9 Best Social Work Books You Need Now | Student

For the record, there are no magic books that will help you excel in your academic work without putting in the hours to study, stay organised and understand the modules taught.

These recommendations are books I have used and whilst this is subjective, I think they are great resources for all social work students.

Whether you are reading this article at the beginning of your studies or towards the end, it’s never too late to get these books.

While some of these books helped me massively as a student with my assignments and dissertation, I continue to refer back to them for my personal development and for information to support my work with students as a Practice Educator and when supporting people within the community.

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I have separated these into seven different articles, although you will find some overlap.

  1. Recommended Books for Preparing to Study Social Work
  2. Recommended Books for Student Social Workers
  3. Recommended Books for Newly Qualified Social Workers
  4. Recommended Books when working with Adults
  5. Recommended Books for Direct Work with Children
  6. Recommended Books for Practice Educators
  7. Recommended Books for Approved Mental Health Practitioners

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Recommended Books for Student Social Workers

Anti-Discriminatory Practice: Equality, Diversity and Social Justice

I have read many of Neil Thompson’s books and he explains things in a simple manner. His book on Anti-discriminatory Practice is one of the key social work resource I will recommend for students. In fact, it was one of the first books I bought as a student social worker, and highlighted in all the recommended reading list for every single module!

Thompson addresses the common concepts and issues across the various forms of discrimination. He explains why the development of anti-discriminatory practice is so vital and examines the steps that need to be taken towards constructing a social work practice based on principles of anti-discrimination and the promotion of equality.

I have applied how the Thompson’s PCS model helps with understanding discrimination at both the Personal, Cultural and Structural levels in Society in my article on How to Promote Anti-discriminatory Practice in 3 Simple Ways (with practical examples). Don’t forget to check it out. 

Anti-Discriminatory Practice
My Ratings

Theory and Practice: A Straightforward Guide for Social Work Students

Laid out in an easy-to-use format, this Theory and Practice book by Siobhan Maclean and Rob Harrison provides a straightforward guide for social work students.

Without a doubt, this has been my most used social work resource as a student through being a newly qualified social worker and now an experienced social worker. It helped me through every single assignment and writing up my reflective logs.

It gives a basic overview of a wide range of theories and models, giving each a clear description and critique. It has 51 chapters and exercises after each chapter where you are encouraged to reflect. Most chapters also have a summary and top tips section, which provides key takeaways.

The book provides ideas to help you relate theory to practice, where you are given an overview of the importance of theory in social work practice. And it has a few exercises which can be used to explore how theory and practice relate to each other.

Social work students have also contributed to this guide where they have provided tips and ideas on how they have developed their ability to link theory and practice during practice learning experiences. This offers an invaluable resource to link theories to practice.

If there is only ONE book, I have to recommend buying as a social work student, it’s this one!

Theory and Practice in Social Work
My Ratings

Modern Social Work Theory

This book is compact and structured. Modern Social Work Theory book by Malcolm Payne is a great resource when seeking to understand theories used in social work practice.

It was beneficial to me as a student social worker and again a book that I continually reference in my social work practice. You will find simple examples, using relevant case studies to enhance understanding of theories.

Also, this book gives a clear summary of general debates around social work practice and how to apply it. It explains a wide number of theories we use as social workers and I found this easy to incorporate and reference in my written work.

Modern Social Work Theory
My Ratings

Social Work Law

I enjoyed law as a student, mostly because I had a copy of the Social Work Law book! Understanding which part of the law applies to practice and why was the best part of law for me.

I have a few law books, however; Social Work Law by Alison Brammer is the one I will recommend for a student social worker because it is comprehensive and has all the information you will need to pass your law exams or write up your essays in law.

It really helped me when I was a student but also in my first year of practice when I was still trying to get my head around law.

Social Work Law
My Ratings

The Social Worker’s Guide to Children and Families Law

On a serious note, this is the only book you will need to make sense of the key elements of law involved in social work with children and families in England and Wales. The Social Worker’s Guide to Children and Families Law is the first and only book I own on children and families. There was no need to look any further after I grabbed my copy because it is practical, clear and readable.

What’s more? It reinforced my understanding with children and families law. I found it as an asset and a useful reference during my placement in front line social worker in referral and assessment in children’s services. So, whether you are a student social worker, newly qualified or experienced social worker, this is a handy resource!

Lynn Davis wrote this book with the non – lawyer in mind and presents a detailed and practical legal framework that any social worker or student social worker needs to know. It talks about relevant law applied to children, families and vulnerable adults alike, and pays particular attention to the key areas of: the dynamic relationship between the law and social work practice; the crucial role of anti-discriminatory practice; and the continued growth in the importance of the Human Rights Act, 1998.

I like the fact that it is jargon free and in an easy-to-use format. Examples and illustrations in this book stimulate interest and actively engages the reader. It will intimidate no one who feels law is ‘tough’. I can promise you that. It explains the fundamental concepts of parental responsibility and human rights, and private and public law, including care proceedings and adoption. It brings the complexity of children and families law to life.

Checklists, charts and highlighted points allow for easy reference, and illustrative case scenarios put the law into context. Multiple case examples applied to each section to review learning. Highly recommended. Just wish there was a companion for adult law too!

