We are coming up quickly on the winter break, with families gathered and children out of school. With that in mind, it might be fun to have some some (slightly eccentric?) options for family activities and young folk distractions. Even better if these are options that promote learning, or just understanding more about what the old folks do with their days, eh? Here are a few highlights from my collections of (mostly free) comics, coloring books, and games around the world of geekery, coding, and tech. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find something that tickles your own funny bone!
The first coding coloring book I could find dates from 1978 — Roger Kaufman’s FORTRAN Coloring Book, actually published by MIT Press and used as a textbook, back in the day. I was tickled pink when I found it, in part because I remember my dad coding in FORTRAN when I was a young thing. (Yes, I have a copy on paper in my office. Honest!) It is robustly humorous for actual coders, and probably not as much fun for kids today. It is, however, available in the fabulous Internet Archive (but you might have to wait your turn to get access, since it is still under copyright).
Another rather amusing tongue-in-cheek (optionally NSFW) geek coloring book comes from the infamous Oatmeal. Check out 404 Not Found (and 404 Not Found NSFW). Not free.
With coloring books about coding going back so many decades, I thought there must be more, and oh my, there are.
- ABC++ [PDF] (free)
- The Coder’s Coloring Book [PDF] (free)
- Kevin’s Python Coding Coloring Book (usually around $7)
- Lady Ada’s E is For Electronics Coloring Book [PDF] (free as PDF, or you can buy a copy for $9.95)
(You might want to see also Lady Ada’s R is for Robots, which is not free.)
- Programmer’s coloring book (About) [PDF] (free)
- The SELinux Coloring Book (Github) [PDF] (free)
- Soldering is Easy (free, but no PDF, only individual page downloads)
Comics, graphic novels, zines, etc.
About coding & tech
These include comics for kids and comics for pros, but even those for kids are so well done I get a giggle out of them.
- BubbleSort Zines. (Includes zines like “Hip Hip Array!” as well as t-shirts and jewelry such as “BYTE ME!”) (not free)
- Code Cartoons (such as A Cartoon Guide to Flux and more) (free)
- Google Chrome comic by Scott McCloud (free)
- Grokking Algorithms: An illustrated guide for programmers and other curious people (~$17 onAmazon)
- Hello, Ruby (for ages 5 and up) (not free, but free stuff available for downloading at the site)
- How DNS Works (start here) (free)
- Linux comics, a small zine. Others from the same author include “Let’s Learn tcpdump,” “Spying on your programs with trace,” and “Networking! ACK!” (free)
- What Makes a Clock Tick (free)
- Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby (free)
About geekery other than coding
We are very lucky here to have Jim Ottaviani on campus as a hard core science geek who loves and loves to make comics. I could hardly talk about comics and coding without mentioning his collaboration with Leland Purvis, The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded! But there are more comics and graphic novels about coders, geeks, and the work and culture they love. This is just a few selected titles, not at all comprehensive (try searching cyberpunk graphic novels to see what I mean). [NOTE: These are mostly NOT free, but for sale at bookstores both analog and virtual.]
- Alice in Quantumland: An Allegory of Quantum Physics
- William Gibson’s Neuromancer
- The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer (Pantheon Graphic Novels)
- Tom Clohosy Cole’s Space Race