Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Review: Coding for Parents by Frazer Wilson

Everything you need to know to confidently help with homework
by Frazer Wilson
208 pages

Facing the daunting prospect of helping your children with their coding homework?Coding for Parents teaches you what you need to know . . . so you can teach your kids! 

Unlock the mysteries of coding with this easy-to-follow and well-illustrated guide--and help your kids ace their coding homework! Organized by age and grade, It takes you by the hand and leads you through the basics, building your knowledge of key concepts, terminology, and techniques, and giving you the language you'll need to explain it all to your child. Instructional diagrams and compelling illustrations appear throughout to enhance your understanding, and the book covers the most popular software, including Scratch, Python, and Java.


This book takes the humble-jumble of HTML, CSS, Javascript, Functions, Strings and so much more and brings enough sense into it that parents come across half-way intelligent when discussing coding with their kids.

For parents who've never stepped foot into the world of computer coding, the mass of numbers, symbols and terminology comes across as foreign as alien garble, but many kids learn basic coding in school and might deal with it on a daily basis. With careful and upbeat explanations, the basics of coding are introduced, and through illustrations, diagrams and examples, parents will soon be able to code some basic programs themselves.

At first glance, this is a small, somewhat fat book packed with an overwhelming onslaught of computer codes and terminology--and quite a few bright, bouncy illustrations sprinkled in. At second glance, the initial fear of seeing the codes drifts away, and the more understandable breakdown settles in. This book is perfect for even the more technical shy parents; it starts out gently and eases in.

The chapters bring across the information in a smooth and well-organized order. After a several page explanation of what coding is and the importance of understanding it, the author goes into the basic concepts or building blocks of coding. These are presented in a short, clear and direct manner, never weighing down with too much technical information that might insure a huge headache. There are illustrations and diagrams, many with a dust of humor, which help to clarify the written explanations and bring across an easy atmosphere to the entire topic. First, after the basic ideas behind coding are clear, does the author step into the different types. Scratch, HTML, CSS and Javascript follow, broken down into chapters of their own. This makes it easy for readers to pick and choose which form of coding they want to learn and makes searching for information on the individual coding types easy even later on. At the end of the book is a nicely laid out glossary as well as an index for all quick check needs.

Luckily, this isn't a purely theoretical read but includes hands-on examples along the way. The idea of learning through doing has high priority in these pages, but the tasks aren't dry and boring--the spunky little wizard with the sparkly, star hat makes sure of that. Some exercises come across more as games like a fashion bot or super hero creator, while others lean toward more practical applications like setting up basic page or an image gallery. But every single example makes it clear that the reader is making progress and actually understanding something. The codes are spelled out step for step, code by code (so the reader doesn't have to leap into cold water or overthink with the gut twisting feeling that they have no idea how to fulfill the task) and can be adjusted and altered at will to practice--it's the great feeling of success.

Although this book is for parents to help step up their skills before making a fool out of themselves in front of their kids, it also encourages parents and kids to learn together through several of the exercises. It's also great for those adults without kids who simply want a basic handle on this entire world known as coding. In other words, although this book might induce a bit of fear at first, it's cute illustrations and simple glide into the codes make it easy to understand and actually learn some basics.

And here he is. . .

Frazer Wilson is a web designer and front-end developer who teachers coding in a local school as part of an organization called Code Club. CODING FOR PARENTS is his first book. He lives in London. Visit him on Twitter: @frazewilson

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