This is such an invaluable resource for front line social workers, managers, and trainees, students and those studying for post-qualifying awards. I could go on and on about the comprehensiveness of this book–but own a copy of this book and see for yourself. An absolute must have!

Children and Families Law
My Ratings

Social Work: An Introduction to Contemporary Practice

This book gives a snapshot of almost all modules covered in a social work degree. It is a great starting point and has excellent links to further reading and resources. It brings theory to context. Although it is too heavy, it is worth every penny!

Whether you are a student social worker, newly qualified or experienced social worker, Social Work: An Introduction to Contemporary Practice is a handy resource!

In this book, essential knowledge and skills are examined with authority and depth, and key debates approached in an accessible, informative and engaging way. There are excellent links to practice, making it interesting to follow.

The book encourages critical and reflective thinking. Social work exists to help people through complex and painful transitions in life, and the authors set relationship building at the heart of social work practice.

The whole content is held together by a firm commitment to organised thinking and the value of social work relationship building.

It is an essential resource for social work students on undergraduate and postgraduate training programmes, newly qualified social workers and experienced social workers in a variety of settings.

Social Work Contemporary Practice
My Ratings

Social Work Skills and Knowledge: A Practice Handbook

Social Work Skills and Knowledge book is clear, well set out, and easy to understand with good examples that bring each topic alive. It avoids the jargon which many other books have. 

The book is written in a wonderfully logical structure and you do feel you are on a journey of learning social work’s knowledge, skills and values. It links theories to practice in a succinct and clear manner.

For those who want to sharpen their ideas while keeping their practical feet firmly on the ground, this is the book for you.

I know I will use this for years to come!

Social Work Skills and Knowledge
My Ratings

How to Ace Your Job Interview | Newly Qualified Social Workers: No Fail Tips

Right after your social work degree, you would want to work (this is usually true in most cases) Are you ready to get noticed at the job interview and get hired? If then, How to Ace Your Job Interview by socialworkhaven.com is your ticket! As a student social worker, newly qualified or experienced social worker, this is a handy resource!

How often have you heard of someone not succeeding at a job interview? Have you thought of reasons this person may not have been hired?

You will need to master some skills to outshine other candidates. These skills can be learned and can improve your chances of securing the job of your dreams.

In this book, How to Ace Your First Social Work Interview, you will learn the strategies that will secure you the position, with information such as

  • What to expect
  • How to prepare for the interview
  • How to create a lasting first impression
  • How to communicate effectively
  • How to evidence transferable skills
  • And much, much more

So, if you are a newly qualified social worker pursuing your dream social work job and serious about getting hired, then this book is a must have.

How to Ace Your Social Work Job Interview
My Ratings

Critical Thinking Skills: Effective Analysis, Argument and Reflection 

I find the Critical Thinking Skills book a usable practice guide and reference. It is easy to read, well structured and helps aids with how you approach critical writing and thinking in your essays and reports. 

Definitely worth having  for all academic writing. 

Critical Analysis in Social Work
My Ratings

Socialworkhaven.com Useful Resources

  • Recommended Books

Best Social Work Books Every Student Must Read is a great article full of highly recommended and engaging books. Helping student social workers to equip themselves with knowledge and skills. It is a great way to empower yourself and encourage you to read more.

  • Social Work Registration

Social Work Registration: Get it done – is a useful article that walks you through the social work registration process.

  • Social Work Burnout

51 Effective Ways to Fight Social Work Burnout helps practitioners explore 51 effective ways to fight Social Work Burnout. Social work burnout can affect the way we execute our role. It can cause social work stress, and a stressed social worker cannot perform their role effectively.

  • Active Listening in Social Work

Why You Should Actively Listen as a Social Worker raises awareness of active listening in social work. Social work active listening involves the listener paying close attention to the speaker, making sure not to interrupt, and reflecting on what they have heard. This helps the speaker feel heard and validated, and it can also help them clarify their thoughts and feelings.

  • Social Work Humour

Social Work Humour for the End of a Long Day This article explains when social work humour is important. Essential social work skills include empathy, authenticity, resilience and respect. These skills help us cope with situations and meet the needs of service users or clients. However, the best coping mechanism in social work is definitely humour.


So there you have it. The best books for student social workers, in my opinion. Don’t waste another moment without grabbing a copy of at least one of these recommended books.

I hope this article has been helpful. Please let me know if you have questions in the comments section below. 

9 Best Books for Social Work Students

  1. Anti-Discriminatory Practice: Equality, Diversity and Social Justice
  2. Theory and Practice: A Straightforward Guide for Social Work Students
  3. Modern Social Work Theory
  4. Social Work Law
  5. The Social Worker’s Guide to Children and Families Law
  6. Social Work: An Introduction to Contemporary Practice
  7. Social Work Skills and Knowledge: A Practice Handbook
  8. Critical Thinking Skills: Effective Analysis, Argument and Reflection 
  9. How to Ace Your Job Interview | Newly Qualified Social Workers: No Fail Tips


  1. Recommended Books for Newly Qualified Social Workers
  2. Recommended Books when working with Adults
  3. Recommended Books for Direct Work with Children

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