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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)


The Daily Five has been a popular choice (for a good reason). Thanks for sharing!


KidWriting changed my curriculum.

I'd love Punished by Rewards!

Happy Holidays!


...and if you're looking for an inspirational read for the holiday break (I always read a motivational book at the mid-year point!), go for I Choose To Stay, by Salome Thomas-El. :)

Thanks for offering this opportunity! Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children's Literature (K-6) by Lynne R. Dorfman and Rose Cappelli is one of my most valuable resources. It is a teacher-friendly text that highlights all of the essential components of a Writers' Workshop. Included are lessons plans (along with photos, tips, and reviews) that use meaningful literature that showcase a Writing concept and serve as a scaffold for the students' work. I love this book!

I would be thrilled to win Mosaic of Thought!

Happy holidays to all...enjoy the well-deserved break!

Daily 5 has been the most recent book to impact my teaching. It has some very interesting ideas. Thanks for the great suggestions. Can't wait to see more.

I'd be interested in Growing Readers.


Yeah, another math recommendation book. And thank you for the kind words. At the same time, sorry I have added so many books to your reading list. :) Maybe I will be able to help you should you win the signed book from Collins.




With so many only children and students that lack some social skills combined with the hormones in our room...probably a book I need to investigate. Ha.

Happy Holidays,



Very true! It all goes back to those different level of needs. Great recommendations. I have purchased The First 6 Weeks of School twice (after losing it once).




This book is really a wonderful fundamental. Thanks for adding it to the mix of recommendations.

I'll add you to the list for Growing Readers. However, I need your email address.




What a great idea for a post! My list of professional books that I want to read is still very long- lots of them are on my list because of your posts! I've been working on narrowing it down and I got through quiet a few this summer. I started Writer's Workshop using Lucy Calkins, and I'm beginning Words Their Way. The Daily 5 had the biggest impact on my teaching. However, that has already been mentioned a few times! :)

For my recommendation, I would like to share Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics Grades K-3 by John A. Van de Walle and LouAnn H. Lovin. This book helps students to develop a concrete understand of how math works in a hands-on manner. It is a great read for K-3 teachers!

I would love to have Kathy Collins — Growing Readers, but all of those titles look great!

Merry Christmas!

I really enjoy the book Putting the I back into Team. This book really helps to motivate a group of people to work as a team. This really helped me to come up with ways to help my students realize we were a team in the classroom and that if we work together we can be successful in all that we do. Angela I really like your give away. It is a great idea to share and your ideas are great. The book I would choose is National Council of Teachers of Mathematics — Cartoon Corner. Thanks! Happy Holidays!


This is an tough one for me. "The First 6 Weeks of School" by Paula Denton and Roxann Kriete. Completely changed me as a teacher and my classroom. The 2nd book is "How Full is Your Bucket" by Tom Rath.

In my opinion, students have to be safe physically and emotionally before any learning can take place. These two books are what ground me and my students throughout our 180 days together.


"The Art of Teaching Reading" by Lucy Calkins has been a bible for me over the years. From lessons to authors, strategies to structure, building a classroom of readers is basis of this fabulous book.

I would love "Growing Readers!" Thank you!

Gail (#52),

I almost put your book selection up for one of my freebies, but opted out due to the size of the book. It's a big one, but so important. :)

I will just need your address. Also, I will raffle one of your choices, so for now I'll go for your first choice.

Kim (#51),

My husband worked for Department of Children Services in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation (#13, I believe). He is now a school counselor at a middle school. Knowing what he has worked with reminds me that you can never assume what is going on outside of school. We don't know. And more importantly, abuse does not discriminate. In fact, it's just hidden better in the wealthier communities. Thanks for that reminder.



Sandy (#50),

This is a great resource. I just posted a short skit from her book on "Strong Verbs Vs. Weak Verbs" and the kids had a blast performing it as well. I have used many of her resources for references in our class notebooks. Good stuff!



Micca (#48/49),

A time machine, a safe place...sounds very interesting. It reminds me of Esme. I have not heard of this author. There is so much to be learned; I am still learning every day.

And yes, you can be added for that book, however, I need an email address first.



Elayne (#47),

I'll have to remember that title then. It looks like our district may be moving away from a balanced literacy approach. It is a little discouraging. I might need some support in the upcoming years. :)



Tracy (#46),

I have read Angela's Ashes and almost picked up Teacher Man next but didn't.

Thanks for sharing some great books.

Happy Holidays,


Cindy (#45),

I love, love, love Chris Gallagher. His work has been very helpful working with our upper grade population. I have two of his books, but not the one you mentioned. Looks like this is on the to buy list now.



Jessica (#44),

That's great to hear of a book for layout for new teachers. I will remember that for my next student teacher coming in (January).



Stephanie (#43),

Several have recommended Jeffery Wilhem. I need to revisit his work, as I have only borrowed others and/or browsed his work. Thanks for nudging me back towards him.

And to be in the running, I will need your email address.



M. Da Silva,

I believe you contributed a selection and your email address in an early comment, so yes.




I like Linda Hoyt's direct take this back and use it in the classroom style of writing. I might need to check that one out.

And I am all about being fair, so I will throw you in the raffle fairly like everyone else...but I must also admit that I will send extra wishes for you as I pull out the winners. You are one of my long-time readers. Thank you for sticking around through all of my posts in years past and current. :)



Lyssa (#38),

Thanks for the kind words. Great book selections for sure.

Happy Holidays,


Cathy (#37),

Oh, thanks for adding a math resource. This is what I am personally most interested in. I think there is so much to be learned for bringing math to life in our classrooms.



