Love reading. Love summer. Love a good hammock.

So . . . perfect time of the year. I had a great two hours on Sunday – wife and daughter gone to a movie, son at work, slight breeze, cool beverage, shady trees and my 15 year old hammock.

Seriously, what else can beat that?

I’ve always been a big supporter of reading for kids and especially for teachers. We need to stay current and up-to-date with the latest in our field and content. So . . . if we’re not reading, our kids suffer because of it.

And for as long as I can remember, I’ve had a summer reading list. Of course, I’ve never actually finished one. Work, time schedules and changing tastes always work against me. But this is what I’ve got planned for 2011.

The Perfect Nazi: Uncovering My Grandfather’s Secret Past and How Hitler Seduced a Generation
Martin Davidson

What if you found out that your grandfather-the man who had been a demanding, magnetic presence throughout your childhood-was a Nazi SS officer? This is the confession that Martin Davidson, already into middle age, received from his mother upon his grandfather Bruno Langbehn’s death, and The Perfect Nazi is Davidson’s exploration, using the skills he honed as a documentary producer for the BBC, of the truth behind this dark family secret. As Martin dove into his research, drawing on an astonishing cache of personal documents as well as eyewitness accounts of this historical period, he learned that Bruno’s story moved lock-step in time with the rise and fall of the Nazi party.

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation
Steven Johnson

Johnson addresses an urgent and universal question: What sparks the flash of brilliance? How does groundbreaking innovation happen? Answering in his infectious, culturally omnivorous style, using his fluency in fields from neurobiology to popular culture, Johnson provides the complete, exciting, and encouraging story of how we generate the ideas that push our careers, our lives, our society, and our culture forward.

Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II
J. Todd Moye

As the country’s first African American military pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen fought in World War II on two fronts: against the Axis powers in the skies over Europe and against Jim Crow racism and segregation at home. Although the pilots flew more than 15,000 sorties and destroyed more than 200 German aircraft, their most far-reaching achievement defies quantification: delivering a powerful blow to racial inequality and discrimination in American life. Moye draws on more than 800 interviews recorded for the National Park Service’s Tuskegee Airmen Oral History Project.

Unfamiliar Fishes
Sarah Vowell

Recounting the brief, remarkable history of a unified and independent Hawaii, Vowell retraces the impact of New England missionaries who began arriving in the early 1800s to remake the island paradise into a version of New England. In her usual wry tone, Vowell brings out the ironies of their efforts: while the missionaries tried to prevent prostitution with seamen and the resulting deadly diseases, the natives believed it was the missionaries who would kill them: “they will pray us all to death.” Along the way, and with the best of intentions, the missionaries eradicated an environmentally friendly, laid-back native culture.

The State of Jones: The Small Southern County that Seceded from the Confederacy
Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer

The State of Jones is a true story about the South during the Civil War—the real South. Not the South that has been mythologized in novels and movies, but an authentic, hardscrabble place where poor men were forced to fight a rich man’s war for slavery and cotton. In Jones County, Mississippi, a farmer named Newton Knight led his neighbors, white and black alike, in an insurrection against the Confederacy at the height of the Civil War. Knight’s life story mirrors the little-known story of class struggle in the South—and it shatters the image of the Confederacy as a unified front against the Union.

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