You’ve signed your offer letter and are officially a member of the City Year Philadelphia Team. Congratulations and welcome. It might feel like all you can do is wait until basic training in August, but there is a way you can prepare on your own. Like we tell our students, reading can take you to another place and share new perspectives. It is also a great way to prepare for your year of service as a City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps member. Below are books that people who were previously in your shoes recommend to get a head start on understanding how to be an effective mentor, tutor, and role model when in an enviroment that has complex social and economic challenges.


Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
“In this book, a man writes to his son about what it means to be a young black man in today’s world. The majority of the students City Year serves are minorities and this book provides an emotional, first-hand insight into the current racial challenges of our country.”
-Recommended by City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Member



How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough
“This book dives into the idea that success isn't built on your intelligence, but instead on your grit, character and curiosity. At City Year, we focus on having a growth mindset. It is important for us to help our students understand that they can accomplish anything if they work hard enough at it!”
-Recommended by City Year Philadelphia Staff and Alum


A Prayer for the City, by Buzz Bissinger
“This book gives you an insider's understanding of Philadelphia's efforts against poverty through the context of politics, crime and economic decline. Each chapter contains personal stories from Philadelphians, while the main narrative follows Mayor Ed Rendell as his administration fights to save the city from bankruptcy. It is a great, comprehensive view of Philadelphia’s modern day struggles.”
-Recommended by City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Member


Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, by Robert D. Putnam
Putnam depicts in detail, the debilitating effects the lack of resources, opportunities and support has on OUR kids and how this impacts all of OUR future.  The personal stories and anecdotes shared by the real life characters in Putnam's book offer valuable insights and examples about why support systems and programs like City Year are so integral, and important if we ever hope to rescue America's most precious resource, OUR KIDS!
-Recommend by City Year Philadelphia Staff

The Nicest Kids in Town, by Matthew F. Delmont
“This is a non-fiction book detailing the rise of the popular television show American Bandstand in Philadelphia in the late 1950s. The book brings together themes of civil rights, rock and roll and the media, and discusses how local school officials in Philadelphia at the time reinforced segregation in schools and neighborhoods. American Bandstand was filmed in West Philadelphia, an area where I served in as an AmeriCorps member. I learned a lot about both my neighborhood's history and a critical time for our school district.”
-Recommended by City Year Philadelphia Alum


Other People’s Children; Cultural Conflict in the Classroom, by Lisa Delpit
"The most important learning in the work we do is accepting that we will never fully understand our student's experiences, no matter where we come from ourselves. As we struggle with the power dynamics present in our world due to inequalities within our society, we need to be acutely aware of how these translate into our schools, our work, and our interactions with our students."
-Recommended by City Year Philadelphia Staff

Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools, by Jonathan Kozol
“Decades after the Civil Rights Movement, Kozol argues that racial segregation is sadly still alive and well in the American educational system. He details the dire lack of resources dedicated to schools largely made up of lower income, students of color, and he tells personal stories of the kids who struggle through this injustice. After reading this book and his follow-up, The Shame of the Nation, I felt an outrage at our country's educational inequities, and I became inspired to serve a role in fighting for equal opportunity for our kids.”
-Recommended by City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Member

On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City, by Alice Goffman
“This author was the same age as you, our City Year AmeriCorps members when she wrote this book.  It recounts her excruciating and enlightening journey from the mostly rich and mostly white University of Pennsylvania's campus to a one bedroom apartment in a poor, mostly black neighborhood in North Philadelphia.  What began as a tutoring assignment with a middle school student struggling with math, led to a six year study of the obstacles and institutions that stand in so many of our student's path towards success.”
-Recommended by City Year Philadelphia Staff

The Whole Brain Child, by Daniel J. Siegel
“This is a look into a child’s brain function resulting from emotional trauma, which unfortunately impacts some of our students. It talks about the importance of keeping brain function in mind when emotionally coaching a child in and out of the classroom.”
-Recommended by City Year Philadelphia Staff



If you order your summer reading from Amazon, don’t forget to check out using Amazon Smile and give a portion of your spending to help City Year create change through education.


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