By Megan Daley.
We communicate with a computer through coding (or programming) and it is important we give children the opportunity to learn to read and write code, just as we do with music, dance and sport.
Not all children will be musicians or athletes but the experience of these activities helps in developing a well-rounded child and the skills they develop stay with them through life.
There are many children for whom coding is a passion and they may want to further develop skills in computer science. Text coding (or programming) can be quite complex for younger students to grasp, but with a visual programming language such as Scratch or Blockly students can learn to write code and then progress onto text-based programming like Java or Python.
When students are learning to code either through online programs or with devices like robots, they are developing skills in tinkering (playing and inventing), creating (by designing and making), debugging (ﬁnding and ﬁxing), persevering, risk-taking and collaborating.
Computers touch our lives in so many ways, from movies to medicine, education to entertainment, gaming to government, construction to commerce. It was just a few centuries ago when only the elite and religious could communicate through writing and reading.
With computers dominating nearly every aspect of our lives, it is vital we have students who can create and instruct these digital technologies using coding skills. This 'new literacy' of coding enables students to not just use digital technologies, but to read, comprehend and create them.
Computational thinking and coding books for beginners and young readers
- Hello Ruby: Adventures in coding (and others in the series) by Linda Liukas (Pufﬁn Books, 2016)
- Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark, illustrated by April Chu (Creston Books, 2015)
- If I Were a Wizard by Paul Hamilton, illustrated by Simon Howe (Paul Hamilton, 2017)
- Lift-the-Flap Coding and Computers (and others in the series) by Rosie Dickins, illustrated by Shaw Nielsen (Usborne, 2015)
- Beginner's Guide to Coding by Marc Scott, illustrated by Mick Marston (Bloomsbury, 2016)
- Computational Fairy Tales (and others in the series) by Jeremy Kubica (CreateSpace, 2012)
- DK Coding Workbooks by DK and Jon Woodcock (Dorling Kindersley, 2015)
- HTML for Babies (and others in series) by John Vanden-Heuvel (Sterling Children's Books, 2016)
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Excerpt from 'Raising Readers: How to nurture a child's love of books' by Megan Daley (UQP, RRP $27.95).