What people are saying about The Main Idea

“Principals and other front-line educators find it very difficult to read professional books and magazines during the school year. They look balefully at the teetering guilt pile on the corner of their desks and berate themselves for not staying on top of the latest thinking in a fast-moving field. Jenn David-Lang has part of the solution: she writes a cogent summary of a carefully selected book and sends it to subscribers by e-mail each month. What seemed impossible is now within reach.”

—Kim Marshall
The Marshall Memo


What exactly does a subscription to THE MAIN IDEA include?

With a year-long subscription to THE MAIN IDEA you receive 8-10 new book summaries along with over 70 book summaries and workshops in the archives.

What types of education books do you summarize?

We summarize education books from the last year or two which contain practical suggestions for improving the following areas: Accountability and Assessment; Curriculum, Instruction and Pedagogy; Data-Driven Decision-Making; Differentiation; English Language Learners; Leadership; Literacy; Mathematics; Multicultural Issues; Professional Development; School Culture/Climate; Special Ed; and Supervision. These are not theoretical books. Instead, expect to read a summary and immediately get ideas for improving your school.

Why read education books in addition to reading journal articles?

Journal articles capture the gist of new education ideas, while education books fully outline what they involve and how to implement them. THE MAIN IDEA chooses a limited number of compelling education books and introduces those to school leaders.

What’s the difference between a summary and a review?

Reviews are not only much shorter, but they cover both powerful and less effective education books. THE MAIN IDEA, by including a limited number of carefully selected books each year only focuses on books we recommend. Furthermore, the goal of the summary is to outline the author’s main points, not to critique them.

What’s the best way to use the summaries?

There are many ways to use a summary. If you like it, certainly buy the book to read more! If the ideas speak directly to your school’s current needs, you can design a professional development session for teachers using the implementation suggestions on the last page. You can buy a set of the books and conduct a book study group with teachers or leaders, too. Or, you can use the ideas more individually by sharing the concepts with teachers directly after observing them or in other one-on-one conversations. If the book seems useful, but the topic does not apply to your current situation, simply file the summary away. Each summary has a tab that names the category it covers (assessment, differentiation, etc.) to make it easy to file and then access the summary when you need it.

Who reads the summaries?

Being a principal is one of the most demanding jobs there is. For this reason, the summaries are designed with the busy principal in mind. They are also designed for other school leaders who deal with instruction — assistant principals, department chairs, academic coaches, lead teachers, superintendents, district office personnel, and others. It is also useful for those who train school leaders and teachers to stay abreast of the current education literature.

Do people still want to read the entire book after reading a summary?

Absolutely! This is the point of our service.

How can a summary contain all of the ideas of a book?

Education books often contain a few large ideas, and then a number of examples and explanations of those points. THE MAIN IDEA identifies and highlights those key ideas and then provides some of the details to help you understand those concepts and how to apply them. The summary will then point you to certain sections and pages of the book so you can learn more.

Can I send copies of THE MAIN IDEA’s summaries to colleagues?

THE MAIN IDEA’s summaries are copyrighted, and may not be copied or distributed without our permission. However, there is an option to subscribe as a group so the summaries will be shared with an entire department or administrative team.

Do you still have an unanswered question?

Feel free to email Jenn at