Throughout the month of December, AiPT! will be highlighting some of our favorite science-based books and activities for kids. Looking for that perfect holiday gift that educates while it entertains? Eureka, you have found it!
It seems all of us today, from toddlers to octogenarians, are focusing much of our attention on itty-bitty, softy glowing, hand-held gadgets. There are games and apps to suit just about any taste and the constant availability of new content is mind-boggling. And someone has to make it all.
“Code is the twenty-first century literacy, and the need for people to speak the ABC’s of programming is imminent. Our world is increasingly run by software and we need more diversity in the people who are building it.” – Hello Ruby, back cover
Meet Ruby. She is a fierce little coder breaking down technology through play, imagination, and creativity. Finnish-born author Linda Liukas guides Ruby through the fundamentals of coding with simple-to-use and easy-to-understand activities. While this book doesn’t teach kids any specific coding language, it does introduce the building blocks of how to convert “big problems into small problems, [to] look for patterns, create step-by-step plans, and think outside the box,” Liukas says in the book.
Cheeky Ruby discovers the importance of giving commands in sequence by playing with step-by-step instructions with her parents. Get dressed, they ask? They didn’t specifically mention taking off pajamas first! Put her toys away? Pencils aren’t toys, so those stay on the floor! Understanding linear progression and giving clear directions are key elements to writing effective code.
Liukas developed an interest in computer programming early on, when she began creating personal websites for fun as a preteen. She went on to co-found Rails Girls, a site to help women and girls learn basic computer programming. The idea for the character formed when Liukas, struggling to teach herself the coding language Ruby, created a little girl avatar in her mind who would imagine out-of-the-box ways to grasp the new concepts.
Liuka began drawing Ruby as a visual technique for herself and quickly realized that her precocious creation could also help children all over the world to understand computer language. Drawn in a colorful, whimsical style, Ruby and other characters quickly endear themselves to readers, both the young and not so much. Each page effectively conveys simple, clean designs that educate and delight, making Hello Ruby an ideal companion to budding coders everywhere.
Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding makes learning about computer programming an adventure for both caregivers and children alike. Teaching future generations to think like problem solvers at an early age means they are far more prepared to interact with the world around them as they grow. And who knows, with the right tools, maybe your kid will develop the next “Where’s My Play-Date At?” app.