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Teach Your Kids To Code

Publisher: No Starch Press

Before reading the subtitle, "A Parent Friendly Guide To Python Programming," itís easy to judge this as yet another entry in a crowded marketplace. Thereís a lot of enthusiasm about careers in programming and software right now, which is spilling over to school curriculum, instructional videos, and the website equivalent of correspondence courses. Whatís different about this book is that itís not trying to convert readers into expert programmers, but is instead teaching coding fundamentals through entertaining examples.

The programming language of choice is modern, but the examples will remind parents of a certain age how they were taught long, long ago. In the very early days of school programming curriculum, LOGO was a thing. It consisted of a turtle that would draw on the screen based on commands you gave it in very easy-to-understand language. It sounds funny, but the appeal to kids was undeniable. Turtle graphics are alive and well thanks to a Python library you can import, and almost half of Teach Your Kids To Code builds on LOGO-style instruction. Turns out, thereís still a lot you can learn about coding this way.

The remaining portions of the book extend basic concepts like variables, operators, loops, if statements, and functions to introduce more complex graphics and animation. This is perfect ammunition for game development, which sets kids (and their parents) up to create some basic games by the end of Teach Your Kids To Code. You wonít find these games on Steam anytime soon, but they are great inspiration and a jumping off point for kids interested in going deeper. They also teach logic and problem solving, helping kids understand how to translate stories and ideas into working code.

Teach Your Kids To Code succeeds where most basic programming books fail, by not trying to teach every nuance of the language. Instead of being a course on Python, it focuses on using Python to get kids excited about making things. The focus on turtle graphics is an awesome approach, that sneakily teaches all the fundamentals kids need to go on and build some basic games. This solves the biggest problem all new coders run into at some point, which is that theyíre gaining knowledge faster than theyíre able to put it into execution. Itís true that kids wonít run out and code complex web apps immediately after reading Teach Your Kids To Code, but theyíll almost certainly want to learn more about coding. Check out the sample pages below.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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