The 12 Best Corporate Trainer Books

Firstly, let’s say it, being an instructional designer (or, as we’ll call ourselves in this post, Corporate Trainer) is a very cool career choice, simple as that!

Being able to meet demanding business objectives while providing value-adding learning to your target audience and then you see that “light bulb moment” where they start to understand concepts they’ve struggled with before your training, gotta be honest, it feels pretty good!

Whether you’re transitioning from K-12/Higher Ed or you’re a seasoned L&D professional, working in instructional design can be truly rewarding. Still, for those in the industry, learning theory is something we all have to know.

The theories of adult learning cover a wide variety of concepts, everything from Malcolm Knowles’s principles of andragogy to instructional design theories such as ADDIE and SAM.

Book Review

Learning these theories, but more importantly, actioning them, will be what needs to happen to level up your instructional design career.

But where do you get started? How can you tell the difference between needs assessments and action mapping, linear vs. agile development, or even how to choose a learning modality?

One of the best ways is to find people in your industry who know more than you do or who are experts in the field and learn from them.

Linking with people through LinkedIn, reaching out through email, and meeting them at various L&D industry forums and conferences are all valid choices to increase your knowledge, competence, and ability in our industry.

Another method, which, although traditional, is still one of the best choices, is read, read, read.

But which books should you choose, how can you tell industry experts vs. perceived expertise when you’re new to the field, and which topics should you spend your hard-earned time absorbing?

In this post, we’ll look at 8 books that can help raise your L & D skills to the max and set you up for success as you progress through the learning and development field.

We’ve included books with a mix of traditional concepts, some factoring in facilitation, online and eLearning formats, and other helpful information.

So, if you want to know the 12 best corporate trainer books available, keep reading and check out our recommendations.

To clarify, I still have some of these book recommendations and have read them within the last 2 years, whereas other books I have read in the past but have given back to the library, so I no longer possess them. Still, I have read all of these, and all the following views are my own based on professional experience.

Related: Top Qualities and Skills of a Corporate Trainer

Design for How People Learn

The 12 Best Corporate Trainer Books

This is a great read and a must for any corporate trainer, especially when you need advice from an expert about ensuring your training development is valuable.

The author Julie Dirksen provides numerous jovial attempts at defining what various people need when it comes to being recipients of training content. Still, the best part is the ongoing real-world examples that can help you comprehend L&D concepts.

As our number one book in our list of the 12 best corporate trainer books, this one is definitely aimed more at the entry-level, so if you are new to the world of instructional design, this book is a must.

Related: Design for how people learn: book review

Julie does focus on adult learning, so if you are working in K-12, it may not be what you need, but the concepts do translate; keep in mind pedagogy vs. andragogy and the differences between the two.

I also liked how Julie was very witty and humorous in the way she presented the information, which makes the book memorable, and you want to reread it.

If you’re looking for a book focusing on the psychological and mental aspects of learning, then this isn’t the book for you.

On the other hand, if you want a beneficial L&D book with tangible examples with fun illustrations, with an author that takes critical concepts of how people acquire and attain knowledge and, more importantly, how to apply learning in real-life situations, then grab this book asap.

So when we think of our list of the 12 best corporate trainer books, this one is so crucial to have in your locker. It’s quick to read and easy to understand, with great methods to make you a better, more well-rounded trainer; what more can you want?

Map It

The 12 Best Corporate Trainer Books

One thing that all corporate trainers should be doing when training requests come to their desk, is assess if training is the answer to a particular problem or if a different solution should be considered, enter action mapping. 

Written by the legendary organizational learning consultant Cathy Moore, Map it looks at the main issues with the corporate learning and development industry. As of the writing of the book, having the “school model” where courses are created and pushed out to employees, but more importantly, what we should be focusing on is how to help people do their jobs better., 

Related: Book Review: Map It by Cathy Moore

Cathy talks about how employees are not empty, blank slates whose heads we need to fill with endless amounts of information, but in fact, we should assess and understand what tasks they need to perform to complete their duties and provide practice activities to enable them to flourish in their positions. Cathy Moore goes into all of this and more (pun intended!)

Action mapping, which the book is based on, is all about understanding if training is required?

Will training actually fix the problem, or is it a more cultural issue that needs to be worked on for any real-world change to happen? 

Well, action mapping will help massively with this and is a critical step post-needs assessment in the planning cycle of an instructional design project. 

Cathy has included some excellent examples with tangible takeaways for new and experienced corporate trainers. The book is a MUST READ for anyone who wants to develop their skills when planning L&D projects and for people who genuinely become a value-adding consultant to your organization.

