I love graphic novels, books about gaming, and books that promote problem solving.
Other Gene Luen Yang Graphic Novels
When I was in the English classroom, one of my favorite books to recommend to students was Gene Luen Yang’s Level Up. I loved it and so did my freshmen students. It was one of those books that I could hand to a hesitant reader and they would just gobble it up! American Born Chinese was also a favorite because it was such a quirky bildungsroman story about being an awkward teenager. Even though it is about being a Chinese American, the heart of the book is about being uncomfortable in your own skin. (AND ISN’T THIS WHAT EVERY TEENAGER FEELS?!?!?) But I digress…
Secret Coders Series
So you can see why I was stoked when First Second offered to send me the first four books of the graphic novel series Secret Coders. I read them quickly and then passed them on to my 8 YO. As I’m writing this review, she is re-reading them. She just LOVES this series.
I asked her, “What do you love about it?”
She said simply:
- It’s about coding
- It’s a mystery
And that is exactly what is so awesome about Secret Coders! In this series, the main character Hopper moves to a new school only to find that she is surrounded by puzzles and mystery. Working with her new friends, she learns the Logo language and has to program a robotic turtle to draw patterns that unlock the clues to her school’s past. Meaning, she has to use logic and math to problem solve, create art, and solve each puzzle. This book is exemplar at gamifying math and programming. Plus, it shows how math is ART. This type of directional coding is good for laying a foundation with conditional statements across platforms and troubleshooting/persevering.
One of my favorite things about this series is that Yang includes puzzles for the reader to solve like this one below:
“Go ahead. Give it a shot. Try to write a program that can do my homework.”
A Little History Note:
Wait…Logo? YES! This book is based on the Logo language created by Seymour Papert, Wally Feurzeig, and Cynthia Solomon. This language was a learning tool that was later developed to program a robotic turtle that held a drawing pen. Students use math to program the turtle to take simple shapes that create intricate designs. Read more about the Logo history here.
More Coding Books for Kids
There are lots of great coding books out there to get kids interested. Here are just a few. Please share your favorites in the comments.
- Hello Ruby
- Lift the Flap: Computers and Coding (My mom bought this for my 8 YO and she LOVES IT!)
- Scratch Coding Cards (Not technically a book, but an AMAZING resource for young Scratchers.)
- Girls Who Code– I need to invest in these!
- Coming soon: Ada Lovelace: Little People, Big Dreams
- Python for Kids (These No Starch Press books for kids are great!)
- Plus, Aaron and I have a chapter on coding in our #bigmakerbook and our #makeymakey book is all about coding and programming your own wacky creations!
- Check out this cool book of Turtle Art made by Seymour Papert’s daughter. (One side is the program and the other is the art!)