15 books for kids who (you want to) love Linux and open source

15 books for kids who (you want to) love Linux and open source

Plus, three books for babies.

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In my job I've heard professionals in tech, from C-level executives to everyone in between, say they want their own kids to learn more about Linux and open source. Some of them seem to have an easy time with their kids following closely in their footsteps. And some have a tough time getting their kids to see what makes Linux and open source so cool. Maybe their time will come, maybe it won't. There's a lot of interesting, valuable stuff out there in this big world.

Either way, if you have a kid or know a kid that may be interested in learning more about making something with code or hardware, from games to robots, this list is for you.

15 books for kids with a focus on Linux and open source

Adventures in Raspberry Pi by Carrie Anne Philbin

The tiny, credit-card sized Raspberry Pi has become a huge hit among kids—and adults—interested in programming. It does everything your desktop can do, but with a few basic programming skills you can make it do so much more. With simple instructions, fun projects, and solid skills, Adventures in Raspberry Pi is the ultimate kids' programming guide! (Recommendation by Joshua Allen Holm | Review is an excerpt from the book's abstract)

Automate the Boring Stuff with Python by Al Sweigart

This is a classic introduction to programming that's written clearly enough for a motivated 11-year-old to understand and enjoy. Readers will quickly find themselves working on practical and useful tasks while picking up good coding practices almost by accident. The best part: If you like, you can read the whole book online. (Recommendation and review by DB Clinton)

Coding Games in Scratch by Jon Woodcock

Written for children ages 8-12 with little to no coding experience, this straightforward visual guide uses fun graphics and easy-to-follow instructions to show young learners how to build their own computer projects using Scratch, a popular free programming language. (Recommendation by Joshua Allen Holm | Review is an excerpt from the book's abstract)

Doing Math with Python by Amit Saha

Whether you're a student or a teacher who's curious about how you can use Python for mathematics, this book is for you. Beginning with simple mathematical operations in the Python shell to the visualization of data using Python libraries like matplotlib, this books logically takes the reader step by easily followed step from the basics to more complex operations. This book will invite your curiosity about the power of Python with mathematics. (Recommendation and review by Don Watkins)

Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World by Reshma Saujani

From the leader of the movement championed by Sheryl Sandberg, Malala Yousafzai, and John Legend, this book is part how-to, part girl-empowerment, and all fun. Bursting with dynamic artwork, down-to-earth explanations of coding principles, and real-life stories of girls and women working at places like Pixar and NASA, this graphically animated book shows what a huge role computer science plays in our lives and how much fun it can be. (Recommendation by Joshua Allen Holm | Review is an excerpt from the book's abstract)

Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python by Al Sweigart

This book will teach you how to make computer games using the popular Python programming language—even if you’ve never programmed before! Begin by building classic games like Hangman, Guess the Number, and Tic-Tac-Toe, and then work your way up to more advanced games, like a text-based treasure hunting game and an animated collision-dodging game with sound effects. (Recommendation by Joshua Allen Holm | Review is an excerpt from the book's abstract)

Lauren Ipsum: A Story About Computer Science and Other Improbable Things by Carlos Bueno

Written in the spirit of Alice in Wonderland, Lauren Ipsum takes its heroine through a slightly magical world whose natural laws are the laws of logic and computer science and whose puzzles can be solved only through learning and applying the principles of computer code. Computers are never mentioned, but they're at the center of it all. (Recommendation and review by DB Clinton)

Learn Java the Easy Way: A Hands-On Introduction to Programming by Bryson Payne

Java is the world's most popular programming language, but it’s known for having a steep learning curve. This book takes the chore out of learning Java with hands-on projects that will get you building real, functioning apps right away. (Recommendation by Joshua Allen Holm | Review is an excerpt from the book's abstract)

Lifelong Kindergarten by Mitchell Resnick

Kindergarten is becoming more like the rest of school. In this book, learning expert Mitchel Resnick argues for exactly the opposite: The rest of school (even the rest of life) should be more like kindergarten. To thrive in today's fast-changing world, people of all ages must learn to think and act creatively―and the best way to do that is by focusing more on imagining, creating, playing, sharing, and reflecting, just as children do in traditional kindergartens. Drawing on experiences from more than 30 years at MIT's Media Lab, Resnick discusses new technologies and strategies for engaging young people in creative learning experiences. (Recommendation by Don Watkins | Review from Amazon)

Python for Kids by Jason Briggs

Jason Briggs has taken the art of teaching Python programming to a new level in this book that can easily be an introductory text for teachers and students as well as parents and kids. Complex concepts are presented with step-by-step directions that will have even neophyte programmers experiencing the success that invites you to learn more. This book is an extremely readable, playful, yet powerful introduction to Python programming. You will learn fundamental data structures like tuples, lists, and maps. The reader is shown how to create functions, reuse code, and use control structures like loops and conditional statements. Kids will learn how to create games and animations, and they will experience the power of Tkinter to create advanced graphics. (Recommendation and review by Don Watkins)

Scratch Programming Playground by Al Sweigart

Scratch programming is often seen as a playful way to introduce young people to programming. In this book, Al Sweigart demonstrates that Scratch is in fact a much more powerful programming language than most people realize. Masterfully written and presented in his own unique style, Al will have kids exploring the power of Scratch to create complex graphics and animation in no time. (Recommendation and review by Don Watkins)

Secret Coders by Mike Holmes

From graphic novel superstar (and high school computer programming teacher) Gene Luen Yang comes a wildly entertaining new series that combines logic puzzles and basic programming instruction with a page-turning mystery plot. Stately Academy is the setting, a school that is crawling with mysteries to be solved! (Recommendation by Joshua Allen Holm | Review is an excerpt from the book's abstract)

So, You Want to Be a Coder?: The Ultimate Guide to a Career in Programming, Video Game Creation, Robotics, and More! by Jane Bedell

Love coding? Make your passion your profession with this comprehensive guide that reveals a whole host of careers working with code. (Recommendation by Joshua Allen Holm | Review is an excerpt from the book's abstract)

Teach Your Kids to Code by Bryson Payne

Are you looking for a playful way to introduce children to programming with Python? Bryson Payne has written a masterful book that uses the metaphor of turtle graphics in Python. This book will have you creating simple programs that are the basis for advanced Python programming. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to teach young people to program. (Recommendation and review by Don Watkins)

The Children's Illustrated Guide to Kubernetes by Matt Butcher, illustrated by Bailey Beougher

Introducing Phippy, an intrepid little PHP app, and her journey to Kubernetes. (Recommendation by Chris Short | Review from Matt Butcher's blog post.)

Bonus books for babies

CSS for BabiesJavascript for Babies, and HTML for Babies by Sterling Children's

These concept books familiarize young ones with the kind of shapes and colors that make up web-based programming languages. This beautiful book is a colorful introduction to coding and the web, and it's the perfect gift for any technologically minded family. (Recommendation by Chris Short | Review from Amazon)

Have other books for babies or kids to share? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

Jen Wike Huger - Jen has been an editor on the Opensource.com team for six years. In that time, she's worked with countless developers and engineers, helping them with the magic of turning their technical expertise and experience into written form. On any given day, you'll find her managing the website's publication schedule and editorial workflow (on kanban boards), as well as brainstorming the next big article.