Teaching and learning – recommended books

Click on the title or image for the link to purchase.

Early Childhood Education. Society & Culture

Angela Anning, Joy Cullen & Marilyn Fleet

This book presents social and cultural perspectives on current theories of learning in ECE within the contexts of the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

It sets out research-based evidence, linking theory and practice in early childhood settings. There are four themes throughout the book: ‘The dynamics of learning and teaching’, ‘The nature of knowledge’, ‘Assessment’ and ‘Evaluation and quality’. A good book for students and teachers wanting to read current research perspectives.

The Learning Power Approach : Teaching learners to teach themselves

Guy Claxton

Foreword by Carol S. Dweck.

Learning is learnable! Educators can explicitly teach not just content, knowledge, and skills, but also the positive habits of mind that will better prepare students to flourish both in school and in later life. And as ‘traditionalists’ fight for rigour and knowledge, and ‘progressives’ defend the increasing focus on character and well-being, Guy Claxton’s Learning Power Approach (LPA) brings resolution to this phoney and unnecessary war by offering teachers a win-win pedagogical formula that delivers good academic results while simultaneously turbocharging students’ independence, initiative, and love of learning.

The Intuitive Practitioner: On the Value of Not Always Knowing What One is Doing

Terry Atkinson & Guy Claxton

This book explores the dynamic relationship between reason and intuition in the context of professional practice and provides insight into valuing the state of mind about ‘just knowing’ and trusting one’s ‘gut’ instinct.

Supporting Indigenous Children’s Development

Jessica Ball & Alan Pence

“This book describes the evolution and practice of an innovative community based partnership approach to strengthening community capacity to design, deliver, and evaluate culturally appropriate programs to support young children’s development.” The book takes a case-study approach and describes several programmes of professional education that is based on community partnership.

At the heart of this book is the principle of culturally sensitive programmes for students. This book will be on interest to teachers who are wanting to read more widely about indigenous education programmes.

Congratulations! It’s Asperger Syndrome

Jen Birch

This book is Jen’s own inspiring and powerful story of coming to terms with a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome at the age of 43. Jen’s story inspires and informs us of the potential of living life to it’s fullest once this condition is understood. This book is particularly helpful to teachers and families in supporting them with a greater understanding of this syndrome.

Assessment in Early Childhood Settings: Learning Stories

Margaret Carr

This is the book that opened the world to the possibilities of Learning Stories and as such has been ground breaking in the way we assess children’s learning.

Margaret weaves theory and practice giving examples of children’s situated learning. If you are wanting to deepen your understanding of dispositions then this is the book for you. This is an essential read for all early childhood pratitioners as well as being of interest to your families and whānau.

Learning in the Making: Disposition and Design in Early Education

Margaret Carr, Anne Smith, Judith Duncan, Carolyn Jones, Wendy Lee & Kate Marshall

“Learning in the Making integrates theoretical ideas, research findings, and richly detailed episodes of learning to chart the development of learner identities in the early years.”

This book will provoke teachers to think deeply about learning episodes, about the connections across time and space and how learning takes place within social relationships. Resilience, reciprocity and imagination are three of the learning dispositions that are recognised as being ‘key dispositions’ for children. Teachers who are interested in deepening their understanding of dispositional learning, will find this book useful.

Learning Stories: Constructing Learner Identities in Early Education

Margaret Carr & Wendy Lee

‘Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee weave together a powerful book full of respect for children’s ideas, interests and identities as learners. Using theoretically informed and practically focused discussion and examples, they provide extensive evidence of the role of narrative assessment as teachers, children and families co-construct stories of competence’ – Sue Dockett, Professor of Early Childhood Education, Murray School of Education, Charles Sturt University.

Learning Stories in Practice

Margaret Carr & Wendy Lee

Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee have often been asked for a follow-on practical companion to their seminal 2012 book Learning Stories; a complimentary book that provides practical advice for teachers who are embarking on a `narrative assessments-for-learning’ journey. After much anticipation that book is here at last!

Packed with a wide range of full-colour examples of real life learning stories from all over the world this practical guide is influenced by their ongoing work with teachers across many countries and the thoughtful comments and questions that teachers have asked during conversations at conferences, lectures and professional development programmes. They have turned these conversations with teachers and students into key ideas, and a practical framework on how to initiate and create good learning stories and why they are valuable. 

