NOW READING: The 10 Best Inquiry-Based Learning Books You’ll Find

The 10 Best Inquiry-Based Learning Books You’ll Find

A teacher’s appetite for learning new skills or expanding on current ones is legendary, and reading books during either professional development sessions or leisure time is a favourite way to do it. When it comes to the subject of inquiry-based learning, there’s nothing like a good read to stimulate your interest and expand your knowledge. 

In the following article, we profile 10 of the most popular inquiry-based learning books out there today. You’ll find the links, publisher, and the descriptions for each one, most courtesy of Amazon.com where all these title can be located.

It’s time to update your reading list with some great books. Enjoy exploring our picks for the best inquiry-based learning books for educators of every kind.

10 Inquiry-Based Learning Books You’ve Got to Read

1. Powerful Understanding: Helping Students Explore, Question, and Transform Their Thinking about Themselves and the World Around Them

Author: Adrienne Gearpowerful-understanding-cover

Publisher: Stenhouse

Book description: In these challenging times, teaching children to think critically and reflectively and be compassionate, responsible and caring citizens at the same time is a tall order. Powerful Understanding explores effective ways to build social emotional skills and help students make connections, question what they read, and reflect on their learning as they develop into stronger readers and learners. Strategic and critical thinking strategies revolve around core anchor books that help integrate thinking into everything you teach—from social responsibility, to immigration, to life cycles.

2. Future-Focused Learning: Ten Essential Shifts of Everyday Practice

Author: Lee Watanabe-Crockettfuture-focused learning cover

Publisher: Solution Tree

Book description: When educators embrace student-centered learning, classrooms transform, authentic learning comes alive, and outcomes improve. A culmination of Lee Watanabe-Crockett’s ten-plus years of work with schools around the world, Future-Focused Learning details ten core shifts of practice—along with simple micro shifts—you can use with your students immediately, regardless of your core curriculum or instructional pedagogy. These proven shifts offer a clear pathway for taking the great work you are already doing and making it exceptional.

3. The Curious Classroom: 10 Structures for Teaching with Student-Directed Inquiry

Author: Harvey "Smokey" Danielsthe curious classroom

Publisher: Heinemann

Book description: Ever wonder how to get students genuinely engaged in your curriculum? Or wish you could let them explore those amazing questions they brim with? If so, Smokey provides research-based suggestions that help cover the curriculum by connecting what kids wonder about to the wonders you have to teach them. He shares 10 structures, 34 inspiring models from teachers nationwide, full-color photographs and examples of students work, plus specific suggestions for assessment and grading.

4. The Best Class You Never Taught: How Spider Web Discussion Can Turn Students Into Learning Leaders

Author: Alexis Wigginsthe best class you never taught

Publisher: ASCD

Book description: The Spider Web Discussion comes from the web like diagram the observer makes to record interactions as students actively participate in the discussion, lead and support one another's learning, and build community. As students practice Spider Web Discussion, they become stronger communicators, more empathetic teammates, better problem solvers, and more independent learners. Educator Alexis Wiggins provides a step-by-step guide for the implementation of Spider Web Discussion, covering everything from introducing the technique to creating rubrics for discussion self-assessment to the nuts-and-bolts of charting the conversations and using the data collected for formative assessment. She also shares troubleshooting tips, ideas for assessment and group grading, and the experiences of real teachers and students who use the technique to develop and share content knowledge in a way that's both revolutionary and truly inspiring.

5. Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions

Authors: Dan Rothstein, Luz Santanamake just one change

Publisher: Harvard Education Press

Book description: The authors of Make Just One Change argue that formulating one’s own questions is “the single most essential skill for learning”—and one that should be taught to all students. They also argue that it should be taught in the simplest way possible. Drawing on twenty years of experience, the authors present the Question Formulation Technique, a concise and powerful protocol that enables learners to produce their own questions, improve their questions, and strategize how to use them. Make Just One Change features the voices and experiences of teachers in classrooms across the country to illustrate the use of the Question Formulation Technique across grade levels and subject areas and with different kinds of learners.

6. Inquiry-Based Learning Using Everyday Objects: Hands-On Instructional Strategies That Promote Active Learning in Grades 3-8

Authors: Amy Alvarado, Patricia HerrIBL using everyday objects

Publisher: Corwin Press Inc.

Book description: Object-based inquiry is a tested method that enhances the skills of the student, as well as the instructor, by engaging students in hands-on studies of everyday objects, raising their curiosity and enthusiasm for the learning process. Hands-on instructional strategies foster active learning, allowing students to investigate essential questions, while at the same time meeting curriculum standards and creating a profoundly new learning experience. In this exciting new book, educators and authors Amy Edmonds Alvarado and Patricia R. Herr explore the concept of using everyday objects as a process initiated both by students and teachers, encouraging growth in student observation, inquisitiveness, and reflection in learning.

7. Experience Inquiry: 5 Powerful Strategies, 50 Practical Experiences

Author: Kimberly L. Mitchellexperience inquiry

Publisher: Corwin Press Inc.

Book description: One part practical guide, one part interactive journal, this book provides the opportunity to do inquiry as you read about it. You’ll learn what inquiry-based instruction looks like in practice through five key strategies, all of which can be immediately implemented in any learning environment. 

This resource offers:

  • Practical examples of what inquiry looks like in the classroom, and how to do it
  • Opportunities for reflection throughout the book, including self-surveys, templates, and tools
  • A user-friendly handbook format for quick reference and logical progression through your inquiry journey
  • Fifty practical inquiry experiences that can be used individually, with students, or in small groups of teachers


8. Inquiry-Based Early Learning Environments: Creating, Supporting, and Collaborating

Author: Susan StaceyIBL early learning environments

Publisher: Redleaf Press

Book description: Inquiry-Based Early Learning Environments takes an in-depth look at children’s inquiry. What does inquiry look like in early childhood settings? How does the environment affect children’s inquiries and teachers’ thought processes? Inquiry-Based Early Learning Environments examines inquiry in all its facets, including environments that support relationships, that create a culture of risk-taking in our thinking, that support teachers as well as children, that include families, that use documentation as a way of thinking about our work, and of course, the physical environment and all the objects and spaces within it. Throughout, stories about environments and approaches to inquiry from around the world are included as examples.

9. IQ: A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning

Authors: Jennifer Watt, Jill ColyerIQ inquiry-based learning practical guide

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Book description: This professional resource provides a clear and practical tool for educators, curriculum leaders, and administrators. Highly visual and accessible, it explains the inquiry process and offers practical suggestions and tools for successfully implementing inquiry-based learning in the classroom.

10. Dive Into Inquiry

Author: Trevor MacKenziedive into inquiry

Publisher: Edtechteam Press

Book description: Want to make learning more meaningful in your classroom? Looking to better prepare your students for the world of tomorrow? Keen to help learners create authentic connections to the world around them? Dive into Inquiry beautifully marries the voice and choice of inquiry with the structure and support required to optimize learning for students and get the results educators desire. With Dive into Inquiry you'll gain an understanding of how to best support your learners as they shift from a traditional learning model into the inquiry classroom where student agency is fostered and celebrated each and every day. This book strikes a perfect balance of meaningful pedagogy, touching narrative, helpful processes, original student examples, and rich how-to lesson plans all to get you going on bringing inquiry into your classroom.

These books are some of the best available today and all will help you engage students in a learning process that will develop critical thinking and authentic learning. We'll leave you with one more, our FREE eBook with 10 great inquiry-based learning activities. You don't even have to wait for this one in the mail, you can download it right now.

10 inquiry-based learning activities