Books and Journals

The following is not an exhaustive list. Rather, it is a starting point for anyone who wants to study giftedness and gifted people. Even if you directly consult with a specialist, you will find the following books and journals helpful.

Dr. Ruf's Book

5 Levels of Gifted: School Issues and Educational Options (2005) (formerly titled Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind). 5 Levels of Gifted, published by Great Potential Press, combines four years of data gathering from 50 families with nearly 30 years of research and experience in the field of giftedness, individual differences, and high intelligence. The book is aimed primarily at parents and vividly describes the upper 10 to 15 percent of the intellectual continuum in human beings from birth to adulthood as manifested in their behaviors, thoughts, accomplishments, and test scores. She introduces the concept of Levels of Giftedness and makes it very clear how many factors contribute to a person's intellectual levels and achievement. Learn more or buy now.

Kindle. We recognize that more and more books are available in digital formats, and highly recommend the use of any of the versions of Kindle.



Parenting Issues and Help

Schooling Topics and Homeschooling

Intelligence, Careers, Life Outcomes

Other Learning Issues (Twice Exceptional, Visual-Spatial, Dyslexia, etc.)

Gender Differences

Personality Differences


Intelligence, Careers, Life Outcomes


The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, by Richard Herrnstein and

Charles Murray. The authors use data and research from the previous hundred or more years to detail what intellectual ability is, where it comes from, how mutable it is or is not, and how intellectual level affects a person’s potential outcomes. Fascinating and informative.  




Cradles of Eminence: Childhoods of More than 700 Famous Men and Women (2nd Edition), updated by Ted George Goertzel and Ariel M. W. Hansen. Several truisms that the book reveals are that most subjects strongly disliked school but had families who valued education, most had highly opinionated parents often with a domineering mother, and most grew up “feeling different” from others. Their findings suggest that the assumptions we make about childhood environments require a close and hard look. 


Creativity in Science: Chance, Logic, Genius, and Zeitgeist, by Dean Keith Simonton. Dean Simonton provides an answer to the question, “Where do major scientific breakthroughs come from,” by unifying the four perspectives of chance, logic, genius and zeitgeist. In his explanation, chance plays the primary role, but with the significant involvement of the other three. Dr. Ruf highly recommends Simonton’s works because he draws from examples of real people, real geniuses. Although interesting to smart readers of all ages, gifted Dads of gifted kids really enjoy Simonton’s work. 



Developing Talent in Young People, edited by Benjamin Bloom. The book details the early childhood development and family lives of children who go on to professional, expert levels in music and the arts, athletics, and mathematics and science. Very helpful and eye-opening.   


Encyclopedia coverEncyclopedia of Giftedness, edited by Barbara Kerr, Sage Publications, including an entry by Dr. Ruf on Levels of Gifted. This two-volume set presents state-of-the-art research and ready-to-use facts from the fields of education, psychology, sociology, and the arts. More than 400 entries sort out research findings on giftedness and creativity and their applications in education, training, science and the arts, athletics, and everyday life.



Environmental, Familial and Personal Factors That Affect the Self-Actualization of Highly Gifted Adults: Case Studies, by Deborah L. Ruf.  This is Dr. Ruf’s Ph.D. dissertation, completed December 1998. Available in softbound copy or in downloadable PDF format.

Expanding Visions Expanding Visions of Creative Intelligence: An Interdisciplinary Exploration, by Don Ambrose. This interdisciplinary book is a wide-ranging exploration of theories, research findings, and philosophical perspectives that can expand thinking about the nature of creative intelligence and the purposes of education.



Genius, Creativity, and Leadership: Histriometric Inquiries, by Dean Keith Simonton. The author examines creators and leaders of history whose impact on their own and later times has been so great that they deserve the label "genius." Simonton believes that if we subject the lives of the eminent to scientific analysis we may be able to discover general laws of history and social behavior.  



Genius and CreativityGenius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, by James Gleick. The biography of a great American scientist, his humble roots but obvious early precocity. Gives readers a sense about what sorts of things matter in the life of any highly and unusually intelligent person—pretty much what we all need and want! 