They show you how to write stories that capture the magic and excitement of each young child’s journey through the early years and how to develop a deep professional understanding of the learning that takes place during this special and influential time in their lives.

Kei Tua o te Pae 1-20

Margaret Carr, Wendy Lee & Carolyn Jones

Kei Tua o te Pae is a series of 20 books of exemplars focussing on assessment practice in early childhood education. Each book is set out with connections to theory and has examples of what this looks like in every day practice.

Kei Tua o te Pae focuses on the framework of ‘noticing, recognising and responding’ and the assessments within show the critical role assessment has to support children’s ongoing learning. This resource is valuable for all teachers and is a brilliant resource to begin discussions about children’s learning as well as supporting you in your assessment writing.

Beyond Listening: Children’s Perspectives on Early Childhood Services

Alison Clark, Anne Trine Kjorholt & Peter Moss

The editors of this book bring together perspectives from across the globe where each contributor foccusses on listening to children and what this looks like within their context. Contributors come from Denmark, England, Italy, New Zealand, Norway and Scotland. Each chapter draws on experiences of children as well as practioners.

We have dipped into this book over time and have found it to be a valuable addition to our library and will be of interest to anyone involved in the Early Childhood Sector.

What’s the Point of School? Rediscovering the Heart of Education

Guy Claxton

A powerful and timely examination of why our schools are built to fail, and how to redesign them to meet the needs of the modern world. Chapters such as ‘Why schools aren’t getting any better’ make this book a cover to cover read. For teachers, parents and anyone who wonders about their own schooling and what the possibilities are for the future – this is a must read.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Carol Dweck

Dweck’s work supports the focus on dispositional learning that underpins Te Whāriki and The Key Competencies. A short extract demonstrates one of the many ideas she explores: “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

Dweck’s research has been an inspiration and continues to inform, inspire and reform classroom practice.

The Hundred Languages of Children

Carolyn Edwards, Lella Gandini & George Forman

This book continues to inform and inspire teachers throughout the decades. It is a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of the Reggio Emilia teaching philosophy, resulting from Italian and North American collaborative research. 

A book that ‘needs’ to be owned and one you will return to many times as it informs your practice and supports your understanding of significant principles that underpin the meaningful practice developed in the Reggio Emilia schools of Northern Italy.

Insights: Behind Early Childhood Pedagogical Documentation

Alma Fleet, Catherine Patterson & Janet Robertson

Built around stories of practice from Australia, New Zealand and North America, this book raises questions and possibilities related to pedagogical discussion.

This book is a rich collection of stories and responses from practitioners and academics. It is a wonderful resource to provoke thinking and discussion in teaching teams. Real questions around the practicalities and ethics of documentation are explored in depth. Teachers will find this useful for personal reflection as well as guiding teams forward in deepening their docu mentation practices.

Writing Down the Bones. Freeing the Writer Within

Natalie Goldberg

This is the book for anyone who says they can’t write, they want to write or they want to write better.

Whether it is creative and recreational writing, or professional writing, this book has something for everyone. The chapters are both entertaining and informative and there are practical tips and exercises for readers to try. “We must remember that everything is ordinary and extraordinary. It is our minds that either open or close.” (p.92)

Writing down the bones will open your mind. It is a pleasure to read.

Theorising Early Childhood Practice: Emerging Dialogues

Linda Keesing-Styles & Helen Hedges

A collaborative collection of dialogues covering a diversity of issues in Early Childhood Education in New Zealand and Australia. The authors have invited a range of experienced and emergent writers to contribute and co-author chapters.

A very readable book, useful for teachers and teaching teams to add to pedagogical discussion and debate.

Totto-Chan. The Little Girl at the Window

Tetsuko Kuroyanagi (translated by Dorothey Britton) 

This beautifully written book is the story of Totto-Chan and her schooling years at Tomoe in Japan. It is also a book about teaching, about a headmaster who ran an ‘alternative’ school which Totto-Chan attended. In the postscript Totto-Chan writes.” In my own case , I find it impossible to assess how much I have been sustained by the way he used to keep saying to me, “You’re really a good girl, you know.” Had I not entered Tomoe and had I never met Mr Kobayashi, I would probably have been labeled a ‘bad girl,” becoming complex-ridden and confused.”

