Book a Call
Join a Training

Dear Data [Book Review]

book review

Book Review 

By: Kristin Hunter-Thomson 


For the past few years I have heard a lot about Dear Data: A Friendship in 52 Weeks of Postcards by Giorgia Lupi & Stephanie Posavec. I have seen it referenced in talks, many people have recommended it, and it has been sitting in my cart for months.

Last week I dove in and I cannot put it down!

It has so surpasses all my expectations I want to share with you all some of the major reasons it is getting me jazzed about data:

  • It is a wonderful and fun exploration of 52 different ways to think about, collect, and represent the data from our daily lives. This book is a TREASURE TROVE of ideas for students to build their observation and data skills from the world around them.

  • All the data visualizations are hand-drawn in super unique and different ways. The meaning and personal connection to the data pops off the page both from the content but also from the authors putting their time and energy into creating the visualizations. Page after page, the data visualizations serve as great examples of why we use data visualizations…to see and communicate things from our data, not to get the perfect graph (or even a graph at all) out of Google Sheets.

  • The data visualizations are not perfect. They change and evolve throughout the project, but they are all completely grounded in the reality that it takes effort and practice to make data visualizations. And the authors are wonderfully candid about that time and effort. It helps lift the lid on the reality of what goes in to working with data in a fun and accessible way.

  • The legends / instructions for reading the data visualizations take up almost as much space as the visualization themselves on each postcard. This is such a great reminder that context matters to our data and we need to help others know what we know about the data and our data visualization for them to truly be able to read it the way we intend.

But I think the greatest aspect of the book, and the thing I am most excited about at the moment, is that ANYONE CAN DO THIS. How fun would it be for your students to create a data postcard over the upcoming winter break? What about having students create a data postcard for their next unit-end project… and maybe sending it off to the Principal, School Board, local nursing home? What about sending a data postcard for your holiday / new years card? Ok, maybe that’s more for data driven nerds like me, but you get the point. There are numerous ways we can build off of this engaging and empowering process that Stephanie and Giorgia share throughout the book.

Anyone can replicate the process that Giorgia and Stephanie as they embarked on this year long project together, and maybe in the process build their love for (or at least appreciation of) working with data.

Add it to your cart, buy it (sooner than I did), and be inspired. Then come back and share your thoughts with the rest of us.