JavaScript Beginners Book Choice
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Thursday, 25 May 2023
Article Index
JavaScript Beginners Book Choice
JavaScript Graphics; jQuery


3D Game Programming for Kids

Author:Chris Strom
Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf
Pages: 250

ISBN: 978-1937785444

This book introduces kids to JavaScript using 3D graphics. We reviewed the first edition, but it has since been updated to cover modern JavaScript features and with new example games to explore and new 3D effects. As Mike James observed, giving the book a rating of 4.5:

"JavaScript can be an idiosyncratic language and if you are going to teach it properly as a first language you have to either decide that the student is going to learn a non-typical language or you have to restrict what you teach to keep it both simple and general. It is a problem that might put off an academic wanting to teach a pure object-oriented or functional approach - but when you are teaching kids a first language there are other considerations. 

Perhaps the most important of these is motivation."

The book combines JavaScript with Three.js and other libraries to make it easy to create not just 3D graphics but games, and Mike says that if a beginner makes it as far as Chapter 8 they are probably going to, if not necessarily make it to the end of the book, master programming.

He says that this is a book that doesn't teach you to program, instead it provides things that you want to do that need you to know how to program and it explains those things as it goes. Sometimes it gets the level wrong and you think - "why explain this here" or it doesn't go deep enough at a point where you think that this would be a good place to get some theory across. You have to put up with this as this isn't a theory-oriented book that goes through the standard motions of learning a language.

It is also as much a book about 3D programming as it is about JavaScript. A lot of the code is just object creation and customization. As a result the reader doesn't get to program many basic algorithms and when they move on they might get a bit lost. But armed with the confidence that they had programmed complete and complicated games they probably would persevere and master the difficulty. 

You could also use the book as an introduction to 3D programming with Three.js even if you know JavaScript. What it doesn't do is teach you JavaScript to a level where you could go out and build a web app or a dynamic web site. Its purpose is to get the reader interested, motivated and confident that they can do almost anything with JavaScript.

His final conclusion:

"Oh and did I mention it's a lot of fun."

JavaScript & jQuery: The Missing Manual

Author: David Sawyer McFarland
Publisher: Pogue Press
ISBN: 978-1491947074

This is a book designed to explain both JavaScript and jQuery together for the beginner. We reviewed the second edition, but it has now been updated to a third edition  The book starts with a gentle introduction to JavaScript, but overall mostly treats JavaScript as if it was a scripting language that has some built in objects rather than trying to explain what object oriented programming is all about.

Rating the book as 4 star, Ian Elliot says that:

"Overall this is a well organized and well explained look at JavaScript augmented by jQuery or should that be jQuery augmented by JavaScript."

He says that while the book does spend a lot more time on jQuery at the expense of fundamental JavaScript. As a result while the book is suitable for the complete beginner after reading it you are not going to be a competent JavaScript programmer unless you take the time to read another book. This introduces just enough JavaScript for you to be able to use jQuery and augment it a little. It isn't t for jQuery experts either as sticks to the basics of that too.

Ian sums up the book as being highly recommended as long as you only want to learn enough JavaScript to use jQuery or are happy with finding another book to fill out your JavaScript experience.

jQuery and JavaScript Phrasebook 

Author: Brad Dayley
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Pages: 384
ISBN: 978-0321918963

Pocket books, or phrasebooks in this case, are something that provide a unique form of summary of a topic. Ian Elliot wondered whether you can provide a pocket reference for a subject as big as jQuery and JavaScript. However, he gave this book a 4.5 rating.

jQuery has more or less become the standard library of JavaScript and it does make sense to deal with them together. In fact, Ian argues, you could say knowing how to use jQuery is part of learning to program in JavaScript. He does say:

"If you don't agree with this then you probably don't want a copy of this book because the amount of coverage of pure JavaScript is mostly limited to the first three chapters, i.e. not much."

This means the book works only if your main interest is jQuery - the JavaScript in the title might as well be dropped as you really do need to know how to program in JavaScript reasonably well to get much out of it. It is also important to realize that the size of the book means that each section is very short and there are no very long examples. If you are looking for a brief explanation then this is all the better.

Ian's conclusion is:

"Overall I liked this book. There are enough helpful boxouts pointing out things you might not have realized to make it useful to the intermediate jQuery programmer as well as beginner. It isn't going to replace a big book of words, but it is handy to have around."

JavaScript and JQuery:Interactive Front-end Web Development

Author: Jon Duckett 
Publisher: Wiley
Pages: 640 
ISBN: 978-1118531648

Ian Elliot described this as

" a very unusual book and its approach will only suit the complete beginner with a limited technical background. This is not a book for programmers and certainly not for experts. It makes things look simple using a combination of large clear print and lots of pictures."

Given this caveat, he awarded it a rating of 4.5. However, it puts very little actual information on a single page and this is the reason it has 640 pages. It is also very task-oriented. It doesn't really go in for explaining the principles, philosophy or the bigger picture. This is about using JavaScript and jQuery to get particular tasks done. 


Ian's conclusion is that the book doesn't do anything radical and it certainly doesn't attempt to make the reader into a computer scientist. This is about learning programming to get a very particular job done. Having said this, if the reader has any aptitude for programming this book might help them discover it and then graduate to something more, and so it still comes highly recommended to the right reader. 

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 25 May 2023 )