I put out a request to readers to share the best education-related books that they had read over the past year.  The books could have been published earlier and the only requirement was that you had read them sometime this year.

Here is what people shared:

Kevin Hodgson:

Digital Storytelling in the Classroom by Jason Ohler

I am in the midst of designing a grad class around digital storytelling, as well as doing it in my classroom, and this book is such a great mix practical ideas, pedagogy and some great thinking around the development of student digital stories.

I thank my friend, Bonnie, for the recommendation.


‘Brain Rules’ by John Medina. This book has given me new insights into not only how my mind and the minds of my students work, but it has also provided me with strategies I can apply in the classroom.

Clif Mims:

I’ve really enjoyed Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody.

Missie Stugart:

The best education book I have read this year is an oldie but a goodie. I re-read James Moffett’s classic Teaching the Universe of Discourse. This text is a classic but is not yet outdated…I am in the midst of revamping some of my own practices now because of it…If you haven’t read it, please do!

Paul Hamilton:

Best education-related book of the year for me: The Drool Room by Ira David Socol. An unusual work of fiction described as “a novel in stories”. It’s a series of narratives offering first person perspectives of an individual with “special needs”. The Drool Room relates many painful school experiences, so this is an especially worthwhile read for anyone involved in education.

Ronaldo Lima, Jr.:

I have just finished my master’s in Applied Linguistics (two weeks ago, actually), so I read a lot of technical books, and the three books that were of greatest benefit to me were the following:
ELLIS, R. (2008) The study of second language acquisition. 2 ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

GASS, S. M.; SELINKER, L. (2008) Second language acquisition: an introductory course. 3 ed. New York: Routledge.

DOUGHTY, C. J.; LONG, M. H. (Eds.) (2003) The handbook of second language acquisition. Oxford, Massachusetts e Victoria: Blackwell Publishing.

The two first ones are the latest versions of two renowned books which aim at putting together the many theories that make up the filed of Second Language Acquisition. The third one is an organizational book with 24 chapters written by authorities in Second Language Acquisition.

Anne Fox:

I’d like to nominate ‘The Creative Teaching and Learning Toolkit’ by Brin Best and Will Thomas published by Continuum in 2007. I explained why it inspired me here.  I think it is the only book I have blogged about this year so it must be the best!

Greg Anthony:

The best book I read this year is Classroom Assessment & Grading That Work. It gave me plenty of ideas on how to use assessment to help my students grow. Here is an overview of the book.

Tom Welch:

Let me add two more to the list — Disrupting Class by Christensen, Johnson and Horn, and Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott. Both help make sense of the notion that we are in transition from the age of schooling to the age of learning!


The best book I have read is Born Digital by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser. It has changed the way I have thought about the entire world. I can now better understand why social networking sites have changed the way students (and people in general) think and identify with the world.

James Rolle:

Alfie Kohn’s The Schools our Children Deserve and Punished by Rewards.

Chris Haddad:

The best book I read this year was Kelly Gallagher’s Teaching Adolescent Writers. The man has a great philosophy on teaching writing and, more importantly, gives practical applications on how ALL teachers, regardless of subject, can help to improve writing skills. This book is a must-read for any English teacher.

Chris Haddad is a middle school English teacher from Michigan.

Nancy Bosch:

I read Rafe Esquith’s Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire. Not rocket science but an easy read.

Last year I read all of Torey Hayden’s books. She taught severely disabled kids in a self contained classroom. They were written in the early 80s so they are somewhat dated—but she is an amazing teacher.

Lee Chan:

The best book I have read this year is Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Although the book is not overtly about a learning theory or best classroom practices, it is connected with education in that it exemplifies the principle that a general education of a marginalized people is the best way to turn them away from poverty and extremism. This has implications for our work of teaching language literacy and basic skills to migrant workers and needy residents in our community. Besides, the book also touches on how Greg motivates the students at the beginning of a school year.

Lee Chan is a full-time ESL instructor at Palomar College and currently serves as chair of the ESL Department.

Fran Lo:

I’m going to nominate this book: Plagiarism: Why It Happens and How to Prevent It by Barry Gilmore.  As an English teacher who discovers plagiarism far too often, it gave me a lot to think about.

Elise Mueller:

Hands down, Brain Rules by John Medina. Read about it on the Presentation Zen Blog and watch a clip of the author presenting for Authors@Google. It changed the way I think about learning in so many ways!

Wayne Basinger

Every break I re-read Leo Buscaglia’s “Living, Loving and Learning”. It gets me inspired to teach again by reminding me of my purpose and mission as a teacher.

My Pick:

Re-reading Community Organizing For Urban School Reform by Dennis Shirley was very helpful to me as I wrote my first book — on how schools can more effectively connect with parents — that will be published this spring.  Shirley writes about the great community organizing work of the Industrial Areas Foundation that has taken place in Texas.

Thanks to everybody who contributed!

Feel free to leave additional recommendations in the comments section of this post…