A great book to reconnect with childhood and early school experiences and to be reminded how teachers have a powerful influence over a child’s sense of self.

New Kinds of Smart: How the Science of Learnable Intelligence is Changing Education

Bill Lucas & Guy Claxton

New Kinds of Smart focusses on intelligence as expandable and weaves quotes throughout the book in an easy to read style. It gives practical ideas to use in the classroom which can be easily adapted for an early childhood setting. Guy and Bill talk about stretching your learning muscle (your brain) and believe that the more you use your brain, like any other muscle in your body, the more you can use it.

Along with Building Learning Power, this is a great resource for teachers and parents.

Practitioner Research In Early Childhood: International Issues and Perspectives

Linda Newman & Christine Woodrow

Bringing together theory and practice, this book draws on the projects and experiences of senior and new researchers implementing various forms of practitioner research. Chapter discussions are informed by international literature to provide insightful reflections on research processes and the contribution of practitioner research in changing practice. The diversity of perspectives across the chapters provides an excellent resource for those undertaking research within early childhood contexts.

Features include:

– the contribution of practitioner research to curriculum and social change. Professional development and strengthening learning communities
– how practitioners can be supported in documenting and articulating their work
– the relationships between the research community and field of practice through practitioner research projects
– contemporary problems and issues that frame the practices of early childhood educators
– case studies from Australia, South Africa, Sweden and Chile

A diverse range of case studies that use a range of internationally recognised research methods are presented. The book offers guidance, support and inspiration to practitioners on how to research their implementation of meaningful and sustainable changes in early childhood contexts.

Weaving Te Whāriki: Aotearoa New Zealand’s Early Childhood Curriculum Document in Theory and Practice (2nd Edition)

Joce Nuttal

This new edition contains substantial updates of the chapters in the chapters in the first edition, plus four new chapters: on Pasifika perspectives, working with infants and toddlers, transition to school, and perspectives on play. Authors from New Zealand, Australia, Denmark and the United Kingdom offer their analysis of Te Whāriki in ways that will be accessible to student teachers, early childhood educators, acedemics, and policy makers alike.

Chapters cover historical and cultural perspectives, teaching and learning with Te Whāriki, and international and critical perspectives.

book gives some historical background to the development of Te Whāriki, as well as commentary on the implications for Early Childhood of having a bicultural holistic curriculum. Three main themes weave through the chapters: the importance of culture, the role socio-cultural constructivist theories of learning can play in understanding Te Whāriki and the practical difficulties in implementing a non-prescriptive curriculum. This is a very useful book for teachers wanting to deepen their understanding of Te Whāriki.

In Dialogue with Reggio Emilia: Contextualising, Interpreting and Evaluating Early Childhood Education (Contesting Early Childhood)

Carlina Rinaldi

The early childhood programme of Reggio Emilia, Italy, has become recognised and acclaimed as an outstanding system of education. Carlina Rinaldi, former director of the municipal early childhood centres in Reggio Emilia, and successor to Loris Malaguzzi (one of the leading pedagogical thinkers of the 20th century), has an international reputation in early years education.

This book offers a selection of Rinaldi’s most important articles, lectures and interviews from 1984 to the present day, with introductions explaining the context which inspired each piece.

ELP uses this book extensively and has found the discussions about documentation, partnerships with parents and the image of the child, particularly helpful.

Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative

Ken Robinson

This book has been revised to include some of the content from Ken’s famous TED talk.

Whilst being a highly amusing book to read, the content is relative and meaningful. Being creative and learning to foster creativity is what this book is all about. Teachers will find it enjoyable and thought-provoking.

Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice

Matthew Syed

The title gives a good insight into the content of the book. Written for teachers, tutors, coaches, parents, in fact anyone who is interested in the learning process.

This book will provoke discussion and debate as many myths about talent are explored and rejected. Syed devotes a chapter to Carol Dweck’s book Mindset. Bounce has been described as ‘entertaining’, ‘provoking’ and ‘positive’. It is a book that will appeal to many as it has interesting stories and it inspires us whilst challenging our thinking.

