2017 Raising Nerd Mega Holiday Wish List:
BONUS Nerdy Books Edition Part 2
“The problem in our country isn’t with books being banned, but with people no longer reading. You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
Ray Douglas Bradbury knew a thing or two about creativity, books, and culture. He wrote 27 novels, more than 600 short stories and poems, dozens of teleplays and stage plays, and the screenplay for Moby Dick before he passed in June 2012.
Ray Bradbury’s writing fed the curiosity of millions of readers, young and old, spurring them to ask “what if?” And, more than ordinary sci-fi, fantasy, and tales of horror, his art often gave voice to stark social commentary, as it did in what many critics consider his masterpiece Fahrenheit 451.
Bradbury’s works, of which more than eight million have been sold (published in more than 36 languages), have inspired generations of would-be scientists, engineers, and creatives around the world. After reading Dandelion Wine in 10th grade, this Imperfect Dad committed himself to becoming a writer. We’ve been chasing the perfection and insight of his elegant prose for over 30 years.
Here, now, are our most Nerd-worthy fiction, non-fiction (and science fiction!) gift selections to intrigue and inspire Nerds ages 8 and up. You can be sure that a few of the late Mr. Bradbury’s creations dwell among them.
“Anything you dream is fiction, and anything you accomplish is science, the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction.” – Ray Bradbury
Nerdy Books for AGES 8 to 12
The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Leonard S. Marcus (Editor)
This special edition of Milo’s adventures in the Lands Beyond is expansively annotated, including interviews with the author and illustrator, excerpts from Juster’s notes and drafts, cultural and literary commentary, and other insights on the book.
A Wrinkle In Time (Time Quintet Boxed Set) by Madeleine L’Engle
This boxed set begins with L’Engle’s 1963 Newbery Medal winner – the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe. They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract (time wrinkle) problem. All five books in the series included.
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
A space-obsessed boy and his dog, Carl Sagan, take a journey toward family, love, hope, and awe in this funny and moving novel.
Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Prez knows that the best way to keep track of things is to make a list. That’s important when you have a grandfather who is constantly forgetting. And it’s even more important when your grandfather can’t care for you anymore and you have to go live with a foster family out in the country. Prez is still learning to fit in at his new home when he meets Sputnik – a kid who is more than a little strange. First, he can hear what Prez is thinking. Second, he looks like a dog to everyone except Prez. Third, he can manipulate the laws of space and time. Sputnik is an alien and he’s got a mission that requires Prez’s help: the Earth has been marked for destruction, and the only way they can stop it is to come up with 10 reasons why the planet should be saved.
The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge
Stephen Albie Bright leads a happy, normal life. Well, as normal as it gets with two astrophysicist parents who named their son after their favorite scientists, Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein. But then Albie’s mother dies of cancer, and his world is shattered. When his father explains that she might be alive in a parallel universe, Albie knows he has to find her. So, armed with a box, a laptop, and a banana, Albie sets out to do just that.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Inspired the 2011 Martin Scorsese 3D film Hugo. Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life and his most precious secret are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this spellbinding mystery.
The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris
“This book isn’t just a book. It’s a treasure trove of secrets and ciphers and codes and even tricks. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll discover more than just a story–you’ll learn how to make your own magic!”
The Doldrums and The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse by Nicholas Gannon
Ever since Archer’s adventurous grandparents disappeared on an iceberg in Antarctica, his mother has been excessively overprotective. As a result, Archer has created a rich life for himself, largely played out in his imagination. When a mysterious package arrives from his supposedly deceased grandparents, it is all the motivation Archer needs to hatch a plan to rescue them.
York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby
An epic alternate history series about three kids who try to solve the greatest mystery of the modern world: a puzzle and treasure hunt laid into the very streets and buildings of New York City.
Nerdy Non-Fiction books
This Book Is A Planetarium and Other Extraordinary Pop-Up Contraptions by Kelli Anderson
Anderson’s book makes a return to our list since it just published in October. This pop-up transforms into six fully functional tools: a real, working planetarium projecting the constellations, a musical instrument, a geometric drawing generator, an infinite calendar, a message decoder, and a speaker that amplifies sound. Artist Anderson contributes text alongside each pop-up, explaining the scientific principles related to the constructions.
Hidden Figures: Young Readers Edition by Margot Lee Shetterly
This edition of Shetterly’s acclaimed book gives younger Nerds access to the powerful story of four African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in our space program.
Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World by Julia Rothman
See the world in a whole new way! Acclaimed illustrator Rothman combines art and science in this exciting and educational guide to the structure, function, and personality of the natural world.
Maps and Maps Activity Book by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinska
Lavishly drawn illustrations featuring not only borders, cities, rivers, and peaks, but also places of historical and cultural interest, eminent personalities, iconic animals and plants, cultural events, and many more fascinating facts associated with every region of our planet.
Under Water, Under Earth by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinska
Dive below the surface and find out what happens under earth and under sea – from early submarines and deep-sea life to burrowing animals and man-made tunnels.
Tangle Art and Drawing Games for Kids: A Silly Book for Creative and Visual Thinking by Jeanette Nyberg
Perfect for families who want to sneak a little more creativity into their lives and have fun doing it. Here are 46 drawing games about exploring, experimenting, and getting lost in creativity – not focused on goals, but on enjoying the process.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
The New York Times bestselling memoir of the heroic young inventor who brought electricity to his Malawian village adapted for young readers.
Prehistoric Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
What’s it like to come face-to-face with the 10-foot-tall terror bird? Or stare into the mouth of the largest meat eater ever to walk the earth? Can you imagine a millipede that’s more than six feet long, or a dinosaur smaller than a chicken? In this “actual size” look at the prehistoric world, Nerds will meet these and many other awe-inspiring creatures.
Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World by Reshma Saujani
Since 2012, the organization Girls Who Code has taught computing skills to and inspired over 40,000 girls across America. Now its founder, Reshma Saujani, wants to inspire you to be a girl who codes! 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.
Code Your Own Games!: 20 Games to Create with Scratch by Max Wainewright
Become a super-coder and create your very own computer games using Scratch—a free software developed by MIT.
Journal Sparks: Fire Up Your Creativity with Spontaneous Art, Wild Writing, and Inventive Thinking by Emily K. Neuburger
60 interactive writing prompts and art how-tos help you to expand your Nerd’s imagination and stimulate their creativity. Every spread invites a new approach to filling a page, from making a visual map of a day-in-my-life to turning random splotches into quirky characters for a playful story. A 2018 Teachers Choice Award winner.
My Crazy Inventions Sketch Book (ages 7+) by Lisa Regan and Illustrated by Andrew Rae
This book is jam-packed with amazing drawings showing all sorts of real inventions that seem too weird to work. How about a dog umbrella? A submarine that looks like a plane…or even a shark? A swimming machine where you don’t get wet? A car wash for people? Someone has even made a device to charge your phone using a hamster! There is plenty of inspiration to get Nerds’ minds going, and plenty of room to add their own crazy inventions to the mix.
Gardening Projects for Kids: Fantastic ideas for making things, growing plants and flowers, and attracting wildlife to the garden, with 60 practical projects and 500 photographs by Jenny Hendy
Fantastic ideas for making things, growing plants and flowers, and attracting wildlife to the garden, with 60 practical projects and 500 photographs.
20 Makey Makey Projects for the Evil Genius by Colleen & Aaron Graves
This hands-on guide is filled with DIY projects that show readers, step-by-step, how to start creating and making cool inventions with the Makey Makey invention kit. Each project features easy-to-follow, fully-illustrated instructions and detailed photographs of the finished gadget.
Clay Lab for Kids: 52 Projects to Make, Model and Mold with Air-Dry, Polymer, and Homemade Clay by Cassie Stephens
This workbook features 52 hands-on projects made with clay, all of which get kids working creatively, and thinking three dimensionally. The guide focuses on kid-friendly clays–air-dry, homemade, and polymer–that are safe and easy to use at home or in the classroom – no kiln required!
Can A Bee Sting A Bee? And Other Big Questions from Little People by Gemma Elwin Harris
A handbook for perplexed parents and their curious children. The author has compiled weighty questions from precocious grade school children – queries that have long dumbfounded even intelligent adults – and she’s gathered together a notable crew of scientists, specialists, philosophers, and writers to answer them.
A Drop in My Drink: The Story of Water on Our Planet by Meredith Hooper and Illustrated by Chris Coady
This is the story of a drop of water, told by a gifted science writer. It takes the reader back thousands of years to see where the Earth’s water came from, and how life began in the oceans and later moved onto land. It describes the water cycle, the relationship between water and living things and between water and erosion. It also discusses important environmental issues and provides a fascinating collection of water facts.
