Holiday Gift Guide 2017: Great Nerdy Books for Great Nerdy Kids!
It’s never too early to start teaching kids how to geek out. Whether you’ve got kiddos of your own or you’re looking to
corrupt educate someone else’s younglings, there are tons of great books out there that would make excellent gifts this holiday season. After all, even non-geeky parents aren’t going to say no to books as presents!
The books we’ve listed include board books, picture books, early readers, and chapter books for readers with a wide variety of nerdy interests. Some of the books are related to popular franchises like Star Wars, Marvel, DC Comics, and more. Others are both fiction and non-fiction books geared at nerdier, STEM-related pursuits. There’s bound to be something for any and every young reader somewhere within this gift guide so read on!
For the Little Diana Princes and Bruce Waynes
When it comes to reaching out to the next generation, DC has really gone above and beyond. There are tons of board books and pictures books available, with more coming out every couple of month it seems. DC is definitely trying to get them early!
The board book topics range from simple thing like colors, shapes, letters and numbers to more complex concepts like friendship and getting a good night’s sleep. They’ve even published a board book inspiring little superheroes to embrace girl power! (For older readers there’s a picture book version, too.) There are touch-and-feel books introducing kids to DC staples like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. But if you want to really want to go all out you can pick up a full ten-book library perfect for little nerds.
Older kids are going to love Michael Dahl’s DC picture book series including the books Bedtime for Batman, Good Morning, Superman!, and Be A Star, Wonder Woman! The books show kids preparing for bed or starting their day alongside the more adventurous activities of their favorite heroes. There’s also the 5-Minute Batman Stories and DC Super Friends: 5-Minute Stories books for quick, fun bed-time reads.
For the Little Droids and Jedi
If you’re looking for books for itty bitty padawans you’ll find there aren’t all that many board books available. Your best bet will be the recent releases ABC-3PO and Obi-123 illustrated by Katie Cook (who also illustrated the adorable Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi Keepsake Coloring Book). There’s also Rolling with BB-8! which may do in a pinch especially if you pair it with a cute, soft stuffed BB-8. The super cute, simply designed Star Wars Epic Yarns books would work, too!
Luckily there are lot more options when it comes to Star Wars picture books. There are tons of new Golden Books focused on Star Wars characters like I Am A Hero, I Am A Droid, Starships, Speeders, and Space Stations and many more. There are even gift sets featuring the Star Wars: I Am A… books and the Golden Books ‘novelizations’ of the first six films. But you’re not just limited to Golden Books, I promise.
Drew Daywalt’s BB-8 on the Run is an amazing book that tells an original story about BB-8 lost on Jakku. There’s another all-new tie-in picture book coming out soon, too, called Chewie and the Porgs – because no one can escape the porgs. That one doesn’t come out until the day The Last Jedi releases so you’ll need to move fast to get that one before you miss the holidays. The same goes for 5-Minute Star Wars Stories Strike Back though you can always pick up the first Star Wars: 5-Minute Star Wars Stories. If all else fails, there’s always the Jeffrey Brown Vader & Son books!
For the Baby Groots and Captain Marvels
With how ubiquitous the Marvel movies are these days the kids in your life probably already recognize all the characters even if they don’t necessarily know much about them. While Marvel hasn’t quite hit the board book game as strongly as DC has there are still a handful of books featuring Marvel’s most beloved characters.
Spider-Man and Iron Man are on hand (along with their friends) to teach kids about colors and numbers. There’s also the super interactive S is for Superhero which comes complete with flaps to lift, letters to trace, and all kinds of characters to meet, including Kamala Khan! There are also a couple of board books that are part of the Superhero Adventures series including Save the Day! and The Amazing Chase.
There aren’t a whole lot of original Marvel picture books but the few there are will be great cohices for budding superheroes. Kids are going to love Night Night, Groot by Brendan Deneen and Cale Atkinson. And you can never go wrong with Marvel Five Minute story collections like 5 Minute Marvel Stories, 5 Minute Avengers Stories, and the two different Spider-Man books. If all else fails, check out the myriad of Marvel Golden Books featuring all your favorite characters like Ant-Man, Iron Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and more.
Exploring the “Classics” with Quirk Books
Quirk Books’ Pop Classics line from Kim Smith is one of those picture book series that makes you wish you had kids even when you don’t. I only wish there were more books out at this point. Luckily, there are more on the way! The Pop Classics books are largely re-tellings of familiar films that many of us grew up watching. The books are family friendly and great for kids – unlike some other picture book parody adaptations, which are really just for adults.
So far there three books out: illustrated retellings of Home Alone and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, as well as The X-Files: Earth Children Are Weird which follows a young Mulder and Scully on a backyard camping trip. They’ll be joined next year by a retelling of Back to the Future. I’m hoping to see some other 80s and 90s classics join them soon! Fingers crossed for The Goonies, The Sandlot, The Princess Bride, Gremlins, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
These are great picks for kids and their families whether they’ve seen the movies or not. It’s a great way to introduce kids to The X-Files — and probably a better choice than letting our littles watch the actual series weekly like I did when I was five years old.
