Programming Book Choices For Fun
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Monday, 05 April 2021
Article Index
Programming Book Choices For Fun
Scratch Fun and Games
App Inventor

There are lots of books on the 'mainstream' programming languages such as C++, JavaScript, Python, but what should you buy if you're wanting to encourage someone with the fun of programming, to either a child or a non-techie?

This selection of books aimed at teaching programming in a non-formal way starts with Scratch, the educational programming language aimed at first-time learners in classrooms. You program in Scratch by dragging and dropping colorful blocks of code to create apps and learning the basics of computer programming. 


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Scratch Programming In Easy Steps

Author: Sean McManus
Publisher: In Easy Steps
Pages: 216
ISBN: 978-1718500129

This book achieves a five star rating from Lucy Black, who said it should appeal to kids, parents and teachers wanting to know what Scratch is all about and how to use it.



As with all In Easy Steps titles, the book is published in full color, with hot tips and  clear instructions, with the emphasis on "how" rather than "why". The book includes step-by-step instructions to  starting with Scratch on the Raspberry Pi. The book has been updated since Lucy reviewed it with a second edition that covers building games, adding music, and creating eye-catching visual effects. Along the way, readers learn about programming.

This is the second edition of the book, and it makes good use of the new Scratch 3 features such as sound and video. Lucy says the In Easy Steps format fits the topic and the result will appeal to adults as well as to children. Scratch is a language Lucy would recommend for kids wanting to get into coding and this book is highly recommended to enable them to get the most out of it.


Learn To Program With Scratch

Author: Majed Marji
Publisher: No Starch Press
Pages: 288
ISBN: 9781593275433

Lucy Black gave this book a five star rating, recommending it even though Scratch does a great job of making programming seem obvious, so you can start without needing to read a book.

Lucy says the book's subtitle is indicative of what to expect - A Visual Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science, and Math. She says the inclusion of "Math" and the at the end, which will probably turn some potential readers off cover illustration of a chemistry lab, will appeal to wanabee geeks.

However, in truth most of the examples are game oriented but this is reasonable given the nature of Scratch. Lucy says despite this, the book really does try to explain what you need to know about general programming in terms of this easy-to-use visual language. She concludes:

"This is not a book for dummies, but I can recommend it to anyone wanting to use Scratch as a way to graduate to full programmer status and have a lot of fun on the way."

Adventures in Coding

Authors:  Eva Holland & Chris Minnick 
Publisher: Wiley
ISBN: 978-1119232681

This particular book on Scrath doesn't take a traditional approach to programming, but it is a fairly dense 300-page read, according to Lucy Black who thought it merited 4.5 stars. There might have to be some help from a grown up if the learner is a child. The book employs lots of examples and ideas are introduced as they are needed to help develop whatever project is being discussed.

Lucy said that at the end of reading the book and trying out some of the Adventures with a suitable victim, she still wasn't sure that the book is going to be of use to everyone. You have to occupy a middle ground of being good enough to want to learn more, but not so good that you can figure it out for yourself.  The presentation is motivating and there are lots of colorful screen dumps showing how the programs fit together - literally fit together.  

Lucy's conclusion is that that this would be a good resource for keeping a beginner motivated and it is ideal for a parent or instructor not quite sure of what they are doing in the world of programming.

Last Updated ( Monday, 05 April 2021 )