Launch or Stretch Your L&D Career: Top Five Books to Fuel Your Success

It’s an exciting time to be a Learning and Development (L&D) professional. The advancement of learning technologies notwithstanding, there is also more opportunity for an L&D professional to let their creative flag fly! 

Today there are more people who are new(er) to the industry or transitioning from academia (welcome!) to corporate L&D work than ever before. As exciting as this is, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t challenges that need addressing. This requires dedication and commitment to upskilling or reskilling to match the needs of this rapidly evolving industry. 

Although that’s not to say that those of us who have been around the block a time or two don’t require an adjustment in knowledge and mindset, and to this point, books can be invaluable resources to guide you on your journey. 

Top Five Books for your summer reading list

So – here, my friends, is your reading list for the summer. 

There are MANY books that should be sitting on every L&D professionals bookshelf right, but I’ll keep this to the top five that will help you launch or stretch your Learning and Development career. Many of the books on this list have been recently revised, so don’t go writing them off (pun intended) just yet.

Design for How People Learn by Julie Dirksen

This is THE #1 book that EVERY L&D professional should own. My copy is literally covered in sticky notes! 

Understanding how people learn is crucial for instructional designers and trainers. Dirksen’s book breaks down the science of learning and provides practical strategies for creating engaging and effective learning experiences. With its clear explanations and real-world examples, this book is an essential guide for anyone involved in designing learning programs.

The Art and Science of Training by Elaine Biech

You can’t go wrong with any book produced and edited by Elaine Biech. There is no one else who knows how to harness the collective wisdom of the L&D industry, and this book is no exception. 

The Accidental Instructional Designer: Learning Design for the Digital Age by Cammy Bean

Most of us have been here! I know this is where I started, as an accidental trainer. Not everyone grew up with a passion to help adults not suck at work. But here you are – now what? Cammy will guide you through. 

If you find yourself in an instructional design role without formal training, this book is your go-to resource. It covers the basics of instructional design, including needs analysis, designing learning objectives, and evaluating learning outcomes. Bean’s conversational writing style makes complex concepts easy to understand and apply.

Telling Ain’t Training: Updated, Expanded, and Enhanced by Harold D. Stolovitch and Erica J. Keeps

Oldie but goodie alert! 

It’s easy to get lured by the allure of being the “sage on the stage.” Sure, we’re there to help people connect the learning dots, but there’s an endorphine rush to facilitating a class too. This means that at times learning design and alternative delivery suffers. This book keeps you on the right track! 

Training sessions often fall short because of a lack of effective design and delivery. This book addresses that issue, emphasizing the importance of a systematic approach to training. Stolovitch and Keeps provide practical tips for designing and delivering training that maximizes learning and performance improvement.

Map It by Cathy Moore

Another book that if you are serious about being a part of the L&D profession, you must have. Being in L&D is more than creating pretty PowerPoint or being that elearning “order-taker.” We have to be serious about our partnership with businesses and helping to move the needle to align learning with business goals. This book helps you do just that. 

In the field of learning and development, it’s essential to align training initiatives with organizational goals and priorities. This book introduces the concept of performance consulting, which focuses on identifying and addressing performance gaps in organizations. The guide offers practical tools and techniques for becoming a strategic partner in driving organizational success.

6 Bonus Books!

To wrap this up

Being an L&D professional today means being at the forefront of driving organizational success alongside every part of the business, from the front lines up. 

L&D continues to wear many hats – but those hats look VERY different than they did just three years ago. The landscape of what we do is constantly evolving, and with rapid technological advancements, a renewed focus on engagement and well-being, plus global reach due to remote working, coupled with data-driven decision-making, the professional opportunities are great, and it makes an exhilarating time to be in the L&D field. 

I hope these books help you to further embrace the opportunities and new frontiers that L&D has to offer. Overall allowing you to make a lasting impact on the individuals in your business and supporting your organization. So equip yourself with these invaluable resources, and let your journey as an L&D professional soar to new heights.

If you are looking to upskill, reskill or simply connect with other L&D professionals in a safe and encouraging space, be sure to check out the Learning Rebels Community.

Add your favorite books in the comments below!

Shannon Tipton

Shannon Tipton

As Owner of Learning Rebels, Shannon Tipton is a skilled learning strategist, content developer and International speaker. Shannon has over 20 years of leadership experience developing successful learning strategies and infrastructures for training departments within organizations in North America, Europe and Korea.

Shannon works with people and organizations to develop learning solutions that brings actual business results. Recognized as bringing real-world expertise into the learning field, Shannon integrates technologies and social learning tools to strengthen workplace alignment, enhance collaboration and increase learning connectivity.

As author of “Disruptive Learning” Shannon frequently speaking at conferences across North America and Europe and ranks as one of the top 100 L&D influencers on Twitter (@stipton).

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