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There are so many books about the brain … from simple books for children to dense academic works intended for researchers. What we’ve done here is suggest some of our favorites, intended for general audiences.

For Adults / Parents


Your Child Learns Differently, Now What? The Truth for Parents, Roger Stark and Betsy Hill, Seabiscuit Press, 2023

In this book, Roger Stark and Betsy Hill present a 5-step plan for parents to help their children develop their learning capacity. They explain that, in spite of what we have been led to believe, intelligence isn’t fixed and can improve. At the core of learning are mental processes called cognitive skills, which are how our brains learn. It’s the “how” of learning, not the “what” of teaching that matters. By understanding the science of learning, parents can help their child turn on their learning superpowers.

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Home, Work and School, John Medina, Pear Press, 2014

Medina’s 12 principles can help us understand and improve the way we manage sleep and stress, learn more effectively, and retain newly acquired information. He addresses issues such as multi-taking (which he explains doesn’t really exist) and how different men’s and women’s brains are (and whether it really matters. By the end of the book, you’ll understand a lot more about your brain and how to put your new knowledge to use in all aspects of life.

Magic Trees of the Mind: How to Nurture Your Child’s Intelligence, Creativity, and Healthy Emotions from Birth through Adolescence, Marian Diamond, Plume 1988

In this book, Dr. Marian Diamond, a leading brain researcher, draws on decades of science to reveal how a child’s brain develops, in interaction with the environment. She explains how to provide our children with the stimulating experiences that they need to develop and thrive.  

The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics Talent and IQ, David Shenk, Doubleday, 2011

Shenk writes powerfully and in a very engaging way, drawing on scientific research from multiple fields to make the case that genetics are not destiny. He debunks the common understanding of giftedness and shows how greatness and extraordinary achievements are within the reach of each of us. If you are ever tempted to feel that your innate abilities just aren’t enough to succeed in reaching your goals, Shenk’s optimistic message can have you thinking in a whole new way.

Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life, Steven Johnson, Scribner, 2004

In this bestselling book, Johnson makes the case that brain science can help us understand ourselves. He looks at topics including the neurochemistry of love and sex, how music affects us emotionally, and where breakthrough ideas come from. He draws connections from the science to improving how we parent, live, and relate to others in our lives.

The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge, Penguin Books, 2007

Doidge’s popular book explains how the science of neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to change at any age) is transforming old ideas about how the brain works. His stories of individuals who benefit from our new understanding of neuroscience are fascinating, including stroke patients, a woman born with half a brain whose brain rewired itself to work as a whole and other examples of our extraordinarily adaptive brains.

The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups, Erika Christakis, Viking, 2016

Christakis offers advice, based on solid scientific research and a mother’s sensitivity, explains why many current ideas about what children should be doing in preschool are wrong and what we should be doing instead.

For Teachers

Brain Matters; Translating Research into Classroom Practice, Patricia Wolfe, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2010

This is a book that every teacher should read. In it, Dr. Wolfe explains how what we know about how the brain learns can help us improve classroom practice and enable our students to learn better and more enduringly. She describes brain anatomy and function in understandable terms and bridges biology to teaching and learning. The most recent edition looks at brain development from birth through adolescence and addresses the impact of exercise, sleep, nutrition and technology on the brain. Finally, Dr. Wolfe provides a plethora of brain-compatible instructional strategies that teachers can put to use immediately in the classroom.

How the Brain Learns, David Sousa, Corwin, 2011

Sousa explains topics that are important for teachers to understand, including how the brain’s memory systems work, how our brains organize information and the improvement of cognitive processing and the development of creativity.

What the Best College Teachers Do, Ken Bain, Harvard College, 2004

Bain’s book comes from a fifteen-year study of nearly one hundred college teachers in a wide variety of fields and universities. With engaging real-life examples, he makes the point that the best teachers know their subjects inside and out, but also are able to engage and challenge students, convincing them that what they are teaching them is vitally important and that their students are capable of learning it.

The Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching the Practice of Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning, James Zull, Stylus Publishing, 2002

In this book, Zull explains how thinking and learning are the result of biological processes. Everything we do as teachers changes our students’ brains. In fact, Zull clarifies how learning is really the creation and strengthening of synapses (connections among neurons in the brain). He relates clearly explained brain structure and function directly to classroom practice and his own teaching experiences.

For Kids

Your Fantastic, Elastic Brain, JoAnn Deak and Sarah Ackerley, Little Pickle Press, 2010

JoAnn Deak, a consultant to schools worldwide on brain development, explains in a child-friendly way, accompanied by colorful illustrations, how they can stretch and grow their own brains. She also shows how making mistakes is a vital part of learning. The book provides an easy-to-understand and engaging introduction to brain structure and function, and leaves young readers (or children being read to) with an understanding of how what they do can help build their brains and their capacity to learn and think. This is a book that we often recommend to parents and teachers to use when they are introducing BrainWare SAFARI to their children/students.

The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain, JoAnn Deak and Terrence Deak, Little Pickle Press, 2012

This book, by the author of Your Fantastic, Elastic Brain, covers much the same neuroscience territory as the earlier book, but at level and with a spin of “coolness” designed for pre-adolescent and teenage readers. As the publisher says, “It’s all about training your brain to help you become the very best version of yourself!”

Neuroscience For Kids – University of Washington

This is a website with a whole bunch of cool stuff that kids (of all ages) will enjoy exploring.

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