Label: Coding

March 4, 2019

How to Talk to Your Computer | Cover

I had a good time rewriting my latest book, HOW TO TALK TO YOUR COMPUTER (now part of HarperCollins’ Let’s Read and Find Out series). I have always been interested in the intersection of kids, education and computers, and I wrote the first version of this book in 1985, for Harper & Row. At that time we all thought that kids were going to learn the computer language BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code), and that everyone would be writing programs for their own computers. The book was well-received, even getting some starred reviews. But librarians and consumers didn’t buy it, because it turned out that this wasn’t at all how kids were going to use computers back then.

Fast forward 35 years, and now coding is considered to be a new, core literacy for today’s young students. I was so pleased when HarperCollins asked me to revisit this book, with current coding practices in mind. This is "coding 101," for the very youngest readers. We introduce preliminary ways to think about "talking" to your computer, and introduce core concepts like conditions, loops and functions. I suspect this book will be useful for parents, too, who want to understand what their children are learning in the classroom. This book is designed to get everyone off on the right foot.

I think you’ll love the new illustrations by Mike Lowery. The look is fresh, modern, and fun! We’ve included visual aids like charts, sidebars, an infographic, and a computer-less coding activity. The glossary is important in a book like this, as well, so that we can provide clear, simple definitions of basic coding terms. For example, FUNCTION is defined as: A set of instructions in a program that can be called and executed by a specific name.

Illustration of  Don’t you love this illustration of the function "Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich"? Sometimes a picture truly is worth a thousand words, and with this kind of subject matter in particular, I think that visualizing the concepts will be very helpful for readers.

Please let me know your thoughts on this book as you use it at home or in the classroom. I hope we’ve hit on a format that works for this generation.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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