A Playful Introduction to Programming

Python is a general purpose programming language that is often recommended as the first step for young people interested in computer programing. Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming by Jason Briggs introduces readers to the basics they will need to start coding their own programs with Python.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • Creating strings
  • Using loops
  • Asking questions with “if” and “else”
  • Parts of a function
  • Breaking things into classes

I am not a computer whiz by any means, but the explanations in Python for Kids seemed relatively easy to follow. The author’s writing style and the cute little cartoon character illustrations scattered throughout the book also made it much less “dry” than a typical computer programming guide.

What I like the best about this book is that the second half guides you through the process of creating two complete games. You get to code a clone of the famous “Pong” called “Bounce” and a platform game called “Mr. Stick Man Races for the Exit.”

Actually getting to make a working game is much more exciting than coding examples that don’t create anything that allows you to see the results of your hard work.

Python for Kids is recommended for children ages 10 and up. My son is eight, and most of the book went way over his head, so I’d say the age recommendation seems appropriate. I imagine that the typical 10 year old would need some adult guidance to get through this book, but I think a junior high or high school student would find it very useful for independent study.

Disclaimer: A copy Python for Kids was provided by the publisher for the purpose of preparing this review.

Photo credit: No Starch Press

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