The Gifted Adult: A Revolutionary Guide to Liberating Everyday Genius, by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen.  There are millions of unidentified individuals of high potential lost within the fabric of a society that seems to have issued an edict against knowing oneself, being oneself, and expressing oneself fully. Great book for adults who are just starting to realize they may be gifted.   



Gifted Children: Myths and Realities, (1996), by Ellen Winner. The author uses case studies and biological and psychological evidence to explore numerous misconceptions about giftedness; and she looks at the role schools play in fostering—or too often squandering—the abilities of (intellectually and artistically) gifted children.   




Stand Up For Your Gifted Child

Gifted Grownups: The Mixed Blessings of Extraordinary Potential (1999), by Marylou Kelly Streznewski. Good grouping of anecdotes on a variety of topics. Ms. Streznewski has captured "the feel" of modern day gifted adults. [She does not have a test and measurement background and erroneously states that one can have a 115 IQ and actually be quite gifted. The test was inadequate for correctly assessing the person. A person who is quite gifted has a higher IQ but may not know precisely what the IQ is.--Dr. Ruf]



Stand Up For Your Gifted Child

Greatness: Who Makes History and Why, by Dean Keith Simonton. The author explores the many aspects of greatness, including intelligence, creativity, leadership, social forces, and more. Essential reading for anyone interested in what makes some people stand out from the rest. 



Growing Up Gifted, by Barbara Clark. This textbook is an excellent portrait of what high intellectual ability is and where it comes from.



Intellectual Talent: Psychometric and Social Issues, edited by Camilla Persson Benbow and David Lubinski.  This book examines the political ramifications of emotionally loaded findings about individual differences—documenting cases in which findings that contradict prevailing social values are simply ignored. The book also explores what is known about educating gifted children and why educators sometimes fail to act on that knowledge. 


Morality, Ethics and Gifted Minds

Morality, Ethics, and Gifted Minds, edited by Donald Ambrose & Tracy Cross, Springer Publications. This book brings together the leading thinkers from diverse scholarly fields to share and integrate their perspectives on morality and high ability (giftedness, talent, creativity). This includes a chapter by Dr. Ruf on Self-Actualization & Morality of the Gifted: Environmental, Familial, and Personal Factors.



Nature's Gambit: Child Prodigies and the Development of Human Potential, by David H. Feldman. The author writes a sensitive and penetrating study of six prodigies that illuminates the nature, development, and possible fates of all human gifts. He emphasizes the important ‘forces of coincidence’ in the lives of any successful person. 




Origins of Genius: Darwinian Perspectives on Creativity, by Dean Keith Simonton. Simonton explores how cultural evolution and environmental influences stimulate the emergence of genius, as well as the links between mental illness and creativity. 



The Prodigy: A Biography of William Sidis, America's Greatest Child Prodigy, by Amy Wallace. Wallace writes in a straightforward manner about the early precocity and childhood of Sidis, the genius famous for prodigious failure in adulthood, of “burning out.” If you read between the lines, however, you’ll see how Sidis never got the emotional support or understanding he really needed—and neither did his parents.   



Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality (2009), by Charles Murray. Based on a series of controversial Wall Street Journal op-eds, this landmark manifesto gives voice to what everyone knows about talent, ability, and intelligence but no one wants to admit. With four truths as his framework, Charles Murray, the bestselling coauthor of The Bell Curve, sweeps away the hypocrisy, wishful thinking, and upside-down priorities that grip America’s educational establishment. 



Understanding Creativity, by Jane Piirto. In this textbook, the author’s descriptions of well-known people in various creative fields—art, music, dance, theater, writing, science, math, business, technology—are fascinating, particularly the predictive behaviors apparent in childhood. She outlines the creative process and theories of how it develops.




Understanding Those Who Create, by Jane Piirto.   Dr. Piirto illustrates her research regarding creativity and talent development with biographical material and life patterns of the creatively gifted, such as artists, writers, scientists, musicians, entrepreneurs, actors, and dancers. The author also provides ways for parents or educators to enhance and stimulate creativity, particularly in children.