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A Beginner's Guide to Coding

Review

A Beginner's Guide to Coding

Have you ever wanted to learn how to make your own website? How about making your own game? Or your own robot? From video games to galactic expeditions, much of the technology we use today needs an army of programmers to function; it’s the skill of the future. Marc Scott’s A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO CODING is an excellent introduction for elementary and middle-grade students to learn how to code. By first using a free-to-use graphical interface, Scratch, readers will put together blocks that allow the user to make running programs. More than half of this book is dedicated to work on this interface and for good reason: Scratch is like a game and its vibrant community of creators make learning coding --- which at times may get hard --- fun.

"I highly recommend this book to elementary or middle school students interested in learning how to program, but are scared of the difficulty. A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO CODING makes it truly easy for children to understand otherwise difficult concepts in computer science, and is a great lead to higher levels of programming."

The book opens with a brief description of the work they will be doing by following the book’s tutorials and how computers and programs coincide. From the beginning, this guide offers specific step-by-step instruction, aided by friendly, childlike drawings; no detail is ever left unexplained. The lessons are easily and clearly outlined, with help from Mick Marston's skillful illustrations. The Scratch module of this guide will have you drawing shapes without lifting your mouse, making an intergalactic game, and editing yourself into the dance party of your dreams. The skills learned through these fun activities lay an important foundation one must obtain in order to be a great programmer. 

I spent much time doing all of these activities, but I’ve got to say that “The Clones Attack” is by far the most fun to do! It’s a simple game in itself, but the creative possibilities are endless. I really appreciate how Scott recommended projects with much flexibility; he gives instructions for a basic outline of a game that is playable, but the real beauty comes from experimenting on your own with the skills you have learned; like riding a bike with training wheels.

In the later parts of the book, Scott introduces readers to Python, a text interface with extremely simple syntax, similar to fluid English. Writing code in Python is really similar to giving directions to a real person. Scott first goes over the basics, linking back skills previously acquired from working with Scratch and putting it into perspective for Python’s interface, and allows for readers to follow more activities to better familiarize themselves with the language.

I highly recommend this book to elementary or middle school students interested in learning how to program, but are scared of the difficulty. A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO CODING makes it truly easy for children to understand otherwise difficult concepts in computer science, and is a great lead to higher levels of programming. Personally, I will be using it to teach a small robotics class, and I know that it will be a hit. 

Reviewed by Rachel D., Teen Board Member on July 26, 2017

A Beginner's Guide to Coding
by Marc Scott and Mick Marston