Here is a list of books I have found useful and important in understanding education. I have short reviews of some of them, and will add more as time permits.
How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough. This book explores the character traits that are essential for success in school and in life.
The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer. An indispensable guide to the inner meaning of teaching. Moving, clear, practical insights into the emotional realities of the classroom.
Mindset by Carol Dweck. The game-changing introduction into student beliefs that make learning and growth possible, or actively sabotage it.
Creating Emotionally Safe Schools by Jane Bluestein. An encyclopedic survey of the emotional impact the school setting has on students. Written with compassion and a deep understanding of the teenage mind, it is a wake-up call for teachers and parents to have more understanding for what their students are experiencing.
The Skillful Teacher by Jon Saphier. A comprehensive guide to the skill of teaching. Filled with clear insights derived from research, this book lays out a structure for critiquing and improving pedagogy.
Freedom to Learn: A View of What Education Might Become by Carl Rogers. In this classic, the psychologist looks at the act of learning and how schools might be shaped to better promote it.
Learning by Heart by Roland Barth. Another moving and insightful description of the emotional realities of school for both students and teachers.
Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn. Even positive reinforcement sabotages something essential in our students. Kohn explores the subtle, but very important difference between praise and feedback.
Role Reversal by Mark Barnes. An exploration of a radical new approach to classroom structures that puts much more responsibility and ownership in the hands of students.
The Distraction Addiction by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. A Silicon Valley maven takes a serious look at the psychological damage done by the ubiquitous technology students (and all of us) are connected to.
Discipline With Dignity by Richard Curwin and Allen Mendler. A more humane way of thinking about dealing compassionately and non-judgmentally with inappropriate student behavior.
Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley. A book about overcoming peoples' fears about being uninhibitedly creative. Although not written specifically about education, their ideas are very applicable to schools.
Pursuing Human Strengths by Martin Bolt. A classic look at the positive character traits that we should be actively cultivating in schools.
How to Build a Better Teacher by Elizabeth Green. A new look at the question of teacher training and how to improve it.
Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland? by Pasi Salhberg. Here is a full discussion on the remarkable educational success story that Finland created over the past three decades.
This is a Test: A Handbook for Writing Good Tests by Jan Gleiter. A thought-provoking and funny look at the structure of tests, common testing mistakes and how to fix them.
The Future of Education by Kieran Egan
Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones
The Truth About Testing: An Educator’s Call to Action by W. James Popham
The Death and Life of the Great American School System by Diane Ravitch. A powerful critique of the standards-based school reform movement that Ms. Ravitch was a strong and vocal proponent of -- until she looked at the data.
The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn. There are many assumptions made by teachers, parents, and students about the relationship between doing homework and learning. Mr. Kohn, as he likes to do, pokes any number of very large holes in those assumptions by looking carefully at the often unexamined costs of assigning too much homework.
Learning in Depth: A Simple Innovation That Can Transform Education by Kieran Egan. An exploration of project-based learning over many years, and how it can promote ownership, pride and deeper learning.
Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner. I know I'm dating myself here, but this book had a powerful impact on me back when it was new. A political take on the meaning of teaching.