I believe that allowing ourselves to explore new ideas is paramount to becoming a better educator and member of society. Reading a diverse range of books allows us to incorporate fresh ways of looking at the world into our classrooms and lives. In short, reading changes us; it encourages us to grow.
Below is an ever-growing list of books that I have found useful to me in my journey as a professor who uses storytelling to teach languages. Some of the titles will deal with language teaching directly, while others contain nuggets of wisdom or practical tips that, when applied to teaching, made my life more efficient. Some of my favorite books on effective teaching have nothing to do with teaching.
Since having kids in 2014, I’ve found it difficult to read as much as I’d like to (see also: sleep). Nevertheless, I’ve been able to “read” far more than I ever could before since joining Audible in January of 2018. I read at least a book one non-fiction book month, and often more than one. It’s “found time” for me since I can listen in the car, on a walk, or while doing the dishes. I know I’m much happier when I’m broadening my mind, and audiobooks help me accomplish that.
For this reason, I will link the audiobook version of the text if there is one available. You can get two free audiobook versions of many of these books for free by clicking on the Audible affiliate banner below. Thank you for supporting CollegeStorytelling.com.
Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means that I earn a very small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you decide to buy through those links. Please understand that I have read all of these books and recommend them because I find them to be helpful and useful. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
Fluency Through TPR Storytelling, by Blaine Ray
This is one of the first books I read about using storytelling in the foreign language classroom. TPRS© has evolved a lot throughout the years, but this is a fundamental primer. I also urge you to go to a TPRS© training. It’s well worth the time, money, and effort.
Available in paperback.
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield
Steven Pressfield has written a number of books, but I just recently discovered him. ¡Dios mío! What have I been missing? I write short novels for language learners in my spare time (ha!), and this is just the book I needed to read when facing “the resistance”. As a storytelling language teacher, this book showed me that there’s art in continually improving my craft.
The Artist’s Journey: The Wake of the Hero’s Journey and the Lifelong Pursuit of Learning, By Steven Pressfield
I listened this book on a driving on road trip while my wife and kids slept in the car. It’s one of my top five books I’ve ever read. It summarizes the Hero’s Journey and how it applies to our lives as artists. Teaching others to speak a new language is very much an art form, if you hadn’t noticed.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell.
This book changed my life in a very real way. Using the Hero’s Journey is also an effective and engaging way to teach a language via storytelling.
The Courage to Be Disliked: How to Free Yourself, Change Your Life, and Achieve Real Happiness, by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
This book outlines Adlerian psychology in a way that is approachable for non-psych majors. It cuts through the density via a dramatization between a young man and a philosopher that have occasional discussions. This is something I needed to read, since I don’t like being disliked (who does?). This book explains why it’s okay to be disliked, and how to overcome a fear of just that.
Hint: it’s not my task to care about how someone else feels about me.
The audiobook version of this title is a little cheesy, especially the character of the young student. I still highly recommend this book.
As a storytelling language teacher, it’s critical to continually develop the storytelling muscles. In this book, Truby outlines the elements that go into a masterfully told story. He also gives many concrete examples of the different elements as seen in some of the best stories every told. There are also writing exercises to help you hone your storytelling skills.
This book is dense. Expect to spend a considerable amount of time mulling over its contents, especially if you’re writing a novel. This is one of my all time favorite books.