2020 was a year of evolution for teaching, with the growth of full-time remote and hybrid learning, the development of new teaching methodologies and best practices, a shift in the ways teachers can connect with students, and a deepened understanding of how to create equitable education for every student.
You may be searching for ways to gain professional development about the changes we’ve been experiencing, and one of the best ways is by reading. With so many great books for teachers, it can be hard to decide which ones to actually pick up. That’s why we’ve narrowed it down to a list of eight of the best books to read this year about education, leadership, and equity.
Here are eight books for teachers to read in 2021:
1. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
This memoir has consistently ranked as one of Amazon’s top reads since it was published in 2018 and is a must-read for every educator––and students, too! Educated tells the story of Tara Westover, who grew up in a survivalist family and didn’t set foot in a classroom until the age of 17––but who now has a PhD from Cambridge University. This inspirational true story gives a deep look into dysfunctional family dynamics and the denial of not only an education, but a sense of self.
2. Atomic Habits by James Clear
Written by James Clear, a leading expert on habit formation, this book provides a proven framework for creating habits that encourage self-growth. Through practical strategies, Atomic Habits reveals how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the behaviors that lead to remarkable results.
3. The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala Harris
This New York Times bestseller by Vice President Kamala Harris––the first Black woman and person of Indian descent to hold that title––discusses the core truths that unite us and how to approach and act upon these truths. Through the story of her life and upbringing, Vice President Harris offers ideas in problem-solving, crisis management, and leadership in challenging times.
4. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
This book by Beverly Tatum––president of Spelman College and renowned authority on the psychology of racism––discusses racial identity and how identity is developed in formative social settings. Published over twenty years ago, this top-rated book has remained relevant and provides deep insight into the dynamics of race in America.
5. The Power of Different by Gail Saltz
Written by psychiatrist Gail Saltz, this book examines the connection between neurodivergence and the potential for great talent through science and profiles of famous geniuses. This inspiring look at “disability” and success reveals how the source of our struggles can sometimes be the origin of our greatest strengths.
6. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi & Jason Reynolds
Stamped: Racism Antiracism, and You traces the history of racism through the many political, literary, and philosophical narratives that have led to the systemic and systematic oppression of Black people in the U.S. for centuries. This book is a reimagining of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning that is more accessible to a younger audience and can be a valuable read to share with students.
7. Teach Like a Champion 2.0 by Doug Lemov
This comprehensive guide offers 62 techniques to put your students on the path to college. The updated second edition includes a variety of updated resources such as a supplemental collection of online video clips as well as new best practice content. Both new and experienced teachers who read this book will learn how to be a champion for their students and push students to succeed.
8. Breakthrough Leadership by Alan M. Blankstein
This book offers a call to action for educators and leaders to leverage the opportunities presented by crises––such as the COVID-19 pandemic––to shape local and national priorities toward a more equitable and healthy society for future generations. Breakthrough Leadership provides ideas to dismantle inequitable systems that harm marginalized students and develop Equitable Learning Communities where all students can thrive.
Reading offers valuable professional development to teachers and administrators alike. In our busy lives, reading even one of these eight books can give new perspectives and ideas to transform your teaching and leadership.