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The Owl Recommends: More Favorite Reads and Listens from the iUniversity Prep Faculty

​iUniversity Prep Teachers: Favorite Reads and Listens - Part Two

MS. HARBISON (English and Journalism):

A Few Favorite Reads: “Villette” by Charlotte Bronte / “The Traitor’s Game” by Jennifer A. Nielsen.

“For fans of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Villette’ will satisfy your love of Victorian-era serial novels while surprising you with a headstrong female protagonist and some creepy gothic elements that add mystery to the plot. A more recent discovery is ‘The Traitor’s Game’, an interesting new young adult read in one of my favorite genres, dystopian fantasy. Imagine a daughter (who is actually not a daughter), a tyrannical king, an ambiguous prophesy and lots of action and secrets, and you have the recipe for a fun read!”

Suggested Listen: TED Talk: "Txtng is killing language. JK!!" by Dr. John McWhorter.

“I love this TED Talk because it gets into the fundamentals of language and how/why it is used, challenging some of the notions we have about ‘proper’ grammar, especially in relation to text-speak. Dr. McWhorter also examines the ‘real’ meaning of phrases such as ‘LOL’, which raises some very interesting questions and thoughts.”


A Favorite Read: The “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling.

“This was the series of books that inspired my love of reading as a child because they are just SO GREAT! ‘Harry Potter’ is about so much more than magic. These books explore themes related to good vs. evil, friendship, family, and loyalty - and above all, I believe that these stories teach readers to stand up and fight for what they believe in.”

(By the way: If you’re looking for great reads for your middle-schooler, check out Ms. Matthews’ list of recommendations for independent reading for that age group.)

Suggested Listen: TED Talk: “How To Make Stress Your Friend” by Dr. Kelly McGonigal.

“Most of us view stress as a bad thing that gets in the way of our goals, paralyzes us into inaction, and causes illness or even death. However, in this TED Talk, Dr. McGonigal presents evidence that it isn’t stress itself, but rather our belief in the negative effects of stress, that harms our health and well-being. Once you learn to re-tool your body’s reaction to stress, you can actually use the stress response to your advantage rather than your detriment.”

MS. MCFARLAND (Speech and Math):

A Favorite Read: “Happiness Project” by Jenna James.

“A wonderful read - happiness is indeed a choice, and gratitude plays a big part in being happy every day.”

Suggested Listen: TED Talk: “Every Kid Needs a Champion” by Dr. Rita Pierson.

“ One of the primary messages of this TED Talk is: ‘Kids don't learn from people they don't like.’ As a teacher, I strive to build positive relationships with students so that they can always say that they had at least one champion in their corner!”

MS. PEARSON (Science):

A Favorite Read: “Merle’s Door: Lessons From a Freethinking Dog” by Ted Kerasote.

“Set in the beautiful scenery of Utah and Wyoming, this first-person memoir tells the story of the author's adventures with a stray dog that chose the author as his human companion. Never leashed or bound, Merle the dog lives to explore, learn, and enjoy the world around him, and in the process, teaches his human companion Ted about love, life, and how to be a freethinker. I love dogs, the outdoors, and the author's message about how dogs think. Reading this, I felt like I was part of Merle and Ted’s story.”

Suggested Listen: “The Surprising Science of Happiness” by Dr. Dan Gilbert.

“This TED Talk explains how our brains are wired to allow us to truly be happy even when things don't go the way we want them to. Happiness is a choice, and this is a great reminder that we each have control over whether we are happy or not.”

MR. PRICE (Business and Technology):

A Favorite Read: “The Art of Happiness” by the Dalai Lama.

“This book is full of practical wisdom and insight that can help you live with peace and happiness in a world full of human suffering. I also recommend ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale, as well as the ‘Growing Up Digital’ series by Don Tapscott.”

Suggested Listen: TED Talk: “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” by Simon Sinek.

“In this talk, Mr. Sinek shares how leaders can inspire cooperation, trust, loyalty, and change. He’s also the author of ‘Start With Why’, which is a favorite book/listen of many of my iUniversity Prep colleagues.”

MS. WEICHE (Science and Art):

A Favorite Read: “Fox In Socks” by Dr. Seuss.

“This is my current favorite book because it’s my daughter’s favorite book - and also, because there are times that I feel like Fox in the story, who is determined to teach his friend Mr. Knox mastery of the rhyming tongue twisters that make up story’s dialogue. When it comes to my students, I keep trying, pushing and encouraging, always giving them another opportunity until they finally get it - just like Fox in the story! I just hope that in the end, my students can look back on the journey and thank me, just as Mr. Knox thanked Fox.”

Suggested Listen: Mini TED Talk: “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek

“ ‘Start With Why’ (which is also a favorite of many iUniversity Prep colleagues) changed my life! It helped me realize my own ‘why’, or my purpose, which is to help others. If I just keep focusing on my ‘why’ - serving kids and helping them meet their individual goals and dreams - then I can stay grounded, less stressed, and EXCITED to do my job!”


A Few Favorite Reads - The “Lord of The Rings” series by J.R.R. Tolkien and the “Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” series by C.S. Lewis.

“Both of these series are epic adventures that set the standard for fantasy novels for all ages. Another favorite read I recommend to anyone who enjoys science fiction is Isaac Asimov’s ‘The Complete Series’, an extended collection of short stories.”

Suggested Listen: “Teaching Kids Real Math With Computers” by Conrad Wolfram

“This TED Talk explores the possibilities of teaching kids mathematics through computer programming, as opposed to manual calculations. It’s a notion that some math educators oppose, but it’s also thought-provoking to consider how the use of technology could allow students to bypass years of higher-level math classes, thus equipping them to solve meaningful real-world problems at an earlier age.”

Read more favorite reads and listens from iUniversity Prep faculty members.

Read more iUniversity Prep blog articles


Dr. Kaye Rogers received her Ph.D. in Educational Administration with a minor in Statistics from the University of North Texas. She earned her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Tarleton State University. A life-long Texan, she has taught math and science in public schools and also in Spain. She has worked in public education for over 18 years, where she is committed to innovation and choice for families. She has opened three choice schools and is currently the Director of Virtual Learning at Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, where she oversees their state-wide virtual school and blended schools program.

Learn more about iUniversity Prep and see if online learning is right for your child. Check us out at or give us a call at 817-305-4895.

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