Saturday, January 15, 2011

14 books Educators should read...

Here are 14 books that I have read over the last two years that have had a positive effect and impact on me as an educator. Some of these books were read in the book club at Seckman High School, and some were read as part of my doctoral studies. Despite doing a lot more online reading of late (blogs, articles, etc...), I still feel that books play an important role in educator growth and development. Please comment and let me know what you would add to the list. Thank you and enjoy!

The Art of Possibility - Rosamund and Benjamin Zander

- The Zanders really do a great job of pushing you to think "outside of the box." They emphasize the importance of "possibility," and that through traditional thinking we are unfortunately limiting ourselves. An interesting and thought provoking read here.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Patrick Lencioni

- This book hits on some of the most common problems we face when it comes to teams and working together. The message is woven into a story and does an excellent job of providing solutions and alternatives when working with a team of people. This was one of the first books read as part of my doctoral studies.

Winning with People - John Maxwell

- This is a fantastic book about building and establishing strong relationships. This book was well received in book club because it not only had professional advice, but also had personal advice. Strong relationships are the keys to so many doors. I highly recommend this book.   

Tribes - Seth Godin

- Godin describes a world in which nothing is possible without "tribes." Tribes have throughout time pushed and helped our society to evolve, therefore their importance can't be ignored. An interesting read when it comes to establishing groups, teams and followers.


The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell does an excellent job of describing how something becomes "something." Once an idea or concept reaches "the tipping point," the idea or concept is really able to take off. This book has some valid points in the educational setting, and will most certainly get you thinking. 

Brain Rules - John Medina

- The brain is a hot topic right now in society, and as educators it has great value to understand more about how the brain works to better meet the needs of our students. Medina addresses some common myths and misconceptions as it pertains to the brain...well worth your time. 

How Full is your Bucket? - Tom Rath

- An inspirational book about filling the buckets of others. When you are negative you end up taking from somebody's bucket; when you are positive, encouraging, and solution oriented, you are able to add to someone's bucket. This book was a book club book and was well received by teachers.

The Fred Factor - Mark Sanborn

- This is the extraordinary tale of a postman named Fred. Fred takes all aspects of his life to the next level. No matter what he is doing he makes sure to do his best. Great inspirational book applicable to all educators. Our entire high school staff read this book this year.

Drive - Daniel Pink

- An extremely popular book right now. Pink outlines the three main factors of motivation: mastery, purpose and autonomy. This book really questions what it means to be either extrinsically motivated or intrinsically motivated. Great read for all educators.

If you Don't Feed the Teachers they Eat the Students - Neila A. Connors

- This is an excellent read for both current and aspiring administrators. If the needs of the teachers (support, encouragement, autonomy...etc) are not met, teachers will be unable and unwilling to meet the needs of the students.

The Energy Bus - Jon Gordon

- This is another book club book. A great story about harnessing and taking advantage of positive energy. This book is applicable to educators of all levels and backgrounds. This was a very popular book among teachers. Check out Jon Gordon's website.

What Great Teachers do Differently - Todd Whitaker

- This book illustrates 14 traits and characteristics that make a great teacher. Simple and straight forward read that was enjoyed by many teachers. Whitaker also has another book What Great Principals do Differently. This book is not that entirely different than the "teacher" version, but does introduce a few new ideas. (here is a great Prezi)

The Radical Leap - Steve Farber

- Awesome book on extreme leadership. Farber explains why we need a new form of extreme leadership, as well as ways one can accomplish this. This book is a simple read full of great ideas and motivational moments.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 - Travis Bradberry

- Bradberry argues that one's emotional intelligence could actually be more influential than one's IQ. Once you are better able to understand and respond to your emotions you will have found a new way of approaching life. This is an interesting read that debunks most traditional thinking of IQ versus EQ.


  1. Great list. The Water Is Wide by Pat Conroy is a must read for any educator.

  2. Justin,
    Thanks for sharing this! I have not yet read a few of these. I appreciate you taking the time to include the descriptions!

  3. Love the list. I would add Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. The book reminds us that humility, passion and cultural acceptance are human attributes that bring the planet together. Collaboration is the essence. Competition is the agitator.

  4. Super list, Justin - a few new ones for me here - thank you. I would add "Out of Our Minds" and "the Element" by Ken Robinson. Ross Greene's "Lost at School" is an absolute must read. Thanks for starting this conversation - great stuff.


  5. Wow, Shannon you stole my books! haha Godin' Linchpin is a good read and Dweck's Mindset is a must read.

    Kohn's The Schools Our Children Deserve and Punished by Rewards.

  6. So many amazing books! (and not enough hours in a day!) Thanks for the list!

  7. Justin,
    Great list and thanks for sharing. I've read a few of the titles here and now have some good recommendations for my next book to tackle.

  8. Hi Justin,
    Great list! I've read four and will add the others to my "to read" list.

    A few suggestions:
    Five Minds for the Future by Gardner
    Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion - John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, Lang Davison (Author)

  9. Thanks for the suggestions - my "to read" pile just keeps getting longer! Other books I would suggest: Power Of Appreciative Inquiry, Second Edition: A Practical Guide to Positive Change
    Diana Whitney, Amanda Trosten-Bloom, and Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.
    ~Erin (@adriander12)

  10. Fantastic list - many are available on the Kindle too. I would also like to add Alfie Kohn's The Homework Myth

  11. I'd highly recommend Karen Hume's Tuned Out: Engaging the 21 Century Learner.
    Karen's approach considers the teacher as a 21st Century learner and offers several ways for teachers to rejuvenate their practice.

  12. Thanks for posting this! I've been looking for good book recommendations. Have you posted it on the eduPLN book group?

    The only one I'm familiar with is Brain Rules and I have to disagree with you, though. I'm on the third chapter and so frustrated with it already. I hope it gets better. I've never read such a combination of the intuitive obvious and a complete lack of logic. I really expected a lot more from a brain expert. I keep going through it thinking, "But what about ??? (all these exceptions)?" "Did you really just say that? Do you realize that makes absolutely no sense and has nothing to do with how we think?" "That's the end of the chapter? There's no more? It's just a dumbed-down version of the typical scholarly conclusion 'what if we researched this more'??" "Do you realize you contradicted yourself two pages ago?" Sorry for the mini-vent, he's just got me aggravated right now.

  13. Good list. Thanks for taking the efforts.

    I would like to add
    Creativity Now by Jurgen Wolff
    Teach your child how to think by Edward De bono.
    How to have beautiful mind by Edward De bono
    Lateral Thinking by Edward De bono

  14. Great list! I have read none of these books - I will have to order some from Chapters this weekend.