10 Inspiring Books Every Teacher Needs to Read
Whether you're a rookie looking for advice or a seasoned educator seeking inspiration, this collection of books will help you ignite (or rekindle!) your love of teaching and learning.
‘Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56’
If you’ve ever doubted the impact a single teacher can have on a group of children, you need to read this book. For more than 30 years, author Rafe Esquith was a fifth-grade teacher at Hobart Elementary in central Los Angeles, one of the most impoverished school districts in the country. In this book, Esquith shares his techniques for building trust, respect, and passion for education among his students—techniques that have not only earned him numerous awards and international recognition, but have helped droves of students succeed beyond expectation. These magic phrases can make you seem trustworthy.
‘The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them’
Published in 1999, this book is a collection of writings by the students of Erin Gruwell, a then 23-year-old new teacher at Long Beach High School in Long Beach, California, who was assigned a class of so-called “unteachable” students who were trapped by gang violence and racial tension. To reach them, she assigned literature they could relate to, brought in speakers who could engage them, and gave each of them a blank composition notebook where they could share, anonymously, their thoughts and experiences. Despite the odds against them, all 150 of her students graduated from high school, and some went onto college and established rewarding careers. The book also spawned a 2007 movie, Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank.
‘The First Days of School’
New and veteran teachers alike sing the praises of this book by education experts Harry K. and Rosemary T. Wong, now in its fourth edition. Revered by thousands of school districts and in hundreds of countries, this book walks teachers through proven strategies for classroom management and organization that can be applied to students in any grade, from preschool through college. As the title suggests, the book reinforces the idea that the methods teachers establish during the first days of school will define whether they fail or succeed, and can help teach even the most experienced educators a few new tricks. This teacher learned one of her greatest parenting lessons from a student.
‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’
Whether you’re dealing with five-year-old kids or 30-year-old adult learners, teaching is, at its core, a people profession. Considered one of the most influential self-help books ever published, this book is widely praised by teachers across the country. Published in 1936 by American writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie, the book provides a series of simple yet effective strategies for improving one’s self-confidence, developing leadership skills, and reducing the cycle of stress.
‘The Hidden Lives of Learners’
This book, which is the result of four decades of research by New Zealand Emeritus Professor and author Graham Nuthall, investigates the three powerful aspects that dictate a student success: teacher-student interaction, peer influence, and a student’s personal home life. His research into how low-ability students can learn as well as high-ability students is nothing short of groundbreaking, and has major implications when it comes to the vexation of standardized testing and education reform.
‘Outliers: The Story of Success’
This best-selling book by esteemed journalist Malcolm Gladwell will resonate with anyone who wants to understand how people ultimately achieve greatness. In the book, Gladwell investigates numerous factors that contribute to extreme levels of success, such as that achieved by professional athletes, influential business people, and celebrities. The book explores how factors like birth month, practice, culture and hidden advantages can shape the lives of extraordinary individuals who excel beyond any reasonable understanding.
‘I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban’
In modernized counties, we sometimes forget that for many children around the world, education is not a right—it’s a privilege. Perhaps no one understands that more than Malala Yousafzai, who, at age 15, was shot point-blank in the head by the Taliban, simply because she wanted to attend school. Miraculously, she survived, and went on to become a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a powerful voice for girls’ education. This inspiring memoir, which she penned in 2013 with British journalist Christina Lamb, highlights the strength of a family’s love and reminds readers of the never-ceasing power of education.
‘What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World’
In 2002, former teacher Taylor Mali crafted a poem called “What Teachers Make.” He had written the poem in response to a condescending lawyer who had asked him, “Be honest. What do you make?” The poem went viral on social media, and is the basis for this witty and inspiring book of the same name. Through a series of anecdotes and poems, Mali shares his experiences as a classroom teacher and helps to remind teachers why their job is so important.
‘Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Their Students by Their Brains’
This book by teacher-turned-author LouAnne Johnson considered by some educators as one of the most influential strategy guides even written for teachers. In it, Johnson, who is best known for her book My Posse Don’t Do Homework (renamed Dangerous Minds after it spawned the movie in 1995), shares her honest and effective methods for improving classroom management, engaging students, and advancing critical thinking. These brain-boosting habits will help protect against degenerative diseases.
‘Today I Made a Difference: A Collection of Inspirational Stories from America’s Top Educators’
This collection of stories, compiled by editor Joseph Underwood, serves to answer two essential questions: why teachers teach, and why they decided to make teaching a career, despite the low pay and long hours. The book is based on the real-life stories of all 28 of Disney’s 2004 Teacher of the Year Nominees, and will inspire new and experienced teachers alike with its honest, inspiring and refreshing look at the obstacles teachers overcome on a daily basis.