With 2019 upon us, we once again asked our blog authors to tell us what books they’re reading in the new year. We were flooded with great recommendations—so many that we couldn’t include them all! In the spirit of encouraging us as Christian educators to be lifelong learners, here is a selection of 20 of their picks along with a short description of why they selected them.

Teaching and Learning

On Christian Teaching: Practicing Faith in the Classroom by David Smith (2018, Eerdmans)—“I am in the middle of this book and it is so rich with inspiration and yet so practical. Smith forces us to rethink everything we are doing as it relates to faith and pedagogy. I love the chapter on imagination and I appreciate the reflection questions at the end of each chapter. Looking forward to the next chapter!” And a second author wrote, “We’ve all been waiting for this book, even if we didn’t know it was coming or that we needed to read it! David’s thoughts on teaching and learning and distinctively Christian imagination are inspirational and practical. Buy it, read it, and then give it to another teacher that you know.” [Editor’s Note: Come hear David Smith at GCSLS 2019 later this month!]

The Divine Challenge by John Byl (2004, Banner of Truth)—“My background is heavy in the humanities, so I’m reading this book in order to strengthen my understanding of math from a Christian worldview so that I can better support the work that my math teachers do day in and day out.”

Bring it to Life: Christian Education and the Transformative Power of Service-Learning by Lynn Swaner and Roger Erdvig (2018, ACSI)—“I just finished the book and it is groundbreaking. We are planning to use it with all our faculty to learn how to become more intentional and deepen our school’s approach to serving.”

Leading and Supervising

HBR Guide to Giving Effective Feedback by Harvard Business Review Press (2014)—”This book has been a great guide, filled with actionable advice on dealing with employee feedback. If you are leading staff members, it’s one to keep on a nearby shelf. It provides ideas on incorporating feedback into daily interactions, reinforcing cultural values, handling tough conversations, and motivating your employees.”

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek (2017, Penguin)—“Sinek, having established ‘The Why’ to motivate employees to follow the company, now turns his attention to why employees would follow the leader of an organisation. Sinek explores what it means to be a leader. For Sinek, leaders are the ones who head first into the unknown. He asserts that when employees feel the leader will keep them safe and ‘take the brunt,’ employees will march behind them and work tirelessly to see the leader’s vision come to life. They become proud to call themselves followers.”

Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation by Linda Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove, and Kent Lineback (2014, Harvard Business Review Press)—“I’m reading this because the title describes the requisite approach for all of us as leaders in Christian schools and all fields where innovation is a necessity (which is pretty much everything). And when Clayton Christensen (The Innovator’s Dilemma, etc.) says this book is the guide to how to get this done in a collaborative, 21st century atmosphere, it rises toward the top of my reading list.”

Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward by Henry Cloud (2010, Harper Collins Business)—“Saying goodbye to the familiar can be uncomfortable and sometimes frightening, yet every new beginning starts with a strategic ending. Necessary Endings is a great reminder of the importance of pruning away what isn’t working in order to prepare for new growth.”

Rooting for Rivals by Peter Greer and Chris Horst (2018, Bethany House Publishers)—”This book has challenged me to have a more abundance-oriented, kingdom-focused approach to my ministry and work. It has challenged me to be a more collaborative, generous, open-handed leader.” [Editor’s Note: Come hear Chris Horst at GCSLS 2019]

An Unhurried Leader by Alan Fadling (2017, IVP Books)—”Jesus transformed the world, and yet never seemed to be in a hurry in leading His disciples and others well. Fadling shows how true Christ-centered leadership arises from the depths of our relationship with Lord, and how our leadership can simply flow from intimacy with Jesus. A challenge for any of us with a bias toward action first.

The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande (2004, Baker Books)—”Ken Sande’s guide is the foundational reference to the concepts and vocabulary of the peacemaking movement. For any educator desiring an improved culture of conflict resolution within their school, to include bridging the gap to students’ families, it is paramount to consider how to employ this resource.”   

