We recently got a copy of No Starch Press’s The Manga Guide to Statistics, by Shin Takahashi – but I didn’t get to look at it for a few days because my son snagged it pretty much as it came through the door. Which confirms my theory – if you want to introduce a subject that kids wouldn’t normally be very interested in, give it an amusing storyline and wrap it in cartoons.
In The Manga Guide to Statistics, our heroine Rui is determined to learn about statistics to impress the dreamy Mr. Igarashi and begs her father for a tutor. Soon she’s spending her Saturdays with geeky, bespectacled Mr. Yamamoto, who patiently teaches her all about the fundamentals of statistics: topics like data categorization, averages, graphing, and standard deviation.
Reluctant statistics students of all ages will enjoy learning along with Rui in this charming, easy-to-read guide, which uses real-world examples like teen magazine quizzes, bowling games, test scores, and ramen noodle prices. Examples, exercises, and answer keys help you follow along and check your work. An appendix showing how to perform statistics calculations in Microsoft Excel makes it easy to put Rui’s lessons into practice.
Once I (finally!) had a chance to look at the book, I really liked it. I have to admit I wasn’t wild about statistics in college; this book was a lot more fun than my statistics textbook. Each chapter starts with a cartoon that’s followed by supplemental text, then exercises and a summary, so you have the material presented in several different ways, that helps you remember. The pace of the book is good; the chapters present the concepts in bite-sized pieces and the storyline was funny. I’m sure my son didn’t completely learn everything that was presented, but someday, when he’s faced with Cramer’s coefficient and chi-square distributions (I know I can’t protect him from these things forever), he’ll have some familiarity with the ideas and they will be easier to learn and use.
No Starch is publishing The Manga Guide to Statistics as the first of a series of educational manga previously published in Japan. We’re really looking forward to seeing the rest, especially the one about electricity that’s due out in April.