Understanding and addressing trauma is paramount for creating a safe and supportive learning environment. Teachers play a crucial role in supporting students who have experienced trauma. One way to deepen this understanding is through reading books that provide insights, strategies, and resources on trauma-informed practices.

Trauma Informed Books for Teachers to ReadTrauma Informed Books for Teachers to Read
Trauma Informed Books for Teachers to Read

When you understand what trauma is and how it manifests in the body and behavior, it makes it easier to understand and relate to your students.

Below is a curated list of highly recommended trauma-informed books for educators to explore and enhance their understanding of what trauma is in students. I hope it helps!

But First…What Is Trauma?

Trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience that can have lasting effects on an individual’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. In the classroom, trauma can manifest in various ways among students. It may appear as heightened anxiety, difficulty concentrating, disruptive behavior, or withdrawal from social interactions.

Understanding how trauma can impact students is crucial for educators to create a safe and supportive learning environment. By recognizing the signs of trauma in students, teachers can better address their needs and provide the necessary support for healing and growth.

Must-Read Trauma Informed Books

Here are affiliate links to some of the trauma informed books I recommend for teachers.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma

by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

The book The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk delves into the impact of trauma on individuals, detailing how it reshapes both the body and brain, affecting pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. The author discusses innovative treatments such as neurofeedback, meditation, sports, drama, and yoga that leverage the brain’s neuroplasticity for recovery. Dr. van der Kolk highlights the power of relationships in both causing harm and facilitating healing.

Teachers would benefit from reading this book as it provides insights into understanding and addressing the effects of trauma on students. By learning about trauma’s impact on individuals’ behaviors and emotions, teachers can create a more supportive and inclusive learning environment that fosters healing and growth among students who have experienced trauma.

Help for Billy: A Beyond Consequences Approach to Helping Challenging Children in the Classroom

by Heather T. Forbes

This book offers practical guidance for families and teachers dealing with traumatized children. The book explores the science of emotions and behavior to provide detailed strategies for teachers and parents. It presents clear and comprehensive advice, helping readers understand how traumatic experiences impact the brain and learning.

By understanding the effects of trauma on behavior and learning, educators can create a more supportive and effective learning environment for the students who need the most help. Help for Billy offers practical tools that can enhance teachers’ ability to connect with and help children who have experienced trauma.

Building Trauma-Sensitive Schools: Your Guide to Creating Safe, Supportive Learning Environments for All Students

by Jen Alexander M.A. NCC SB-RPT

This reader-friendly guide by trauma expert Jen Alexander provides a comprehensive framework for creating a trauma-sensitive school environment to help students thrive despite experiencing trauma. Teachers should read this book to gain insights into understanding the impact of trauma on students’ development and behavior, implementing effective strategies at different support tiers, fostering resilience through prioritizing relationships, collaborating with families and colleagues, and promoting wellness through personalized self-care plans.

The book offers practical materials such as creative activities, case stories, dialogues, and worksheets to support educators in building a supportive and effective learning environment for all students, especially those who are most vulnerable.

Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others

by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky and Connie Burk

This book delves into the toll that trauma work takes on individuals striving to make a positive impact, addressing symptoms like exhaustion, cynicism, and numbness that drain energy and effectiveness. Lipsky offers simple and profound practices from psychology and spiritual traditions to help trauma workers examine their reactions and motivations, finding new sources of energy and renewal.

Teachers can benefit from reading this book to gain insights into managing the emotional toll of their work, recognizing symptoms of burnout and compassion fatigue, and enhancing their well-being and effectiveness in supporting students and contributing positively to the educational community.

What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing

by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce D. Perry

The book What Happened to You? shifts the focus from asking “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”, encouraging understanding and empathy towards individuals who have experienced trauma.

Teachers should read this book to gain insight into how past experiences shape behavior and emotions, fostering a more compassionate and supportive approach toward students who may have faced adversity. By understanding the impact of trauma, teachers can create a nurturing environment that promotes resilience and healing among students.

Equity-centered Trauma-informed Education: Transforming Classrooms, Shifting Systems (Equity and Social Justice in Education)

by Alex Shevrin Venet

The book emphasizes the importance of considering equity in trauma-informed education. It challenges the traditional focus on external circumstances causing student behavior by highlighting how inequity itself can lead to trauma. It provides a framework of six principles for promoting equity in trauma-informed practices, offering practical steps for teachers and school leaders.

Teachers should read this book to gain insights on how to integrate equity into trauma-informed education. It provides actionable steps for promoting equity within classrooms and schools, emphasizing the potential for transformation when educators collaborate and utilize their resources effectively.

Relationship, Responsibility, and Regulation: Trauma-Invested Practices for Fostering Resilient Learners

by Kristin Van Marter Souers and Pete Hall

The book provides practical strategies for creating a safe and supportive learning environment by addressing students’ emotional, relational, physical, and control needs. It also offers insights into trauma-invested practices through real-life scenarios and multiple perspectives. 

Teachers should read it to enhance their understanding of student behavior, challenge their beliefs, and empower students from diverse backgrounds.

Do you have a favorite trauma-informed book that has helped you with creating a positive, supportive learning environment? Share it with us below!


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