6 books on Raspberry Pi, Python, and more

A book list that appeals to the learner in all of us. Plus, a bonus project for the classroom.
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Despite year-round schools and education of all types and stripes—from open courses and textbooks to online learning—this is a good time of year to consider new, innovative learning solutions. From software to hardware, we've got you covered with a list of books recommended by our writer community at Opensource.com. 

6 books for the life-long learner

20 Easy Raspberry Pi Projects

by Rui Santos and Sara Santos

This is an easy to read and follow book complete with code examples, pictures and diagrams of all the projects included in the book. Twenty step-by-step projects compatible with Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 are detailed in the book. The book is suitable for beginners but all the projects will help you learn more about your Raspberry Pi even if you’re more experienced with the platform. You can build a digital drum set, a weather forecaster, smoke alarm, home surveillance camera, temperature and humidity data logger and more.

(Recommended and reviewed by Don Watkins)

Lifelong Kindergarten

by Mitchel Resnick

Puppet theater, papier-mâché pets, and chunky wooden blocks with peeling paint—there's magic in the creative anarchy of a Kindergarten classroom. If you think your academic achievements peaked in Kindergarten, you might be right. Imaginative play strengthens cognitive and social development in children. And in Lifelong Kindergarten, MIT professor Mitchel Resnick argues that schools, and institutions, should be organized more like playful Kindergarten classrooms, and less like automated learning factories.

Resnick is an expert in educational technology and the leader of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. He and his team created Scratch, the block-based, visual programming tool and online community for budding programmers of all ages.

Building on his experiences with the Scratch project and community, Resnick explores how playing, sharing, imagining, and inventing promotes critical thinking, problem-solving, and community sharing—all essential skills for learning and working in the 21st Century.

Resnick's book brims with stories of children programming all manner of elaborate projects—games, animations, and visual stories—all driven by passion and purpose. And readers will recognize an overlap with open source ideas and principles. For example, the online Scratch community promotes the sharing and remixing of student project source code—think GitHub for kids.

Lifelong Kindergarten is packed with ideas for educators and teachers. However, forward-looking leaders keen to optimize their teams for maximum creativity and innovation will discover inspiration in the wisdom of children.

(Recommended and reviewed by Charlie Reisinger)

Python Crash Course

by Eric Matthes

I found myself easily following this fast-paced introduction to Python programming. This book will have you writing your own programs very quickly. Information is clearly presented in "byte-size" chunks and the book is full of examples and "Try-it-Yourself" sections after each concept introduction. The book covers game creation, data visualization, web scraping, generating data, downloading data, getting started with Django, building and deploying and app and working with Git. In the process you will use Python libraries and tools like matplotlib, NumPy and PyGal. Follow Eric Matthes on Twitter and take a look his resources for the book on Github.

(Recommended and reviewed by Don Watkins)

Raspberry Pi Cookbook

by Simon Monk

This cookbook is ideal for programmers and hobbyists familiar with the Pi through resources, including Getting Started with Raspberry Pi (O’Reilly). Python and other code examples from the book are available on GitHub.

(Recommended and reviewed by Daniel Oh)

Raspberry Pi 3: Setup, Programming and Developing Amazing Projects with Raspberry Pi for Beginners

by Steve McCarthy

This book includes all the materials you will need for each project and task at the beginning of the developing with Raspberry Pi for ultimate beginners.

(Recommended and reviewed by Daniel Oh)

The Open Schoolhouse

by Charlie Reisinger

To best prepare students for the future, we must think deeply and openly about our vision for school technology today. I believe every student, in every school, deserves equal and open access to computers. Students should have the freedom to explore and experiment with their school-issued devices. In an open schoolhouse, every student is trusted with learning technology and empowered to rewire and reshape the world. Charlie Reisinger's seminal work on the unique opportunity school leaders and teachers have as they prepare our youth for the future of life and work is a must read. This book is a real page turner and will have you questioning the validity of your curriculum in an increasingly open world. If you are a constructivist and believe that students learn best by doing then you need to read The Open Schoolhouse. It is a practical guide for implementing open thinking, open design, open source software and open education principles in your classroom and school system.

(Recommended and reviewed by Don Watkins)

Bonus Project: PiDeck

PiDeck is a hands-on, hardware hacking project suitable for young people, from five or six years old on upwards. It uses a Raspberry Pi to play digital music controlled by a vinyl turntable, via the xwax application running on a tailored Debian distribution for the armhf architecture. Videos are available to explain how it works. While aspiring to the classic DJ techniques of Bronx DJs such as Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash. and Grand Wizard Theodore is possible with practice, very young children just like to play with the tactile interface that the turntable provides: speeding up or slowing down the music, and making the sound go backward and forward with their fingertips. Any music format supported by FFMPEG can be used, although FLAC is recommended for the best possible sound quality.

(Recommended and reviewed by Daniel James)

See a book in the list you also enjoyed? Share your feedback about it in the comments. Is there a book missing from the list? We'd love to hear about it in the comments, as well.

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Jen leads a team of community managers for the Digital Communities team at Red Hat. She lives in Raleigh with her husband and daughters, June and Jewel.

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