I don’t have to convince Maker Mom readers that books make great gifts. I want to share a handful of books that have passed through my office lately. I purchased some of these, picked up others at my local library and a few were sent to me for review. I hope to share projects from the Maker books in the coming weeks. This post contains affiliate links.
Breakthrough: How one Teen Innovator is Changing the World By Jack Andraka and Matthew Lysiak. I didn’t realize this was a young adult book until I picked it up, but I still recommend it for parents of gifted kids. In fact, it would be a great book for a parent-child book club. The book provides a peek into the mind and life of a precocious child. Although he’s known internationally as an innovative young scientist, he shares vulnerable moments like middle school bullying and coming out as gay, in addition to documenting his award-winning and potentially life-saving research project.
Dewey Mac Maker Mysteries: Dog Gone Dog by Michael Carroll (an occasional STEMchatter). This lively story for the 8-12 year old set introduces the “spyentific method” as the protagonists work to solve a local mystery. It’s actually two books in one: there’s a 90-page Detective Manual following the story. The manual contains directions for more than a dozen spy-themed activities and projects to keep your curious little maker busy. (If you like the read-and-make concept, also check out the Nick and Tesla books.)
Eat Your Science Homework: Recipes for Inquiring Minds by Ann McCallum. We know that the kitchen is a great place to explore STEM concepts like math and chemistry, right? This book takes it a step further with six recipes and related science concepts. See also Eat Your Math Homework by the same author and Kitchen Science Lab by Liz Heinecke.
How Machines Work Zoo Break by David Macaulay. Here’s one for the younger set (7-10). Macaulay is a prolific author with a knack for explaining things. This innovative fun pop-up book is full of interactive elements that demonstrate the technology behind the basic six simple machines. When my boys were young, we were fans of Macaulay’s book, Black and White. With just a handful of words, he tells four stories at once in a most creative manner. You have to see it to understand its brilliance!
If you enjoy reading about complex things in simple terms, check out Randall Munroe’s new book, Thing Explainer. Munroe, author and illustrator behind the popular online comic xkcd, produced a book of “detailed diagrams of interesting objects, along with explanations of what all the parts are and how they work.” Here’s the clincher: he describes them using only the 1,000 most common words in English.
Junkyard Jam Band by David Erik Nelson. This book for teens on up is for intermediate makers. It’s not your “average grab an empty oatmeal canister and turn it into a drum.” The projects are a bit more complex (some involve soldering) and tackle things like circuit bending, making a Droid Voicebox and an electric ukulele from a cigar box. Stay tuned as the Maker Teen completes a project over Winter Break.
Make: Paper Inventions by Kathy Ceceri, another STEMchat panelist. For middle schoolers up through adults, this books includes projects like a light-up paper cat that shows how switches and sensors work, an origami robot worm, and the one I am itching to make, edible rice paper for secret messages. Low-tech projects in the book include quilling and paper weaving. I’ve written about Kathy’s other books Making Simple Robots and Robotics.
The Maker’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse: Defend Your Base with Simple Circuits, Arduino and Raspberry Pi by Simon Monk. This book for teens on up requires a bit more know-how and a larger toolkit than Kathy’s books. The Maker Teen is supposed to do a couple of projects from this book over break, so stay tuned to learn if he was able to monitor zombie movements with trip wires and motion sensors, help us escape dangers by opening doors remotely and communicate with other survivors by using Morse code, all things promised by the book.
Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation. Hoping to raise a Maker Kid? Former #STEMchat panelist AnnMarie Thomas has advice for you. This book outlines key concept for developing a Maker Mindset, attributes like curiosity, playfulness, risk and responsibility. I especially like reading about the childhood experiences of some of today’s important makers.
Writing Your Own Script: A Parent’s Role in the Gifted Child’s Social Development by Corwin Goodwin and Mika Gustavson. This book is for parents of twice-exceptional (2e) kids. That is the children are gifted but also have a learning or developmental concerns. The book provides parents with a blueprint to help guide their child’s social learning process. It starts with a helpful primer on giftedness, 2e, and overexcitabilities (OE) that are common in those populations. As the parent of a quirky gifted child who was just a bit different than most of his peers in those early years, I know there’s a need for a book like this. And don’t miss Gifted Homeschoolers Forum‘s rich online resources.