Reconfiguring the Natures of Childhood

Affrica Taylor

Challenging concepts about nature and childhood, Affrica Taylor de-romanticizes the close bond often seen between the two. She carefully and ambitiously tackles the idea of children having a singular idealized nature, resulting from the age-old nature/culture debate and turns it on its head with her original and insightful manner.  Asking the main questions of What does nature do when coupled with childhood and How might we do nature otherwise in early childhood studies, the book provides readers with a smart new take on recasting childhood-based beliefs.

The structure of the book takes on two separate parts: ‘The Seduction of Nature’ which is a geo-historical perspective on Romantic ideas of Nature and childhood, and ‘Reconfiguring the Natures of Childhood’ which breaks the barrier between nature and culture to reconfigure them as one enmeshed common.

Taylor makes it clear that she is not out to diminish Nature into a list of fake ideologies, but instead, deconstructs quaint naturalization and reconfigures particular meanings of nature itself alongside childhood.

Among others, Taylor criticizes the work of Rousseau and his notion of Nature’s Child, separating childhood from cultural ‘threats’ as to speak. These ideas are stated within the book, to be seen in Australian fiction as well as popular classic Disney movies such as Bambi and Pocahontas (motifs of an innocent Nature’s Child), through the political, adult-human influence on the destruction of natural process within the films. Instead of separating the pure Nature’s Child and the outside world, these days it is important to realize that the common world effects and influences children in many ways, unlike the Romanticized ideals. Taylor highlights the fat that there is ‘uneven historical and graphical relations, political tensions, ethical dilemmas and unending possibilities.’

By the end of the read the book states you will see childhood recast as:

  •        Messy and implicated rather than pure and innocent
  •        Situated and differentiated rather than decontextualized and universal
  •        Entangled within real world relations rather than protected in a separate space.

It is a clever and eye-opening read, which breaks down dominated thought and norms of the nature of childhood in society, and points us towards new pedagogies.

Scaling Up Education Reform – Addressing the Politics of Disparity

Russell Bishop, Dominic O’Sullivan and Mere Berryman

Written as a collaboration of voices from Maori descent, ‘Scaling Up Education Reform’ speaks of the loss of culture within schools, the disparities within the system, which hold our country back, and how the core of our education system within New Zealand needs to reform to rise above these disparities. Every child deserves to be able to participate equally, achieve and receive qualifications but this is often not what can occur. It is a sad truth that many Maori live with higher levels of unemployment and that their achievement can be witnessed disproportionately to that of other cultures. This book shows us that in our social systems, specifically educative, this can be overcome.

The book does this by showing how moving ‘towards a model for sustaining and extending theory-based educational reforms’ is beneficial. Also covered is:

  •        Goals and student achievement
  •        New pedagogies
  •        Reform within the school
  •        School leadership
  •        Spread and the community
  •        Gathering evidence
  •        Reform shift, changing culture and confronting resistance

Finally, the book finishes with how this can all be sustained system wide, and the governmental help that is crucial to having all theories succeed in practice.

Using the Te Kotahitanga development programme to explain issues and showing models of how they can be corrected for the Maori community, we can understand how to be more culturally responsive through this book, as it shows the best way towards sustainable school reform.

Towards Excellence in Early Years Education: Exploring Narratives of Experience

Kathleen Goouch

Taking on the difficult role of being a teacher in early childhood education doesn’t just come down to a setting and some students to teach, as we know. Redefining teaching techniques to avoid one-way adult to child teaching is key to finding excellence. There are many layers of interacting narratives from the children, the teachers, settings, family, and policy. Everyone has opinions on learning and what creates the best learning environment, and Goough explores these narratives: concepts of communication, play between adult and child, and the authentic relationships that explores what it really means to be a teacher. Goough uses two unique teaching experiences as examples to broaden the minds of readers, as we see how different styles and situations of learning result in positive educative environments for the happiness of children.

