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Monday, November 30, 2015

Geeking out over Secret Coders

For those of you who don't know, I'm a big fan of Gene Luen Yang. It seems to me that he's got a solid head on his shoulders and he writes darn good stories. I don't think I'm alone in thinking this, because he's won gobs of awards and written stories in impressive worlds like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Superman. (Yes, Gene Yang is now writing the Superman comics, and for the first time I'm interested in picking one up! haha)

Anyway, when I heard he was coming out with a series of graphic novels that would teach kids how to code, I was very excited. I emailed the publisher, and they sent me a copy for review. Huzzah!

We all loved it.

We loved it so much that we downloaded the Logo interpreter suggested in the back of the book (and linked from the website), and spent some fun times making the turtle follow our commands.

getting the hang of coding




I even caught Jacob reading it, and got some good pictures of Benjamin's work after he finished the book and before he knew we could play with this information on the computer.
 

So. Let me give you a little breakdown.

What colors is it? Interiors are black, white and green.

What is the story about? A new girl at a new, strange school, trying to solve the mysteries of her environment. She just happens to learn some basic coding, on the way.

Strong: It's definitely got emotional grab. Humor, especially between the students, Drama, in Hopper's family life, school life, and when they unexpectedly meet, hehe. I expected the bookto be a little dry at times, but I was wrong. This book isn't just "not dry," it's downright JUICY.

Weak: Nothing that I can think of! My only problem is that the rest of the series isn't out yet.

How it has changed my life: I now understand how to work in a binary number system better than I ever have before! I definitely learned about binary numbers in childhood (sister of a nerd), and in college when we covered how to teach number systems (elementary education graduate), but man! Those birds! I will not forget those birds. Also I know how to do some basic coding in Logo, which, admittedly, is not super useful in my every day life.

Here's something cool though. Watching Benjamin get really into this book and then begin to program -- to notice his errors and go back and fix them -- made me think he might be ready for piano lessons. He's seven, if you were wondering. So, Jacob and I signed him up. He's taking to piano very nicely.

I definitely recommend this book. It could be a really fun Christmas gift. Read it on Christmas morning and spend the afternoon doing a little bit of coding. Good, clean fun!

I'll make the cover image here an affiliate link, so that you can shop for the book if you like. If you shop through my affiliate links, I get a small commission.



You can check out all the books by Gene Luen Yang that I've reviewed here on Everead by clicking here.

Are your kids doing anything with coding? I've heard that some schools are starting to teach it, and Benjamin came home and played a coding game that he had played at school. Do you view coding or other computer skills as "essential skills" for the next generation? Leave me your thoughts in a comment below. 

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