Summer Reading Ideas

I have just finished writing a long list of book suggestions for someone on Facebook so I thought I might as well post it on here in case anyone else is looking for some teaching related summer reading ideas!

The list comes from quite a wide range of places and includes different approaches to teaching maths and some that are linked to commercial products.  I’m not advocating any single approach or commercial product but do feel that reading widely and comparing different viewpoints and research is really useful to get the full picture.

I’ve written a very brief blurb about each to give you a bit more information.  There are also a couple that aren’t directly related to maths but are still very relevant.

In no particular order, here they are:

Mathematics in the Early Years:

Big Ideas of Early Mathematics (Erikson Institute)

  • It’s easy to read with a mix of practical ideas and thoery.
  • This has some really nice ideas for the Early Years with content also relevant for P2.  It gives a good sense of some of the important foundations for maths (that are perhaps sometimes overlooked or rushed) and may help people understand why some struggle later on and how enriching Early Years maths education may help prevent future maths difficulties.
  • It is written by the people behind the Erikson Institute Early Math Collaborative which is a brilliant website.

Learning and Teaching Early Math: The Learning Trajectories Approach (Clements and Sarama)

  • It’s easy to read.  The book is structured so the first section in each chapter is theory based.  This is followed by a table which has a progression in learning from 1-2 years old to 8 years old (this varies a little depending on the area).  The progression also has some activity suggestions.
  • It is written by the people behind the Learning Trajectories website.
  • It’s quite a lot more expensive than some of the other books on this list (but is very useful).

Young Children’s Mathematics: Cognitively Guided Instruction in Early Childhood Education

  • It’s easy to read with a mix of practical ideas and theory.
  • It is linked to a series of other books all related to Cognitively Guided Instruction (see below) but this one is specifically related to the Early Years.
  • If you’re not already on it, there is a Cognitively Guided Instruction In Scotland Facebook page as well.  This was set up by Dr. Lio Moscardini.

Teaching and Learning Early Number (Edited by Ian Thompson)

  • It’s easy to read but it’s probably more theory based than some of the others mentioned above.  It does have practical applications though.
  • It’s good for getting you to think about the ideas that are important for teaching maths.
  • It’s a little different from the others as each chapter is written by a different author.

Teaching Mathematics 3 – 5 (Sue Gifford)

  • It’s easy to read but it’s probably more theory based than some of the others mentioned above.  It does have practical applications though.
  • It’s good for getting you to think about the ideas that are important for teaching maths.
  • Sue Gifford writes a lot of the articles on the NRICH website related to Early Years Education.

General Primary Maths:

Children’s Mathematics: Cognitively Guided Instruction

  • Also part of the Cognitively Guided Instruction series (CGI) series of books.
  • It is good if you want a general overview of CGI at a range of levels.
  • It’s easy to read with lots of practical ideas for application.

Thinking Mathematically: Integrating Arithmetic & Algebra in Elementary School

  • Also by some of the authors of the other CGI books.
  • Excellent if you want you, as a practitioner, want to understand more about the properties of behind some of the operations and therefore support your pupil’s to better understand this.
  • It will support you to get your pupils thinking more mathematically and go far beyond just answering pages of sums and having these marked as either right or wrong.
  • It’s probably a bit heavier going than some of the others but still easy to read (in my opinion) and very worthwhile!

Choral Counting and Counting Collections: Transforming the PreK – 5 Maths Classroom

  • Also from the authors behind other CGI books.
  • It’s great if you want to get a bit more detail about how to introduce Choral Counting and Counting Collections into your classroom.
  • It’s easy to read with lots of practical applications.

Books related to fractions:

Developing Fractions Knowledge (Hackenberg, Norton and Wright)

  • This is quite heavy going but it is very interesting and very useful and will probably give you a lot more in depth knowledge about how to teach fractions effectively.
  • It’s written by some of the same people behind other Maths Recovery books (but in my opinion is not quite as easy to read as the others).
  • As well as the theory side of things, it also includes questions for assessment purposes and activities – these could be easily implemented into your classroom.

Extending Children’s Mathematics: Fractions and Decimals – Innovations in Cognitively Guided Instruction

  • As the title suggests, this is another in the CGI series and is written by some of the same authors as the other books but specifically related to fractions and decimals.
  • It’s easy to read and has lots of practical applications as well as understanding the progression in learning.
  • It complements the Maths Recovery book above well.

Books related to Mastery:

Mastery, although it’s been around for a very long time seems to have made a bit of a resurgence recently.  From some of the things that I’ve seen/read on the internet, a lot of people appear to be reading the headlines and taking quite a superficial look at it.  Here are a few books if you want to find out more.

Teaching for Mastery (Mark McCourt)

  • It’s easy to read and gives an overview of the background behind mastery.
  • There is content related to both primary and secondary.
  • Mark McCourt is behind LaSalle Education and Complete Maths.

Mastery Learning: Theory and Practice (Edited by James Block)

Implementing Mastery Learning (Thomas Guskey)

Although I’ve read work by both authors/editors above, I haven’t read these books but someone has kindly let me borrow them.  I’ll update this with more information when I’ve read them.

Books related to Mindset:

I feel that people often take the headlines of some of the information shared on Mindset and as a result it’s often implemented in quite a superficial way.  (In a similar way to the comments I had about Mastery.)

Mindset (Carol Dweck):

  • Not specifically related to maths but a very interesting read about ‘mindset’ in general.

The Elephant in the Classroom and Mathematical Mindsets (Jo Boaler):

  • Both explore ‘mindset’ specifically from a maths perspective.
  • They are both easy to read and provide an interesting read.
  • Both, but more so the Mathematical Mindsets book has practical ideas that you could use in the classroom.  There are a mix of activities for both primary and secondary.
  • Jo Boaler is behind the YouCubed website.


The Number Devil:

  • This is actually a children’s book.  It would be good for upper primary or the first few years of secondary.
  • It is about a boy who hates maths and then meets ‘The Number Devil’ in his dreams who transforms the boys perceptions of mathematics.  It explores quite a lot of common areas in mathematics in an engaging way.
  • It would be a good read as a class novel and to explore some of the ideas along the way.
  • As an adult, I enjoyed reading it.

Closing the Vocabulary Gap (Alex Quigley):

  • This is not specifically related to maths but definitely has connections and is very relevant from a Closing the Poverty Related Attainment Gap point of view.
  • It has lots of practical applications across a range of subjects.
  • It would be suitable for both primary and secondary.
  • Alex Quigley did a podcast on the Mr Barton Maths Podcast if you wanted to listen to that instead or before deciding whether to read the book.
  • The book in my opinion provides a lot more detail than the podcast though but the podcast was a great starting point.

Make It Stick (Brown, Roediger, McDaniel):

  • This book is basically about memory and how we learn.
  • It’s easy to read and is absolutely fascinating (in my opinion).  I couldn’t put it down.
  • There are huge implications in terms of how a lot of teaching is usually carried out… and how it could be organised/structured much more effectively.
  • This has implications for your own learning (as an adult) as well as how we teach our children.

I could go on, there are many more wonderful books that I could mention but that list is probably long enough as it is.  I’ll maybe write another list later in the year as an update!

They are all great in my opinion, it’s quite hard to choose where I’d start as they are all quite different.

If you do read any, then leave a comment below to share what you thought of it.
If there are any that I haven’t included but you think should have been on the list, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Happy reading whatever you decide to go with!

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