Amy H. (#36),

Now I may need to check that book out. I am confident that I will encounter this in the near future. With gifted/high-achieving students, underachievement and aliterate readers is not uncommon.

Thanks for the suggestions!


Bonnie (#35),

How can we forget the Bible. I shared a rather serious post last year about some anxiety attacks I was encountering. The Bible and church really assisted me a lot during that time and continues to this day. It helps me remember that everything school related is going to be okay...the Bible and our church helps keeps things in perspective.



Courtney (#34),

I agree. Although I am not a new teacher, when I moved to my current district, I was handed Harry Wong's book. I hope you are enjoying your first year of teaching!


Lauren (#33),

Congratulations on embarking on a future in education. I am rooting for you. Just today I was talking to a teaching peer about how difficult it must be to enter the profession right now. Good luck to you, and I hope this site continues to give you some good ideas. :)


Stefanie (#32),

I agree that Reading with Meaning is a staple. I think it has merit from K-4th grade. Once I had the book out, and a student said, "Hey, her room looks like our room." This was fourth grade (and one of my favorite set-ups). The student was correct. Love that book!


Melissa (#31),

I love that Mem Fox book as well. Good selections.


Teacher Geek (#30),

I have never heard of that book. Sounds interesting...thanks for contributing.



Dayna (#29 comment),

Thank you for your book suggestion. However, I don't have an email address for you. If I hear back from you with an address, I will put you in the running for the first book you selected.



Luane (comment #28),

You can't go wrong with Katie Wood Ray. :)

I will put you in the running for Radical Reflections, however, I need an email address from you.



I love spending my time reading professional books on education; I'm always trying to improve my teaching and interested in the ideas of others. My favorite professional book at the moment is Guiding Readers and Writers: Teaching Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy by Fountas & Pinnell. I also love Strategies that Work by Havey & Goudvis. If I was fortunate enough to win a book from your list, I'd choose Rafe Esquith or Harvey Daniels and Steven Zemelman's books. Thanks for a great contest!

I have a wierd choice. The book Ghosts from the Nursery, Tracing the Roots of Violence by Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith S. Wiley. This book was a real awakening for me. It made me realize that my students come to me with all sorts of scars and baggage. I realized that I cannot fit all children into my middle class world.

I especially felt that this book emphasized that as a Pre-K teacher, I was invaluable to my students as a loving influence! This book humbled me.

I was really hoping to get the Esquith book, but will take whatever you offer. I am a fairly new teacher and haven't read any of your list!


I love Melissa Forney's Razzle Dazzle Writing and The Writing Menu. They really made a difference in my teaching of writing. I teach in Florida and they were wonderful in improving the writing scores when I taught 4th grade.

Oh, and I would choose Reading with Meaning! I forgot to put that part! :0)

I feel like I am a collector of professional books. I have so many and love re-reading them all.I love several of your suggestions as well and am excited to read the ones that I haven't yeat. Overall, I do love all of the books by Becky Bailey! I can't get enough of her loving guidance! I think her concepts work great with not only children in my classroom but children in my family as well. I love the shubert books that help to teach her strategies to children. The time machine, the safe place, all of the ideas are great!!! Merry Christmas!!

I found Steven Layne's Igniting a Passion for Reading a great read. I at a time when I was very discouraged with teaching, and I found the book to be very inspiring. It has lots of great ideas to use in your classroom today and lots of food for thought. It's terrific!

Teacher Man by Frank McCourt is one of my favorites and The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller was great as well.

I am one of the co-directors for our local university site of the National Writing Project. I buy several professional books every year thanks to that job. One that I bought this past summer was Teaching Writing That Matters: Tools and Projects That Motivate Adolescent Writers by Chris Gallagher & Amy Lee. It is full of great strategies/ideas that teachers can "take" right back into their classrooms.

I absolutely love Classroom Spaces that Work from Responsive Education...everything their company prints has the child in mind. The information in the book discusses classroom layout and materials necessary to be successful for a particular grade. I think this would be especially helpful for teachers that have to move to a new grade they are not familiar with. I would choose the Reading with Meaning book.

One of my favorite books is Action Strategies for Deepening Comprehension by Jeffrey Wilhelm! I reread this book every summer and reference it throughout the school year for specific examples on bringing comprehension strategies to life and engaging students in reading.

I would choose the Cartoon Corner math book! Happy Holidays!

Can I be included in the Cartoon Corner raffle? It sounds like a good resource.

The Cartoon Corner book sounds great. Can I be included in that raffle?

P.S. Thanks for giving all of us an opportunity to grow as teachers through this give-away. Awww... you give me the warm & fuzzies. :)

AZING! It jam-packed with ways to enhance and improve your nonfiction instruction. It goes so far beyond just text features too. It talks about making it tangible and real... as in breaking out magnifying glasses to SHOW kids why we have close-ups and cutting fruit in half to give an illustration of cut-aways. It gives you information on incorporating reciprocal teaching, literature circles, and using multi-level theme sets in the content areas too (all centered around delivering quality lessons with nonfiction). Honestly, I could go on forever. This book is a gem, and I highly recommend it for any elementary or intermediate teacher!

I LOVE Strategies That Work too. I know it's been out for a while, but it's such a great "go to" book. I love using it as a springboard for other ideas too, because it's so adaptable. So many of the books being recommended are amazing! Someday, I'm going to own my own copy of On Solid Ground. As of right now, I borrow it on a fairly regular basis. Haha!

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