The Adult Learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development

The 12 Best Corporate Trainer Books

“The Adult Learner” is a book by the famous adult education professor Malcolm Knowles. 

This book is currently on its 8th version, which shows the popularity of this publication. Malcolm Knowles shows in this remake of his classic first edition of the theory of adult education or Andragogy as it’s also known. 

In the book, we hear about the fundamentals of how adults learn and how this has evolved over time. We also find evidence of the long-served notion that adults learn differently than children, Andragogy vs. Pedagogy, but having brought this concept into the 21st century, with some great examples on offer. Lastly, there is a great focus on the neuroscience around adult learning and how, as training content creators, we need to tap into this due to how important psychology is when it comes to adults learning more asynchronously.

Related: Book Review: The Adult Learner 

If you need a classically innovative approach to how the world of adult learning started and has developed over time and want to be provided with terrific examples of how you can implement learning programs for adults that actually provide value to their work, get this book. 

It’s a long read, but it’s worth it in the end!

Telling ain’t training

The 12 Best Corporate Trainer Books

So let’s talk more about the 12 best corporate trainer books out there today, continuing now with telling ain’t training. 

Ooh, I love this book, it’s so clear, concise, and to the point, and it provides a great way to understand best practices with a humorous conversational tone to help draw you in.

Related: Telling ain’t training review

Here, this book is for anyone that does any form of training, teaching, or educating and not solely for corporate trainers, but I like that because, as a corporate trainer myself, I can pick up new ways of working and develop some top-level teaching skills in the process.

The book is written by Harold. D. Stolovitch and Erica. J. Keeps makes a pivotal push to have practical applications and exercises within it to provide tangible takeaways to you as a corporate trainer, so you can go away and change the way you teach and train in whatever setting you find yourself in.

Telling ain’t training is definitely not your traditional, stuffy textbook style, where you will find endless theories around learning and adult education and learning models. This is all about practical applications with ways you can apply various techniques in the workplace.

The book also attempts to debunk learning myths such as learning styles and provides you, the reader, with illustrations and end-of-chapter quizzes to keep that engagement high and make it a fun read. So, if you’re looking for one book to help you as a beginner, check this one out!

The eLearning Designer's Handbook

The 12 Best Corporate Trainer Books

So, I bought volume 1 of this book by eLearning designer extraordinaire Tim Slade, although Volume 2 is out, so if you want to buy it, get that one.

I had no choice but to add this one to our list of the 12 best corporate trainer books. This is arguably one of the best books that every ID should read, as the sheer quality of examples is amazing.

As mentioned, this is a book by the famous eLearning professional Tim Slade. Tim has been in eLearning since his career started working in Kohl’s head office loss prevention team.

The book is fantastic, it’s filled with simple short paragraphs that explain a process or concept swiftly so that even the most challenged newbies among corporate trainers can follow and understand.

I also like the images that Tim adds into the mix, which so many other books miss. Maybe they think it’s superfluous, but remember, visual design is a big part of our job, so imagery makes a massive difference in understanding what we need to do.

Related: Review – eLearning designers handbook

Tim also has numerous places to add your own notes on what you feel at that given time or exciting ideas you just have to jot down, which is really cool. The book is also written in a way that is not off-putting to new, energetic people coming into our industry; it’s just clear and straightforward advice on how to be better in your L&D journey.

Also, whether the book refers to evaluation techniques, writing project plans, or even creating your initial storyboard, the eLearning designer’s handbook is a book that every corporate trainer should have in their arsenal. This is due to the sheer number of tips for junior and senior designers alike.

It is a very practical book, so if doing rather than pure theory is your jam, then Tim’s masterpiece here is for you.

Get it now before they’re gone. I highly recommend this book if you need a mix of written and visual education on the world of corporate training.

Fixing Feedback

The 12 Best Corporate Trainer Books

One of the most important attributes we need as corporate trainers is great communication, we need to communicate with our learners, but we also provide feedback to others and elicit feedback from others such as SMEs, leaders, and others.

But when it comes to feedback, how do we make it better so we can communicate more effectively? Well, you should definitely read this book, which focuses on how we can develop the skills needed to make feedback fun but communicative.

Georgia, the author of the book, takes a refreshing look at how feedback happens in a simple, back-and-forth style, making it really easy to read. She uses a subtle sense of humour, defining how feedback in the corporate world has devolved into a collection of people who are trying their hardest mixed with “dicks” as Georgia calls them. These people do not communicate as well as they could and have superiority complexes, which finishes with the inevitable poor decisions.

I think the title of “fixing feedback” is very apt, we are not trying to re-invent it we are trying to fix what is already there, and there is definitely some work to do.

