Summer is the perfect time to take a step back, regroup and think through your vision for the upcoming school year. In the spirit of learning, we’ve compiled a list of three books recommended by after school leaders like you to help invigorate your leadership strategies before the next school year begins. Let’s get reading!

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Author: Greg McKeown

Synopsis: The Way of the Essentialist involves doing less, but better, so you can make the highest possible contribution. In Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown draws on experience and insight from working with the leaders of the most innovative companies in the world to show how to achieve the disciplined pursuit of less.

Valerie Burke, Director of Community Education at Edina Public Schools, shares her thoughts on Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

Why is Essentialism a good book to read this summer?

Essentialists ask, “What do I feel deeply inspired by?” and “What meets a significant need in the world?” Big, worthy questions challenge the reader to consider where they invest their time and set up criteria to help them grapple with these questions. The chapters are focused and timely.

Why is Essentialism a good book to read as a community education leader?

Community educators invest their time in supporting and enhancing students and members of our community's lives. The ways we can serve are many and varied. Often, choices are based on budget, time, space, or talent. This book helped me consider choices a bit differently – asking this question. “Am I investing in the right activities?” Essentialism is an amazing read because it asks us to pause and think more deeply. Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less, either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy to operate at your highest point of contribution. For community educators – reflecting on what’s essential and not just saying yes and doing more is a worthy exercise.


Author: Gino Wickman

Synopsis: In Traction, you'll learn the secrets of strengthening the six key components of your business. You'll discover simple yet powerful ways to run your company that will give you and your leadership team more focus, growth, and enjoyment. Successful companies are applying Traction every day to run growing, frustration-free businesses — and you can too.

Michael Seppi, Director of Community Education at Parkway-Rockwood Community Education, gives insight into why you should read Traction.

Why is Traction a good book to read this summer?

Summer is the perfect time to learn about new tools that can help your organization grow and reach its full potential — and Traction has what you need! It continues to be extremely valuable as we work to find our 'new normal’ in a post-COVID environment.

Why is Traction a good book to read as a community education leader?

Traction has changed how our community education program operates — and for the better! The tools provided by Traction help our management team stay focused on our vision, deal with situations as they arise, and keep us moving forward as an organization. I recommend Traction to any community education leader looking to take their program to the next level.

The Convenience Revolution

Author: Shep Hyken

Synopsis: The Convenience Revolution shows you how to leverage convenience as a powerful way to differentiate yourself from your competition. You’ll learn six compelling strategies to fuel your plan to create convenience for your customers. These strategies are supported by numerous examples and case studies from various industries, including Fortune 50 companies and small local businesses. There is even a chapter on how individuals can be more convenient.

Why is The Convenience Revolution a good book to read this summer?

The past few years have forever changed how businesses and organizations communicate and engage their customers. The Convenience Revolution takes a modern approach to build a customer success framework, and the insights can help prepare you for the upcoming school year.

Why is The Convenience Revolution a good book to read as a community education leader?

Every day, community education and after school programs interact with their customers, and the needs and demands of those customers are evolving. The Convenience Revolution helps you and your team build an approach to customer success that works for you, ensuring that customers across your community are engaged, ultimately leading to program growth and happy staff!

Each new school year is an opportunity to learn and grow, and we hope these books can help you accomplish that. Are there any books we missed? We would love to add them to the list. Email us at, and we would be happy to include it. Stay tuned for more resources in the coming weeks.