Let's Talk About Education

Senior Leadership Team’s Special Book Recommendations

April 20, 2021 - By Senior Leadership Team - Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

In April 23rd, we celebrate the World Book Day, a global event created by UNESCO in 1995 to encourage the reading, publishing and copyright of books everywhere. This year the slogan for the date is “Ok. So your next book is…?”.

To help our community pick their next story, we asked our Senior Leadership Team which are their favorite books and why would they recommend it. We have titles for every age, fiction and non-fiction. Let’s keep our reading habits fresh!

Nigel Winnard – Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)

A tale of monsters, wild-eyed scientists, thrilling adventures, breathless chase scenes, love and tragedy. Hollywood has visited its pages many times, both seriously (watch Kenneth Branagh’s excellent movie version) and not quite so seriously (Herman Munster!). But no film version has ever managed to capture the power of reading this novel alone on a dark, stormy night…

It’s a novel that I’ve gone back to many, many times and it has taught me a great many things. One of those lessons is that ugliness lies in what people feel, say and do, not in what they look like or how they might appear. And to think that Mary Shelley wrote this incredible novel when she was just 19 years old…

Cody Alton – The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

At the heart, this story is about a person searching for their path in life, or their destiny. In it, a boy named Santiago sets out to find his treasure. This book resonated with me when I first read it as I, like the main character, had left my home and my possessions behind as I set out on my path within international education.

Each person he meets, as well as each triumph and struggle he endures along his path, helps him further understand more about life and his own personal journey. Without giving away too much, your treasure is not always what you think it is at first, and not always where you think you will find it.

Claudia Araya – The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)

This book is one of the most beautiful love stories I have ever read. I know that there is a movie and it’s a great one too, but it’s nothing like the book. It is full of beautiful emotion and it’s based on a real-life love story! I remember reading one page at a time when I realized that I was finishing it. I didn’t want it to end!

Cristina Conforto – The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition (Caroline Alexander)

The Endurance is a book that I have read twice, within a 10 year difference, and from time to time I go back to some of the highlights I did while I was reading it.

It recounts one of the last great adventures in the heroic age of exploration. In August 1914, before the outbreak of the First World War, the explorer Ernest Shackelton and a crew of twenty-seven crossed the Atlantic coming from the UK to be the first ones to cross on foot the Antarctic continent. Within 85 miles of their destination, their ship, Endurance, was trapped in the ice pack. It took twenty months until they were rescued. 

Apart from the thrilling story and the amazing pictures taken by the photographer on board, it is a book mostly about courage, leadership, and teamwork in an extremely adverse situation.

Howard De Leeuw – Ego is the Enemy and The Obstacle is the Way (Ryan Holiday)

Two of the most profound books I have read in the past five years are from Ryan Holiday, entitled Ego is the Enemy and The Obstacle is the Way. Holiday relies heavily on stoic philosophy to give the reader a practical and helpful approach to the realities of life and the human condition.

I found myself going back and re-reading sections as well as each entire book several times, and the ideas truly fed me in ways that few other books have. These are also some of the few books that I have actually purchased recently in hardcover, after having read them first on my mobile device, thanks to a Seattle Public Library app, which allows me to check books out online and read them for free first.

These hard copy versions did not make it with me to Brazil, and I am looking forward to digging them out of my shipment in Seattle this summer and bringing them back with me, as it is time for me to read them both again. I highly recommend both books to anyone willing to challenge their self-perception and to view the world in a different way!

Emilia Ferreira – The Essentialism (Greg McKeown)

I read The Essentialism two years ago and again in 2020. It was the perfect time to do it again because the book speaks to some of the lessons that I learned with the pandemic and that I will remember for the rest of my life. It talks about “the pursuit of less” and about “distinguishing the vital few from the trivial many”. Choosing to do what really matters is not an easy task, but it is critical that we keep reminding ourselves to focus our time and energy on what is really important in our lives.

Doreen Garrigan – Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh (Robert C. O’Brien)

One of my favorite memories from Elementary School is when I read this book. I was fixated on the characters and the way in which the author wove together a storyline with lots of adventure and compassion.

The story is about a group of rats with abnormally high intelligence who live together underground. They are unique rats and prefer to keep it a secret. Mrs. Frisby, a widow mouse, reaches out to them for help when her son becomes extremely ill and consequently discovers their secret. There are heroes and villains in this story and my love for this book has not changed since the year I read it in class. Enjoy!

Scott Little – Into Thin Air (Jon Krakauer)

Krakauer’s personal account of the failed 1996 Mount Everest disaster in which 8 climbers were killed was a book that I simply couldn’t put down. The book chronicles the failed mission to reach the summit of the world’s tallest peak and examines what happens when safety methods are compromised in a race to the top between competing guiding teams. If you’re looking for an adventure book, I can’t recommend Into Thin Air “highly” enough.

Carlos Pinho – War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)

At its core War and Peace is a book about people trying to find their footing in a world being turned upside down by war, social and political change, and spiritual confusion. The existential angst of Tolstoy and his characters is entirely familiar to those of us living at the beginning of the twenty-first century, and his novel has important things to say to us in this moment.

Over and over again the book shows how moments of crisis can either shut us down or open us up, helping us to tap into our deepest reservoirs of strength and creativity.

Ana Paula Stadelmann – The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World (Melinda Gates)

“When you lift up women, you lift up humanity.”

I was intrigued to know more about Melinda’s philanthropic pursuits after watching her interview with David Letterman, on Netflix. In this book, she shares not only her own stories and beliefs but the stories of people around the globe who have dared to take steps to change the world.

This is an easy read book with valuable lessons, including how empowering women makes a positive impact in society as a whole. Not surprisingly, inspirational examples of schools, the notion of equal education, and teachers are amongst her stories.

Kirstin White – Maybe the Moon (Frances Ives)

Maybe the Moon by Frances Ives is a book I love sharing with Lower School students! This book has beautiful illustrations and a lovely text. It tells the story of Eric, a little boy who lives in an amazing l forest home, surrounded by animals and natural beauty. Eric loves his home and spends every night gazing up at the sky and thinking about how the moon shines down on him and the forest friends he loves.

One day, Eric’s mother tells him that they are going on an adventure to a new place – the city. Eric feels anxious and needs to find new ways to adapt and find happiness in a strange new environment. He learns many lessons, including how to love the differences between people and places, and most importantly the lesson that no one is never alone when we share the same moon.

I love reading this book with children and classes that are new to EARJ; it helps everyone connect to the idea of adapting to and finding joy in meeting new people and visiting new places.

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