3D Art Lab for Kids: 32 Hands-on Adventures in Sculpture and Mixed Media – Including fun projects using clay, plaster, cardboard, paper, fiber beads and more! by Susan Schwake
An inspiring collection of ideas and projects for encouraging an artistic spirit in children! 3D Art Lab for Kids includes 36 kid-friendly fine art projects in paper, clay, textiles, sculpture, and jewelry. Each project is inspired by the work of a prominent artist and is illustrated with step-by-step full-color photographs of the process as well as finished samples and variations.
Out of the Box by Jemma Westing
Twenty-five interactive cardboard model projects that engage kids’ creativity and “out of the box” thinking skills through hands-on learning and the application of science-based principles.
For Big Nerds AGES 12 to ADULT
The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly and his mom aren’t celebrating. They’re still reeling from his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier. Then Lolly’s mother’s girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything: two enormous bags filled with LEGO bricks. Lolly’s always loved LEGO, and he prides himself on following the kit instructions exactly. Now, faced with a pile of building blocks and no instructions, Lolly must find his own way forward.
Feed by M.T. Anderson
For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon – a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid “low-grav” at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires.
Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson
When the vuvv first landed, it came as a surprise to aspiring artist Adam and the rest of planet Earth — but not necessarily an unwelcome one. Can it really be called an invasion when the vuvv generously offered free advanced technology and cures for every illness imaginable? As it turns out, yes. With his parents’ jobs replaced by alien tech and no money for food, clean water, or the vuvv’s miraculous medicine, Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, have to get creative to survive.
Felix Yz (Ages 10-14) by Lisa Bunker
When Felix Yz was three years old, a hyperintelligent fourth-dimensional being became fused inside him after one of his father’s science experiments went terribly wrong. The creature is friendly, but Felix – now 13 – won’t be able to grow to adulthood while they’re still melded together. So a risky Procedure is planned to separate them…but it may end up killing them both instead.
Where the Hell is Tesla? A Novel by Rob Dircks
A sci-fi comedy in which the lost journal of Nikola Tesla, filled with spectacular claims and outrageous plans, has been discovered by a guy named Chip. One of the plans for an “Interdimensional Transfer Apparatus” allows Chip and his friend Pete to travel through the multiverse. Of course, a covert governmental group would like to suppress the crazy secrets Tesla’s notebooks contain.
The Martian Chronicles, R is For Rocket and S is For Space by Ray Bradbury
The award-winning science fiction and fantasy author’s works have never been more relevant. This trio of Bradbury short-story collections is brimming with his poetic sci-fi prose and prophetic wisdom for problem-solving Nerds, such as “We Earth men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things” and “Science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle” (both taken from The Martian Chronicles).
Pandemic and Genome (The Extinction Files Books 1 & 2) by A.G. Riddle
In Africa, a mysterious outbreak spreads quickly. Teams from the CDC and WHO respond, but they soon learn that there is more to the epidemic than they believed. It may be the beginning of a global experiment–an event that will change the human race forever.
Artemis by Andy Weir
From bestselling author of The Martian comes this new near-future thriller – a heist story set in the first and only city on the moon.
Infinite by Jeremy Robinson
The Galahad, a faster-than-light spacecraft, carries fifty scientists and engineers on a mission to prepare Kepler 452b, Earth’s nearest habitable neighbor at 1400 light years away. With Earth no longer habitable and the Mars colony slowly failing, they are humanity’s best hope. After 10 years in a failed cryogenic bed – body asleep, mind awake – William Chanokh’s torture comes to an end as the fog clears, the hatch opens, and his friend and fellow hacker, Tom, greets him…by stabbing a screwdriver into his heart. This is the first time William dies. It is not the last.
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age—a world terraformed and prepared for human life. But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare. Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?
Red Hope and Blue Hope by John Dreese
For two million years, Mars has hidden a secret. Two hours ago, the Curiosity Rover found it. Four astronauts left home to be the first humans on Mars. What didn’t come back will haunt life on Earth forever.
Mission One by Samuel Best
Titan. Sixth moon of Saturn. A gleaming jewel of natural resources, ripe for harvesting by the first private space company to stake a claim. Diamond Aerospace launches a ship with an experimental engine that will get a crew to Titan in five months. Their mission is to lay the groundwork for a permanent orbital research station, one that will be the future base of operations for activity on that distant moon. Shortly after launch, a devastating malfunction forces the crew to make a choice: continue to Titan, or go back home. As the truth about their mission unravels, one thing is clear: someone on Earth knew about the system flaw and covered it up.
