BOOKS: PROGRAMMING FOR KIDS

super scratch “3D Game Programming for Kids,” by Chris Strom; $36 from oreilly.com.  Here’s a great system for teaching you to program, no matter what your age.

All you need is a computer and preferably the Chrome web browser, though anything except Internet Explorer will do. The author explains things so well that in literally a few minutes, Joy had created a colorful ball and cube on her screen and was able to animate them.

The author advances quickly to creating your character, (who can do cartwheels), then a monster eating fruit, a cave puzzle and rafting on a river. Later you make a model of the solar system and your own website for showing off the games you create.  We think this is a great intro to Javascript, the programming language for web interactions.

— “Super Scratch Programming Adventure!” is from the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups; $25 from NoStarch.com.

This is a 159-page, full-color comic book for teaching programming to anyone from age 8 on up. A cat named Scratchy challenges you to save the planet from a tornado and worse.  As you go, you’ll create classic arcade games (our favorite kind because there’s no learning curve). This kind of programming uses colorful blocks of code that you drag into place, like building blocks. This way, there’s no danger of the kind of typos that keep programmers tearing their hair out and burning the midnight oil.

There’s a good intro to this book at Scratch.MIT.edu, a site run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In a couple of minutes, our cartoon cat was stepping across the screen to a drum beat and meowing at the same time.

 

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