Inspiring Creativity with Rosie, Iggy, and Ada
Let’s say you’re looking for something to inspire the nerdiness in kids without relying on the books being tied to some pre-existing franchise. You’re in luck because I have the perfect books for you! These STEM positive books about creative, determined young people are all written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts. And they’re all great.
Rosie Revere, Engineer, Iggy Peck, Architect, and Ada Twist, Scientist are diverse characters who show kids that it’s okay to be a little nerdy and to love doing what you love doing. Rosie and Ada in particular do a lot to help normalize women in STEM careers and let girls know it’s okay to like science. They can be engineers and scientists just like all the pioneering women that came before them.
But wait, that’s not all!
The publisher recently released activity books to go along with each of the books. Now kids can not only read about Rosie, Iggy, and Ada but also start learning about various fields and creating things on their own. Rosie Revere’s Big Project Book for Bold Engineers and Iggy Peck’s Big Project Book for Amazing Architects are out now. Ada Twist’s Big Project Book for Stellar Scientists doesn’t come out this spring, though.
Meet Your Next Hero!
The holidays are always a chance to put books in the hands of young readers and as much fun as the other books we’ve listed are, maybe you may want to consider gifting some non-fiction books, too. There are tons of great picture books out there – especially ones that have been released recently – featuring all kinds of inspirational individuals. You educate the itty bitty nerds in your life and inspire them to pursue STEM careers all in one with books about famous inventors, scientists, engineers, astronauts, etc.
Some of my favorite books come from Brad Meltzer and Christopher Eliopoulos’s Ordinary People Change the World series. You may recognize the books from their usual “I am…” titles. They’ve written books about all kinds of people and a number of the books highlight iconic names in STEM related fields. A number of others recognize the achievements of women and people of color throughout history. You really can’t go wrong picking up any of these books but some more nerdy/science focused ones include books on Jane Goodall, Albert Einstein, and Amelia Earhart. There’s a gift set out, too, that includes Einstein and Earhart’s stories!
Some other inspiring, non-fiction books you may want to consider include:
- The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: the Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
- The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: the Story of Dr. Patricia Bath
- Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions
- Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer
- Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code
- Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos
- Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist
Early Readers for Nerdy Readers
For the most part board books and picture books are going to be for kids who still want to sit down and read with someone. But as kids get older and start learning to read, they’ll be looking for opportunities to start reading on their own. There are tons of ‘early reader’ books available featuring all of their favorite nerdy franchises. These are books with very simple words and short sentences that help new readers become more confident in their skills and build their vocabularies. Whether the kids on your holiday lists are fans of Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or really any else there are bound to be books for them.
But I want to point out one more series that you may not be familiar with: Ready to Read’s People You Should Meet. These are easy to read biographies of inspirational figures including people like Mae Jemison, Katherine Johnson, and the ‘Women Who Launched the Computer Age.’ There’s even a gift set coming out right before the holidays including all these books plus a few more!
Fun Books for More Independent Readers
Lastly, let’s talk about our more independent readers. These are the kids who have moved on from early readers and picture books but aren’t really considered ‘middle grade’ readers just yet. These are essentially your readers who are just starting to tackle chapter books. What books can we get them for the holidays?
Marvel fans are in luck because there are two chapter book series they can check out. The Mighty Marvel Chapter Books have been coming out for a couple of years now and there are plenty more on the horizon. They feature stories about Spider-Man, Star Lord, Ms. Marvel, and Ant-Man… fighting zombies?! The books are illustrated with short chapters that newly independent readers will love.
There’s another chapter book series kicking off, too, under the Marvel Super Hero Adventures banner (which also offers board books and early readers) but there’s just one Spider-Man chapter book out so far!
If you’ve got a little Star Wars fan on your list you should definitely check out the Forces of Destiny books. Geared more toward inspiring young, female Star Wars lovers the books follow some of the most beloved heroines in the franchise. There are a few early reader books available, too, under the same ‘Forces of Destiny’ heading as well as tons of other merchandise. An alternative to the Forces of Destiny books are the Jedi Academy books. Basically Diary of a Wimpy Kid styled books set in the Star Wars universe, there are two series out so far: one by Jeffrey Brown and one by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.
There are a few non-franchise related books I can recommend, too. One of my favorite recent chapter book series is Shannon and Dean Hale’s The Princess in Black. These books follow a seemingly ordinary princess who transforms into the superhero ‘The Princess in Black’ to stop monsters from overwhelming her kingdom.
Another fun series is Drew Brockington’s graphic novel series, Catstronauts. The series follows a group of cats as they explore space in their NASA-like organization called Catsup. And if none of those seem like the right fit you can always fall back on the tried and true classic series, Captain Underpants!
Hopefully this list give you a place to start when it comes to picking out the right nerdy books for the young, nerdy readers in your lives. If you have any other suggestions for books people might consider we’d love to hear them. Chime in down in the comments!