Nerdy Non-fiction Books
Don’t Give Guns to Robots: Choosing Our Future Before It Chooses Us (pre-order) by Adam Savage and Drew Curtis
Adam Savage, Mythbuster and editor-in-chief of Tested.com, and pioneering tech disrupter Drew Curtis explore what happens after the next tidal wave of innovations changes the world as we know it: what are the big surprises, threats, and challenges we will face, and how can we make flying cars a reality instead of robot overlords?
Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon by Jeffrey Kluger
The untold story of the historic voyage to the moon that closed out one of our darkest years with a nearly unimaginable triumph. In August 1968, NASA made a bold decision: in just sixteen weeks, the United States would launch humankind’s first flight to the moon. Only the year before, three astronauts had burned to death in their spacecraft, and since then the Apollo program had suffered one setback after another. Meanwhile, the Russians were winning the space race, the Cold War was getting hotter by the month, and President Kennedy’s promise to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade seemed sure to be broken. But when Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders were summoned to a secret meeting and told of the dangerous mission, they instantly signed on.
Into the Black: The Extraordinary Untold Story of the First Flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia and the Astronauts Who Flew Her by Rowland White
This book recaptures the historic moments leading up to and the exciting story of the astronauts who flew the daring maiden flight of the space shuttle Columbia. Using interviews, NASA oral histories, and recently declassified material, Into the Black pieces together the dramatic untold story of the Columbia mission and the brave people who dedicated themselves to help the United States succeed in the age of space exploration.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson. But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.
StarTalk: Everything You Ever Need to Know About Space Travel, Sci-Fi, the Human Race, the Universe, and Beyond by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Jeffrey Simons, and Charles Liu
This illustrated companion to the popular podcast and National Geographic Channel show is an eye-opening journey for anyone curious about our universe, space, astronomy and the complexities of the cosmos.
American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World by David Baron
This “suspenseful narrative history” (Maureen Corrigan, NPR) brings to life the momentous eclipse that enthralled a nation and thrust American science onto the world stage.
Reality is Not What it Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity by Carlo Rovelli
What are the elementary ingredients of the world? Do time and space exist? And what exactly is reality? Theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli has spent his life exploring these questions. He tells us how our understanding of reality has changed over the centuries and how physicists think about the structure of the universe today.
Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity Through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play by Mitchel Resnick
In kindergartens these days, children spend more time with math worksheets and phonics flashcards than building blocks and finger paint. Kindergarten is becoming more like the rest of school. In Lifelong Kindergarten, learning research expert 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.
Made By Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff by Scott Bedford
Clever, whimsical, and kind of genius, here are 67 unique projects that will turn any dad with DIY leanings into a mad scientist hero that his kid(s) will adore.
Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith
From a top scientist and the creator of the hugely popular web comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, a hilariously illustrated investigation into future technologies — from how to fling a ship into deep space on the cheap to 3D organ printing.
We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson
Humanity’s understanding of the physical world is full of gaps. Not tiny little gaps you can safely ignore — there are huge yawning voids in our basic notions of how the world works. PHD Comics creator Cham and particle physicist Whiteson have teamed up to explore everything we don’t know about the universe: the enormous holes in our knowledge of the cosmos. Armed with their popular infographics, cartoons, and unusually entertaining and lucid explanations of science, they give us the best answers currently available for a lot of questions that are still perplexing scientists.
The Zoomable Universe: An Epic Tour Through Cosmic Scale, From Almost Everything to Nearly Nothing by Caleb Scharf and Ron Miller
The award-winning astrobiologist Scharf and the acclaimed artist Miller take us on an epic tour through all known scales of reality, from the largest possible magnitude to the smallest. Drawing on cutting-edge science, they begin at the limits of the observable universe, a scale spanning 1027 meters – about 93 billion light-years. And they end in the subatomic realm, at 10-35 meters, where the fabric of space-time itself confounds all known rules of physics. In between are galaxies, stars and planets, oceans and continents, plants and animals, microorganisms, atoms, and much, much more.
Primates by Jim Ottaviani
Jim Ottaviani returns with an action-packed account of the three greatest primatologists of the last century: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas. These three ground-breaking researchers were all students of the great Louis Leakey, and each made profound contributions to primatology ― and to our own understanding of ourselves.
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Be sure to check out the main Raising Nerd Mega Holiday Wish List as well as Part 1 of our Books List and Stocking Stuffers Edition. We hope you and your family have a wonderfully Nerdy, bookish and safe holiday season – Nerd on!