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. 

Happy Holidays!

Hi friends! I have a billion things I want to blog about! Can you tell from the lack of recent posts that all my ideas are piling up over here?

door hanging thing, special for you!
Thing 1:
Happy Holidays! I made you a present.
Actually I made it for myself, to hang on my door, but then I accidentally left it in Boston. Not to worry, I'll make a new one.

Thing 2:
I'm now officially a freelance writer! I wrote this article for Brightly. It's about dyad reading -- my favorite strategy to help kids learn to read. You may remember that I posted about it once before. But I didn't get paid for that one, now did I? Of course, when I pointed out that I hadn't yet been paid for this piece either, my brother Ransom laughed and said I was "even more officially a free-lance writer!"

By the way, I really like Brightly. They have lots of good articles on there, not just the one by me. It's all about reading and geared toward parents, so it's pretty much right up your alley if you like those parts of Everead. :)

Thing 3:
Debra asked if I was going to do the book recommendation thing again this year? Yes. The answer is yes. If you would like a recommendation this holiday season, I am happy to oblige! You can email me, comment here, or on my facebooks or instagrams or anywhere really. If you'd like to look at the posts from 2014, here they are! Full explanation post, 2014 not-a-gift-guide.

I hope your Thanksgiving celebrations were wonderful! Feel free to leave some holiday cheer in the comments.


The Midwife of Bethlehem

Today we have a post by Ashley! Hooray!

Can you hear the distant jingling of Christmas bells yet? It's getting closer! Close enough that I don't mind posting now about this lovely children's book that was sent to me to review. It's called The Midwife of Bethlehem, written by Shad Driggs and illustrated by Diane Lucas.

Compared to many other more secularly-themed Christmas books, this one is decidedly religious. It tells the imagined story of a midwife called upon to assist Mary as she delivers Jesus in the stable in Bethlehem. The midwife contemplates beforehand what it might be like if she were to deliver the prophesied Savior. When she is summoned to this peculiar birth and sees the signs, she knows that that is just what she's been called upon to do.

The book's illustrations are simple but not distracting. The text is full of quoted scripture, which might make it a little harder to understand for younger readers. But if you're looking for a good lead-up-to-Christmas book that helps your family focus on "the reason for the season" and that will afford good opportunities for discussing Bible verses together, look no further. This one is a nice cross between reading straight out of the scriptures and reading a children's book. It'll definitely find its way under our tree for our Christmas countdown.*

Happy reading! And happy beginning to your holidays!

On a side note, if you're in holiday-season denial and need a good transition from Halloween to Thanksgiving, check out the book The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz. It's one of our favs.


*We wrap twenty-four children's Christmas books and put them under the tree at the end of November. Starting December 1, we take turns unwrapping one each night and reading it together by the tree. These are books we own as well as library books. We just make sure we unwrap the library ones in time to return them. :)

Introducing Non-fiction November! #NFNovember

Hey! It's November!

So at KidLitCon I was on this great panel called CYBILS: Nonfiction Roundtable with Ellen Zchunke and Jennie Rothschild and we had Jennifer Wharton and Amy Broadmoore with us via technology.

We talked about being part of the Cybils, and about reviewing Non-Fiction books, and we unveiled #NFNovember ! Basically, if you blog/write/share about non-fiction for children and teens this November, we want to hear about it and share the love. If you've never reviewed a non-fiction book, this is a great month to start.

So over at On The Shelf 4 Kids, Ellen's blog, she has a google form where you can submit a blog post that you'd like to have featured.

Here at Everead, you can just leave a comment on this post if you've got some non-fiction love to share. Throughout the month I'll check out what y'all leave below, and bring some of it up into my own posts. I may also end up featuring some of the ones submitted at Ellen's blog, depending on how much is submitted here, how much is submitted there, and how much time I have.

Let's party! 
What great non-fiction books do you love? 
What questions do you have for me?

Leave recommendations and links in the comments, tag tweets and instagrams and other social media with #NFNovember.

p.s. The document that we made with the audience at the Roundtable can be found here. I definitely want to check out a book that Amy mentioned, From Cover to Cover by Kathleen Horning. It's not the first time I've heard her rave about it. Apparently it suggests that the careful reviewer of non-fiction will look at 1) accuracy 2) organization 3) writing style 4) illustration and 5) design. Something to strive for! I've put the book on hold at my library, but if you want to shop it, that's here (affiliate link, wink wink).

 Leaf your comments below! 
(Oh, yes I did)

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