Amp up your skills in 2024 with these best learning and development books. Perfect for rookies and pros alike.
As an L&D professional, you understand the importance of lifelong learning better than anyone. In the workplace, learning and development opportunities are the second most significant engagement factor . It also impacts staff churn, with 94% of employees claiming they would stay in a company longer if it invested in their development .
But to reap these rewards, L&D teams must stay up-to-date on the latest developments. The world of training and eLearning is continually growing and evolving, meaning industry professionals need to do the same. These insightful reads can help you do just that.
Here are ten essential L&D books that every pro should read at least once in their career. From learning the basics to elevating your design skills, these picks will give you the tools you need.
10 learning and development books every industry pro should read
We’ve hand-picked these ten learning and development books because each one covers a different (but crucial) area of the field. Here’s a closer look.
- eLearning and the Science of Instruction
- Map It
- Design for How People Learn
- Agile for Instructional Designers
- Play to Learn
- Make It Stick
- Blended Learning
- Millennials, Goldfish & Other Training Misconceptions
- Design Thinking for Training and Development
1. eLearning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning by Richard E. Mayer and Ruth C. Clark
eLearning and the Science of Instruction offers a science-based approach to designing engaging online courses. Often referred to as “the bible” of instructional design, this manual is a must-have for any industry professional.
We really love how the authors use evidence-based findings to demonstrate how to ensure the technology you use meets your learners’ psychological needs.
What’s more, you’ll find design templates, examples, and best practices for how to effectively use multimedia elements in your training courses. It’s an excellent all-rounder for L&D pros looking to hone their skills.
Best for: A comprehensive overview of instructional design best practices.
2. Map It by Cathy Moore
Cathy Moore expertly shows L&D pros how to turn training requests into impactful projects, using examples and humor to illustrate her points.
The manual walks readers through action mapping, which is a visual approach to conducting training needs analysis and learning design. With practical examples, activities, and downloadable job aids, Map It arms L&D professionals with the tools to create targeted training.
This book is a must-read for corporate L&D professionals who need to create training that directly impacts workplace performance. You’ll discover how to identify performance blocks, choose the best format for training activities, and create scenario-based learning that tackles real-world problems.
Best for: Boosting on-the-job performance fast.
3. Design for How People Learn by Julie Dirksen
Julie Dirksen is an award-winning instructional designer and a guild master. As such, you can rest assured that this book is packed with useful knowledge.
In the book, Julie emphasizes the importance of continuous learning in the field. She also explores how to create engaging training by touching on the key principles of learning and memory.
Using visual metaphors and clear examples, this book offers tangible advice on how to develop training that aligns with how human beings learn. As a result, it’s essential reading for instructional designers looking to create engaging training.
Best for: Understanding how your audience learns.
4. Agile for Instructional Designers by Megan Torrance
In this book, Megan Torrance does an excellent job explaining how to implement agile methodologies in instructional design.
The book addresses common pain points for training professionals, including trying to keep up with business needs. It also highlights the need for more efficient (and less linear) processes and how to achieve them. We’ll give you a hint: by using an agile approach.
You’ll learn relevant agile methodologies to help you manage training initiatives and create an iterative process. In addition, you’ll find templates to help you implement these methodologies and create efficient and effective training.
Best for: Implementing agile methodologies to better meet business needs.
5. Play to Learn by Sharon Boller and Karl Kapp
This book is an absolute gem if you’re looking for ways to incorporate game-based learning into your training strategy.
Packed with examples, evaluation tips, and best practices, you’ll learn how to motivate learners with games. The authors also offer tried-and-tested advice on how to align game design with business goals.
We love the checklists and templates, which are perfect for creating your own game-based learning plan.
Best for: Motivating learners through game mechanics.
6. Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel
Are you ready to unlearn everything you thought you knew about how humans study and form routines? This book challenges your beliefs and gives you some serious food for thought.
The authors explore the world of cognitive psychology, providing tangible techniques to make learning easier.
This book isn’t just a hit for training professionals; it’s a must-read for anyone interested in becoming a more productive learner. In short, it aims to help learners understand and remember information easier.
Best for: Creating training content that learners remember.
7. Blended Learning (What Works in Talent Development) by Jennifer Hofmann
Blended Learning (What Works in Talent Development) is part of a series of books that address important L&D topics. In this comprehensive book, the author guides us through the process of creating an effective blended learning program.
You’ll discover practical advice on how to design, implement, and evaluate blended learning in the workplace. In addition, the author uses her years of industry experience to offer best practices for adapting to the modern training landscape.
The variety of worksheets, practical advice, and recommended resources make this book valuable for L&D pros of all experience levels.
Best for“” L&D professionals looking to build effective blended learning programs.
8. Millennials, Goldfish & Other Training Misconceptions: Debunking Learning Myths and Superstitions by Clark Quinn
Millennials, Goldfish & Other Training Misconceptions is a fun and fascinating look at common misconceptions around training.
The author debunks common learning myths using thorough research and a level-headed approach. From problem-based instruction versus direct instruction to our attention span, you’ll start to question everything.
There’s also a very clear overview of learning myths and plenty of well-researched evidence to back up the author’s claims. This is a must-read for training novices and vets alike.
Best for: Unlearning common training-related stereotypes.
9. Disconnected: How to use People Data to Deliver Realness, Meaning, and Belonging at Work by Colleen McFarland
We live in the golden age of data, so it makes sense that L&D professionals must hone their skills in this area. In this book, Colleen McFarland explores how to design data-driven learning experiences that resonate with the current and future workforce.
Colleen gives actionable strategies for business leaders and training teams on how to use personalized data. This includes leveraging it to create better learning experiences that enhance overall employee well-being. It’s a fascinating read, especially for those invested in the employee experience.
Best for: Learning how to use personalized learning data to make better training decisions.
10. Design Thinking for Training and Development by Sharon Boller and Laura Fletcher
Design Thinking for Training and Development is a great read for anyone looking to build learner-centric training courses. The authors apply design principles to the L&D process, comparing each step of the product development cycle to each stage of the learning journey.
This includes creating a product prototype of your training course and focusing on making it as user-friendly as possible. In doing so, instructional designers can enhance the learner’s experience and streamline the development processes.
You’ll discover in-depth case studies, job aids, an empathy map, and valuable guidance on how to balance learner’s needs with business needs and limitations. What’s more, the authors offer sage advice on how to deal with stakeholders, craft problem statements, and map the learner’s experience.
Best for: Creating learner-focused training experiences.
We hope this list of the best learning and development books gives you some reading material for 2024. As the L&D landscape continues to evolve, these ten picks will keep you up-to-date with the latest trends and hone your knowledge. That way, you can build impactful learning experiences that garner tangible results.
By Nicola Wylie
Nicola Wylie is a learning industry expert who loves sharing in-depth insights into the latest trends, challenges, and technologies.