With students back in school once again (hurrah!), now’s the perfect time to introduce your child to a great book. Not only will it encourage their creativity by letting them explore their passions and interests but will also open their minds to the influx of learning they’re now contending with now their usual routines have resumed.
Grant Smith, children’s learning specialist and VP of Education at kids coding school, Code Ninjas, is passionate about the ways in which reading can inspire a child’s imagination. Grant has two children of his own, who are - like all children in 2021 - constantly on the move and fascinated with technology. They’re also challenging their parents to keep coming up with engaging and age-appropriate activities that will stimulate their young minds and, let’s be honest, keep them busy.
Having our kids continue to learn at home, without feeling like they’re doing schoolwork is key – even now schools have reopened. While there are tons of educational and fun TV shows and games, I personally love to share books with my kids that get them thinking in new ways and teach them the importance of understanding technology.
Here’s Grant’s run-down of the best coding books for kids of all ages - plus a bonus option for big kids at heart. Grants concludes “All of these titles would make a great ‘back to school’ gift for any budding coder. Thankfully, home-schooling is now a distant memory but, by working through these books with your child, you’ll be able to hold on to some of the special bonding time that comes through learning together.”
>> Confused by Coding? READ MORE HERE: Kids Coding: Understanding the jargon for parents
The 7 Best Coding Books for Kids
For Key Stage One (children aged 4-8)
These books follow Ruby, an adventurous young girl, as she encounters challenges and navigates through them using skills that coders use every day. One great example is when she tries to build a ladder. Each rung is built one at a time like the previous rung, so she explores the idea of loops – which, in coding terms, means repeating a task. She also talks to cupcake-baking robots that explain algorithms and the idea of following a list of steps, or a recipe, to replicate results - the idea behind algorithms. Through imaginative stories, kids will start to understand these concepts and improve their problem-solving skills.
The How to Code series follows a girl named Pearl and her robot Pascal. In the first book, Pearl and Pascal are at the beach. Pearl wants Pascal to build a cool sandcastle for her, but the robot takes everything she says extremely literally. It’s fun to see what the robot does with the directions he is given, as they go through different concepts to get to the final sandcastle that she wanted all along. This demonstrates how, when giving directions - like in coding - you need to be specific and intentional if you want to get things done ‘correctly’.
This is a fun lift-the-flap board book written by a leader in early coding education. The book is full of great examples and activities, with every page covering a different concept from algorithms to variables. The flaps are really fun and engaging - and not just for babies! While learning about debugging, your kids will lift flaps to find bugs in a clever cupcake factory.
For Key Stage Two (children aged 8-11)
The Secret Coders series is similar to the Hello Ruby books in that it’s a story book that incorporates coding concepts, but they dive deeper into the topics. I often tell people this series is like Harry Potter but instead of magic, the main characters use coding to solve their problems. For example, in the very beginning of the first book we find that there are birds that have three eyes. Some of their eyes are closed, and some are open. We quickly find out that those are actually binary representations of something that is part of the mystery that the main characters must solve. In their semi-magical world, the characters explore and use other concepts to help solve problems at their school and in their daily lives. It’s so fun and fanciful to see how they apply these concepts to solve problems that are different every time.
This DKfindout! Coding book is great for diving into different programming languages and the internet. It also mentions notable computer scientists like Alan Turing and references what’s happening in the world of coding today. Similar to My First Coding Book, there are a lot of concepts and information — but with the way it is presented, kids will want to open it and learn more. What’s more, they probably won’t even realise they’re actually learning!
This book is written for kids with little-to-no experience of coding, so a great place to start if your pre-teen has shown an interest in learning to code. As the title would suggest, this book is mainly based on the coding language Scratch – the computer programming language where you can create interactive stories, games and animations. Amongst other things, the book features a fun step-by-step guide of how to create interactive animations and even mini computer games. Your child will need access to a computer for this one, but the good news is that Scratch runs on any device.
For big kids (aka any coding-confused parents)
You’re not alone if the thought of sitting down with your child to work through a glitch in the game they’ve created fills you with dread. Unless you’ve worked in the digital technology industry, it’s unlikely you will have ever looked into website building or coding before. I like to think that my book is a great all-rounder for anyone first exploring the world of coding. It has an easy-to-follow style and, better yet, you don’t need any experience of computer programming – just access to a computer and a will to learn.
> Code Ninjas teaches kids to code by building and playing their own video games. If you’d like to find out more about Code Ninjas and if a location is coming to your area soon, visit: www.codeninjas.co.uk