Summer reading 2018: eight book recommendations for teachers

For teachers, the summer break is a well-deserved opportunity to rest, travel and re-energise in preparation for the new academic year. For parts of it, I like to switch off entirely. But I also enjoy the luxury of time for uninterrupted professional reading. Once again, I have curated a list of eight book recommendations for teachers. Like last year, I have read the first five and personally recommend them. The final three are ones that I haven’t read yet but they are highly recommended by others. They’ll be in my backpack over the break. I have also provided links to relevant blog posts for more information.

I encourage you to revisit my list from last year because those books equally deserve to be on of your summer reading list if you haven’t read them yet. Click here to read my 2017 list.

The links below will direct you to Amazon.

My five recommendations:

Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership by Jennifer Casa-Todd, 2017

Put simply, this is one of the most refreshing books that I have ever read and one, more than any other, that I wish I had written myself. Social LEADia takes a fresh look at social media and digital citizenship. As someone who absolutely loves social media and blogging, I’m so bored of the widespread and ongoing narrative that technology is evil and dangerous. Yes, we have to be careful and we must teach students about the potential threats, but social media also offers amazing opportunities for students and adults alike. Jennifer Casa-Todd explores these opportunities in the book and provides many inspiring examples of young people who are taking advantage of technology in positive and important ways. The book also explores the role of teachers as digital guides and role models.

On my blog: Social media in the primary classroom

“Once you experience how powerful, meaningful, and transformational technology and social media connections can be, introducing them into your classroom for students to experience becomes not only desirable, but imperative.”

Jennifer Casa-Todd

Dive into Inquiry: Amplify Learning and Empower Student Voice by Trevor MacKenzie, 2016

This isn’t Trevor MacKenzie’s only appearance on this list. His newer book is listed below. Nevertheless, this first volume should not be dismissed. Inquiry learning is engaging and rewarding but it’s also messy and challenging (I think so, anyway). This book debunks many myths and also provides support and guidance for inquiry teachers. Wherever you are in your inquiry journey, I’m sure that this book will be a helpful resource that you will want to revisit and regularly dip into.

“Inquiry provides the structure and pedagogical framework to be the teacher our students need.”

Trevor MacKenzie

Ditch That Homework: Practical Strategies to Help Make Homework Obsolete by Matt Miller and Alice Keeler, 2017

This book was an interesting surprise for me. It explores the homework debate from various perspectives and highlights the problems and complications within it. But instead of persuading teachers to stop assigning homework, the book is more about teaching and learning strategies that will help teachers to be less reliant on it. Although Matt Miller and Alice Keeler are obviously against homework, the book is more about useful suggestions than preaching. Whether you assign homework or not, it is a useful resource because it helps teachers to utilise their time with students.

If research on homework is confusing and inconclusive and opinions on the topic are so divergent, why is homework still the status quo in schools – especially when there’s no proof that it’s effective?”

Matt Miller and Alice Keeler

Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction for the Thinking Classroom (Second Edition) by H. Lynn Erickson, Lois A. Lanning and Rachel French, 2017

This is another book that I regularly dip into. It’s definitely a worthwhile investment. The authors explain the importance and relevance of a three-dimensional curriculum (one that moves beyond facts and skills) and also debunk the myths that are associated with such practices. The book offers planning and implementation support for teachers, as well as a fantastic framework for mapping conceptual units.

On my blog: Eight misconceptions about concept-based curriculum and instruction

“The paradigm shift, to shape the conceptual mind, requires teaching inductively to the concepts, generalisations, and principles using the topics, facts, and skills as supporting tools rather than final destinations.”

H. Lynn Erickson, Lois A. Lanning and Rachel French

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek, 2017

Simon Sinek first caught my attention with his TED Talks and that interview about Millennials that went viral. Since then, his name seems to come up all the time! This book was recommended to me by my principal and I am really pleased that I bought my own copy. With many examples throughout, the book perfectly outlines what it means to be a leader and how we can utilise human relationships to maximise impact and outcomes. This book is important for anyone with leadership aspirations, not just in education.