A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age by Daniel Pink (2005, Penguin)—“Pink challenges leaders to rethink how they run their organisation in light of the gargantuan challenges technology and globalisation have had on the way we work and live. He clearly articulates the skills and behaviours required by leaders and organisations to not only survive, but to thrive in this new environment. A must read for leaders and organisations struggling to take hold of all the future may bring!”

Diversity and Inclusion

White Awake by Daniel Hill (2017, IVP Books)—“I recently finished this book by a Christian, white pastor who talks candidly about his cultural awakening process and what is needed in the church for true racial reconciliation. I was grateful for this authenticity and willingness to show his struggle as well as call us all to biblical unity.” [Editor’s Note: Come hear Daniel Hill at GCSLS 2019]

Blind Spot by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony Greenwald (2016, Bantam)—“A few chapters into this book and I am fascinated by the science behind our personal hidden biases, the ones we don’t recognize but that oftentimes influence our thoughts and actions. The examples, exercises, and self-reflection offered in the book make it a life-changing read, one that will especially impact my job.” 

The End of Average by Todd Rose (2017, HarperOne)—“Rose’s history of the concept of average helps us re-think its use in modern society and education. So often, we take the average of things as a valuable measurement, when in fact it might have no connection to reality. His focus on education is a challenge and offers insights into educating every student in our communities.”

Becoming a Great Inclusive Educator by Scot Danforth (2014, Peter Lang Inc.)—“This is a rich resource for anyone in education, and my copy has notes and post-its all over the place. Danforth places the history of inclusion for students of all abilities within the context of the civil rights movement and within the social constructs of our schools. He shares the voices of educators and parents who are along a variety of moments in the journey of inclusive education.”

Christian Growth and Discipleship

The Mountains Are Calling—Making the Climb for a Clearer View of God and Ourselves by Jarrett Stephens (2018, Waterbrook Multnomah)—“Dr. Stephens is the Teaching Pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church, a dynamic preacher and dear friend. I continually read books for inspiration and renewal.”

The Joy of Missing Out by Christina Crook (2015, New Society Publishers)—“JOMO is a movement! C. S. Lewis wrote, ‘All joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still “about to be.”’ Christina’s book is a faithful reflection on technology use, living a full and spiritual life, and building real community.” [Editor’s Note: Come hear Christina Crook at GCSLS 2019 ]

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile (2016, IVP Books)—“As I have intentionally sought to grow in self-awareness, this book has provided me with insight and understanding into my personality. As I know how I am created, I am able to live out Ephesians 4, putting off the old and putting on the new. When I am the best version of myself, I am increased in effectiveness and influence as a leader.”

Subversive Sabbath: The Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World by A. J. Swoboda (2018, Brazos Press)—“As a person who is busy, always switched on and often tired, this book was both deeply confronting and profoundly restorative. It not only helped me to better understand the biblical notion of the Sabbath and why it is so important, but also moved me towards the God-ordained pursuit of rest. This book made me yearn for something that I didn’t realise I was missing.”

Abiding in Christ by Andrew Murray (2003, Bethany House)—”To help structure our weekly staff devotions and because of its alignment with our school-wide theme of Rooted in Christ, this book—set up as a 31-day devotional—encourages the believer with daily reminders that unbroken communion with our heavenly Father is not only possible, but a command found in John 15.”


About the Author

Lynn SwanerDr. Lynn Swaner is the Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at ACSI, where she develops strategies and leads initiatives to address compelling questions and challenges facing Christian education. Prior to joining ACSI, she served as a Christian school administrator and a graduate professor of education. A published scholar and conference speaker, she is the lead editor of the book PIVOT: New Directions for Christian Education, the co-author of Bring It to Life: Christian Education and the Transformative Power of Service-Learning, and editor of the ACSI blog. She received her EdD from Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City. She can be reached via e-mail at lynn_swaner@acsi.org.



Do you have a list of novels by grade level that you recommend for teachers to use in the classroom?


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