Outside the Classroom

April’s Top 5 Education Book Releases

As schools throughout the country are working to keep learning happening, educators everywhere are quickly learning how to adjust their teaching to this new instructional landscape. This is no small challenge, so to help, we shared some tips last week to make this a little easier. And perhaps now more than ever is a good time to share helpful resources, so we’ve chosen April’s top 5 education book releases with that in mind.

Whether it’s discussing what it means to be a teacher, sharing social and emotional learning resources, or detailing other ways a great education can take place, our picks for April’s top 5 education book releases are full of great information to help you better serve your students and do your job.

What It Means to Be a Teacher: A Celebration of the Humor, Heart, and Hero in Every Classroom
Jenn Larson

Blending inspiration, motivation, and humor, longtime teacher Jennifer Larson draws on her years of experience and takes a loving and a lighthearted look at the challenges of working in a school—a perfect teacher appreciation gift for any educator.

Teachers everywhere know the struggle is real—the overcrowded classrooms, bus duty in the rain, and staff meetings that definitely should have been an email. From the endless battle with the copier to constantly disappearing pencils, no one can deny that being a teacher is tough. But What It Means to Be a Teacher reminds you exactly why you do what you do.

With a heaping helping of humor and heart, longtime teacher Jennifer Larson reflects on the challenges teachers face every day and adds a laugh-out-loud perspective that resonates with educators everywhere. Both amusing and affectionate, What It Means to Be a Teacher is a perfect thank you gift for those special people who dedicate their lives to inspiring and supporting others and captures why being a teacher is the best job in the world.

Learning by Heart: An Unconventional Education
Tony Wagner

One of the world’s top experts on education delivers an uplifting memoir on his own personal failures and successes as he sought to become a good learner and teacher.

Tony Wagner is an eminent education specialist: he has taught at every grade level from high school through graduate school; worked at Harvard; done significant work for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and speaks across the country and all over the world. But before he found his success, Wagner was kicked out of middle school, expelled from high school, and dropped out of two colleges. Learning by Heart is his powerful account of his years as a student and teacher.

After struggling in both roles, he learned to create meaningful learning experiences despite the constraints of conventional schooling—initially for himself and then for his students—based on understanding each student’s real interests and strengthening his or her intrinsic motivations. Wagner’s story sheds light on critical issues facing parents and educators today, and reminds us that trial and error, resilience, and respect for the individual are at the very heart of all teaching and learning.

Classroom Reading to Engage the Heart and Mind: 200+ Picture Books to Start SEL Conversations
Nancy Boyles

Storybook characters and situations are perfect for launching discussions of social emotional learning—why not let them help?

In picture books, well-loved characters deal with many of the same problems students face in their own lives. What better resource could there be for encouraging students to think about their actions and responses? Using classroom texts to start SEL conversations—during an interactive read-aloud or an extension of shared close-reading lessons—weaves social emotional learning organically into the fabric of an existing curriculum rather than adding a new block to the day.

In a book perfect for a study group or for immediate use in the classroom, literacy educator Nancy Boyles connects the dots between the competencies identified by leaders in the SEL field with the rich content of children’s literature. More than 200 award-winning picture books are profiled along the way as she unpacks each SEL skill, sketches typical classroom situations in which teachers might not see that skill demonstrated, discusses what to look for in books that address it, and provides carefully crafted sets of questions to explore with students.

Beautiful Questions in the Classroom: Transforming Classrooms Into Cultures of Curiosity and Inquiry
Warren Berger, Elise Foster

Why does engagement plummet as learners advance in school? Why does the stream of questions from curious toddlers slow to a trickle as they become teenagers? Most importantly, what can teachers and schools do to reverse this trend? Beautiful Questions in the Classroom has the answers. This inspirational book from Warren Berger and Elise Foster will help educators transform their classrooms into cultures of curiosity. The book explores the importance of questioning and how inquiry leads to learning, innovation, and personal growth.

Readers will find:

  • Strategies to inspire bigger, more beautiful student questions
  • Techniques to help educators ask more beautiful questions
  • Real-world examples, case studies, practical ideas, and question stems
  • Videos showing strategies at work

Great teachers help students to ask bigger, more beautiful questions. This book will prepare and inspire educators to develop a powerful teaching approach that creates a classroom full of student-driven inquiry.

Classroom Management: Strategies for Achievement, Cooperation, and Engagement
Nancy Steineke

After decades of teaching, Nancy Steineke passionately believes this much to be true: a collaborative classroom environment is essential for student learning, and for teachers’ well-being. In this guide for every teacher, Nancy makes a powerful argument that we can dramatically reduce the stress of classroom management and improve student achievement when we cultivate classroom communities built on student-centered collaboration.

Laying out a plan for collaborative classroom management across a semester or a whole school year, Nancy offers teaching moves and student activities that:

  • Build strong relationships between students and teachers, and between each other
  • Help students develop, invest in, and uphold positive classroom norms
  • Show students the importance and real-life value of soft skills, including what those skills look and sound like in action

Nancy’s strategies can easily be integrated into your classes as you teach required content. “By threading community-building work through your schedule,” Nancy explains, “you show your students that they matter as individuals, and that social skills are intertwined with academic success.”

If you’re wasting precious class time addressing classroom management issues and want to foster a more meaningful, productive place to learn, give Nancy’s time-tested moves and activities a try. There’s never been a more important time to create collaborative classroom communities where every student is seen, heard, and believed in.

Did you miss last month’s recommendations? It’s not too late to see March’s top books on education.

About the Author


Where Learning Clicks

Since 1998, Edgenuity has been creating products and services that help all students achieve their full potential. As an extension of our efforts, we also produce Where Learning Clicks to share meaningful and timely ideas about trends, developments, and changes in education, as well as how to further incorporate technology into today’s classrooms.