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…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

What Was The Best Education-Related Book You Read This Year?


As I do every year, I’m asking that readers leave a comment with the title and author of their favorite education-related that they read this calendar year. In addition, I ask that they leave a sentence or two describing why they liked it.

Please get your comments to me by December 27th.

As usual, I’ll publish people’s recommendations (along with their names and links to their blog if they have one) on January 1st.

It’s always a great list. You can see previous editions at:

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2010

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2009

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2008

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. From a school leadership perspective, one of the best books I’ve reviewed for the “not-quite-there” school administrator who wants an overview of educational technology, there is no better book than Lynne Schrum and Barbara Levin’s book Leading 21st Century Schools: Harnessing Technology for Engagement and Achievement. It is simple to read and well-organized. It would make an excellent gift for the administrator who wants or needs an overview of technology, especially Web 2.0. I posted on this book earlier in the year.

  2. Hi Larry
    I have a few books on my list this year (and I look forward to the recommendations of your readers) but in terms of offering teachers a practical and interesting way into using technology in a meaningful way, I suggest Wesley Fryer’s ebook “Playing with Media.”
    Fryer not only shows how technology can impact learning, but also provides the tools and links and guidance for teachers who know they need to move in that direction, but are not sure where to begin. The ebook format also allows Fryer to embed all sorts of examples.
    And he is consistent with the message that I believe in: we teachers need to “play” and create with new media tools before we can envision the possibilities in the classroom for our students.
    Kevin Hodgson

  3. I Used to Think..and Now I Think..: Twenty Leading Educators Reflect on the Work of School Reform (Harvard Education Letter Impact Series) Richard F. Elmore (Author, Editor) Thought provoking essays on education policy that I keep near at hand – a lot of wisdom packed in a thin paperback!

  4. The best education-related book that I read this year is “Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning” by Mike Schmoker. In a time full of so many new forms which are attempting to once again reform our educational system, Schmoker has the courage to suggest getting back to the essentials of deep reading and frequent writing. Our entire faculty read this book as part of our professional development plan this year and many are experiencing increased student engagement and achievement. I can’t recommend this book too highly.

    Cindy Zavaglia
    Director of Professional Growth
    English Department Chair

  5. I would recommend two books:

    1. The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist:

    An astonishing, rich feast of a book that finally puts left and right brain research in context. This is a book I read a few pages at a time in my Kindle where I highlighted and annotated it as well. This is a book that yields compound learning dividends.

    2. Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldritch:

    Every chapter (55 of them, very short) has gems of disruptive beauty that are useful and clarifying. As usual we get our best advice on learning from those outside the field. Aldritch is a games and sims developer who is on the periphery of school.

    3. The Living Classroom by Christopher M. Bache:

    This is the kind of book that provides brand new thrust for someone whose career is spluttering. New theory, new fuel, new power. I am still working my way through this one. I borrowed it via interlibrary loan via my university and have decided to get it to finish reading on my Kindle.

    Good luck and maybe we will meet via highlights and notes in our respective Kindles.

  6. Ooops, I mean three books in my comment. These book thingies can really add up unlike this English teacher.

  7. I vote for Abe, as in “Learning from Lincoln – Leadership Practices for School Success,” by Harvey Alvy and Pam Robbins. Eleven well-written chapters are interspersed with leadership qualities from Lincoln’s life and culminate in 10 qualities, attributes, and skills for the 21st century school leader. The authors strive to show not only the need for each of these qualities to be present in our work today, but that they must be practiced as an interrelated whole if we, like Lincoln, are going to achieve success as leaders.

  8. As a school librarian, my top picks for this year are:
    Curriculum 21: Essential education for a changing world. This book really got me thinking about how we present information to our students. Are we doing them a dis-service by the methods we use in the classroom. Really turned my thinking upside down. My second choice was Beyond Cut and Paste by Jamie McKenzie. This little book is jammed full of information on multiple literacies and how we best prepare ours students to face all that information.

  9. John Medina’s Brain Rules topped my list. With its emphasis on ALL the things our students’ brains require to succeed, including a low stress environment and exercise, this book makes clear, science-based arguments for schools that consider the needs of the whole child.

  10. My recommendation: “Someone Has to Fail: The Zero-Sum Game of Public Schooling,” by David Labaree.

    If you ever wanted to understand how events and history conspired to get us to the position we’re in now, in terms of public education and policy, this is the book.

  11. I liked How the ELL Brain Works by David A. Sousa. It’s thorough, starting with L1 and L2 acquisition, then has chapters devoted to teaching listening, speaking, reading, writing, and content areas, with lots of strategies, guidelines, and tips for teaching ELLs. It’s a well-put together book on a topic that we always want to learn more about.

  12. My pick is Dealing With Difficult Teachers. It’s a great book for getting some perspective on the system for teachers. An epiphany for me was a passage about us as teachers having to deal with a challenging student for one year while their peers have to deal with them for up to twelve. Lots of good insights into the ‘mechanism’.

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