THREE PROGRAMMING BOOKS FOR KIDS

Lauren Ipsum— “Lauren Ipsum” by Carlos Bueno is the story of a little girl who must find her way home by thinking like a programmer. It may do for children what Douglas Hofstadter’s “Godel, Escher, Bach” did for Joy back in the 1980s: get them excited about programming ideas.

The name “Lauren Ipsum” comes from the dummy text used as filler when printers don’t have the actual text of a page yet or want to show off a font. It’s been around since the 1500s, when an unknown printer used assorted type to make a specimen book.

The book’s title character tackles classic problems like “Zeno’s Paradox” and “The Traveling Salesman.” Each chapter connects to a real-life computer science lesson in the back of the book. If you or your sharp 12 year-old enjoy thinking in riddles, this book could inspire a code-writing career. It also has humor. This is the first time we’ve seen the supposed criminal charge “Mopery with Intent to Creep,” in print. Bob says police reporters at the newspaper used to use it as a joke charge for someone arrested but not yet charged with an official crime. We looked it up and it was once used as an official charge by an Ohio police department.

Lauren Ipsum is $17 from NoStarch.com.

— A second book, “JavaScript for Kids,” by Nick Morgan, $35 from NoStarch.com, gets down to brass tacks, teaching kids the programming language used to create most website effects. All you need to play along is the free Google Chrome web browser. Our first lesson drew cat faces on the screen, using grammatical marks. Very easy to follow.

— A third book, “Coding for Kids,” by Camille McCue, $30 from Dummies.com, teaches kids to create games. The book comes with a 35-day free trial of the programming language “MicroWorlds EX,” or MWEX for short. Some kids’ coding books can be confusing. This one isn’t. We started by making a digital turtle. We made him move, we colored him, we changed his background. We’re getting it!

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