Recommended Reading

This page is dedicated to the encouragement and development of school leaders as readers in their learning communities.

It is not just what we say as school leaders but also what we do that makes an impact on students and teachers in our respective buildings. To say, “I enjoy reading” is different than carrying a book or magazine with you while visiting classrooms during regular walkthroughs. To be observed in the act of reading is invaluable.

Listed and linked below are texts that we would recommend for other school leaders, to read on their own or with a group. What do all of these books have in common?

  • They are connected to education, either directly or indirectly.
  • We have read and reviewed them (follow links), we really enjoyed them, and we think you might too.
  • We often come back to these texts to reference the author’s ideas or just for some inspiration.

We’ll continue to update this page, as there are more great books we have yet to discover. Have any suggestions? Please recommend your favorites in the comments. (Books with a * were selected for a book study on this site.)


Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change by David Cooperrider, Diana Whitney (Berrett-Koehler, 2005)

The Art of Slow Reading: Six Time-Honored Practices for Engagement by Thomas Newkirk (Heinemann, 2012)


* Becoming a Literacy Leader: Supporting Learning and Change by Jennifer Allen (Stenhouse, 2016)

Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande (Metropolitan, 2017)

Bold Moves for Schools: How We Create Remarkable Learning Environments by Heidi Hayes Jacobs and Marie Hubley Alcock (ASCD, 2017)


Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning by Peter Johnston (Stenhouse, 2004)

Claim Your Domain – And Own Your Online Presence by Audrey Watters (Solution Tree, 2016).


David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown, 2013)

Data Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Assessment Results to Improve Teaching and Learning by Kathryn Parker Boudett, editor (Harvard Education, 2013)

Dealing with Difficult Parents: And with Parents in Difficult Situations by Todd Whitaker and Douglas J. Fiore (Eye on Education, 2001)

Dealing with Difficult Teachers by Todd Whitaker (Eye on Education, 2002)

Designing and Implementing Effective Professional Learning by John Murray (Corwin, 2014)

Digital Reading: What’s Essential in Grades 3-8 by Franki Sibberson and William L. Bass, II (National Council of Teachers of English, 2015).


Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (Random House, 2018)

Embarrassment: And the Emotional Underlife of Learning by Thomas Newkirk (Heinemann, 2017)

Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan Wiliam (Solution Tree, 2013)

Ensuring High-Quality Curriculum: How to Design, Revise, or Adopt Curriculum Aligned to Student Success by Angela Di Michele Lalor (ASCD, 2017)


Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Harper Perennial, 2008)

Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning by Mike Schmoker (ASCD, 2011).

Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter O. Gray (Perseus, 2012)

Future Wise: Educating Our Children for a Changing World by David Perkins (Jossey-Bass, 2014)


Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins (HarperBusiness, 2001)


Improving Schools from Within: Teachers, Parents, and Principals Can Make the Difference by Roland Barth (Jossey-Bass, 1991)

Integrating Differentiated Instruction & Understanding by Design: Connecting Kids to Content by Jay McTighe and Carol Ann Tomlinson (ASCD, 2006)


* Literacy Essentials: Engagement, Excellence, and Equity for All Learners by Regie Routman (Stenhouse, 2018)


Mindfulness by Ellen Langer (Da Capo, 2014)

Minds Made for Stories: How We Really Read and Write Informational and Persuasive Texts by Thomas Newkirk (Heinemann, 2014)

A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger (Bloomsbury, 2014)


No More Independent Reading Without Support by Debbie Miller and Barbara Moss (Heinemann, 2013)

No More Summer Reading Loss by C. Cahill, K. Horvath, A. McGill-Franzen, and R. Allington (Heinemann, 2013)


Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives by Peter Johnston (Stenhouse, 2012).


Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire (Bloomsbury, 1968)

The Power of Mindful Learning by Ellen Langer (De Capo, 2016)


Read, Write, Lead: Breakthrough Strategies for Schoolwide Literacy Success by Regie Routman (ASCD, 2014)

The Read Aloud Handbook, 7th Edition by Jim Trelease (Penguin, 2013)

Readacide: How Schools are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It by Kelly Gallagher (Stenhouse, 2009)

Rethinking Rubrics in Writing Instruction  by Maja Wilson (Heinemann, 2006)

Rigorous Reading: 5 Access Points for Comprehending Complex Texts by Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher (Corwin, 2013)


Schooling Beyond Measure by Alfie Kohn (Heinemann, 2015)

Schools That Work: Where All Children Read and Write (3rd Ed.) by Richard L. Allington, Patricia M. Cunningham (Pearson, 2006)

Shaping School Culture (3rd Ed.) by Terrence Deal and Kent Peterson (Jossey-Bass, 2016)

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon (Workman Publishing, 2014)


Teacher Rounds: A Guide to Collaborative Learning in and from Practice by Thomas Del Prete (Corwin, 2013)

Teaching Essentials: Expecting the Most and Getting the Best from Every Learner, K-8 by Regie Routman (Heinemann, 2007)

The Third Teacher: 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching and Learning by OWP/P Architects, VS Furniture, Bruce Mau Design (Harry N. Abrams, 2010)

Transformative Assessment by W. James Popham (ASCD, 2008)

Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division by Anthony Muhammad (Solution Tree, 2009).


Unmistakable Impact: A Partnership Approach to Dramatically Improving Instruction by Jim Knight (Corwin/Learning Forward, 2011)


Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning by John Hattie (Routledge, 2012)


Walking Trees: Portraits of Teachers and Children in the Culture of Schools by Ralph Fletcher (Heinemann, 1995)

Why School? How Education Must Change When Learning and Information are Everywhere by Will Richardson (TED, 2012)

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World by Yong Zhao (Jossey-Bass, 2014)

Who Owns the Learning?: Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age by Alan November (Solution Tree, 2012)

World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students by Yong Zhao (Corwin, 2012)

10 thoughts on “Recommended Reading”

  1. This is a great idea Matt, I appreciate these carefully selected chosen titles. I also like that you’ve included favorite classics such as Improving Schools from Within by Roland Barth and The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. And I’m delighted you’ve included Read, Write, Lead. Thank you, Regie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Definitely…The Teacher You Want to Be, edited by Matt Glover and Ellin Keene (Heinemann, 2015). If Common Core is a revolution, this book is a counter-revolution, taking back all the great things about being a teacher!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a Montessori teacher of 6 – 9 year olds. I teach this grade level because I love to help children grow in literacy from phonics books to chapter books. Your list inspired me to buy a few new books for myself. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

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