Dad of Divas' Reviews: Book Review - Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Review - Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming

About the Book
For anyone starting out in computer programming, the learning curve can be frustratingly steep. The simple stuff is easy enough to grasp, but anything actually useful remains frustratingly out of reach. And when you're a kid with no programming history behind you, the task can seem insurmountable.

A new book from No Starch Press promises to help soften that learning curve. Jason R. Briggs' Python for Kids (No Starch Press, December 2012, 344 pp., $34.95, ISBN 9781593274078) is a kid-friendly introduction to Python, one of the world's most powerful and widely used programming languages. "I can still quite vividly remember the feeling of learning to program at the age of eight," says Briggs. "When you program, you create something from nothing in a way that's quite different from any other medium. I hope readers experience the same sense of wonder as they work their way through Python for Kids."

Briggs packs his book with coding examples designed to teach readers how to create drawings, animations, and games. The sample programs in Python for Kids feature ravenous monsters, secret agents, and thieving ravens, and each chapter is full of wacky, colorful art by Miran Lipovańća (of Learn You a Haskell for Great Good! fame). And to ensure maximum accuracy and non-boringness, Python for Kids was technically reviewed by both a programming professional and a middle school student (who programs in Python, Java, and JavaScript. Kids these days!).

But just because the book is fun doesn't mean that it sacrifices real learning. Python for Kids is a thorough introduction to Python (and computer science), complete with programming puzzles and chapter summaries to make sure the lessons stick. Readers learn how to:

  • Use fundamental data structures like lists, tuples, and maps
  • Organize and reuse code with functions and modules
  • Use control structures like loops and conditional statements
  • Draw shapes and patterns with Python's turtle module
  • Create games, animations, and other graphical wonders with tkinter

As the title suggests, Python for Kids is written for kids, but it's also suitable for any beginner who wants a gentle and fun introduction to programming. Python for Kids continues the long-standing No Starch Press tradition of making technical topics accessible, while hopefully minting a few new programmers along the way.

My Take on the Book
For any parent that has a child that is interested in computers, and especially more intricate details of programming languages, it many times can be difficult to find the correct text to any in their own learning and development. What was nice about this book was that it is written for kids to help them to better understand a programming language that they will need to know if they're going to delve deeper into programming itself. The book is written for young adults, and is very straightforward and allows the reader to understand programming on many levels. as someone that does not do a lot of programming, in reading this book I felt completely at ease at being able to understand how to use this as a resource to be able to better understand the Python programming language. Once you get beyond the basics, the book takes you even further and allows you to be able to use the basic knowledge to create and develop other more complex applications. How user-friendly the book was in general, is one of the nicest parts about this book. Filled with so much practical information, even in the most beginning the individual will learn so much. I highly recommend this for anyone that has a youngster that is trying to better understand the idea of game development as this book will open their eyes, and opened their world.

All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site's Disclaimer  for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.

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