Secret Agent Starter Kit
7 mins read

Secret Agent Starter Kit

Develop the skills you need to become an international super-spy with materials, resources and programming from Plano Public Library.

Plano Public Library offers everything you need to learn a new skill, develop a new hobby, and pursue a new career. This month’s Starter Kit is all about spies, ciphers, secret codes and cryptography — all elements that every secret agent needs to succeed! Are these things that sound exciting to you (or your child)? Consider attending some programs, checking out some books about the history of spy work, and building super-spy skills using some of our other online resources. Check it out!

Upcoming Events

Join us for some exciting events to pique your curiosity and demonstrate some activities to try at home!

Spies, Secrets, and Ciphers (Grades K-5)

Learn about spies, codes, and ciphers and then go on your very own top secret mission.

This program will be held at Davis Library on Thursday, June 9 at 3pm. Come 30 minutes beforehand to pick up your free ticket.

Secret Agent Magic Show (All Ages)

Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to join James Wand on an exciting and hilarious adventure of magic and mystery. Help James Wand solve clues and secret codes. Prepare to be amazed by the most incredible magic you will ever see!

This program will be held at Schimelpfenig Library on Friday, June 10 at 3pm, and at Haggard Library on Friday, July 1 at 3pm. Come 30 minutes beforehand to pick up your free ticket.


The code book : the evolution of secrecy from Mary Queen of Scots to quantum cryptography
by Simon Singh: Codes have decided the fates of empires, countries, and monarchies throughout recorded history. Mary, Queen of Scots was put to death by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, for the high crime of treason after spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham cracked the secret code she used to communicate with her conspirators. And thus the course of British history was altered by a few sheets of cryptic prose. This is just one link in humankind’s evolutionary chain of secret communication, and just one of the fascinating incidents recounted inThe Code Book, written by bestselling author Simon Singh. | Print |

Code girls by Liza Mundy: Recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy from small towns and elite colleges, more than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code-breaking. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them. A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history; now, through dazzling research and interviews with surviving code girls, bestselling author Liza Mundy brings to life this riveting and vital story of American courage, service, and scientific accomplishment. | eBook |

War of shadows : codebreakers, spies, and the secret struggle to drive the Nazis from the Middle East by Gershom Gorenberg: As World War II rages in North afr5ica, General Irwin Rommel marches his troops swiftly through Egypt, aiming to overrun he entire Middle East. An uncanny sense of his enemies’ weaknesses and positions informs each move. The Nazis, somehow, have a source for the Allies’ greatest secrets. Yet Rommel is not the only one with stolen knowledge. allies cryptographers are breaking the extraordinarily complex Nazi code Enigma. On the brink of disaster, a fevered, high-stakes search for the Nazis’ source begins. | Print |

The power of awareness : and other secrets from the world’s foremost spies, detectives, and special operators on how to stay safe and save your life by Dan Schilling: Special operations and Combat Control veteran Dan Schilling draws from his extensive knowledge and experience to teach readers how to evaluate threats, remain cognizant of surroundings, trust their instincts, and tailor their behavior to be safer in new situations. To do so, Schilling builds upon 6 core tenets to increase situational awareness and empower readers: 1) Be Situationally Aware 2) Trust and Use Your Intuition 3) Determine You Have a Problem 4) Develop a Plan 5) Act 6) Run, Regroup and Report. This innovative and original approach makes his tools and rules accessible and applicable for all readers, in a wide variety of situations.. | Print |


Can you crack the code? : a fascinating history of ciphers and cryptography by Ella Schwartz: Codes can carry big secrets! Throughout history, lots of good guys and lots of bad guys have used codes to keep their messages under wraps. This fun and flippable nonfiction features stories of hidden treasures, war-time maneuverings, and contemporary hacking as well as explaining the mechanics behind the codes in accessible and kid friendly forms. Sidebars call out activities that invite the reader to try their own hand at cracking and crafting their own secret messages. This is the launch of an exciting new series that invites readers into a STEM topic through compelling historical anecdotes, scientific backup, and DIY projects. | Print |

Code cracking for kids : secret communications throughout history, with 21 codes and ciphers by Jean Daigneau: A hands-on guide to introduce kids to the fascinating world of secret codes and ciphers, Code Cracking For Kids explores many aspects of cryptology, including famous people who used and invented codes and ciphers, such as Julius Caesar and Thomas Jefferson; codes used during wars, including the Enigma machine, whose cracking helped the Allies gather critical information on German intelligence in World War II; and work currently being done by the US government, such as in the National Security Agency. | Print |

Cyber spies and secret agents of modern times by Allison Lassieur: The nature of espionage has changed in the modern world: spies now are far more likely to sit behind computer keyboards than to use traditional spy craft. This entry in the Spies! series uses the terrorist attacks of September 11 as the seminal event in the modern era of espionage, with its hallmarks of globalism, government intelligence, and technology. | Print |

Secret Spy Skills by Christy Peterson: Being a political spy can be a very dangerous job. From undercover work to wire-tapping, readers will learn all about espionage and the spies of the political underworld. | Print |

Online Materials
The Great Courses via Kanopy

The Creative Thinker’s Toolkit – According to the latest scientific research, anyone can be creative. You just have to know how to think creatively, which involves taking a more imaginative approach to the challenges we all face. Learn how to wield the same research-based tools that today’s creative people use and tap into your inner creative thinker with Professor Puccio’s engaging 24-lecture series that takes you step-by-step through the creative-thinking process.

LinkedIn Learning

Ethical Hacking: Cryptography – While the science of cryptography—in which data is mathematically scrambled—has roots in the protection of top-secret military communications, modern cryptography helps secure information for anyone with an email account. Cryptography techniques and practices are used for authentication, data integrity, confidentiality, and non-repudiation.

We hope this resource list is beneficial to your personal and professional goals. View other Starter Kit blog posts to explore more ways to enrich your life. You can find all of this and more at your local Plano Public Library

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