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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)

Daily 5/CAFE are the books that have most impacted my teaching. Before these came to be, Mosaic of Thought and Reading with Meaning were my top two. I am a first grade teacher and a big book fan! I have been curious about the Rafe Esquith books and would love to read them! Thank you doing this. I have enjoyed reading the posts from others. I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

I liked: EdThoughts: What We Know About Mathematics Teaching and Learning.

I would love to read the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics — Cartoon Corner.


I really love Steven Layne's Igniting a Passion for Reading. It has the humor of all his children's books, but offers tons of practical ideas to get kids motivated about reading. This book is great for developing your aliterate readers: those who can but don't.

I also like the book What Really Matters for Struggling Readers by Allington. I saw you had it listed; it's a great resource.

I know this is probably not the book you were looking for, but I work in a Christian preschool. The book I refer to everyday is the Bible. It helps me make decisions, it calms me on those un-calm days and makes me a better teacher/director and person. I would like Teach like your hairs on fire. Thank you.

As a first year teacher I found Harry Wong's "The First Days of School" very helpful.

I love this post and blog! I just finished reading Teaching With Love and Logic by Jim Fay and David Funk. This book has helped me so much. I am currently student teaching, and because of it I have learned some wonderful classroom management skills. This book gives insight on how to handle tons of situations that pop up in the classroom on a daily basis. I would recommend this book to anyone in he education field, such a great read!

I would love to read Teach like your hair's on fire.

I teach first grade and I love and rely on Reading With Meaning. It has been my guide in teaching comprehension strategies to my students. I feel it is a must have for primary teachers.

One book I love and refer to over and over is 'What to Read When' by Pam Allyn - it helps me choose books to read to my kids in all sort of situations (I teach preschool right now). I also love 'Reading Magic' by Mem Fox. Both of these books remind me that I need to read with my kids at school and at home, no matter how old they get!

One book that I go to all of the time is Chip Woods' Yardsticks. It helps me set high, yet still attainable expectations for me class.

I would love the Ralph Fletcher book.

Teach Like a Champion-You simply won't find a more usable, clear-headed break down of the moves that great teachers use everyday to drive academic achievement in schools that serve low-income kids.

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

and I'd like to have the Mem Fox book or Laminack's...


The book that really impacted my thinking is: Already ready: Nurutring wrtiers in preschool and kindergarten. by K. Ray and M. Glover. Annie

Coach Zepeda,

De nada (I am, officially, Hispanic). :) So great to hear what you wrote, and at the same time so scary. Fidelity to the program is equal to saying educational malpractice. It's just wrong on so many levels. Happy to hear you are going outside of that role and taking ownership. I am also happy to hear how important one of my posts was to you. Thank you for sharing such inspiring words.

And great selections. Debbie Silver was our county inservice presenter one year, and then I moved to the city schools the next year where she was presenting for them on the county inservice day (word got out, I am guessing).

For now, I'll just need your email should you win Laminack's book. :)



Angela, Gracias! I stumbled across your blog, "Break Through and Live Outside the Box", at a pivotal moment in my career. My teacher training was tailored to the high-stakes testing "norm" of public education. "Fidelity to the program [publisher]," was a key phrase during my first seven years. In order to keep up the pacing guide, I found myself dimming my own creative light and losing kiddos along the way. After reading your blog, I decided to take “ownership” of my craft and search (as well as cite) best practices. The first book I would recommend is, Never Work Harder Than Your Students & other principles of teaching, by Robyn R. Jackson. I reflected on the “principles” described, and I was inspired to redefine my purpose The second book is, Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers, by Debbie Silver. One of my favorite quotes, “The greatest gift a teacher can give to their students is themselves.” Like Silver, I too had always heard a different drummer …my entire life. This book focuses on trusting our “inner voices” and building relationships that help culture our craft. Thank you so much for sharing your “principles”, and sharing your march to the beat of a different drummer.

I'm interested in Cracking Open the Writer's Craft.


Great selections as well. However, I struggled through Words Their Way. Maybe you can help me in that department! Spelling instruction is important, and I know I need to do a better job at referencing it more often.

Also, I will need your email address to be up for the raffle of Growing Readers. It's a signed copy. :)



You are set. :) And yes, you did follow the guidelines by providing a book or set of books that have impacted you in the classroom. You just forgot to add what book you wanted. I'll let you know if you are the lucky winner in a week.



My 2 favorites are Strategies That Work and Words Their Way! I look to these books frequently and while I am very familiar with them, I seem to have an AHA!! moment everytime I open them.

I'd select Growing Readers.

Great post, excellent idea.

