November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Coding for Tweens and Teens | SLJ Spotlight

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­Reshma Saujani’s Girls Who Code is an ­empowering introduction to computer science that focuses on teaching middle ­schoolers how to think like coders, ­expertly ­preparing them for future ­projects. For a slightly older crowd, there’s Get ­Coding!, a book-length coding project that involves CSS, HTML, and JavaScript and was written by the folks at Young Rewired State, an international collective of young ­techies.

redstarSaujani, Reshma. Girls Who Code: Learn To Code and Change the World. illus. by Andrea Tsurumi. 176p. chart. diag. glossary. index. Viking. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780425287538. POP

Gr 6 Up–The creator of the nationwide coding club phenomenon Girls Who Code provides a top-down look into the world of computer science and women in the field. The author takes a step-by-step approach to teaching the intricacies of coding while keeping the content relevant to the audience (a smart analogy involving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich effectively demonstrates computational thinking). Aided by Tsurumi’s humorous cartoon drawings that feature a reoccurring group of five girls, the text takes students through the entire process of a coding project. Saujani stresses the importance of planning, critical thinking, implementation, and debugging. Readers will enjoy the creative freedom the work offers, as sample projects refreshingly don’t rely on specific programs. The author concisely explains different subject areas within computer science. A highlight of the book is the sidebar profiles that feature real-life women developing the world of coding, from Pixar’s Danielle Feinberg to professor and roboticist Ayanna Howard. VERDICT This timely, well-written title is an excellent resource for budding coders; it bridges the wide gap between simple how-to guidebooks and complex coding textbooks.–Lisa Bosarge, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore

Get Coding!: Learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and Build a Website, App, and Game. illus. by Duncan Beedie. 208p. chart. diag. index. Candlewick. Aug. 2017. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780763692766.

Gr 7 Up–This story-based adventure aims to get readers coding. Written by Young Rewired State, a worldwide tech community made up of kids and teens, the book begins by diving straight into building a web page with HTML (rightly so, as its target audience is those who are already somewhat familiar with computer science). Framing the technical information is the tale of two scientists and their dog, who ask readers to help them make an interactive web page to “get the word out” about their discovery of a stolen diamond. Activities progress in difficulty and eventually involve not only CSS but also Java. It is clear the story is a mere prop to teach readers the different levels of HTML, CSS, and Java; however, the lackluster plot is just one shortcoming in an otherwise enlightening manual. The volume’s strong points are the example coding sections, which exceed similar material found in other coding titles, and the expressive character illustrations. Teachers can rely on this title to make detailed lesson plans, and it could also be the basis for public library summer programs. VERDICT A fine addition for public or school libraries with small coding programs aimed at advanced beginners.–DeHanza Kwong, Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte, NC

This article was published in School Library Journal's July 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Della Farrell About Della Farrell

Della Farrell is an Assistant Editor at School Library Journal and Editor of Series Made Simple

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