How to Explain Coding to a Grownup
Ruth Spiro, author
Ruth Spiro is the author of the best-selling Baby Loves Science series, which has been praised for introducing "big science to little minds with the skill of a neurosurgeon" (Matthew Winner, All the Wonders podcast). Ruth also wrote the Made by Maxine picture-book series. She speaks regularly at STEM and early-childhood conferences across the country.
Read more about Ruth.
Teresa Martínez, illustrator
When Teresa Martínez was a child, her family moved from a small town to the city. Drawing helped shy Teresa connect with the other kids at school. Now she connects with children across Mexico and around the world through the books she illustrates, including Mario and the Hole in the Sky; Again, Essie?; and Sing with Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla.
Read more about Teresa.
- A National Public Radio 2023 Best Science Book for Kids
Grown-ups may not be the only audience for this simple explanation of how algorithms work.
Taking a confused-looking hipster parent firmly in hand, a child first points to all the computers around the house (“Pro Tip: When dealing with grown-ups, don’t jump into the complicated stuff too fast. Start with something they already know”). Next, the child leads the adult outside to make and follow step-by-step directions for getting to the park, deciding which playground equipment to use, and finally walking home. Along the way, concepts like conditionals and variables come into play in street maps and diagrams, and a literal bug stands in for the sort that programmers will inevitably need to find and solve. The lesson culminates in an actual sample of very simple code with labels that unpack each instruction…plus a pop quiz to lay out a decision tree for crossing the street, because if “your grown-up can explain it, that shows they understand it!” That goes for kids, too—and though Spiro doesn’t take the logical next step and furnish leads to actual manuals, young (and not so young) fledgling coders will find plenty of good ones around, such as Get Coding! (2017), published by Candlewick, or Rachel Ziter’s Coding From Scratch (2018).
A lighthearted first look at an increasingly useful skill. (glossary)
Newsflash: according to this book's narrator, grown-ups need things explained to them by kids. The narrator explains to her hapless parent (and the readers) that computers serve multiple purposes: solving problems, helping learn new things, or just to be used for entertainment. This title, part of the author's How To Explain Science series, aims to answer the questions of what coding is, why it is important, and what do coders do. Told in a tongue-in-cheek style, the narrator explains such terms as central processing unit, motherboard, algorithm, and random access memory. Sprinkled throughout the book are Pro Tips which suggest the best practices for teaching a topic to the grown-ups. The narrator uses the scenario of deciding whether to use a slide or swing at the playground to illustrate an algorithm. The illustrations depict a smart, savvy, female kid and a confused dad trying to absorb the information. The back matter includes a glossary of twelve terms used in the story. A must for any tech-minded kid, or those looking for a humorous STEM-themed read-aloud.
Page count: 32
8 x 10