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The Essential Reading List for Charter School Leaders: 10 Books to Inform and Inspire

Updated: Jun 2

As a charter school leader, you are constantly seeking out new knowledge and insights to help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of education. In addition to your own experiences and the wisdom of your colleagues, there is a wealth of information available in books written by experts in the field.

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10 Essential Books for Charter School Leaders

In this blog post, we share a list of 10 essential books for charter school leaders. These books cover a wide range of topics, from education leadership to the science of learning. They are sure to inform and inspire you as you work to create a thriving school that meets the needs of all students.

Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a new leader just starting out, we encourage you to pick up one or more of these books and add them to your professional development toolkit. We are confident that you will find them to be invaluable resources as you work to make a difference in the lives of students.

From understanding the secrets of successful groups to navigating the challenges of change, these books offer the insights and guidance you need to be a more effective charter school leader.

Please note: All links are affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you make a purchase through them.

In her captivating book, The Smartest Kids in the World, Amanda Ripley takes readers on a journey to Finland, Japan, China, and South Korea, countries that consistently outperform the United States on international standardized tests. Through her in-depth interviews, Ripley uncovers the educational practices that contribute to the success of these nations' students.

Ripley's book is a valuable resource for anyone interested in improving education in the United States. Her insights offer a roadmap for how we can create a more equitable and effective education system that helps all students reach their full potential.

In The End of Average, Todd Rose challenges the deeply ingrained belief that averages are a meaningful measure of individual potential. He argues that this assumption is not only wrong, but also has harmful consequences for our schools and businesses. The End of Average is a powerful call for change, urging us to move beyond the limitations of averages and embrace the full potential of individuality.

Whether you are a leader looking to improve your decision-making skills, a teacher seeking to enhance student engagement, or simply someone who wants to be more productive and focused, The Leading Brain is a valuable resource. Fabritius's engaging and informative writing style makes the book accessible to readers of all backgrounds, and her insights are sure to leave you with a deeper understanding of how your brain works and how you can use it to your advantage.

As crucial in-school influencers of student learning, principals have an opportunity and an obligation to maximize student achievement. But how? In The Principal 2.0, Fullan explains why the answer lies neither in micro-managing instruction nor in autonomous entrepreneurialism. He shows a new way forward that allows principals to expand their roles without overstepping and contribute to the development of the whole school.

In The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker provides a timeless guide for effective leadership. He argues that the most effective executives are those who are able to focus on the most important things and who are able to delegate tasks effectively. Drucker also offers a number of insights into how to manage time and how to make decisions. Drucker's insights are as relevant today as they were when the book was first published. The Effective Executive is a must-read for anyone who wants to be a more effective leader.

In The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle delves into the secrets of highly successful groups, uncovering the essential elements that contribute to their remarkable achievements. He argues that a strong culture is not merely a byproduct of success, but rather a driving force behind it.

Coyle provides compelling evidence to support his claims, drawing on examples from a wide range of successful organizations, including businesses, sports teams, and military units. He also offers practical strategies for creating a strong culture in any setting.

The Culture Code is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of successful groups and how to create a culture that drives excellence.

In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink argues that when people are motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose, they are more engaged in their work, more productive, and more creative. He also argues that these intrinsic motivators are more powerful than extrinsic motivators, such as money and rewards.

Drive is a thought-provoking book that challenges conventional thinking about motivation. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand what motivates people and how to create a more motivating work environment.

In EdTech Essentials, Monica Burns provides a practical guide to incorporating the 10 essential EdTech skills and strategies in all learning settings. The book covers a wide range of topics, from navigating online spaces to curating resources, developing collaboration structures, and assessing students. Burns offers clear and concise explanations of these skills and strategies, as well as classroom examples, guiding questions for planning and reflection, and suggested websites and digital tools for classroom use. EdTech Essentials is a must-read for educators who want to make the best use of technology to enhance student learning.

In Simply Better, Bryan Goodwin argues that the key to improving student achievement is not to reinvent the wheel, but to focus on getting the basics right. Goodwin provides a practical, research-based framework for implementing these practices, and he offers clear and concise guidance for educators at all levels. Simply Better is a must-read for anyone who wants to make a real difference in the lives of students.

In Charting the Course for Collaborative Teams, educators from priority schools share their experiences in implementing Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to improve student achievement. The book provides practical guidance on how to build strong collaborative teams, develop a shared vision for student learning, and use data to drive instruction. The authors also offer insights into how to overcome challenges and sustain improvement efforts over time.

Charting the Course for Collaborative Teams is a valuable resource for any school or district that is committed to using PLCs to improve student learning. The book's focus on priority schools makes it especially relevant for educators who are working in challenging contexts.


As you embark or continue on your journey as a charter school leader, we hope that these books will provide you with the knowledge, insights, and inspiration you need to ignite change in your school. As you read through this list, you are sure to find books that will resonate with your own experiences and goals.

The world of education is constantly evolving, and charter school leaders must be at the forefront of change. By staying informed and engaged in the latest trends and research, you can ensure that your school is providing the best possible education for all students.

We also encourage you to connect with other charter school leaders and to share your own experiences and insights. As a former charter school leader, I would be honored to connect with you and share my own experiences and insights. I am also passionate about helping charter school leaders succeed, and I offer a variety of services and resources to support you in your work.

Please feel free to review my other blog posts on topics in grants and leadership, or to visit my Services and Resources pages to learn more about how I can help you achieve your goals.

I look forward to connecting with you soon!

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