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Head First (book series)

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Head First is a series of introductory instructional books to many topics, published by O'Reilly Media. It stresses an unorthodox, visually intensive, reader-involving combination of puzzles, jokes, nonstandard design and layout, and an engaging, conversational style to immerse the reader in a given topic.

Originally, the series covered programming and software engineering, but is now expanding to other topics in science, mathematics and business, due to success. The series was created by Bert Bates and Kathy Sierra, and began with Head First Java in 2003.


The main idea of the series is to effectively stimulate the brain by: [1]

  • Telling stories
  • Visualizing
  • Using attention-grabbing tactics: page layout, non-standard examples, puzzles, jokes, and other means.

By using metacognition[2] the series' authors and editors try to employ varied methods to present information and accelerate the learning process.


The offerings in the Head First series are quickly expanding. The books are also delving into subjects that are not directly related to IT, such as Math (Head First Algebra, Head First Statistics), Science (Head First Physics) and project management (Head First PMP). The books are also gaining some popularity for classroom use [citation needed] because of their novel approach to their subject matters.

The official web site for the Head First series has forums for each book as well as code downloads and sample chapters. They include:

Head First Labs[edit]

O'Reilly established Head First Labs, where books of the series are presented and the main idea behind the series is explained. The Labs also hosts blogs by some of their authors and hosts some applets that complement their books.[3]


The books in the series have received three nominations for Product Excellence Jolt Awards, winning in 2005 for Head First Design Patterns, and were recognized on Amazon.com's yearly top 10 list for computer books from 2003 to 2005.


  1. ^ "How Head First Helps You Learn". Internet Archive. Archived from the original on 2018-03-26.
  2. ^ "The Head First Formula". Internet Archive. Archived from the original on 2018-02-19.
  3. ^ "Head First Labs from O'Reilly Media, Inc". www.headfirstlabs.com. Archived from the original on 17 February 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2022.

External links[edit]