Book Review: Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming

[5 stars]
A great book, but is it the one for you?

Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming

By Jason R. Briggs

344 pages

No Starch Press (December 19, 2012)

ISBN-13: 978-1593274078

This book is exactly what it says it is: a kid-friendly introduction to programming with Python. It explains concepts in simple terms and doesn’t assume you understand anything about programming. It doesn’t even assume you know anything about some useful mathematical concepts such as angles and the modulus operator. I think even kids could use this book to learn to program.

The one place where I think the book may have problems is with motivation. Kids (or anyone for that matter) want to produce something fun and interesting quickly. Unfortunately to learn to program you need to learn the syntax for a lot of operations–performing calculations, repeating code, building classes, and so forth. It’s important and the book does a great job of explaining it in simple terms but it’s not exactly fun, despite the kid-friendly jokes sprinkled throughout the text. The book finishes by building two games that are pretty fun, but it’s a long way from page 1 to those games.

In contrast, the book Super Scratch Programming Adventure!: Learn to Program By Making Cool Games is shorter, has colorful pages, and explains how to use the Scratch programming language to write games. Scratch uses drag-and-drop programming and that book dives quickly into graphics and the other elements you need to write simple games.

“Python for Kids” provides a better introduction to the real world of programming (it’s taught at many colleges and universities) but “Super Scratch Programming Adventure!” is more engaging. You’ll have to decide which book is right for you. Perhaps both?

Even though this book is kid-friendly, it still provides good coverage of the Python programming language so there’s no reason why it wouldn’t make a great introduction for adults, too!

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