5 Books New Trainers Should Have On Their Reading Lists


Recently, I received an email from someone who was relatively new to the Learning & Development industry, asking if I had any book recommendations. A few days later, I was asked the same question by someone else. Soooo…

Ask, and ye shall receive.

I am always on the lookout for new books to add to my reading list; if you are an emerging trainer, I hope you find these suggestions helpful!

Telling Ain’t Training (2nd edition) – Harold D. Stolovitch, Erica J. Keeps

This book should be required reading for anyone who is developing his/her own facilitation “style”. Maintaining a learner-centered environment isn’t easy, and it isn’t always intuitive. This book, and it’s counterpart, Training Ain’t Performance, provide entertaining, easy-to-read guidance.

Training for Dummies – Elaine Biech

Amazon’s description says it best – it really is the “nuts and bolts” of training. This book is a perfect tool for those who want a crash-course in developing and delivering a training session. I have been leading training sessions for many years, yet this one is still on my bookshelf, riddled with highlights and dog-eared pages.

Training on Trial: How Workplace Learning Must Reinvent Itself to Remain Relevant – James D. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., Wendy Kayser Kirkpatrick

Yes, those Kirkpatricks. Of the Kirkpatrick Model. This book is a reality check that all learning practitioners need to read, to assess the state of affairs in our industry. To be challenged on how we can remain relevant. How we can speak the language of the leaders who are funding our teams and programs.

Return on Investment Basics – Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips, of the ROI Institute, has written a number of books on the subject of measuring the business impact of learning. This one is a good primer for anyone who wants to gain basic knowledge on the subject. We must be measuring our impact to prove our value, but we also need to know how to communicate that value. This book will help!

Social Media for Trainers – Jane Bozarth

If you are looking for a resource that will help you extend your reach beyond the classroom (or eLearning module), this book will help you understand emerging technologies and how to leverage them to build a community of learning in your organization. It’s easy to read, and full of tips for using everything from blogs to wikis to social networks. Good stuff!

Your turn: Tell me, L&D friends, what’s on your bookshelf (or device!) these days? What books and resources have helped you learn more about your craft? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Know of an emerging trainer who could benefit from these resources? Share this post with them…they’ll thank you for it!

12 thoughts on “5 Books New Trainers Should Have On Their Reading Lists

  1. Brian Washburn says:

    1) The Adult Learner – Malcolm Knowles, et al (if we’re going to use Adult Learning Principles in our work, we should probably know where adult learning theory came from)
    2) Creative Training Techniques Handbook – Bob Pike (it looks like a text book but it’s FULL of ideas, tips and strategies anyone can use – from the beginning trainer to the experienced pro)
    3) Brain Rules – John Medina (not a book focused specifically on training… but if we’re going to try to work our magic into people’s brains, then we should probably know how the brain works)
    4) Michael Allen’s Guide to Elearning – Michael Allen (if you’re working on elearning, this will help expand your idea as to what’s possible when it comes to creating amazing and engaging online learning experiences)
    5) How to be a Presentation God – Scott Schwertly (if you’re going to be in front of people anyways, why wouldn’t you want to be a presentation god?)

  2. Robin Justin says:

    1. Planning Programs for Adult Learners by Rosemary S. Caffarella: This is one of my go-to books I reference often.This is a great source of information for planning a Learning Program or even if it is just a one-time training session.

    2. Active Training by Mel Silberman – has lots of tips and techniques for adding action into the curriculum.

    I frequently refer to The Creative Training Techniques Handbook by Bob Pike (mentioned by Brian) and Telling Ain’t Training by Harold D. Stolovitch mentioned in the original list. I don’t know how my career survived prior to these gems. :-)

    • Michelle says:

      Great suggestions, Robin! I haven’t read The Creative Training Techniques Handbook that you and Brian mentioned. With 2 recommendations, I’m going to have to check it out! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Carmen Glovsky says:

    1. Developing Technilca Training, by Ruth Colvin Clark. This tiny book contains concise and clear examples of how to teach process, policies, procedures, concepts, etc.; there is a difference in how to train these categories to make learning stickl.(Telling Ain’t Training, and Training Ain’t Performance are also standards but already mentioned.)
    2. For Sales Training, anything by Linda Richardson but my favorites are Perfect Selling, and Sales Coaching.
    3. The Bible of Course: Human Competence, Engineering Worthy PErformance, by Thomas F. Gilbert
    4. Brilliant Job Aids and Process Overviews: Structured On-the-Job Training, by Jacobs & Jones

  4. Stephanie Daul says:

    My two favorites for emerging designers are…
    1. Design for How People Learn (Voice That Matters) by Julie Derksin
    2. The Accidental Instructional Designer: Learning Design for the Digital Age by Cammy Bean

    These are great places to start.

    • Michelle says:

      Thanks, Stephanie! These are great! I’ve bought and flipped through The Accidental Instructional Designer, but have yet to read it all the way through. Looking forward to it!

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