“The rank of office is not what makes someone a leader. Leadership is the choice to serve others with or without any formal rank. There are people with authority who are not leaders and there are people at the bottom rungs of an organization who most certainly are leaders.”

Simon Sinek

My summer reading list 2018:

Mindset – Updated Edition: Changing The Way You Think To Fulfil Your Potential by Dr Carol S. Dweck, 2017

This is perhaps a surprise entry on this list because the idea of growth mindsets has been popular for years (although this is an updated edition). In fact, Dweck’s philosophy is so famous and popular that it inevitably has critics. It has even been dismissed as a fad by many educators. I believe that the ideas have been misused and misinterpreted. I don’t want to dismiss them so quickly. Rather, I want to solidify my understanding by finally reading the book that started it all.

Inquiry Mindset: Nurturing the Dreams, Wonders and Curiosities of Our Youngest Learners by Trevor MacKenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt, 2018

I am a fan of Trevor MacKenzie’s first book (also on this list) so I am hugely excited about his second offering (this time in collaboration with Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt). Like the first, Inquiry Mindset has been well received. I’m really looking forward to this one!

Reading with Meaning: Teaching Comprehension in the Primary Grades (Second Edition) by Debbie Miller, 2013

This has been on my reading list for a while because it has been recommended by several colleagues. As a school, we’re gradually implementing (year by year) Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP). We are not quite ready for Year Four yet, but we are in a period of transition. As a team, we are keen to start implementing some of the practices, including the workshop model for reading and writing. This book complements TCRWP and will be a helpful resource throughout next year and beyond.

On my blog: Teaching writing: ten lessons from Matt Glover

Once again, I encourage you to also check out my previous list. There are so many amazing books out there by inspiring educators! What’s on your reading list this summer? Let me know in the comments section below. And, just for fun, tell me where you’ll be enjoying them. My summer plans are shaping up nicely: Japan, Spain, Portugal, Sri Lanka and a brief spell at home. It’s going to be a busy one!

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  1. Hi Adam,

    Great list! I am happy to see you’re missing the #pypbookstudy group. Me too! It was wonderful to reflect on readings, perhaps a holiday only book study would work!?
    Enjoy your Summer, if you’re in Osaka early summer let me know, would be great to meet you!

    1. Hi Lee,

      I’m currently in Nagoya. Not too far away. I’m here as part of the PTA trip along with over a hundred children and parents. It would have been great to meet up. The itinerary is packed though, and I fly to Europe straight after. Another time! I definitely want to come back to Japan on my own sometime soon. I’ll let you know when I do.

      I miss the book study group and the people who supported it (you included, of course). I’d love to bring it back one day if there’s enough demand. The Facebook group is still open.



    1. Hi Brittany,

      You’re very welcome. Thanks for the feedback. I can’t recommend Leaders Eat Last enough. I’m sure that you’ll appreciate it and learn a lot from it. Let me know what you think. I look forward to our upcoming discussions.



  2. It’s so interesting to see there is a whole book about not assigning homework. This is something I’ve been working hard to make more purposeful in class at the moment. We are required to send homework regardless of whether or not I find it to be effective. Is it optional at your school?

    1. Hi Katie,

      There are many famous books about homework actually. This is just the latest (that I’m aware of). It’s such a hot topic and very divisive among teachers (and all other stakeholders, too). It’s not optional at my school but we don’t overthink it either. What we assign is very manageable for our students. I’m not the biggest fan of homework, but I think that our expectations are reasonable so I don’t have anything to complain about. I like the Flipped Learning approach. I think this is a good way to make the best of it. Take a look at these previous posts for more information:



      1. Thanks, Adam. There’s a couple on your list I’d like to read, but I’m taking a short break from education (sort of) to read fiction. But it’s fiction steeped in history, so I’ll be learning as I’m reading. I mentioned the author and some of the books in a tweet. Jackie French’s books are definitely worth taking a look at. Great for discussions with students.

        1. Hi Norah,

          I’ll also be reading fiction over holidays. It’s great to be able to fit in everything! Thanks for the recommendations


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