1. Other People’s Children by Lisa Delpit
Why it’s worth the read: According to Lisa Delpit, teachers and students have to understand one other for classrooms to succeed. Delpit analyzes the cultural differences between teachers and students and provides some insight as to how teachers can leave cultural baggage at the door to really support students’ needs. Delpit’s follow-up book, Multiplication Is For White People, further expands on Other People’s Children, analyzing the effect of the education reform movement on schools. Read a review here.
2. Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol
Why it’s worth the read: It provides a shocking look into just how unequal school can be for students living in different ZIP codes. Kozol shows that even resources and opportunities in public schools are determined by which ZIP code you happen to live in. Kozol also wrote The Shame of The Nation, where he visited 60 schools across the country in an effort to find some classrooms that could provide examples of great learning environments for all schools. Read a review here.
3. The Passion-Driven Classroom by Angela Maiers and Amy Sandvold
Why it’s worth the read: Angela Maier and Amy Sandvold want to turn the conversation about the achievement gap into a conversation about how increasing passion in the classroom can create transformative change in students’ lives.
4. Freedom Writers by Erin Gruwell
Why it’s worth the read: English teacher Erin Gruwell tells of her experiences as a new teacher and reveals that most new teachers struggle with understanding their students’ needs and backgrounds. Freedom Writers provides insights into how teachers can take back struggling classrooms and renew students’ interest in learning. Watch an interview with Gruwell here.
5. Choice Words by by Peter Johnston
Why it’s worth the read: This book reminds teachers that developing students’ habits of discussion is important for how they express themselves.
6. Why Don’t Students Like School? by Daniel T. Willingham
Why it’s worth the read: This book is for teachers who want to know how their students’ brains work. It tells how teachers can motivate their students to remember both their favorite TV shows and the things they learn in school.
7. Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov
Why it’s worth the read: Doug Lemov offers 49 effective techniques that will help new teachers create great classroom management techniques to help increase learning. See Lemov and other teachers put his techniques into play in the classroom here.
8. Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire by Rafe Esquith
Why it’s worth the read: Rafe Esquith says kids learn a lot in fifth grade, and his book offers insights to empower teachers to not reinvent the wheel but use proven techniques that work. Esquith’s fifth graders achieve everything from playing Vivaldi to mastering Shakespeare, all because his methods are solid.
9. See Me After Class by Roxanna Elden
Why it’s worth the read: Veteran teachers discuss their teaching experiences, which provide insight into successful classrooms work. The book also, however, allows teachers to laugh at all those crazy situations they find themselves in teaching the students they love.
10. A Place Called School by John I. Goodlad
Why it’s worth the read: Carried on over four years, trained investigators entered more than 1,000 classrooms nationwide to talk to teachers, students, administrators, parents, and other community members, resulting in A Place Called School. This book is the largest study of its kind and gives an honest account of how schools affect communities, students, and educators alike. Goodlad’s The Public Purpose of Education and Schooling is also worth a read because it asks is the goal of education; it could change your idea of what it means to be educated. Read a review here.
11. Bad Boys by Ann Arnette Ferguson
Why it’s worth the read: Ferguson goes inside the classrooms of a group of 11-and 12-year-olds boys who have been labeled by the school’s administration as “bound for jail.” Ferguson interviews these boys in school, on the playground, at the movies, and at home in order to paint a better picture of the issues inside and outside of school that lead to boys being less successful than girls in school.
12. The Reading Zone by Nancie Atwell
Why it’s worth reading: Atwell describes practical ways to make classrooms inviting to readers. The book includes information about assessments, goal setting, book lists, and sample parent letters.
13. Whatever It Takes by Paul Tough
Why it’s worth reading: Geoffrey Canada had this crazy idea to turn Harlem into a children’s zone that aimed to radically change the life trajectory of students living in that community. Canada has decided that he would be and do “whatever it takes,” and his story is fascinating. Watch Geoffrey Canada’s Ted Talk here.
14. How Children Succeed by Paul Tough
Why it’s worth reading: Paul Tough tracks the importance of building students’ character skills. In the book, researcher Angela Duckworth shows how students’ character traits are stronger indicators of their success, rather than their IQs. This book will help teachers build a classroom focused on both academic growth and building students character skills. Watch Duckworth’s TED Talk on character skills here.
15. First Days of School by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong
Why it’s worth reading: This book is written by educators for educators and offers invaluable advice about how to set up a successful classroom in the first days of school.