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve how they provide feedback or even to help others communicate better.

There are elements taken from a bunch of famous experts, from Simon Sinek to Thomas Kilmann to Brene Brown, which was really good to see, making the book well-researched and showing great aplomb.

Georgia mentions that fear of conflict, fear of being wrong, and fear of speaking, there are so many reasons good feedback isn’t given, once we look past these, we can move ahead and truly fix feedback.

If feedback and communication, leadership, and development are important to you, then this is a must-read!

Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation

The 12 Best Corporate Trainer Books

I have read this book numerous times and find something new in it each time. Initially written by the legend Robert Kirkpatrick, the 4 levels are one of the longest-lasting models for evaluating training programs. 

This book is written by Donald Kirkpatrick’s children, James and Wendy, and aims to adapt the 4 levels of evaluation to the more modern world, including how to evaluate eLearning projects. 

Related: Book Review-Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation

As you may be aware, Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels include the following:





The purpose of this book is that the 4 levels were originally created by Donald Kirkpatrick in the 1950s, which he used as part of his Ph.D. dissertation, but learning and development as an industry has changed so much since then. James (Jim), Donald’s son, and his wife Wendy designed the “New World Kirkpatrick’s model: which aims to help new-age learning practitioners understand the 4 aforementioned levels and learn how to effectively implement them in evaluating their training programs. 

The things I like most about the book are the endless real-world examples of how to apply the individual levels, which are (super helpful), and the example forms for post-program needs assessments to help you develop your post-program evaluation. 

Would Taughtup recommend this book? 100% we would. If you want a fantastic guide to navigating the 4 levels of evaluation, then this is it, snap up a copy before it’s gone!

The gamification of learning and instruction

The 12 Best Corporate Trainer Books

Karl Kapp gives a nice introduction here into the world of game-based learning, and how we can “gamify” the learning content we produce to provide a more engaging and accessible world to learn in. 

The book provides a host of examples of how gamified learning can increase learning retention and offer an accessible environment to learn in a challenging way and also forces critical thinking to meet objectives and hit milestones. 

Karl provides some terrific examples of how game-based mechanics can give rise to meaningful learning that keeps learners in the mix and helps them design and create gaming-focused learning material that provides real value. 

One of the points I really like is that Karl uses historical and current research/peer-reviewed papers, which defines why game-based learning is so important and should be a weapon in the arsenal of every L&D professional in the world today. 

If you want a book that will provide a bit of theory around game-based learning but also give you tangible tips to design and create gamified content that makes sense, is relevant, and actually helps learners achieve their goals, well, this book is a must-buy!

LMS Success

The 12 Best Corporate Trainer Books

A lot of the books in this post are focused on the theory of adult learning and tuition on actually developing learning content, but to be able to host that content in the corporate world, an LMS (or learning management system) will be needed. But how to be successful when using a system like this? Let’s find out. 

Whether you’re attempting to bring a new LMS into your organization or a seasoned LMS administrator who wants to level up your skills, this book is most definitely for you. 

One thing that a lot of readers like is that previous or technical knowledge is not required. Learning about learning management systems is a tough one because there is a huge learning curve for most, understanding compliance standards such as SCORM, xAPI, and CMI5 is an alien concept to most people, and this book is just absolutely packed with practical tips, and tricks to get you going, or to master your skills if you’re a pro. 

Suppose you’re looking for a resource with in-depth technical knowledge, e.g., how to use JavaScript to find tune commands between the LMS and an authoring tool. In that case, you’re probably barking up the wrong tree, to be honest, this is mainly aimed at newbies, from selection to implementation and general administration. 

But for those new to the world of LMS administration, the practicality of the book, as well as part of the resource, is created like an ongoing workbook where you can make your own notes, well, that can be super useful, 

So, if you want to learn more about learning management systems and are struggling with generic LMS administration, this book is 100% for you, and you should snap it up, and deserves it’s place at no. 9 on our list of the 12 best corporate trainer books.

Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace

The 12 Best Corporate Trainer Books

So, this book is a little different as it’s not about instructional design specifically but is focused on the topic of the last few years, and that is how moving into a hybrid workplace can thrive with the right company culture.

In the book, the author Gustavo Razzetti talks about lots of concepts that affect getting the culture right in the hybrid world, these conclude:  






Related: Remote not distant Book review

These are not easy to decipher, but the author takes a great crack at them and does an outstanding job.

He talks about what are positive steps to take are best to change the culture to support remote working, whatever your role, CEO, trainer, or manager, the steps in this book will definitely help to move your organization forward.

