Top 5 Recommended Education Books

As summer approaches, it may be time to begin to create your list of summer reading books. While it may include a mix of pleasure – even guilty pleasure – there are always one or two books that have been recommended to us but we haven’t had the time for.

After two difficult years of teaching and administrating, it might be time to reignite our professional flame by reading one of these inspirational books. They all provide great inspiration and strategies for being a more effective teacher or administrator. And they all provide different perspectives, but isn’t that what teaching’s about?

ESGI and ThinkFives surveyed hundreds of teachers and administrators to find out the best education books they would recommend this summer.

If You Don't Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students

If You Don’t Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students

Guide to Success for Administrators and Teachers

Dr. Neila Connors

With the most creative title on the list, If You Don’t Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students shares practical strategies for improving school climate, communicating better with parents and students, and teaching for success.

Packed with words of wisdom and inspiration, Dr. Connors presents practical tips to improve school climate, communicate with parents and students, teach to the standards, and make a difference in students’ lives. All this in an enjoyable, easy-to-read format, If You Don’t Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students will leave you laughing your way to a more successful school year.

Amazon Recs

  • “This is an amazing publication all school administrators, especially principals, need to own.”
  • “It is a creative and practical version to help remind us all to be positive with our teachers!”
  • “I recommend this book for anyone going into administration or a leadership role. Gives excellent ideas on how to show your staff you greatly appreciate them without spending a lot of $$$.”
  • “All principals everywhere need to read this book. In today’s world, teachers are blamed for all the wrong things. It is simple- tell teachers that they make a difference in your school and they will follow you everywhere.”
  • “We all need to know our hard efforts make a difference. If you are a teacher- buy this and slip it in your principal’s mailbox, perhaps he/ she might read it.”
Teach like a Champion

Teach like a Champion

Doug Lemov

Teach Like a Champion is Doug Lemov’s study of the craft of teaching. Upon studying videos of high-performing teachers, Lemov distills their methods into concrete tangible actions for others to use and adapt. Many of the techniques he describes are now part of the lingua franca of teaching, but here Lemov adds the results of his last five years of study, including new depth and detail to existing techniques and the addition of more than ten new techniques.

Through the techniques, Lemov explains how to check for understanding, raise academic expectations, increase the ratio of the cognitive work students do, motivate and engage students, make classrooms more writing-intensive, improve discussions, and anticipate when it is necessary to redirect student behavior so it is positive and productive.

In his latest edition, Lemov adds extensive discussions of research connecting the techniques more explicitly to cognitive and social sciences and has updated his discussion based on extensive reflections on issues in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Amazon Recs

  • “TLC 3.0 checks every box for what is required to ensure the most successful outcomes for all students and their teachers. It’s an invaluable resource for best classroom practices and deserves to be widely read and discussed.”
  • “Doug’s insights into teaching, learning and the evidence that supports both are outstanding.”
  • “What a pleasant surprise. Easy to learn techniques that improve teacher performance that benefit kids and sharing it with the world is so welcoming these days.”
  • “This book gives strategies to enable the teacher to teach an academically demanding course, whilst increasing student accountability so that every member of the classroom is thinking and learning.”
  • “It is to-the-point, concise and also gives you access to videos of the strategies being used in lessons. A must have for new and experienced teachers.”
What Great Principals Do Differently

What Great Principals Do Differently

Todd Whitaker

What Great Principals Do Different features 20 keys to school effective leadership. Todd Whitaker details helpful new strategies for recruiting talent through better interview and reference questions, as well as tips for retaining talent.

It also offers a new section on how leadership is not an event, but rather requires a consistent approach to affect the climate and eventually shape the culture of your school. It is useful to both new and experienced principals, or even leaders in any field.

Author Todd Whitaker is a leading presenter in the field of education and has written more than 50 books including the bestseller What Great Teachers Do Differently. He is a professor of educational leadership at the University of Missouri.

Amazon Recs

  • “Hands down, the best book I’ve read for my graduate program.”
  • “This book outlines a great blueprint to run a school or learning centre.”
  • “Very inspiring, enjoyable read. Excellent! Very good read!”
  • “Even the most seasoned school principal will find Whitaker’s practical and intuitive approach to leadership useful in the best of times, but also it will help steer them as they lead through the worst.”
  • “Any new or experienced school leader will find value, reinforcement, and solid advice within.” (MiddleWeb Review)
Good to Great

Good to Great

Jim Collins

Good to Great is the one book on the list not specifically about education, but educators still listed it as the #1 most recommended book.

Jim Collins is a student and teacher of what makes great companies tick, and a Socratic advisor to leaders in the business and social sectors. Having invested more than a quarter century in rigorous research, he has authored and co-authored a series of books that have sold more than 10 million copies.

In Good to Great, Jim Collins and his research team have analyzed the histories of 28 companies, discovering why some companies make the leap and others don’t. Some of the findings include:

  • Level 5 Leadership: A surprising style, required for greatness
  • The Hedgehog Concept: Finding your three circles, to transcend the curse of competence
  • A Culture of Discipline: The alchemy of great results
  • Technology Accelerators: How good-to-great companies think differently about technology
  • The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Why those who do frequent restructuring fail to make the leap

It is clear that ThinkFives educators believe that many of these principles shared by Jim Collins have direct applicability to districts and schools.

Amazon Recs

  • “I found this book very interesting and could think of others who have applied a similar strategy and achieved success in their field.”
  • “I would highly recommend others to adapt a culture of discipline (also a main idea from the book) to read and get acquainted with Good to Great and keep their passions and lives GREAT.”
  • “Once the tools of greatness have been addressed, Collins completes his book by encouraging the reader to find greatness in all parts of one’s life; “As your work moves to greatness, so does your life.”
  • “This book is perfect for the new executive in an established, successful company that is looking for a path ahead. It is fantastic for the rising manager developing his or her leadership and management style.”
  • “The book is a great read for the casual business aficionado. It is genius! I cannot recommend this book enough.”
The First Days of School

The First Days of School

Harry K. Wong, Rosemary T. Wong

This is the most requested book on the list. The First Days of School outlines what strategies maximize success in the classroom for both teachers and students. It’s practical, yet inspiring and has sold over 4 million copies.

The First Days of School is effective for teachers in all grade levels – pre-K through college and in all content areas. This book also includes a CD with stories, songs, and American Sign Language. The book is used in thousands of school districts, in over 120 countries, in over 2,163 college classrooms, and has been translated into 9 languages.

Amazon Recs

  • “Want to have a great classroom and students ready to learn? Read–no, STUDY–this book. It served me well through my teaching career.”
  • “My professor required us to read and use this in our final education course. I don’t know where I’d have been without it!”
  • “As a first-year teacher, this book has given me plenty of strategies for lesson planning, classroom management, and effective teaching.”
  • “I honestly can’t believe this text isn’t a part of every single teacher education program across the nation – it has revitalized not only my passion for teaching.”
  • “Such a wealth of ideas, I’ll definitely be rereading as I prepare for the start of the school year over the next two weeks!”


What great education book would you recommend to your colleagues?


What do you THINK?

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