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Computer Science Books for Kids

posted by: February 3, 2016 - 7:30am

Cover art for Ruby WizardryCover art for Adventures in PythonCover art for JavaScript for KidsLearning a new language is challenging, fun and rewarding. Some of the most useful languages a person can learn today are computer coding languages. Many people would be surprised to find that coding languages are not privy only to the extremely tech-savvy or even those who are math geniuses. In fact, even children can learn programming languages, and there are many great books to help introduce them to it. Children today are growing up intuitively knowing how to use technology. Take it a step further by introducing kids (or yourself) to the rewarding aspects of creating or making technology. Creating technology is the best way to fully understand how it works and how it affects our everyday lives. Each of these books explains how coding can be creative, artistic, exciting and engaging. Although they are targeted for children, these books can easily be read by adults who want a true beginner’s approach to computer science. The only materials needed to learn each of these languages are a computer with a working Internet browser and an eagerness to start coding!

 

Ruby is a programming language that is very easy for people to understand. Ruby Wizardry by Eric Weinstein explains how coding languages are like the translator between human language and computer language. Sometimes languages are very easy for a computer to understand, but difficult for humans to understand and vice versa. With Ruby, each line of code is easy for both humans and computers to understand. Weinstein explains that Ruby is so easy to read, writing Ruby code is just like writing a story. He formats his book into a story about two kids helping a king organize his kingdom through the magical power of code. The analogies in his story help explain more complicated computer science theories and concepts. For example, he uses a story about a broken pipe in the king’s castle to explain how computers can be coded with conditional statements to respond to various outcomes. The book is entertaining to work through because of the storylines and a great introduction to coding in general.

 

Similarly to Ruby, Python is also good for kids to learn because it is easy to read. It can be used for creating games, building websites, analyzing data and more. Craig Richardson’s book Adventures in Python is organized more like a textbook for slightly older kids. Each project in this book is arranged by adventure, and each adventure covers a different aspect of the Python language. The projects get steadily more difficult as you work through the book, with each adventure building on concepts covered in the previous section. To begin, you use Python coding to create text and drawings that use Python’s built-in turtle module. Eventually, you use these skills in another module called PyGame, and the book concludes with building an interactive, two-player game. It definitely takes time and patience to work through, but Python is an exceedingly useful language and the book’s “adventure” structure makes it approachable and fun.

 

While Ruby and Python are two very well-known and useful languages, JavaScript is one of the most popular and widely used language among programmers today. JavaScript for Kids for Dummies by Chris Minnick and Eva Holland is a wonderful introduction not only to JavaScript, but programming in general. The book asks for only a few things: that you can use a mouse and keyboard and that you have a working Internet connection and web browser. JavaScript is used for webpages, so the book takes the reader into Google Chrome’s console to show exactly how it works. Those already familiar with blogging and designing their own webpages will recognize how JavaScript works with HTML and CSS. However, even if you have never heard of HTML or CSS in your life, the book explains all concepts truly from a beginner’s perspective. JavaScript is slightly more difficult to read than Ruby or Python, but the book’s use of pictures and screenshots make it easy to see if you’re on the right track.

 

No matter which language or book you choose, you will gain a better perspective on how technology and computers work. Computer science can be a daunting topic, but these colorful, youth-oriented books make it approachable for anyone!


 
 

Revised: February 3, 2016