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BOOK REVIEW: Computer Coding Python Games for Kids by Carol Vorderman

| 23 September 2018 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Computer Coding Python Games for Kids by Carol Vorderman
Dorling Kindersley Ltd
July 2018
Paperback, $35.00
Reviewed by Natalie Salvo

Non-Fiction / Science & Technology for Children & Teenagers

8/10

Tomorrow’s programmers are getting a head-start today with the release of various coding books aimed specifically at kids. For those people who think Python is just a snake, the book, Computer Coding Python Games for Kids will prove to be a great and useful tool. It gives step-by-step instructions to programming where complex concepts are taught incrementally and built upon in a clear and rational way.

The best way to learn any new language is to get stuck in, and programming languages are no different. Building your own computer games is a fun and immersive way to combine theory and practice. If you’re a brand-new coder, start off with the basics at the beginning of this book before moving on to the more complex games as the book progresses. By following the step-by-step guides, you’ll find out how professional coders think when they’re building a computer game. Follow these steps carefully and you’ll have your own games up and running in no time. Then if you really want to push yourself, you can try tweaking the code to make your games unique.

This book has British television presenter Carol Vorderman listed as the author on the cover yet the first page of the book seems to indicate that she only penned the foreword. In fact, three computing science specialists named Craig Steele, Dr Claire Quigley, and Daniel McCafferty along with teaching associate, Dr Martin Goodfellow appear to have written the bulk of this title. This group have penned a book that breaks down a series of complicated computing topics and presents them in easy-to-learn and digestible slices.

In Python, using a dictionary is another way to store information. It’s like a list, but with a label attached to every item. This label is known as the “key”, and the item it is attached to is called the “value”. You can even create a dictionary in which the values are other dictionaries. This is called “nesting”, and it allows you to store the pieces of your game in a structured way.

This book is quite an accessible one. Older kids will probably be able to follow some of the easier projects presented at the beginning by themselves. The more challenging ones towards the end will likely require more hands-on supervision from an adult who is knowledgeable about programming. But those in doubt can always refer to the complete code and glossary that are found towards the back of this guide.

Variables are used to store and label pieces of information. You’ll use them a lot in your code – for example, to hold your current score or keep track of how many lives you have left.

How to create a variable
You need to give each variable a name that describes what data is stored inside it. What the variable stores is called its value. Type the name followed by an equals sign, then type the value, with a space between each part. This is called “assigning a value” to the variable.

This book is aimed at the novice programmer and it doesn’t necessarily have to be used by just kids. It actually clearly sets out each project with a flowchart of all of the steps involved, the code and your progress for each project. There are also lots of eye-catching illustrations to break things up, but some readers may find that some pages are a tad too cluttered with different elements.

Books like this title encourage problem-solving, critical thinking, and play by its readers. This won’t necessarily ensure that your child becomes a programmer if they aren’t interested in this particular pursuit, but it does demystify different aspects of programming and while this reference is specifically about Python, a lot of the concepts can be applied to other programming languages. Each project comes with added tips and hacks which challenge the readers to think of ways to adapt and change the code and will extend their learning beyond merely inputting the code that is offered. This makes the guide more practical and applicable to more real-world scenarios. The big pity however, is that this title doesn’t come with some e-resources to support readers even more.

Constants are variables whose value shouldn’t change after they are first set. Programmers use capital letters when naming them to let other programmers know not to change their values. This is known as a “naming convention” – a rule that most programmers agree on, so that everyone’s code looks similar and is easier to understand.

Computer Coding Python Games for Kids is a well-designed, logical, and well-written guide to the Python programming language for older children. It would make an excellent educational resource for the classroom or as a project that kids can work on at home. This is a wonderful primer and a highly serviceable reference guide, which allows Python programming to be child’s play.

Natalie Salvo

Category: Book Reviews

About the Author ()

Natalie Salvo is a foodie and writer from Sydney. You can find her digging around in second hand book shops or submerged in vinyl crates at good record stores. Her website is at: http://nataliesalvo.wordpress.com

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