Must Read Books for Primary Teachers


Primary teachers play a pivotal role in shaping young minds and laying the foundation for a lifetime of learning. Non-teachers might think, “Oh, teaching first grade? That’s easy!” But as educators, we all know that this is far from true!

There’s SO much you need to know in order to teach effectively – from deep content knowledge in ALL subject areas (since most primary teachers teach them all), to child development, to effective behavior management strategies…it’s a lot. And you don’t always learn all of this in your teacher preparation program, either!

Fortunately, there are so many good books that you can read to continue your education. Reading PD books can also be inspiring and help you keep your passion for teaching alive, too!

In this post, I’ll suggest some must-read books for primary teachers that cover various topics, from specifics on teaching literacy to classroom management. You can read more about all of these books by clicking on the images below or by going to this link – Books I Love About Teaching.

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Staying up to date on research and best practices is critical! In this blog post, I'll talk about some books I recommend for primary teachers when it comes to literacy and other classroom topics.
photo credit: tiplyashina evgeniya

Books About Literacy

A Fresh Look at Phonics by Wiley Blevins

This is probably my favorite book when it comes to phonics instruction! In the book, Blevins pinpoints seven phonics-specific practices that lead to student success. There are lessons and routines included for each of the seven pillars. Blevins also talks about what to avoid during your phonics instruction.

Teaching Word Recognition by Rollanda E. O’Connor

This book is great for those who want to dig a bit deeper into decoding instruction! It includes step-by-step, research-based instructional strategies to use with any students, especially those who are struggling with reading. O’Connor gears the book toward primary teachers; however, she also includes guidance for teachers working with older students.

Shifting the Balance by Jan Burkins and Kari Yates

Educators who taught in the “pre Science of Reading” era may wonder how (and if) the Science of Reading principles fit into the instructional model that they’ve been using. In this book, Burkins and Yates lay out six changes that teachers can make in order to keep effective practices going, but replace less-effective practices with Science of Reading based alternatives. They clear up misconceptions and provide example activities for teachers to use in their primary classrooms.

Reading Above the Fray by Julia Lindsey

Many of the topics covered in this book focus on early literacy, specifically decoding and phonics. Lindsey outlines a scaffolded approach of how to teach foundational skills – decoding, oral language, phonemic awareness, sound-spelling knowledge, and fluency.

Who’s Doing the Work? by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris

In this book, Burkins and Yaris talk about how too much scaffolding in reading can actually create overly-dependent students. Instead, they lay out an approach where teachers are helping students without too much prompting and talking. They cover read alouds, shared reading, small group, and independent reading.

You can apply these concepts to any curriculum or model of instruction; this book is more about facilitating student thinking and independence.

Other Books for Primary Teachers

The First 6 Weeks of School From Responsive Classroom

The first few weeks of school can really help set the tone for the year. You’re getting to know your students, introducing routines, and gathering data. In this book, a recommended schedule for the first day and subsequent weeks is provided. There are also lots of ideas included on how to foster a sense of classroom community.

Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov

I have not read this book personally, but my team highly recommends it!

In this book, there are 63 specific techniques outlined to use for classroom management and to help create a positive classroom environment. Lemov also provides guidance on how to plan lessons. There are even video clips included so that you can see the techniques in action.

Teach like a Pirate by Dave Burgess

This is another one that I haven’t read personally, but my team recommends it!

Burgess really focuses on how to keep lessons engaging, creative, and innovative. He gives specific things to consider including in your lessons, with hooks and brainstorming questions provided. Burgess’ goal is to have teachers feel more confident and re-energized about teaching after reading the book.


I hope you are intrigued by some of these recommended books for primary teachers! I would also love to hear your own “must-read” books that you’ve come across! Please share in the comments below!

If you’re looking for books that you can use for actual teaching purposes with students, check out these posts I’ve written on this topic:

Happy teaching!


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I’m Alison, a literacy specialist. I love getting kids excited about reading and writing – and sharing teaching ideas with other teachers!

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