The Little Schemer

The Little Schemer is a programing book unlike any other. This book does not go into long details about what makes up the rules of the Scheme programing language. Instead the book is written as a conversation between a teacher and a student, explaining things to the student in short sentences and the student asks questions. The aspects of the language are provided in short, easy to understand and entertaining examples.

The book is similar to some elementary algebra books, especially those used in schools a few generations ago. Instead of having long paragraphs trying to explain complex ideas, this books uses examples to explain these complex ideas. By using concise examples, Lisp begins to make intuitive sense.

There are two ways of learning a spoken language. Through text books which explain the rules of a language, or by going out and starting to speak the language. The Little Schemer takes the second approach and applies to a programming language. Instead of learning the rules of Lisp, the reader learns how to think in Lisp.

If someone is interested in learning Lisp, or learning recursive programming, this is a great book. Scheme is a functional language and learning to think in a functional way is especially important for today's coders. Many new languages are implementing functional programing aspects and many existing languages, such as JavaScript are being written in functional ways.

The Little Schemer has a more recent companion volume called The Seasoned Schemer. This book builds on the ideas learned in The Little Schemer. It goes on to include functions as values, change of state, and exceptional cases in the same intuitive way as the Little Schemer.

Both books are definitely worth reading and will help in understanding Lisp, Scheme and functional programing.