Reading Guaranteed to Inspire!

Posted in Inspiration & Ideas

A break from school is such a precious time to recharge your batteries, spend high-quality time with family and friends and rediscover a life outside of teaching.  It’s also a wonderful opportunity to rekindle your passion for education and reconnect with why you became a teacher and what really matters to you most.

In response to a request made by a very busy teacher and mother (thanks Becky D), below is my summer reading list recommendations. Some maths and some general education, some leadership and a few ‘I just like this’ too. Enjoy!

1. If you’re looking to think differently about teaching maths and everyone’s ability to be successful then read:

‘The Elephant in the Classroom: Helping children learn and love maths’ by Jo Boaler

They’ll be a groan here from some of you who know me well as I’ve recommended this book on pretty much every training session I’ve run since I first read it nine years ago….There’s a reason for this; it’s simply life changing. Read this book.

2. If you recognise that all teachers need to improve their subject knowledge and that true ‘Number Sense’ underpins all mathematical fluency then read:

‘Teaching Number Sense’ by Julia Anghileri

This is a staple ‘go to’ for me and I now have a whole host of great books to complement and extend the thinking that started here (to be recommended at another time and on my training – see my website or get in touch for ways to access great learning for your school)

3. If you’re a leader and want to spend more time inspiring (and less time pulling people along and taking responsibility for everything yourself) then these have been very significant reads to me:

‘High Challenge, Low Threat’ by Mary Myatt

The book with some chapters only one and a half pages long! Perfect for busy (but dedicated) people. This is a fantastic book that I return to constantly. Mary Myatt can be heard in person at the brilliant ‘Learning First’ events (see @LearningFirst on Twitter for details of their free conferences. The next one is in Greenwich where I’m lucky enough to be contributing – be great to see you there!)

‘Change: Learn to love it; learn to lead it’ by Richard Gerver


Richard has written a number of books charting his journey as a head teacher leading schools to success where most hope had been lost and passion sidelined. His words are so accessible and his stories resonate with familiar experiences and challenges every school faces. Again, even the layout of this book makes for an easier read. 

‘Switch: How to change things when change is hard’ by Chip and Dan Heath

A New York Times bestseller and one of the best books I’ve ever read in terms of impact on every aspect of my life. I’ve waxed lyrical about this book for years on training and to friends and family and so inadvertently sold almost as many copies for the authors as I have ‘The Elephant in the Classroom (see above). This is the kind of book you’ll read bits out of to people around you (pretty much guaranteeing that they’ll then never want to read it!)

4. If you’re working in Early Years then I recommend:

This is tough one. I recently spent a week in Reggio Emilia in northern Italy studying some of the most highly regarded Early Years practice in the world and my focus (and therefore book buying) has gone stratospheric as a result! My specific research focus this year will be on maths education 3-7 so if you’d like to join us for some wonderful professional development just get in touch – we’ll design things around you!

I’d start with:

‘Children’s Mathematics: Making marks making meaning’ by Maulfry Worthington and Elizabeth Carruthers

A truly inspiring read and one that has my furiously making notes at every page meaning I’m still actually reading it years later. I have honestly gained something from every part of this book.

‘Interacting or Interfering’ by Julie Fisher

This is the recent/current read of a teacher leading one of the highest quality EYFS settings I’ve ever visited in in the UK (incidentally in a socially challenged area of Leeds). Every time I visit, the first thing I hear is the teachers and support staff telling my what they’re reading and what exciting thinking it’s led to. Wouldn’t it be great if this happened in every school? What lucky children and parents.

5. Random Recommendation:

I opened up an email this time last year entitled very similarly (‘Summer Reads’ or something like that) from the Independent Thinking group. Members had all contributed a book that had inspired them; some specific to areas of education and others more general. The last on the list was ‘Gut:The inside story of our bodies most under-rated organ’ by Giulia Enders. Wow! As someone who is fascinated by the workings of the brain and how it learns (and doesn’t), I hadn’t expected to find so many answers (and then come away with so many questions) as a result of reading a book that seemed a long way from studying education. Brilliant in every way and you’ll never think about this part of your body in the same way again I promise….

Enjoy! Why not let me know what you think and your brilliant reads to share with others?

Get in touch on Twitter @karenwildingedu or Facebook Karen Wilding Education if you’d like more recommendations

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  • ‘One of our EYFS Teachers has just attended this training and came back totally inspired and singing your praises. She said that she learnt more on this course than any course she has ever attended!’


    C Magnocavallo Head of Maths, Chesham Preparatory School, Bucks

  • Thank you for showing us HOW to change. So many courses just tell us what isn't working but not how to go about addressing this. Your approaches make so much sense! 

  • Just to say thank you again for 3 really brilliant talks at SGIS. We're a small school near Basel and we’d be interested in anything you’re doing nearby (Zurich way) so please let us know!