Teacher’s Reading List Ideas for Christmas Break

Christmas break is a great time to step back away from teaching and enjoy your time off. You may be looking for some good books to read or maybe you are looking to use some gift certificates from your students before you lose them. The following books rocked my socks off in 2009 and if you haven’t read them yet, now is the time. (Disclosure: Amazon affiliates links).

Outliers: The Story of Success
By Malcolm Gladwell
What does it take to be successful? You might be surprised by the answers Gladwell gives. He examines the success stories of elite Canadian hockey players, Bill Gates, the Beatles, and students at KIPP schools. Gladwell proposes that success is a combination of being in the right place at the right time, hard work, and what I would call grace. This book will make you seriously consider how you can make an impact on the future of the children you teach in the way you control their environment.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
By Malcolm Gladwell
Before Gladwell wrote Outliers, he wrote Tipping Point. Tipping Point examines how epidemics spread. This applies to ideas as well as diseases and it all depends on the people involved. He proposes that three types of people make a huge difference: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. He also explains the importance of ideas having “stickiness” within a certain context. If you like Outliers, then Tipping Point is a must read.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
By Chip Heath and Dan Heath
This book is an offshoot of Gladwell’s “Stickiness Factor” but provides readers with a formula for successfully creating and delivering sticky ideas. This book is an excellent resource for both marketers and teachers. Many teachers will recognize familiar teaching strategies: stick to a core message, tap into prior knowledge, use concrete examples and stories, and encourage your students to become emotionally attached to the content of the lesson.

Work Hard. Be Nice.
By Jay Mathews
This book tells the idealized story of development of KIPP schools, one of the most successful charter school chains in the United States. Whether you are a fan of KIPP and charter schools or not, the story is inspirational. While I read the book I found myself asking, why haven’t any of our young Catholic school teachers done the same?

The Total Money Makeover
By Dave Ramsey
You don’t have to make a teacher’s salary to benefit from Dave Ramsey’s baby steps to financial fitness. After reading this book, we realized that we could use our money in the right way. Bewared: reading this book may cause you to listen to Dave Ramsey’s advice on the radio or podcasts non-stop!

A Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Works
By Marzano, Norford, Paynter, Pickering, and Gaddy
Okay, you may not want to read anything about teaching on your weeks off, but this book is loaded with great ideas that you can bring back to your classes after the break. This book is a practical guide to all things teacher. Focus on specific aspects of your teaching that you want to improve next semester and use this book as a guide.


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About Jared Dees

Jared Dees is the creator of The Religion Teacher. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Ave Maria Press and the author of 31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator, To Heal, Proclaim, and Teach, and Praying the Angelus.


  1. Nick Wagner says:

    Hi Jared. Great list! I've read Tipping Point and Made to Stick. I'll have to check out the others. A book that taught me a lot this year is Dialogue: The Art of Thinking Together. William Isaacs believes most of our conversations are exercises in talking past each other and trying to prove our own point. He says it is more fruitful to learn how to deeply listen and begin to think together. It is a facinating read.

    BTW, congratulations on your new position at
    Ave. I have a good friend who works there–Eileen Ponder.

    All the best.


  2. Jared Dees says:


    Thanks for the suggestion – I can see how Dialogue: The Art of Thinking together could have some enormous implications for social media today. There seem to be a lot of people talking past each other on the web while social media can be an excellent opportunity to build a community around dialogue. I look forward to checking it out!