The introduction was filled with inspirational stories and lovely snippets of humour to keep the reader moving along.

Another thing I truly enjoyed was the way he spoke about how specific office politics can be really toxic, and the joy of remote work is it helps to mitigate this, as well as the known increase in productivity, we all know this is true, but it really hit me while reading it in the book.

When we see the wisdom, case studies, tools, and insights within the book from Gustavo, you can see the in-depth research that has been done, providing notations on best practices and avoiding the boobytraps that can stall the development of your culture internally. 

Remember to work with your leadership to help make your way to a better culture to enable a genuine transition to a hybrid workspace. 

So, if you want to be at the forefront of the move to hybrid working and avoid the continued “great resignation,” make sure to pick this book up asap!

A practical guide to needs assessment

The 12 Best Corporate Trainer Books

Let’s get this out there; this is the best book on training need assessment, period!

Even though I’ve been an instructional designer for nine years now, conducting needs assessments was never the “fun” element of the job for me, and so when I do them, I honestly needed a lot of help, so I decided to get this book which was recommended to me by numerous ppl in the field.

The book provides a ton of theory that helps to give context on why needs assessments are essential when working in L&D.

It also provides examples of the different types of needs assessments, from a knowledge assessment to a strategy assessment. This was so useful for me to know as it helped me understand when I should use a certain assessment type over another and in what situations they should be utilized.

Also, there are great examples of assessments regarding how to structure it, from the initial write-up to the final report to leadership; it is clear, concise, well-written, and to the point.

The templates really make things easy to digest, and I have used many templates I have edited and used almost verbatim to use in my projects, that’s how good they are.

If you are a training professional and, by definition, need to conduct needs assessments to understand the challenges being faced by learners, get this book, don’t even think about it, buy it below!

What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming an Instructional Designer

The 12 Best Corporate Trainer Books

If you’ve been looking at Instructional Design as a career choice, firstly, well done, it’s fantastic; secondly, there is a ton of concepts you’re going to have to learn, and as the first port of call, read this really excellent book called, “What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming an Instructional Designer.” 

The book’s author is Luke Hobson, who you may have heard before as he has a growing notoriety on social media and runs his own podcast, so he’s doing good things.

The book is a great introduction to learn precisely what an instructional designer does and why they do it. Understanding the terminology differences, different workflows, and being in a corporate environment instead of a school environment. Excellent information exists if you are transitioning into the field from higher ed or K-12, which is happening more and more.

Dr. Luke has written the book in a very conversational tone, making reading more enjoyable and engaging and keeping the viewers on tenterhooks.

The book provides sound practical advice on what you should expect from a career in ID (Instructional design) which is great because the learning curve is vast coming into this industry, and help is invaluable.

The topics discussed in the book include the following:

  •       What does an instructional designer do?
  •       What are the pros and cons of instructional design?
  •       What kind of instructional designer do I want to be when I grow up?
  •       How do I build a portfolio?
  •       How do I make connections in the field?
  •       How do I teach myself a new skill?
  •       How do I work with SMEs?
  •       Is an instructional design degree right for me?
  •       What do students actually do in a course?

At the end of each chapter, there are excellent activities to help you practice and reflect upon what you learned. 

Taking action is vital to the learning process; you’ll know exactly what step to take with each point in your progress.

This book is definitely not for seasoned IDs / corporate trainers, as your knowledge will have already surpassed what this book can teach you, but if are wanting to join a career in this field and are unsure or nervous about what’s to come, then this is the 1 publication you need. 

So that’s it for our list of the 12 best corporate trainer books. If you want to become a corporate trainer, let this book from Dr. Luke Hobson be your ultimate guide to show you what will be expected to find true success in the world of learning and development. 

So, with that, get onto Amazon quick and buy it while it’s still availabl

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it, in Taughtup’s opinion, the 12 best corporate trainer books for you to read to level up your skills big time when it comes to becoming a corporate trainer or developing your existing skills in this fantastic field. 

Each of our listed publications are aimed at specific aspects of instructional design, such as needs assessment, gamification, and evaluation. 

We hope these books will be valuable to you in your corporate trainer journey, and you can use them daily to help develop yourself in your role. 

Please click the buy button below any of our books if you want to purchase them, remembering they are affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission if you use them; so thank you so much in advance. 

Let us know in the comments which of these books you’ve read and how much value they added.

Also, if you used any books, not on this list, let us know which ones, as it will be great to share that knowledge with all Taughtup readers. 

Thanks so much for reading this article, we hope you enjoyed it, and we’ll be back soon with more learning and development articles. 

Catch ya soon, 

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