PHP is a programming language that’s been around for a while yet still is among the most popular technologies for web development today.

The reason for this is historically the language has been free to use, has no licensing and as a result grown by leaps and bounds ever since it was launched in 1995.

In addition, PHP powers very popular website building technologies like WordPress. And because of this, PHP is one of the best programming languages to learn today for beginners.

Looking for that best PHP book? If you want to learn how to create interactive WordPress and data-driven websites or just want to take your PHP skills to the next level, here are the best books to learn PHP for beginners.

Disclosure: This article includes affiliate links that may provide a commission to me at no cost to you if you make a purchase through those links.

What Are The Best PHP Books for Beginners?

Below are our top picks for the best PHP books for beginners:

#1 – Learning PHP, MySQL & JavaScript: With jQuery, CSS & HTML5

Learning PHP, MySQL & JavaScript: With jQuery, CSS & HTML5

Where to Buy

Author: Robin Nixon

Overview

Learning PHP, MySQL & JavaScript covers everything you will need to become a full stack web developer.

It will equip you with PHP and MySQL skills for back end web programming and also teach you HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript for front end web development.

At the end of the book, you will get to build your very own social media site such as Facebook or Twitter.

Who’s It For?

Learning PHP, MySQL & JavaScript is perfect for the aspiring full stack web developer.

It will give you a solid understanding of the core web development technologies. All you need to get started is basic knowledge of HTML

What’s Covered?

Learning PHP, MySQL & JavaScript covers the technologies and standards web developers use most.

Best of all, it uses the modern versions of the technologies –  CSS2 and CSS3, and HTML5. You will also learn MySQLi, jQuery, and Ajax.

Pros

  • Top rated PHP book for beginner web developers
  • Covers core web design technologies
  • Well written and easy to read
  • Hands on guide with a practical examples
  • Teaches server side and client side development

Cons

  • Requires a basic understanding of HTML

#2 – The Joy of PHP: A Beginner’s Guide to Programming Interactive Web Applications with PHP and MySQL

The Joy of PHP: A Beginner's Guide to Programming Interactive Web Applications with PHP and MySQL

Where to buy

Author: Alan Forbes

Overview

The Joy of PHP assumes no previous knowledge of even basic HTML. This makes it the best PHP book for beginners. It will take you from a total coding newbie to scripting with PHP and creating MySQL databases. 

It explains concepts in a very easy to understand manner and takes a practical approach to ensure you get to internalize the concepts. By the end of the book, you will have created a dynamic website for a car dealership.

Who’s It For?

If you’re completely new to the programming world and have chosen to learn PHP as your first programming language, The Joy of PHP Programming is the best book you can choose to start your learning journey.

What’s Covered?

To equip you with the basic skills you need in order to learn PHP effectively, the book starts with HTML basics and server setup.

The rest of the book is all about PHP and MYSQL, starting with the easy basics and gradually moving to more complex topics.

Pros

  • No prior programming knowledge required
  • Laid out in a step by step format
  • Addresses security considerations
  • Get to create a car dealership website
  • Recommends additional learning resources 

Cons

  • Only covers the basics of PHP and MySQL

#3 – Murach’s PHP and MySQL (3rd Edition)

Murach's PHP and MySQL (3rd Edition)

Where to buy

Authors: Joel Murach and Ray Harris

Overview

The way Murach’s PHP and MySQL book is presented in a logical manner makes it so much easier to grasp concepts without frustrations.

It’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to start building database-driven websites with PHP and MySQL.

Looking up what you need is a breeze as well making it a great reference resource.

Who’s It For?

For first time PHP students, Murach’s PHP and MySQL book is a good learning resource as well as a reference book.

If you’re a self taught PHP web developer, it’s a fantastic way to top off your knowledge.

Finally, developers who took a hiatus from using PHP will find it a great refresher course.

What’s Covered?

The book is quite comprehensive. It covers PHP, PHP 7 upgrades, MySQL (or MariaDB), and essential web development topics.

It also covers security topics. For example, you will learn how to keep XSS, SQL injection, and other attacks at bay.

Pros

  • Explains things in details
  • Organized in a logical sequence 
  • Easy and fast way to learn 
  • Great PHP reference guide
  • Covers core technologies and practices
  • Tackles security topics and PHP 7 

Cons

  • Not advanced enough for more experienced PHP users

#4 – PHP for the Web: Visual QuickStart Guide

PHP for the Web: Visual QuickStart Guide

Where to buy

Author: Larry Ullman

Overview

Like the name suggests, PHP for the Web: Visual QuickStart Guide uses a task-driven visual approach to teach web development using PHP.

This method simplifies the learning curve significantly – you will be using PHP in no time even if you’re new to the language. 

Who Is It For?

Because PHP for the Web assumes no previous coding experience, it’s a perfect book if you’re new to programming.

It’s also great for experienced programmers looking to get into PHP web development.

If you’re an intermediate PHP user, you will also find it valuable as a reference guide.

What’s Covered?

Everything you need to know to develop dynamic websites. It covers the fundamental topics, the advanced topics, new features in PHP 5 and PHP 7, and provides valuable tips. 

Pros

  • Written in an easy to follow style 
  • Step by step instruction and detailed explanations
  • Great reference guide for more experienced users
  • Practical examples are easy to grasp
  • Assumes no prior programming knowledge
  • Comprehensive yet a quick way to learn

Cons

  • Not advanced enough for experienced PHP developers

#5 – Learn PHP 8: Using MySQL, JavaScript, CSS3, and HTML5

Learn PHP 8: Using MySQL, JavaScript, CSS3, and HTML5

Where to buy

Author: Steve Prettyman

Overview

Learn PHP 8 will teach you how to take advantage of the newest PHP version – PHP 8 to create robust and secure web applications.

This is a full stack web development book so you will also learn MySQL, JavaScript, CSS, and HTML.

Who’s It For?

Learn PHP 8 is perfect for beginners as well as seasoned PHP programmers interested in learning what’s new in PHP 8. 

What’s Covered?

Beyond object-oriented programming in PHP 8, the book also teaches MySQL and front end development technologies: JavaScript, CSS3, and HTML5. 

Pros

  • A full stack web development book
  • Teaches PHP 8, the latest version
  • Uses a practical approach
  • Teaches good PHP practices
  • Places importance on security

Cons

  • Requires basic web programming skills

Is PHP good for beginners?

Yes, and the reason is it’s a great language for leaning web development if that’s what you want to focus on.

  • PHP can be embedded into HTML pages and print output and perform all kinds of logical operations.
  • PHP is also very mature and has some fantastic frameworks like Laravel and Symfony.
  • Also PHP powers software like WordPress which run a very large portion of internet websites. So, learning PHP can open doors into economies like WordPress and general web development.
  • Once you start working with PHP you will realize using other related languages like JavaScript, HTML and even server technology (cloud or your own local web server) are things you’ll want to do on your journey.

Can I learn PHP myself?

Yes. PHP is a relatively easily language for beginners to learn. With the help of a good book you’ll be on your way.

Also, PHP has a large library of built in features, functions and classes that can be leveraged and make many tasks very straight forward and easy to do.

Like anything, you’ll want to sit down read, and begin practicing writing PHP code to really start to learn.

Wrapping Up

PHP is one of the easiest coding languages to learn.

Having the best book on PHP programming makes it even easier to master and develop a great foundation. 

Currently, the five books above are the best books to learn PHP effectively.

Simply grab the best book for you and start your journey to becoming a PHP web developer today.

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