Playing is a main topic within the book, not only focusing on a child’s play, but on the interactive play of the teacher. Creating new ideas surrounding traditional early childhood schooling is what the book does best. For example, taking play and showing how for the adult it requires:

  •        Developmental and sophisticated forms of narrative construction
  •        Collaboration
  •        Cooperation
  •        Listening
  •        Co-construction
  •        Empathy
  •        Role-taking
  •        Time and space
  •        And all-importantly, trust

All of these then reflect onto the child’s learning, having them look up to the intuitive and advanced playing qualities of the adult role model.

This ‘I am what I teach’ philosophy and technique of teaching is what really creates an idea of self, as well as a clear look at the ways to succeed in education. The experienced teaching research models of the book provide a fascinating look at teacher experiences and the two individual’s effects on their students and community. Interviews, analyses and stories of the teacher’s work is covered deeply in narrative accounts.

 Concluding her research with the defining elements of practice, this incredible book full of combining narratives and ideas, will have you emerging from the read with a new perspective on the teaching profession.

Understanding the Te Whåriki Approach. Early years education in practice.

Wendy Lee, Margaret Carr, Brenda Soutar, and Linda Mitchell

This book is a must for all early childhood teachers who are working to “extend and consolidate their understanding” of Te Whåriki. Starting with an historical overview of the development of Te Whåriki including it’s bicultural and bilingual underpinnings it then goes onto consider and unpack the four principles before weaving back through the importance of responsive and reciprocal relationships with an emphasis on the goals, the assessment and the planning.

A good balance of theoretical understandings and practical examples including teacher reflections, learning stories, stories of interest and reflective questions to “spark and sustain dialogue amongst readers” highlighting the value of the ‘teacher as a researcher’ in strengthening the implementation of Te Whåriki.

The Whole Brain Child

Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

This book introduce the reader to the wonders and complexity of the childhood brain. 

Siegel and Bryson offer chapters that inform the reader about brain development.  There are some amusing and some serious examples woven throughout the chapters of how this knowledge can be used in different situations.  Working with knowledge about the brain can have momentous outcomes for children’s development.

The authors explore the upper and lower brains, as well as the right and left hemispheres, and give the reader a better understanding of what goes on in those areas and how children’s brains differ in their developmental stages.  The authors have given the reader an often light look at serious information.  It is certainly an easy read.

The book is written for parents but works just as well for teachers, grandparents or caregivers working alongside children.  Just like any book you have to sift the information and align it back to research.  In the introduction of the book the authors acknowledge that it is science based, but it does not feel like you are in a science class. 

Reflective Practice in the Early Years

Edited by Michael Reed and Natalie Canning

Written by a collective of early childhood education experts, this informative book explains the importance of reflecting on practices to improve knowledge and teaching initiative.

Reflection based practice itself, described in the book by Moss is said to be ‘a rigorous process of meaning-making, a continuous process of constructing theories of the world, testing them through dialogue and listening, then reconstructing those theories.’ As you can see, there is a lot more depth and discussion surrounding the topic of a teacher’s reflection and it holds a strong importance in the everyday practices of a successful practitioner.

Critical thinking and creatively interpreting the past, to determine your future as a teacher, is a key part of any reflective practitioner, as it also helps to understand exactly who you are. The book compares practitioners to being ‘artists’ in which their art is reflection being put into practice with the collaboration of others, and how it takes commitment to change to become the best ‘artist’ that you can be.

Through every chapter of the book, whether it be on the importance of play, technology, professionalism or health and safety, reflective points to remember and think about are placed throughout, to help solidify a habit of remembering to be reflective and finding out more about the way you views this learning information. The main goal of the book is to help you find your role within the life and learning of the children, and how your actions can lead to success.

The book clearly bullet-points all of the important aspects of each section to allow anyone to see what a healthy and happy early childhood could be like, and includes extra references and sources to explore these aspects in even more depth. Many issues in the matter of early childhood education are covered, with a focus on change in policy and practice. We see how reflection can manifest itself in a number of unique ways and how finding the positive and negatives of current and past practice, and the focusing simply on the wants and futures of children will benefit you and others to a great degree.

All profits gained from books purchased via the ELP website will be donated to the ECE Leadership Trust. This Trust is set up specifically to support teachers attending conferences and any other professional development.

Stay Informed!