12 Books That Can Help Build Executive Skills And Creativity – Forbes

When children create things during playtime, they are also sharpening a very important skill: executive function. This is an umbrella skill used for getting things done, from having an idea to planning out steps for it, initiating the work, and tweaking whatever needs tweaking, all while maintaining focus, regulating one’s emotions and maintaining your motivation as you do your work.

A great way to practice these important life skills as a child is to just make something when they are playing.  It can be building a tower of blocks to building a nightlight that turns itself off when there is daylight. But as children grow up, so much of the project management part of their lives is dependent on what is asked of them from school. Thus, it’s nice to be able to find some ways to bring those activities home as there aren’t enough opportunities to do that because of the focus on standardized testing. Interestingly enough, I find that toys and books are great for that. Here are my favorite books that I think can help to jump start pursuits in creativity and executive functioning skill-building. Some of these books will give step-by-step instructions and some will just be a collection of ideas or inspiration-builders. Most importantly, they all aim to be a great outlet for fun.

Batman is everything you want in a hero! He has a mind for STEM and is a master builder as well. He appeals to the whole family. (photo: DK Books)

Kids everywhere are excited for the world’s snarkiest LEGO superhero! Batman is a master of creativity, crime-fighting, and comedy. He appeals to the whole family. From The Batman Movie: The Essential Guide (photo: DK Books)

STEM Books:

Secret Coders 1, 2   ($10.99) You have to have been asleep for four years to know that coding isn’t on the top of most parents’ minds. By now, kids are rebelling and yelling that their parents, “Why do I have to learn how to code?” Parents who aren’t programmers will have to give the textbook definition: “Computational thinking will make you a better problem solver because ______.” To be sure, there are so many words to fill in that blank but children are children. It will be hard to grasp the justification and why should they? Aren’t they enjoying the fruits of technology already? ie. Aren’t they asking Alexa what the weather will be like today?  Thankfully, we have a traditional fool-proof method to help children learn how to code that works for even the most reticent children: comic books. Laughter isn’t just the best medicine, it’s also a pretty darn good teacher as well.

Coding Games in Scratch  ($19.99) There are multiple apps, afterschool programs, and even schools that teach kids how to code. How is a parent to choose which is the best? I apologize up front. I will not attempt to answer this because families all have different needs and not one method will work for all children. That said, I think it’s okay to fail at your very first attempts and if you are adventurous and really wanting to try something at home, Coding Games by DK Books is a great way to become familiar with the concepts of teaching yourself how to code.  It’s also good for novice parents to read and use to help their children get acquainted with all the ins and outs of Scratch, which is now the time-tested grand chief of methods of which many systems have replicated for their users.

Make: Family Projects for Smart Objects ($15.99) Learning to code is one thing but learning to code something to make a physical object move or respond to your physical being or your environment is entirely differnt. An example of  this includes things that respond to light, things that respond to movement, or things that react to sound.  This falls into the world known as physical computing and it is a whole new world of discovery for children.  This book guides you through getting accustomed with an Arduino which is what your child will want to code to make something happen (in 3D or real life).

It's hard to believe that all of this was designed brick by brick (digitally that is). It's breathtaking. photo: No Starch Press

It’s hard to believe that all of this was designed brick by brick (digitally that is). It’s breathtaking. From Beautiful Minecraft  photo: No Starch Press

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