Can there ever be enough said about all the great work that our teachers have done for all of us? When we look back at what a handful we were in school, it’s amazing that there were people who voluntarily chose to spend their days around us. Teachers truly are a unique species and they rarely get the thanks they deserve. We’ve put together this list of essential reading about teachers which will help you appreciate the kind of effort that goes into educating the next generation.
Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom
Growing up can be a confusing time. So much is changing and there already seems to be so much going on that it can be a little overwhelming. In times like these, many of us find it helpful to turn to someone older and wiser who can guide us on a path – be it a grandparent, a teacher, or even an older friend. For the author of this touching novel, that person was his college professor, Morrie Schwartz, who was diagnosed with ALS. The resulting book is based on fourteen Tuesdays they spend together.
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Matilda, Roald Dahl
Technically, this isn’t a book about a teacher, yet Matilda is a wonderful children’s book about what can happen when you nurture a child’s talents. Scorned by her own parents, the young protagonist finds solace in the company of her schoolteacher, the sweet and supportive Miss Jennifer Honey, who only wants the child to make the most of her precocious abilities. But not all teachers are as wonderful – the headmistress Miss Agatha Trunchbull will have you cowering in fear.
To Sir with Love, ER Braithwaite
In post-World War II London, there aren’t too many opportunities for black men. With little else going for him, Rick Braithwaite, a former RAF pilot and Cambridge-educated engineer, takes on a teaching position that puts him in charge of a bunch of rebellious and bigoted teenagers who see him as the enemy. How he brings the class around and imparts lessons for their future forms the crux of the story. The novel was later adapted into a hit motion picture starring Sidney Poitier and has become a must-watch.
Dead Poets Society, NH Kleinbaum
Movies based on books are a dime a dozen, but when was the last time you read a book based on a movie? Kleinbaum’s novel captures all the magic of the classic Robin Williams’ tale of a larger-than-life teacher, John Keating, who inspires his students at the Welton Academy to make their lives extraordinary. If you haven’t already read the book, what are you waiting for? Carpe Diem.
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Wonder, RJ Palacio
Auggie Pullman was born with an extremely rare medical facial deformity and has been home-schooled his entire life, but when his parents finally decide to enrol him in a private school, he must learn to adapt to life on the outside. Luckily for him, his first teacher is the wonderful Mr Browne who is determined to give him a great first year in school. This wonderful story about acceptance came about after a real-life incident helped the author realise that she was part of a system that perpetuates discrimination against those who are different.
Pnin, Vladimir Nabokov
Exiled during the Russian Revolution, Professor Timofey Pnin, a Russian-born assistant professor living in the United States, now teaches at the fictional Waindell College. His bumbling, awkward nature makes him the easy butt of jokes, but Pnin keeps his head down and gives everything to his work, until he eventually grows in stature and proves everyone wrong.
A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest J Gaines
Published in 1993, this fictional work is believed to be loosely based on the story of Willie Francis, a black man who was twice sentenced to death by electric chair in Louisiana. In the novel, a local schoolteacher, Grant Wiggins, confronts his own identity as an educated black man in 1940s Cajun America when he begins to make regular visits to the local jail to help a convict on death row find his identity as a man.
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