Chiou’s chapter book, brightly illustrated by Song and López, aims to make the basic concepts of computer operation and coding understandable to children.
Kids are instantly fascinated with interactive technology without, of course, having any idea how it works. Here, Chiou (Robot Train's Surprise Birthday Party, 2017) teaches children about the basic sequential logic of using structured requests to get predictable outcomes, in this case “programming” their grown-ups to do simple things like patting them on the head. In a following section, meant for slightly older children, kids are shown clear and playful pictures illustrating the manipulation of images and data on a touch screen. And in the book’s greatest feat (made all the more impressive when you think about how many adults are still in the dark about these same basics despite using them for work and play every day), the final section, illustrated by López, breaks down the ideas and mechanics of computer coding to the simplest conceptual building blocks and makes them fun and universal by linking them to that greatest of all foodstuffs, cookies. The book’s illustrators use large, friendly images and fonts that simulate a child’s first tablet device, and they pair those images with oversized, playful text in order to convey the essentially plastic nature of computer coding: If you understand the fundamentals of how to structure the information that goes into a computer code, you will be able to control what comes out of a computer code. There are a great many free online children’s tutorials covering the same concepts, but this book supplies the carry-it-around tactile element that’s so essential to learning at these young ages—and print books don’t offer endless distractions from their own contents.
A thoroughly inviting primer on coding for little children just encountering the world of computers.