Friday, June 7, 2013

My L&D Bookshelf Favourites

My L&D Bookshelf Favourites

Rachel Burnham of Burnham L&D Consultancy writes: I love to read.  I always have, despite finding it very difficult as a child to get started reading.  I remember sitting in my primary school class feeling completely at sea and thinking I was never going to get the hang of this.  I was helped by my parents bribing me with the present of a new Ladybird book, every time I completed a book.  Somehow I metamorphosed into a bookworm. 

One of the joys of reading is sharing books with other people – I share literary novels with my mother; histories with my husband; mysteries & thrillers with my father and teenage books with my son (the Percy Jackson series is a particular favourite).

Over the years I have learnt such a lot about L&D from reading (and then trying to apply the learning).    Even though I enjoy learning using social media and lots of the new technological tools – I continue to return to books as a preferred option.  Here are a few of my favourite books and authors that I’d like to share with you.

‘Workshops that Work: 101 ideas to make your training events more effective’ by T. Bourner, V. Martin & P. Race

I came across this wonderful book, packed full of ideas for interactive workshops, when I was very new to ‘training’ and it was hugely influential on my whole approach to learning.  It was originally published by McGraw-Hill, but has since gone out of print.  Some way along the way, I lost my copy, so I was delighted to discover that it is now available as a free download from Phil Race’s website.   Although many years have passed since it was originally written, it includes lots of great ideas that are well worth taking a look at.

This brings me to another great book by Phil Race

‘Making Learning Happen’ 2nd Edition P. Race (2010) Sage Publications

This is primarily written for lecturers in colleges and university and so much is not directly relevant to L&D professionals, except that it includes the Ripples model of how people learn and this is well worth exploring.  A free powerpoint presentation on the Ripples model of learning and the background to it is again available from Phil Race’s website  


Let’s get onto some actual books:

‘Psychology for Trainers’ by Alison Hardingham (1998) IPD

Alison Hardingham is definitely one of my favourite writers on L&D and I have several great books by her.   This is my top choice as it introduces ideas from the study of psychology and applies them to understanding common challenges when designing & delivering learning activities eg building rapport & establishing credibility.  Unfortunately, this is also out of print, but copies can often be picked up second-hand.


A very practical book that I return to time after time is:

‘Learning Needs Analysis and Evaluation’ 2nd Edition by Frances & Roland Bee (2003) CIPD

My copy is now rather bashed and well thumbed.  I like the way the Bees link LNA and evaluation and one of the great features of the book are the extensive appendices with examples of forms, tests and other practical bits & pieces.


I recently read Myles Downey’s book ‘Effective Coaching: Lessons from the Coach’s Coach’ (2003) Thomson Texere and wished I had read it a lot sooner.  It is both a great introduction to coaching and also a very thought-provoking read if you are already involved in coaching.  It really made me think again about how I listen.


My final pick for today is:

‘Use Your Head’ by Tony Buzan (2006) BBC

I have gone for this because it introduces the idea of Mind Maps, which I find one of the most useful tools in helping people to learn.   This book looks at a whole range of techniques to aid learning in addition to the guidance of mind mapping.  I love the pictures of mind maps included, but confess that none of my mind maps have ever looked as beautiful as these!


There are many other books that I’d like to share with you, so I promise to return to the topic in a future blog at some stage.  This has been a classic collection, so next time, I will turn my attention to some more current topics.

Rachel Burnham

6 June 2013


Burnham L & D Consultancy specialises in the development of L&D professionals, blended learning and evaluation

Follow me on Twitter @BurnhamLandD



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