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Are you looking for books to improve your teaching, but you aren’t sure where to start? I’ve put together a list of my favorite books about education – plus books I’ve heard good things about. I’ll let you know under each title if I can personally recommend the book, and what you can expect to find within the pages.
I designed this page as a resource created to accompany my free ebook, Top 10 Secrets to Great Teaching. Learn about it here!
This list is a work in progress, and it will keep evolving as I find new titles to recommend. I’d love to hear about your favorites in the comments. Enjoy!
The First Days of School, by Harry Wong & Rosemary Wong
This is a book that every new teacher should own. I referred to my own edition many times while writing my ebook. The First Days of School will help you break down everything you need to think about when determining how to manage your classroom. If you home school, most of the classroom management portion is not applicable. But it might be worth checking out at your library.
Tools for Teaching, by Fred Jones
I have not personally read Fred Jones’ books, but he’s quite popular. This book “integrates the management of discipline, instruction and motivation into a system that allows you to reduce the stress of teaching by preventing most management headaches.” (Amazon) Many of the commenters thought that parts of the book were useful, but not all of it. They recommend you get this one from your library.
Setting Limits in the Classroom: A Complete Guide to Effective Classroom Management with a Schoolwide Discipline Plan, byRobert Mackenzie & Lisa Stanzione
This book comes highly recommended by classroom teachers. It covers both management and discipline. I haven’t read it, but the sample on Amazon looked great.
The First Year Teacher’s Survival Guide, by Julia Thompson
I’ve not read this, but the preview on Amazon looks amazing. If this had been available when I started teaching , I’d have snatched it up!
Homeschooling 101, by Erica Arndt
The author, of Confessions of a Homeschooler, is a genius at organization and planning. I haven’t read this book, but the Amazon reviews were glowing. This book would be good to give you confidence and help you get started if you’re new to homeschooling. I’m not sure how in depth she gets into recommending curriculum, but I’d encourage you to read my ebook before you make any big decisions.
The Homeschooling Book of Answers, by Linda Dobson
If I were seriously considering homeschooling, I’d get this from my library. Lots of questions answered by veteran homeschoolers, including how to organize and manage your homeschool. I’ve also heard good things about Homeschooling: The Early Years: Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 3 to 8 Year Old Child, by the same author.
So You’re Thinking about Homeschooling, by Lisa Whelchel
This book shares the experiences of 15 different homeschooling families. While it’s not exactly a “how to” manual, it will get you thinking about you want homeschooling to look at your house – and what management system you’ll need to get you there.
Transitions, Invitations, and Conversations are all ground-breaking books written by Regie Routman, who never disappoints. While these books are dated, I still think they are great reads if you are passionate about literacy in the classroom. These will help you move away from skill-based worksheets to more meaningful instruction.
To me, these fat books are as entertaining as a good novel. So much to think about and so much practical advice! If I didn’t have five busy little children, I’d read them all again, cover to cover.
Reading Essentials, by Regie Routman
This length of this book is much shorter than the set of three books I just mentioned. Like all of Routman’s books, it will get you to reevaluate your teaching and get you excited to try something new. The book is thoughtful but also very practical. Highly recommended!
The Art of Teaching Reading, by Lucy Calkins
Yes, this book is very long. Yes, it’s a little dated. Yes, it’s still worth reading! Lucy Calkins is one of my very favorite authors for teaching literacy. This book will inspire you and might just change the way you think about teaching reading (it did for me!). However, the book is more theoretical than practical, and you’ll appreciate a book by Nancie Atwell if you want to know more about how to carry out a Reading Workshop in your classroom.
The Reading Zone, by Nancie Atwell
This book is like a how-to manual for those who want their middle grade students to spend more of their reading time actually reading. (And you can bet I’m on board with that!) I am in. love. with Atwell’s books. They are both thoughtful and practical, not to mention fun to read.
Even though I haven’t gotten my hands on this book yet (I’ve reserved it!), I know enough about Atwell and her pedagogy to say it’s a must read for anyone teaching reading to kids in the middle grades.
Yellow Brick Roads, by Janet Allen
This is one of those books that I recommend owning versus getting from the library. Allen’s book is for teachers of grades 4-12 whose students are struggling to understand what they read. It will help you rethink how you organize reading time, help you develop useful assessments, and includes a big section of printable forms for your students. A very thoughtful and practical book! Time to read my copy again.
Tools for Teaching Content Literacy, by Janet Allen
This is SUCH a practical resource for teachers of middle to high school students. It’s a small book in a flipchart format, providing 33 strategies for improving reading comprehension in content areas like social studies and science. I have my own copy from graduate school. Just paging through it makes me want to use it again. Love, love!
Phonics They Use, by Patricia Cunningham
I love Cunningham’s balanced approach to literacy. Kids don’t need to know countless phonics rules and definitions; they need to know phonics they will actually use. This book is full of practical activities for strengthening reading. Recommended!
On Solid Ground: Strategies for Teaching Reading, K-3, by Sharon Taberski I can’t recommend this book enough. It changed how I taught reading and enabled me to design a model which allowed my students to spend most of their reading time actually reading. I was able to have my students read all different books at the same time and still manage it. Amazing, practical resource for both new and experienced teachers.
Phonics Lessons: Letters, Words, and How They Work (gr. 1), by Gay Su Pinnell & Irene Fountas
I haven’t seen these materials yet, but I’m a huge Fountas and Pinnell fan. If they have something to say about phonics, I want to read it! I’m always leery of phonics “how to” books because they are often dry, boring, and way too detailed. But knowing how well these ladies understand a balanced literacy approach, this book has got to be great. Also check out their versions for kindergarten, second grade, and third grade.
