Miller's Reading with Meaning. I've read many of her books but haven't been able to purchase this one since my husband and I took Financial Peace University. :)

Angela, Thanks for your list of favorite professional books. It is always good to find the books that are being implemented successfully into classrooms. The book that I have been using lately has already been mentioned above and is Wondrous Words by Katie Wood Ray. I just stared teaching Writing Workshop and it is very valuable.

The book on your list which I would love to find out more about is Growing Readers. I am trying to implement Readers Workshop into my classroom and I've been told that it's a great book.

OOOps, I forgot to mention the book I would be interested in would be: Subjects Matter

One book I came across this summer and could not put down was, No More I'm Done by Jennifer Jacobson. Demonstrating a primary writing workshop format that takes the teacher from being the instructor to the students being more independent and engaged in their own writing. It has lots of mini lessons that covers the school year. It is a must read for primary teachers. :)

The Book Whisperer was one of my favorites to read. Time spent reading is key. The Daily 5 and CAFE have become popular reads for my school for the development of our balanced literacy program. The Next Step in Guided Reading has helped me to develop reader's notebooks for my students as well as information I need to help support readers at various stages. Although not a book, The Ron Clark Story is a great inspiration for teaching. If you haven't seen it, you must!

The book I would choose is Mosaic of Thought.


I will be pulling out my non-fiction resource posters shortly as well. Glad you have been able to use them in the classroom. :)

~ Angela P.S. Coach Zepeda- Twice!

Reading With Meaning by Debbie Miller inspired me to change the way I teach reading. Debbie's writing style and concrete examples were so helpful and really pushed my thinking.

If I could choose a book I would choose There Are No ShortCuts. I have his first book and I loved it!

I always read your posts and use your non-fiction resource posters you created last year. Love your ideas! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

Hello again :) How lucky your were to have heard D.Silver in person!

e-mail : teacherzepeda@yahoo.com

Merry Christmas :)


My librarian handed me that book recently. Esme Codell is really impressive and generally seems like a neat person.

And I will raffle you off a book and let you know in a week if you have won anything.

Thanks for sharing!



Thanks for adding a great resource. This might be the most cited book so far.



Hi Angela - I LOVED How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Codell! The book is wonderful for teachers and parents and includes lots of wonderful ideas! =) I would love to be included on any of your featured book raffles! email - lslaughter@savcps.com Thanks so much for all you do at Scholastic. I love reading your posts. Sincerely - Laurie Slaughter

I was introduced to the Daily 5 this year and I love it! So helpful to get students to be successful during centers/rotations.

Thanks! Suzan

Tara and Brenda,

Thank you for contributing two great titles.

Happy Holidays!


Mosaic of Thought, Ellin Oliver Keene

I LOVE professional reading, and this post made me excited! The book that has helped me quite a bit in teaching is Guiding Reading and Writing by Fountas and Pinnell. I am constantly referring back to this book each year.


Thank you for the recommendation. It looks like I will be needing to pull all this together on one friendly list for our readers. :)

Regarding your book selection. I need an email address in order to contact you should you win. You can click on my name and email me. You are the first to request that one.




Your title sounds like a jackpot winner to me. I was looking for some new mentor writers at our level and most appreciate the books that have straightforward lesson ideas with supporting photos and images. I will be looking into this one for sure!

And thank you for the other book suggestion. Right now I want to read a billion books because of our readers!


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