Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

5 Publishers That Will Rock Your MakerSpace

makercollection3Although I have a totally spectacular (if not a little too small) teen fiction collection at my library, I also have a totally rocking (if not a little too small) collection of Maker books in my Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH). In fact, we have a rule: for every maker activity in our Teen MakerSpace, we must have at least 1 supporting book. We are, after all, in the business of promoting books and reading as well as making. Also, some people are visual learners and books really work for them. In fact, on Thursday, a teen boy came into our Teen MakerSpace for the first time and he was excited about our maker collection; he walked out that evening with 10 books and said we had the best collection of books ever. Today, I am going to share with you the publishers I look to to help build this awesome collection.





Make publishes a wide variety of books that are primarily making, hacking and technology focused. Make books make up about 1/3 of our Teen MakerSpace collection. They cover topics like electronics, coding, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and more. They also produce a monthly magazine which we subscribe to and I highly recommend.

Quarto Books


Quarto Books make up another 1/3 of our Teen MakerSpace collection. Many of these titles are more arts and crafts focused, but we often combine the various ideas with our tech. Although to be honest, we have found that our teens like traditional crafting just as much as they like more tech focused making.


For example, we used the Map Art Lab activity and used it to make book related buttons using our button makers (TPiB: The Books of Our Heart Button). Quarto produces an Art Lab series which I highly recommend. In addition, that have a Super Skills series which breaks down things like movie making and vlogging/blogging into 10 easy steps.

Lark Crafts


Lark Craft focuses almost exclusively on more traditional crafts, particularly fiber related crafts and jewelry making. They have a few great titles on book making which I also highly recommend.

No Starch Press

This book comes out February 2017

This book comes out February 2017


No Starch Press is an excellent resource for books on learning coding and Lego building of all sorts. We have a ton of these books in our collection and they do not stay in.


coding2 dk1

DK has always been a big part of quality publishing and they have really embraced the maker movement. They have some good books on Scratch coding and have recently published a new Maker Lab book.

And 2 Honorable Mentions

Zest Books

Zest Books is a great place to get pop culture titles. Although they don’t have a lot of Maker related titles, they have a couple that are pretty cool.

Abdo Books

Abdo Books actually have a lot of quality maker titles, though they tend to skew younger and be more expensive. However, they cover some topics that I have found it harder to find and they have several series that focus on material types – like metal, for example – which can be quite fun.

What other publishers do you look to to fill your maker needs? Please leave a comment and share with me, I’m always looking for more resources to check out.

Book Review: Prison Island, a Graphic Memoir by Colleen Frakes

prisonislandThe other day a fellow librarian contacted me and said she needed some good YA nonfiction recommendations, to which I replied PRISON ISLAND!

Prison Island is a memoir told in graphic novel format about McNeil Island in the state of Washington. It was one of the last remaining prison islands. Colleen Frake’s family was one of the families that lived and worked on the island. It’s an interesting life and the book brings it vividly to life in both words and pictures. As I read I couldn’t help but think about what a great companion piece this would be to Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko.

Prison Island is published by Zest Books, one of my favorite publisher’s for quirky YA nonfiction, and you can find sample pages, like this one, on their website:

prisonisland2Full of heart, humor and an interesting look at a typical teen living a not so typical life, Prison Island is a fun entry point into the memoir category. It’s also a great book to put into the hands of reluctant readers. I enjoyed this and definitely recommend it.

Publisher’s Book Summary:

McNeil Island in Washington state was the home of the last prison island in the United States, accessible only by air or sea. It was also home to about fifty families, including Colleen Frake’s. Her parents—like nearly everyone else on the island—both worked in the prison, where her father was the prison’s captain and her mother worked in security. In this engaging graphic memoir, a Xeric and Ignatz Award-winning comics artist, Colleen Frakes, tells the story of a typical girl growing up in atypical circumstances.

Published by Zest Books in 2015. Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

For more nonfiction graphic novels for teens check out:

Persopolis by Marjane Satrapi

Smile and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

March, Book 1 and March, Book 2 by John Lewis

Yummy : the Last Days of a Southside Shorty by Greg Neri