Guided Reading, by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell
As a teacher, this book helped me arrange and manage small groups so I could meet my readers where they were. This book was extremely useful when I taught grades 1-2. To try a similar approach with children in grades 3-6, try Guiding Readers and Writers, grades 3-6, by the same authors. I recommend anything by Fountas & Pinnell!
Comprehension from the Ground Up, by Sharon Taberski
Even though I don’t teach in a classroom right now, just reading about this book on Amazon makes me want to get it for myself! Taberski has laid out effective practices which will help you create a literacy block in which students are actually reading and writing. What I love most about Taberski is that her books are extremely practical.
What Really Matters for Struggling Readers, by Richard Allington
This book was written for teachers who want to design research-based programs to help struggling readers. I recommend it if you’re a public school teacher trying to make more time for your students to actually read. This book will give you resources for backing up your approach when speaking to those who might stand in your way. I have the older edition, but I recommend getting the newer one.
Coming soon… many more books for teaching reading!
I’ve put together a whole post of books about teaching writing. Check it out!
Words Their Way, by Donald Bear, Martha Invernizzi, Shane Templeton, and Francie Johnston
This is the BEST book for teaching spelling in a meaningful way! I learned about it in graduate school and found it to be extremely useful with the delayed high schooler I was tutoring (at 16, he spelled at a second grade level). I have used this in the classroom from grades 1-3. It works all the way through the grades. Fabulous. If you want to know more about the word study approach to spelling, be sure to read my five part series.
The authors have just released a new word study book for kids in preschool and kindergarten. I can’t wait to see it!
Words Their Way: Word Sorts for Letter Name-Alphabetic Spellers, by Donald Bear, Martha Invernizzi, Shane Templeton, and Francie Johnston
This book (and its companions for the other stages) are designed to be used with Words Their Way. These are not essential, but they will save you some time. I haven’t seen them personally, but have heard good reviews.
More spelling books coming soon!
So You Have to Teach Math? Sound Advice for K-6 Teachers, by Marilyn Burns and Robyn Silbey
I have my own copy of this book and personally recommend it. It’s written for both the new and veteran teacher and answers practically any broad question you have about teaching math.
How can I assess my students? What should I do with kids who finish early? When I ask kids to explain their thought process they say “I just know;” now what?
You’ll love that the book is short and useful – all in an easy to read format. You might also like the version for grades 6-8 (by Cheryl Rectanus). If you like this book, be sure to check out other titles by Marilyn Burns. She’s a highly respected math educator.
It Makes Sense!: Using the Hundreds Chart to Teach Number Sense, by Melissa Conklin and Stephanie Sheffield
Now I’m starting to wish I were a teacher again. So many books to read, so little time! This book and its companion, Using Ten Frames to Build Number Sense, are highly praised on Amazon as practical books with easy to use lessons for grades K-2. Apparently the lessons are great for teaching kids of varying abilities, which makes me think it would be a great addition to a homeschool classroom as well.
I haven’t read this yet, but it comes highly recommended. I’m planning to buy it to help my daughter learn the math facts she brings home from school. I want her to do more than just memorize flash cards, and this book looks like the ticket to get us there! It’s full of games to make learning math facts meaningful and fun. Also check out the version for multiplication and division.
Math Matters: Understanding the Math You Teach, by Suzanne H. Chapin and Art Johnson
In my ebook I explain that it’s important to teach children why we do math a certain way instead of just memorizing the steps to get to the answer. But how can a teacher do that if he or she doesn’t have a deep understanding of the concepts, either? I love this book because it helps teachers and homeschoolers clarify their own understanding of the math concepts they teach.
Some reviewers felt the book was a bit dry, but I think it’s a wonderful resource for any teacher who doesn’t feel strong in math.
Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics: Developing Appropriate Instruction for Grades PreK-2, by John A .Van De Walle
This book is recommended by teachers who want to give their children a solid conceptual understanding of math, beginning in preschool. Since my children don’t attend preschool, and because math homework can be challenging, I’m interesting in getting my own copy. Most of the Amazon reviews are glowing – check it out! Also see the version for grades 3-5 and one for grades 6-8.
Young Mathematicians at Work series, by Catherine Twomey Fosnot
I haven’t read this series, but they come highly recommended by a math teacher. The series is designed to help teachers design classrooms which encourage mathematical thinking (versus just memorizing a procedure). The pictured and linked book is for grades K-2, but you can also get books for helping children understand multiplication and division; fractions, decimals and percents; and even algebra. Read through the Amazon reviews to see if this series looks like a good fit for you.
Math Misconceptions, PreK-Grade 5: From Misconceptions to Deep Understanding, by Honi Bamberger, Christine Oberdorf, and Karren Schultz-Ferrell
This book provides practical activities to prevent and clear up math misconceptions. You might also appreciate Activities to Undo Math Misconceptions PreK-Grade 2 and Activities to Undo Math Misconceptions Grades 3-5.
Teaching Science & Social Studies
Reading Aloud to Kids
I have not read and do not personally recommend any of these books, but I offer them as books to help you choose what you like from each homeschooling method. I suggest finding them at your library before paying for one of them.
The Well-Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise
This is the most popular book on classical education. For another classical read, check out The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education, by Leigh Bortins.
A Charlotte Mason Education: A How-to Homeschooling Manual,by Charlotte Levison & A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning, by Karen Andreola
Again, I do not endorse a particular method of homeschooling, but these are books to read if you’d like to know more about Charlotte Mason.
The Unschooling Handbook, by Mary Griffith
According to the Amazon reviews, this is less of a “how-to” and more of a “this is what it looks like” book about unschooling. To learn more about the unschooling approach, you might also try How Children Learn, Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling, and other books by John Holt.
Coming soon: Recommended books for the Montessori approach