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

Having learned the basics of Scratch, the titles on this page show you how to do more with it.

Scratch Programming Playground  

Author: Al Sweigart
Publisher: No Starch Press
Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-1718500211

This is a book that teaches you to program by making cool games. There's an updated second edition covering Scratch 3, and while Lucy reviewed the earlier edition her comments and the identifying details here refer to that second edition. Awarding the title 4.5 stars, Lucy Black points out that the big problem is that what beginners think of as a cool game has become increasingly difficult to create using simple code. She says:

"Don't expect some really impressive game that is going to absorb you or your pupil for its own sake. In truth these games are cool because you put the effort in to create them and this is what the book is all about." 

Overall, the book is well written, full of humor and puns, and the explanations of how things work are good. It also generally implements things in a sensible way and you aren't going to learn any bad habits or methods from the book.

What this book does is to get you to program by explaining the way in which common techniques you encounter in games are implemented - how to bounce off a wall, how to stop a sprite passing though a wall, how to simulate gravity and so on.

This isn't a book that will suit every teacher because it doesn't make a fuss about programming ideas such as objects, stacks, data structures and so on. It is motivating and it is exciting, as long as the excitement is in creating something of your very own. If you think you fit into this category then the book is highly recommended.

Cool Scratch Projects  

Author: Sean McManus
Publisher: In Easy Steps
Pages: 397ISBN: 978-1840787146

Scratch - an easy language to learn but what do you do next? This was the question Harry Fairhead asked when awarding this book five stars, saying that one very good choice is to buy a copy of Cool Scratch Projects. As the title suggests, this is a collection of projects to try in Scratch such as a magic mirror, 3D glasses, maze and stop motion videos.

Harry says he can't promise that you will like all of them, but you should find enough to inspire you to create something. The problem is that it is easy to get started with Scratch, but even though you might know how it works you need to have seen the sorts of things that you can do with seemingly unpromising facilities.

Harry's conclusion is that overall this is a good book - motivating, in full color and with plenty to encourage the beginner. If you are a teacher then you could do worse than to get a copy and "borrow" the ideas. If you are using Scratch on your own, not only will it give you something to do with your new skill, it will help you invent even more things to do.

Super Scratch Programming Adventure!

Author: The Lead Project
Publisher: No Starch Press
Pages: 160
ISBN: 978-1593275310

This colorful book with the subtitle "Learn to Program By Making Cool Games"  is part comic strip and part practical instructions for creating programs presented, as befits a graphical language, mostly as pictures.Like the Scratch language itself aimed at kids of all ages. Lucy Black awarded it 4.5 stars, and the updated second edition covers similar ground with coverage of Scratch 3.


Lucy says that overall the book provides a fun approach to a language that is designed for fun. Scratch is also intended as a educational language to teach programming and here it doesn't succeed so well. Rather than introduce programming concepts in a logical order, it adopts a task-oriented approach in which techniques are introduced as and when that are required to make progress in game creation. Some readers might find this not as good as an introduction that paces itself by introducing concepts in a logical and building order - but if you want fun, excitement and inspiration you can't always do it this way. You might need to step in and provide some background ideas and information - assuming you can get the reader's attention away from the book.  

If you are looking for a motivational way of teaching programming to a young beginner then this is recommended.

Last Updated ( Monday, 05 April 2021 )