Great Education Books for Holiday Gifts and Reading

If someone on your holiday gift list is a teacher, a student, a former student, or an education policy wonk, here are some great books you might want to consider as stocking stuffers.

If someone on your holiday gift list is a teacher, a student, a former student, or an education policy wonk, here are some great books you might want to consider as stocking stuffers. Many of these titles coincidentally have some sort of Education Next connection.

Was this the year of Amanda Ripley? She and her book are everywhere. If you haven’t yet read “The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way,” you might want to read our review (by Nathan Glazer) or listen to our book club podcast interview with Amanda (by Mike Petrilli). The book tells the story of three American high school students who each spend a year as a foreign exchange student. It reveals what it is like to be a student in those countries (Finland, South Korea, and Poland) and looks at what the countries have done to make their schools more effective.

Eric Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson, and Ludger Woessmann also take a look at the relative deficiencies of U.S. schools in “Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School.”  The message of this book is summarized in this book trailer starring a very cute kid. All three authors are Ed Next editors or frequent contributors.

Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character also took the education world by storm this year. Why do some children succeed and others fail, and is it more a question of character or smarts? E.D. Hirsch reviewed the book for Ed Next here and Mike Petrilli interviewed Paul Tough here.

If you want a few laughs about what it is like to teach, try Roxanna Elden‘s See Me After Class, now out in a second edition. Another fun read by a smart teacher is Why Do Only White People Get Abducted by Aliens? Teaching Lessons from the Bronx, by Ilana Garon. Roxanna wrote a School Life piece for Ed Next and Ilana will have one in an upcoming issue.

Is it possible that Ed Next editor Rick Hess has only two new books out this year? Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age: Using Learning Science to Reboot Schooling (co-authored with Bror Saxberg) is about how principals and other instructional leaders can more creatively and effectively use technology as a tool. Cage-Busting Leadership tells the stories of school leaders who have evaded, blasted through, or reshaped unnecessary and counterproductive constraints to sustain powerful cultures of teaching and learning. Wait, there’s also a new edited volume he did with Mike McShane, Common Core Meets Education Reform: What It All Means for Politics, Policy, and the Future of Schooling. And also an edited volume with Michael Horn, Private Enterprise and Public Education, which looks at the pros and cons of for-profits in education. So four books by Rick Hess this year, it turns out.

Ed Next’s Mike Petrilli’s The Diverse Schools Dilemma: A Parents’ Guide to Socioeconomically Mixed Public Schools is a great read for parents of school-aged children trying to figure out if they want to stay in the city or move to the ‘burbs.

Andy Smarick‘s The Urban School System of the Future imagines how a new type of inner-city school district (or non-district) might work.

Chester E. Finn, Jr’s Exam Schools: Inside America’s Most Selected Public Schools (co-authored with Jessica Hockett) looks at selective high schools for high-achieving students.

And Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, by Clayton Christensen and Ed Next’s Michael Horn, is a classic on how our standardized education system can be disrupted by schools that customize teaching for individual students using technology.

What have we left out? Feel free to add suggestions in the comments section.

-Education Next

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