Summer reading can be a double-edged sword. Kids want to take a break from anything resemble academics (I get it), but I believe books are the fastest adn cheapest vacations we’ll ever have. Nothing can transport you faster into another life or another world entirely. Though this list isn’t extensive, I thought I’d share some of my favorite reads this year that relate to theatre.
- Be More Chill by Ned Vizzini
In my eager anticipation of the new production of the musical Be More Chill, I decided to get myself acquainted with its source material. As an avid bookworm, I thought this was a great read. As an educator, I think it gives interesting insights into the life of a high school student. It can be easy to forget how big and important everything feels in that stage of life, and I appreciated the reminder. It gave me a new perspective with which to approach my students. It’s very witty and well-written, and provides proof that what’s on the mind of the next generation is important and valid.
- Drama High: The Incredible Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater by Michael Sokolove
If you watched Rise last season, I would strongly encourage you to read this book. It provided the foundation for the television series, and an in-depth insight into the high school drama teacher behind it all. I had never wished to be in a class as much as I had wanted to be in Mr. Volpe’s classes. He may be one of the most passionate teachers I’ve ever read about, and he was completely committed to his students. We are given the very unique perspective of hearing about this teacher from his students at the time this book is being written, and from his former student, author Michael Sokolove. If you really want to know why arts education is important in our schools, read this book.
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany
This was a re-read for me. Like anyone else, I can’t get tickets to this show, so for now it is living in my mind as I read it myself. If you’re ready to return to Hogwarts, I encourage you to find your way back through Tiffany’s work #KeepTheSecrets
- Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning by Leslie Odom Jr.
I don’t have the adequate vocabulary to express how much I enjoyed this book. I believe it should be required reading for all ages. This book has the perfect balance of validating the dream, the failure, the work, and the lessons learned. I’ve applied some of it’s messages to my elementary students, but that’s the beauty of this book. It’s applicable to all ages, areas of interest, careers, and phases of life.
- Better Nate Than Ever and Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle
Another re-read for me! I love these books, and so do my students 11 and older. When I told them the next book in the series would be out in September, we all got excited about a summer re-read! Nate is a thirteen year old Broadway fanatic from Jankburg, Pennsylvania. His knowledge of Broadway flops never cease to amaze me. He and his best friend Libby devise a plan for Nate to attend an upcoming audition for a Broadway show. What happens next? Read the books to find out, you’ll enjoy every minute! This series has lent itself to a variety of speech room lessons, which leads me to my next summer read….
- Life is Like a Musical: How to Live, Love, and Lead Like a Star by Tim Federle
Oh, look! Tim Federle has two (technically three?) appearances on this list. This book was not only hysterical and one of my favorite reads this year, but it is a personal favorite overall. This book has resulted in both aha! moments and “we’ve all been there” moments, as told through theatre anecdotes from the author himself. In addition to author, Federle’s credentials include co-writing the animated feature Ferdinand, co-writing the Broadway musical adaptation of Tuck Everlasting, and has performed on Broadway in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Little Mermaid, and Billy Elliot: The Musical.
My challenge to you is to read something that resonates with you. Pick books you think you’ll enjoy, or books you never thought you’d read. Take the time to really understand the perspective of the author, subject, or main character. They are serving the story’s purpose for you to learn something new about the topic and yourself.
Keep playing with words and see what your message creates!
–Stef the StageSLP