Recommended Reading List

Schmoker, Mike (2011) - Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning
-- A simple and sane plan for transforming the quality of education that takes place in America's schools.  Schmoker eschews educational fads in favor of a straightforward approach to learning the emphasizes the essentials, including greater amounts of good-ol'-fashioned reading, discussion, writing, and presentation.

Sitomer, Alan (2009) - Teaching Teens and Reaping Results in a Wi-Fi, Hip-Hop,Where-Has-All-the-Sanity-Gone World: Stories, Strategies, Tools, and Tips from a Three-Time Teacher of the Year Award Winner
-- An inspirational resource for secondary English Language Arts teachers, featuring many ideas for encouraging and motivating reluctant readers.

Spencer, John (2009) - Sages and Lunatics: Recovering What We Lost in Factory Education
[Amazon Kindle Edition available]
-- John Spencer puts philosophy into practice as he reflects on his experiences as a teacher.  Many deep and thought-provoking insights in this book, explored in a 'unity of opposites' format that challenges the conventional educational 'wisdom'.

Postman, Neil & Weingartner, Charles (1969) - Teaching As a Subversive Activity
[Amazon Kindle Edition available]
-- Written in the late '60s, this text is still relevant today as the classic manifesto of the Inquiry Method of teaching.

Holt, John (originally published in the mid-1960s) - How Children Fail
-- This classic texts offers journal-style observations of students in the classroom interspersed with deep, philosophical insights into the nature of education and learning in a formal schooling environment.  The number one reason why children fail (in school)? (Spoiler Alert!) Fear.

Freire, Paulo (originally written in the 1970s) - Pedagogy of the Oppressed
-- Chapters 1 & 2 offer valuable insight into the need for education to be relevant to the life experiences of each student-person.  Although Freire was writing in terms of his Brazilian context, generalizations can be made to other systems/approaches to education and schooling.

Ravitch, Diane (2010) - The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education
[Amazon Kindle Edition available]
-- The must-read book on contemporary education policy (e.g. No Child Left Behind [NCLB]), education history, and the corporate 'education reform' movement.

Altenbaugh, Richard J. (2002) - The American People and Their Education: A Social History
-- An excellent and easy-to-read historical narrative of education and formal schooling in America.

Hartmann, Thom (1997) - Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception
-- The "Hunter vs. Farmer" theory presented in this book is a helpful way for teachers / educators to understand and adapt to the learning styles and experiences of their "ADD / ADHD" students.

Paton, Alan (originally written in the 1940s) - Cry, the Beloved Country
-- An image-rich, lyrical story about family, society, urbanization, and the death of traditional (rural) family life, set in 1940s-era South Africa.  An excellent piece of literature that explores social, historical, and ethical/moral issues through an engaging and exemplary narrative style.

Equiano, Olaudah (1789) - The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African, Written By Himself
(Free ebook from Project Gutenberg)
-- An engaging narrative written from the perspective of an 18th century African youth (Equiano) who was captured and sold into slavery. Details the horrors of the slave trade as he experienced them firsthand, and the freedom he eventually earned for himself.

Berk, Josh (2010) - The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin
[Amazon Kindle Edition available]
-- A highly engaging first-person narrative of a deaf student's experiences as he learns to cope with school life in a mainstream high school.

Mariz, Rae (2010) - The Unidentified
[Amazon Kindle Edition available]
-- Think of it as a Young Adult version of George Orwell's 1984 as set in a not-so-distant-future where abandoned shopping malls are turned into schools run by marketing firms and consumer goods manufacturers.  Yes, you read that right.  A very engaging story about identity, individuality, consumerism, and privacy.

Lelic, Simon (2010) - A Thousand Cuts: A Novel
[Amazon Kindle Edition available]
-- A story of school bullying in the UK, where the traditional roles of bully and one-who-is-bullied are reversed in a provocative manner.  While slightly disorienting at first, the novel is structured in a unique narrative style, with alternating chapters featuring first-person monologue from different characters in the story.
-- Watch a video interview with the author about his book, courtesy of The Big Book Show.

Suarez, Daniel (2009) - Daemon
[Amazon Kindle Edition available]
-- The ultimate not-so-distant-future story where technology (mostly) available today merges with and enters into the domain of flesh-and-blood reality.  A must-read for all tech geeks.

Suarez, Daniel (2010) - Freedom (TM)
[Amazon Kindle Edition available]
-- This sequel to Daemon expands upon the themes of the first book to incorporate a fictionalized implementation of an alternative economic system.

Johnson, Stephen T. (1999) - Alphabet City
-- Alphabet Book (otherwise Wordless) depicting the shapes of letters as found in an urban environment.

Rylant, Cynthia (1993) - The Relatives Came
-- Picture Book with Words

Van Allsburg, Chris (1995) - Bad Day at Riverbend
-- Picture Book with Words.  Creative use of contrasting media (black & white line drawings vs. colored crayon) to tell the story (no spoilers!).

Wiesner, David (2006) - Flotsam
-- Wordless Picture Book

Wiesner, David (1991) - Free Fall
-- Wordless Picture Book

Perkins, John (2005) - Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
[Amazon Kindle Edition available]
-- Key Words: Globalization, Global Finance, Economic Slavery

Rothbard, Murray N. (reissued in 2008) - The Mystery of Banking
(Free ebook from
-- Key Words: Central Banking, Federal Reserve, Fiat Paper Money, Commodity (Gold / Silver) Money, Inflation, Deflation

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Last updated: 14-June-2012

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1 comment:

Mike Spinrad said...

Good list!
I feel that anything Mike Schmoker writes on education is worth its weight in gold.