3 Books That Every New Teacher Should Read


Are you a new teacher looking for a few quick, yet informative, reads? From strategic teaching resources and lighthearted stories from the classroom to reflections on the call to teach, these three books provide a well-rounded glimpse into the world of teaching.

Must Reads for New Teachers

Entering the world of teaching can be both exciting and intimidating. As a new teacher, you may find yourself looking for a range of printed materials to help you start your journey. There are numerous books available, but I believe these three should be on every new teacher's list.

Why Didn't I Learn This in College?

You're fresh out of college and ready to dive into your first classroom setting. But before you do, why not read a copy of Why Didn't I Learn This in College? by Paula Rutherford? Rutherford is a former teacher and the president of Just ASK Publications and Professional Development. Her informational book is a well-loved favorite for both new and veteran teachers. The book is filled with instructional strategies that help teachers take what they've learned in theory and make it real in the classroom. The book gives real-life solutions to everyday classroom dilemmas from seasoned teachers who have been in the field for years. Not only does the book give practical advice for the classroom, but it also expands to include essential strategies for holding conferences and working as a team with students, parents, and school administration.

In my opinion, Why Didn't I Learn This in College? is one of the top books for equipping teachers for real world challenges by providing tried and proven solutions that work. For me, this was a great help in understanding how to take what I learned and make it applicable to everyday teaching. After all, the only real teaching we do in college is student-teaching and that usually doesn't last long enough for us to get a real look into a classroom environment. This book gave me a heads-up on situations to expect and how to handle them. For instance, there's the textbook way of interacting with a student with a learning disability, and then there's the real-life scenario where you actually get to know the student and learn the student's strengths and weaknesses; this helped adapt my lesson plan in a way that enabled the student to succeed. Other teachers seem to agree, too. ''Every new teacher should be given this book to read before their first day on the job!'' says 6th-grade science teacher Carly Stanley in an online review with Just ASK Publications. Loraine Morazzano, PhD and Director of Staff Development for Grand Prairie I.S.D. shared how her school district ordered a copy of the book for every new teacher. What a great way to encourage new teachers and let them know that the administration is behind them 100 percent!

Teacher reading

Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year

While the first book on my list offers well-rounded strategies for interacting with students, teachers, parents, and even administration, Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year gives a firsthand look at teaching through the eyes of first-time teacher Esme' Raji Codell. It's a fun, quick read that's sure to entertain as well as inform readers on the ups and downs of first year teaching. At twenty-four years of age, Codell documents her experiences with her fifth graders as well as fellow teachers and district leaders. Her eccentric ways of teaching often bring criticism from others, but her zeal to push through and give her very best to her students is all she needs to overcome the opposition.

I found this book highly entertaining. It was an easy read plus it was filled with illustrations and examples of stepping outside of the box and connecting with students. Of course, there were parts I personally would avoid as I'm not as creative, bold, or saucy as the author, but it was still interesting to read how she handled different situations and succeeded in her goals. As high school English teacher Nathan Day shares, ''But anyone who draws pleasure from reading engaging, conversational prose will enjoy Codell's account...''

Teacher with students

The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life

My third recommendation is The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life by author and educator Parker J. Palmer. The other two books explore life as a teacher in the classroom, but Palmer brings it all together by touching on what makes a teacher a good teacher and how inner passion and desire drives each of us to teach. Palmer speaks out to all of us on all levels of expertise challenging us as teachers to think back to when we first decided to teach and why. He writes, ''Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.''

No matter what your first year of teaching will bring, it's important to remember why you chose to become a teacher and to hold strong to that passion. It's that passion and desire to make a difference in the lives of our students that really drives us to be our very best. If we lose touch with our reason for teaching, then we lose that passion and we lose that connection with our students. Palmer does an excellent job of reminding us of why we love what we do as teachers.

Additional Reads for New Teachers

If you're looking for additional resources for teaching, I recommend browsing the resources, lessons, and reviews found through

Please feel free to use the comments section to share your own top picks for books that every new teacher should read. I'd love to hear from you!

By Amanda Johnson
July 2017
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