Holiday Reading List

For those in Australia the end of the teaching year has arrived or is just around the corner. With holidays approaching now might be the perfect time to find a good book to read and reset your thinking ahead of the start of a new year. Here are my favourite reads from this year. 

1.    King Arthur’s Round Table: How collaborative conversations create smart organisations - David Perkins

Understanding how the conversations we have within our organisations shape them and help us to achieve our goals is the focus of this book by Harvard’s David Perkins. Readers will explore how to shape positive conversations, the challenges that organisations face, the nature and benefits of different leadership styles and how the many pieces can be aligned to create an organisation that fosters success. Told through stories and with the tale of Arthur’s Camelot woven throughout this is a must read for anyone interested in organisational leadership, change and collaboration.  

2.    The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the power to think differently - Sunni Brown

Why do we insist on having our students demonstrate their understanding through the traditional essay? Why is note taking a dry process that produces pages of text we never return to? How do the tools we use to organise our thinking constrain the results? The Doodle Revolution aims to undo all of this and shows us that we can all use doodling or sketch noting to organise our ideas, reflect on our learning and demonstrate understanding. Sunni Brown’s book makes doodling accessible to all and challenges the notion that it is something for the visual thinker or artist.  

3.    The Sketchnote Handbook: The illustrated guide to visual note taking - Mike Rhode

If Sunni Brown inspired you to start doodling, this book and its related workbook will take you to the next level. Full of ideas for how to use sketch noting and with tips to make your notes masterpieces of style and clarity Mike’s book is the perfect guide for the budding sketch noter. Follow the tips and your notes will quickly be transformed into artistic works you will be happy to share and that your audience will appreciate for the understandings they reveal.  

4.    Visual Tools for Transforming Information into Knowledge - David Hyerle

Sticking with a visual theme but moving in a slightly different direction is this book by David Hyerle. The focus here is on how we might use strong visuals including mind maps, flow charts and diagrams to better understand and represent information such that it becomes useable knowledge. If you think you know all there is to know about mind maps you need to read this book, it will show you a whole new set of possibilities and bring clarity to an often oversimplified domain.  

5.    The Art of Tinkering - Karen Wilkinson & Mike Petrich

This is a beautiful book that takes you deep into the world of making and tinkering. With good advice on why we should encourage our learners to tinker the book begins with a compelling case for this style of learning. Beyond the theory it invites you to explore a host of projects that are bound to inspire. From creating flying cameras with re-cycled goods to and electronic scribbling machine or an astounding set of improvised instruments the book overflows with projects that will have you thinking 'what if?' and 'how might?’.  

6.    Innovation and its Enemies: Why people resist new technologies - Calestous Juma


If you are wanting to understand why change and particularly new technology is resisted and even feared this is a must read. This book will challenge your thinking about the role of technology in society, our perception of it and our responses to it. In a time where technology touches so many aspects of our lives and change occurs at a seemingly exponential rate understanding the enemies of innovation is vital for all and especially for those charged with teaching the next generation of innovators.  

7.    Maker Centred Learning: Empowering young people to shape their worlds - Edward P. Clapp, Jessica Ross, Jennifer O. Ryan, Shari Tishman

If you are looking to understand the educational implications of making, makerspaces and maker movement this is the book for you. The result of a multi-year study by Harvard’s Project Zero and the Agency by Design team this book shares the learning that has occurred and offers clear guidance to maximise the benefits available from a hands-on, minds-on, student centred pedagogy.  

What the Agency by Design research team quickly discovered was that, while making in the classroom was not a new concept, maker-centered learning suggested a new kind of hands-on pedagogy— a pedagogy that encourages community and collaboration (a do-it-together mentality), distributed teaching and learning, boundary crossing, and responsive and flexible teacher practices.

8.    Participatory Creativity: Introducing access and equity to the creative classroom - Edward P. Clapp

Anyone interested in teaching for creativity, anyone inspired by Sir Ken Robinson’s claim that schools kill creativity or any teacher who imagines they don’t have a creative genius like Steve Jobs in their class should read this book. Creativity is not what we thought it was and teaching for creativity requires a participatory, collaborative and richly social environment to thrive.  

9.    Innovation: How innovators think, act and change our world - Kim Chandler McDonald

If we plan to teach for innovation, we should understand what it is. In this book the author presents a series of over 100 interviews with innovators and from this frames what innovation is and the conditions which make it possible. The author has assembled an impressive set of insights and the book is an easy read that will encourage you to think differently and establish the conditions for innovation in your organisation.  

10.    Solving Problems with Design Thinking: 10 stories of what works - Jeanne Liedtka, Andrew King, Kevin Bennett

The use of design thinking as a strategy for problem solving in a complex environment continues to gain momentum. In this book the authors explore diverse examples of the use of design thinking and share strategies and tools that bring results. For teachers considering a design thinking approach in their teaching or for the management of change in their organisation this book is compelling reading.  

Also worth a look: 

‘Flow: The psychology of happiness’ and ‘Creativity: The psychology of discover and invention by Mihaly Csiksgentmihalyi 

'Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us' by Daniel Pink 

‘The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon’ by Brad Stone 

‘Grit: The power of passion and perseverance’ by Angela Duckworth 

‘The Accidental Creative: How to be brilliant at a moment’s notice’ by Todd Henry 


by Nigel Coutts