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Emergency lit

TES reviewers select books to keep on hand for inspiration, good practice advice, child appeal, and to read aloud. There's also a guide to tapping into children's literature

Geoff Barton on your education library

Early years in the classroom are often dominated by worries about behaviour management. Bill Rogers is the key name in this market. An Australian teacher and now adjunct professor of education at Griffith University in Queensland, he has inspired a generation of teachers through his books and lectures. He has the gift of credibility, talking to real teachers about real classrooms, and never patronising. There is practical advice on how to stand, how to smile, how to use language - the pure craft of the classroom.

Recent books aimed at the classroom teacher are Behaviour Management and Cracking the Hard Class (both Paul Chapman Publishing, pound;18.99 and pound;17.99 respectively), and find more on On a similar theme, I'm a fan of Sue Cowley's Getting the Buggers to Behave (Continuum, pound;12.99). You can't go wrong with a title like that. As well as reassuring advice, the book presents two versions of a number of vividly real scenarios. These set-pieces teach us how not to handle a situation, then Cowley re-runs it more effectively. It's an impressive technique for making the mysteries of classroom control manageable. You can read Sue Cowley's advice to new teachers in TES Friday magazine this term.

Publishers are realising that teachers want education books in a handy format. Watch out for the new Teacher's Pocketbook series - a collection of easy-to-read guides covering topics such as mentoring and accelerated learning. Find out more at

Classmates is another new series of small-format practical guides, published by Continuum. Keep an eye on this publisher: its books are frequently spot-on. The first 10 Classmates include Managing your Classroom, Tips for Trips and Stress Busting (pound;4.99 each). I have to declare a personal interest: an advanced skills teacher at my school, Ian Startup, has written the Classmate on Running Your Tutor Group. It examplifies the rest of the series - reassuring, practical and written from an optimistic sense of classroom reality. These books make you feel that teaching is a great profession.

I also admire Ian Gilbert's Essential Motivation in the Classroom (RoutledgeFalmer, pound;12.99). It's a book of great enthusiasm, a fascinating blend of motivational quotations, practical psychology and good sense. You won't be a successful teacher if you can't motivate your students. Gilbert provides strategies and an essential guide to the way the brain works. You need a smattering of neuroscience: imagine becoming a mechanic without exploring an engine.

The book I most frequently pick up when I want to replenish my optimism, as all teachers need to do, is Michael Barber's The Learning Game: arguments for an education revolution (Orion pound;8.99). This book has largely shaped the New Labour agenda of strategies, targets, collaboration and reform, but it isn't dull. In fact, it's charged with a moral passion, reminding us of the impact we can make as teachers and the need to rethink some of the old assumptions about how schools should work. Go on, get reading for a shot of practical idealism.

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