Hi again Angela! Maybe I misunderstood your guidelines. I thought that you were looking for us to comment on some of our own personal favorites that we have already read that were foundational and inspirational. I looked back at your listing. I have not yet read Harvey Daniels and Steven Zemelman — Subjects Matter: Every Teacher's Guide to Content-Area Reading. Many of them I have already read/own, but I would love to be in the running for the Daniels/Zemelman text. :) As a literacy coach, I love sharing great professional reads with my staff, too! Happy holidays, and continue your amazing work with your blogging! :)


Yes, that would be a very helpful book. I have the primary version- Guided Reading- and would offer that book as well, but the shipping charges would not be pretty. It's a big one! My fifth grade teaching partner has relied on your book suggestion....well, along with me, I like to think. :)

Happy Holidays!



Fletcher's work will be raffled individually. How about Boy Writers? It's pretty good! I especially like all the research charts they have at the back on boys vs. girls. Very interesting stuff!




Oh, that is a new one for me. You have really sold me on checking that title out (I may go poor at this rate, but gift certificates will help).

And I'll include you in the raffle for Cartoon Corner. If no one selects your second choice, it's yours. If anyone else selects your second choice, to be fair I'll only raffle you for the first title. :)




Thank you for the kind comments. I always enjoy hearing that what I have shared is helpful. It helps me when my writing juice/ideas are feeling low.

Happy Holidays!


Hi Angela! I love professional reading. I'm so glad to see this special give away that's available! There have been so many books that I have enjoyed reading to develop my professional knowledge. One of the most influential books on my reading instruction is Guiding Readers and Writers Grades 3-6 from Fountas and Pinnell. It is a reference that I still refer back to periodically when I need to be inspired for planning. I also love Katy Wood Ray and her book Wonderous Words. I love how she uses trade books and authors to mentor students with their own writing. Thanks again!

I would love the Ralph Fletcher, Boy Writers and Poetry Matters (response to post #4).

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller was inspirational! I already thought a lot like her, but it was her voice that blew me away. She made me feel much more confident in the way I have set up my reading class.

I'd really LOVE the cartoon math book, but I know someone else already requested that. If not that one, I'd like Grammar Study.

I am excited to research some of your book suggestions and the others that have been posted by others. I always enjoy reading something with new ideas to try implementing. In the last three years the Daily 5/Cafe have had a huge impact on the structure of my classroom and teaching methods. I too suggest those.

By the way, you are wonderful. Your posts always make me think, reflect, and make small changes to how I do things. Thank you for your willingness to share your successes with others!


I think that is really key. It's not so much one book that has impacted us so much, rather many. The book selections you have posted are really excellent. Thank you for sharing!

And I have your email, so after I raffle off all those that requested Miller, and I'll let you know if you won via email. :)



We have been pouring over Marzano books in my district here lately, and I have learned a lot from Classroom Instruction that Works. I have also been reading (and rereading) The Daily 5 and CAFE books for reading. I've blended that with my previous experience with Reading Workshop, and I have seen lots of success in the classroom. :)

I'd choose the Debbie Miller Reading with Meaning book. :)


M. Da Silva,

Oh yes, that is a good one. I also enjoy it for the rubrics it provides. I have used the general workshop rubrics at the beginning of the year to help provide feedback to both students and parents about what is expected during our literacy block. A great read for sure!



Dear Erin,

Me too. :) I am just as interested to see what is being offered on Top Teaching each day. There are so many great ideas to be shared.

Thank you for the positive words. I hope you have a happy holiday season!



Jeffery Wilhelm is a great resource. He was working with Scholastic at the last IRA conference and did an excellent job. I have not read your selection, but I am going to look into this one. Thanks!

Also, please send me your email address. When reposting your comment, you can simply add your address (your name will have a blue line) and I can email you about Cartoon Corner.



The book that really has impacted my teaching is Revisiting the Reading Workshop by Barbara Orehovec and Marybeth Alley. This resource helped me to implement Reading Workshop in my classroom. It provides easy to use lesson plans and suggestions that make getting started easy. I love how much my students enjoy reading now because of this approach. Great Resource!!

Thank you so much for sharing your picks! I think I have some reading to do over the winter break! I have to admit I am always pulling up the Top Teaching Blog each week to see what everyone has to share! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experiences!!! Happy Holidays!!

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!


I like that you included some math resources. Good recommendations!

And yes, I tried to offer some of my better books. Glad you like them too. Let me know if you are interested in any of them. My holiday treat to you. :)



Good pick. I really enjoyed spending the day with them a few years ago. Such neat people. The order of my classroom has a lot to do with the Sisters. I have your email, so you are set.



One of my favorite for math is Math Solutions by Marilyn Burns, in fact anything by Marilyn Burns or Math Solutions pubklishing is great. Writing in Math class is also a great read. I also use Jon Van de Walle, Teaching Elementary Mathematics. It is funny that the books use are giving are some of my favorites too. Us Tennesseans have good taste.

Cafe/Daily 5 - Both of these books taught me the importance of giving the students some independence in the classroom and have allowed me to have time to spend one-on-one time with my students!

Thanks for the fun giveaway! Happy Holidays!

Reading with Meaning is the one I'd choose!

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