The Best Books Every School Leader Should Read

No matter how much I may know or think I know, there is always more to learn.  I am constantly reading and researching from the best educational authors.  If you are enrolled in Leadership Unleashed, you know principals are expected to know it all. Professional learning is key to staying on top of the learning curve.  As a principal, it is my goal to always be a lead learner in the building.  I must be able to take my staff in the direction they need to go.  The only way to do that is to continue to learn and grow through reading, researching, and attending relevant professional learning opportunities.

I’m sharing some of my favorite books that have been a wealth of help to me over the years.

Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank 

Amazon Summary:

No school leader is immune to the dunk tank- the effects of discrimination, bad politics, revenge, or ego-driven coworkers.  In Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank, Rebecca Coda and Rick Jetter share real life stories and insightful research to equip school leaders with the practical knowledge and emotional tools necessary to survive and, better yet, avoid getting “dunked.

Lead Like a Pirate: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff

Amazon Summary: 

Are You a Treasure Seeker?

Pirates are on a constant quest for riches, but PIRATE leaders seek even greater rewards: amazing schools, engaged students, and empowered educators who know they are making a difference. In Lead Like a PIRATE, education leaders Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf map out the character traits necessary to captain a school or district. You’ll learn where to find the treasure that’s already in your classrooms and schools–and how to bring out the very best in your educators.

What does it take to be a PIRATE Leader?
Passion–both professional and personal
A willingness to Immerse yourself in your work
Good Rapport with your staff, students, and community
The courage to Ask questions and Analyze what is and isn’t working
The determination to seek positive Transformation
And the kind of Enthusiasm that gets others excited about education

The ultimate goal for any education leader is to create schools and districts where students and staff are knocking down the doors to get in rather than out. This book will equip and encourage you to be relentless in your quest to make school amazing for your students, staff, parents, and communities.

Are you ready to set sail?

The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy

Amazon Summary:

The Energy Bus, an international best seller by Jon Gordon, takes readers on an enlightening and inspiring ride that reveals 10 secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment – at work and at home. Jon infuses this engaging story with keen insights as he provides a powerful roadmap to overcome adversity and bring out the best in yourself and your team. When you get on The Energy Bus you’ll enjoy the ride of your life!

Dealing with Difficult Teachers (3rd Edition)

Amazon Summary:

This book provides tips and strategies to help school leaders improve, neutralize, or eliminate resistant and negative teachers.  Learn how to handle staff members who gossip in the teacher’s lounge, consistently say “it won’t work” when any new idea is suggested, send an excessive number o students to the office, undermine your efforts toward school improvement, or negatively influence other staff members.

Winning with Accountability

Amazon Summary:

Success can’t happen without accountability. It is that simple. For over 10 years, Henry Evans has worked with hundreds of organizations around the world, teaching, and building accountability. This book offers that same guidance to you, your colleagues and your team to reach new levels of excellence and success. In Winning with Accountability, Henry offers a step-by-step guide to help any organization improve performance by creating a culture of accountability. The strategies in this book are simple, easy to implement…and the results are immediate! It should be required reading for every member of every team. Read, enjoy, and win with accountability!

The Multiplier Effect

Amazon Summary:

Why do some leaders double their team’s effectiveness, while others seem to drain the energy right out of the room? Using insights gained from more than 100 interviews with school leaders, this book pinpoints the five disciplines that define how Multipliers bring out the best across their schools. By practicing these disciplines, you’ll learn how to:

  • Attract top teachers to your school 
  • Create an intense environment that demands people’s best thinking 
  • Drive sound decisions by constructing debate and decision-making forums 
  • Give your team a sense of ownership for responsibilities and results

Kids Deserve It! Pushing Boundaries and Challenging Conventional Thinking

Amazon Summary:

What if learning was exciting?
What if students felt important and empowered every time they walked into the building?
What if parents looked forward to calls from their children’s teachers and principals, instead of cringing when the school’s number popped up on their phones?

To Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome, those aren’t far-fetched what ifs; they can (and should) be a reality for every teacher, school, parent, and student.

In Kids Deserve It!, Todd and Adam encourage you to think big and make learning fun and meaningful for students. While you’re at it, you just might rediscover why you became an educator in the first place.

– Learn why you should be calling parents to praise your students (and employees).
– Discover ways to promote family interaction and improve relationships for kids at school and at home.
– Be inspired to take risks, shake up the status quo, and be a champion for your students.

Move Your Bus: An Extraordinary New Approach to Accelerating Success in Work and Life

Amazon Summary:

New York Times bestselling author and award-winning educator Ron Clark applies his successful leadership principles to the business world in this effective and accessible guidebook, perfect for any manager looking to inspire and motivate his or her team. Includes a foreword by bestselling author and FranklinCovey executive Sean Covey.

Teamwork is crucial to the success of any business, and as acclaimed author and speaker Ron Clark illustrates, the members of any team are the key to unlocking success. Imagine a company as a bus filled with people who either help or hinder a team’s ability to move it forward: drivers (who steer the organization), runners (who consistently go above and beyond for the good of the organization), joggers (who do their jobs without pushing themselves), walkers (who are just getting pulled along), and riders (who hinder success and drag the team down). It’s the team leader’s job to recognize how members fall into these categories, encourage them to keep the “bus” moving by working together, and know when it’s time to kick the riders off.

How To Be a Happy First Year School Leader

Written by me!

Amazon Summary:

You have just been hired to lead a school and handed the keys to the building. First-year principals are expected to assume the same tasks and responsibilities as the most seasoned administrators. Embrace the challenge. You can do it with the right tools in your hands and knowledge of your support system.

Statistics and research reports the following:
Only about half of newly hired school principals stay on the job at least three years. If you are in a high-poverty school, principals leave even sooner.

The principal position is hard. There is no sugar-coating it.

However, having the right start during year one, will give you the motivation and spark to keep going. In this book, Stephanie will share with you 12 easy, highly practical strategies to help you have a happy first year as a school leader.

If you are a first-year school leader or inspiring leader, this book is for you.
Follow these strategies and you will be well on your way to having a happy first year.

I decided to start purchasing the Kindle versions of all my favorite books.  This just allows me to have my resources at my fingertips.  Even though I may have the hardcopy of the book, I went ahead and purchased some of my favorites for the iPad.

Principal Principles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy for details.  See Disclosure Policy.
Stephanie McConnell

Stephanie McConnell

I’m Stephanie, and I’m the face behind Principal Principles. I’m a former principal turned educational consultant, presenter, and edupreneur. I’m obsessed with giving school leaders the tools they need to lead a successful school.

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Hi, I'm Stephanie

Hello friend! Welcome to Principal Principles. I’m Stephanie, and I’m the face behind Principal Principles. I’m a former principal turned educational consultant, presenter, and edupreneur. I’m obsessed with giving school leaders the tools they need to lead a successful school.


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