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Code For Teens Review

When I heard we had a chance to review a book on coding for teens, I was really excited. My teenage boys have wanted to learn, especially my youngest. Code for Teens is a company started by Jeremy Moritz when he saw a need for teaching his children coding. Code for Teens: The Awesome Beginner’s Guide to Programming (Volume 1) is all about JavaScript.

code for teens coding

Basic computer programming is necessary with today’s technology. But how are you supposed to teach it? Especially if you have never had a programming class. Or, like me, they were still teaching Fortran when you were in school. I thought it was dead then, but I just googled it and see that there are still versions out there. But it doesn’t even make the top 15 list of programming languages.

So, how do you pick what language to teach? JavaScript seems to be the language of choice for coding on the web. (Don’t confuse it with Java, which is used for mobile apps as well as computer programs.) Most websites use some type of JavaScript coding.

How are you supposed to teach it? That’s the great thing about this book. It is written for the kids. The book is self-paced, with activities, quizzes, and special projects. You may want to look at the “worksheet” your child creates and maybe some of the awesome programs, but otherwise, your child can do everything independently.

Even better? There are answers in the back of the book. You can either check the work or have your child check their own work (that’s what I did).

What does a camel have to do with coding? The picture in the first chapter had me curious. I’ll let you discover that one for yourself.

camel in coding

What topics are covered?

The coding book includes ten chapters, introducing topics and guiding your child through lessons. From the table of contents:

  • Write your first lines of code and make mistakes
  • Code with numbers and math operators
  • Concatenate strings and make snide comments
  • declare and invoke functions
  • Use booleans, if blocks, conditionals, and comparison operators
  • Work with null, undefined, and logical operators
  • Practice methods in lots of short projects
  • Introduce arrays and do stuff with ’em
  • Put your code on repeat with loops
  • Combine concepts from every chapter to build a cool game

First Impressions

When the book first came, I was drawn to the colorful illustrations throughout the book. I noticed screenshots, coding highlighted in gray to make it stand out, and color-coded chapters.

After reading the Introduction and “A Word for Parents” sections, I felt a little more comfortable handing this off to the boys for them to work.

When my youngest first saw the book, his eyes lit up, and he nabbed it out of Dad’s hands and took off with it to the school room. He had just started looking at JavaScript a few days earlier. Within an hour, he had already finished the first chapter. When I told him I needed the book back to look at it, he asked, “We get to keep this book, right?”

Coding for Teens

The boys enjoyed learning about JavaScript. I liked hearing them talk about the different things they were learning and the excitement they showed to be able to do different things. My youngest has been showing an interest in website development, so out of the three, I think he enjoyed the book the most.

Here are a few screenshots of the work they did. The first shows the process of entering in information to discover your “favorite” pizza topping.

Code for Teens review - coding for teens

This second one is from one of the Do It Yourself (DIY) exercises. The coding gives you three winning numbers.

Code for Teens review - coding for teens

Positives

Since the boys did the work, I’ll let them give their positives and negatives.

Boy #1:

  • seemed well-written, fit with age range, aimed for younger teens
  • had plenty of exercises to really beat in the facts
  • well illustrated
  • exercises were fun and interactive, had light topics, like pizza and other fun stuff
  • lessons weren’t that long, only about 1 hour (if you did all the exercises)
  • had a DIY at the end of each lesson, encouraging you to go on your own and write your own elaborate code

Boy #2:

  • book was written for those with absolutely zero experience coding
  • had fun activities and pictures
  • was very encouraging
  • stressed that making mistakes was part of the learning process
  • had answers in the back so we could check to see if we were learning it correctly or if we were on the wrong track

Boy #3:

  • The book made coding easy. I had absolutely zero coding experience. This book went through the coding step-by-step. I found it quite helpful as a beginning guide to coding.
  • I liked the way the review sections were formatted. They made you actually do your own coding and reinforce the knowledge you had just gained.
  • I liked the way the book displayed which words to type into the program and which words not to. It highlighted the words to type easily enough that you could understand what to type. It also explained what the importance of each word was and why it was done in a certain way.

Code for Teens - coding for teens

Negatives

Boy #1:

  • Not much

Boy #2:

  • nothing as of yet

Boy #3:

  • The book was written quite informally. It seemed like it was written for a younger age group than teens. The wording, however, made it simple to begin coding.

I’ll add one quick “negative.” The book was heavy, and it was difficult to hold the pages open when propped up on a book stand. The glued binding makes it a little difficult to lay flat. I ended up using my phone as a weight to help hold it open. A spiral binding might have been a better choice.

Code for Teens

Final Thoughts

Code for Teens was a great introductory book on coding for teens. I think JavaScript was a good choice for their first volume. I would recommend this book to anyone with kids wanting to learn coding. Even preteens would be able to grasp the concepts in the book.

The conclusion mentions a second volume on HTML and CSS. I don’t see that it has been released yet, but we will be on the look out for it.

 

Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming {Code for Teens Reviews}
 

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