What books would you recommend for a primary school teacher?

Facebook is awash with challenges from ice-buckets to listing how you’re grateful for the last few days. Another one of these that’s going around is the challenge to list 10 books that have influenced your life in some way. The challenge continues to say that the books do not have to be literary masterpieces and to tag some other people who you’d like to take up the challenge. So far, I’ve escaped but I thought I’d do my own education version of this. If anyone, fancies taking up the challenge, feel free to do so in the comments.

Beginning teaching, beginning learning in primary education – Janet R Moyles

This was the first book on my reading list in teacher training and on the first chapter, I was hooked. The concept of the various psychologies of the classroom from how one lays out the tables to how one moves about the room got me started thinking about the complexities of the classroom environment.

Grown Up Digital – Don Tapscott

This changed my mind about schools. The current way schools are generally doesn’t suit today’s 21st century learners. Tapscott talks about the things that this generation of learners need. He argues that the gap between this generation and the one before it is larger than that of pre and post World War 2 generations. This book has shaped everything I think about when I think about education today.

ICT in the Primary Classroom – Dublin West Education Centre

These books are in every school in the country and are some of the best books to integrate ICT into teaching. It would be great if more people knew about them.

Mind Maps for Kids – Tony Buzan

This is another book that blew me away when I found it by accident. I have used it extensively in my classes for brainstorming, planning and helping children to colour-code and remember anything they are learning.

Quality Circle Time – Jenny Mosley

Before this book, classroom management, for me, was an arbitrary mix of ideas. This book tied everything together and I never had any (major) disciplinary problems in any of my classes after reading it and using it properly. It was so influential to me, that when I became principal of my school, it was instantly adopted as the whole school behaviour system.

Multiple Intelligences – Howard Gardner

How do children learn? Apart from Tapscott’s work, this book helped me to identify the talents of children in my class and how they learn. All my planning for classes changed after reading this book as part of my studies. Differentiation was never an issue again.

Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas – Seymour Papert

To be fair, I didn’t read the whole of this book as I couldn’t find it but I got to read excerpts of it and more about Papert’s theories of constructionism. This man has brought us Lego Mindstorms, Logo and Scratch. While already deemed to be one of the most influential educators in the world, for me, he is the most important.

Teaching Number in the Classroom with 4-8 year olds – Robert J Wright

I could have chosen a number of books about Maths but this one, I feel, gets the foundations right. I like the way it helped me bring mathematical concepts from the concrete to the abstract well.

Displays for All Seasons – Judith Makoff

Displays were a big deal when I was training in the UK, and with good reason. The importance of good displays in a classroom cannot be emphasised enough. One can instantly see the difference in a classroom that has good displays. This book was the first of this series that I used and got inspiration from.

The Revised Primary Curriculum – NCCA

This set of books continues to affect my life. Some of the books are amazing – music, art and maths, in particular and some of them are just terrible – English, Drama and Irish for me. Others are ok. However, like it or not, my job relies on them and, while they are generally outdated, sometimes you’ll still find a gem or a pearl of wisdom when you didn’t think it possible after more than a decade of teaching.

10 thoughts on “What books would you recommend for a primary school teacher?”

  1. An interesting list, from the philosophy of education to the practicalities.

    Liked ‘your call’ on the curriculum books. Agree whole heartedly with your choice of Howard Gardner.

    With the exception of Moyles, Mosley and Buzan, I’m unfamiliar with your other choices but will keep an eye out for them now.

    If I’d to name three books that influenced my teaching I’d say
    – Alvin Toffler’s ‘Future Shock’,
    – ‘Self Esteem: A Classroom Affair, 101* Ways to Help Children Like Themselves’ by Michele and Craig Borba
    – ‘Does It Have To Rhyme?’ by Sandy Brownjohn
    Once again thanks for the ‘food for thought’.

    • Thanks for the comment. I must check out your recommendations. It’s amazing how many good books there are on educational matters.

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