Cheryl Gress Editor-in-Chief

2 minutes reading time (453 words)

JavaScript for Kids

Thank you No Starch Press for sending us this book to review!

My oldest daughter is 10 and has a knack for math and an interest in game development.  When I heard about the release of JavaScript for Kids, I knew it would be right up her alley.  I was right.  After completing the seventeen chapters, she's still cracking open the book and tweaking her code.  I like how the book has challenges at the end of the chapters to encourage the kids to take their coding skills to the next level.  If you're not an IT major, you can download the code solutions from their website.

This 309 page book is broken down into three parts: Fundamentals, Advanced JavaScript, and Canvas. In parts one and two your kids will learn about syntax, comments, variables, strings, booleans, arrays, objects, HTML, loops, conditionals, prompts, functions, ODM elements, jQuery, animations, and time outs.  The last section focuses on the canvas element and drawing objects like squares, arcs, circles, and later controlling them with keyboard input.

There's definitely a lot to learn in this book and I like how they made it fun to put these concepts into practice.  Throughout my daughter's learning adventure she has created a text based Hang Man game, a random insult generator (what kid can resist that?), a treasure hunt game with a map, and the final program was a Snake game.

The Notepad++ editor that this book recommends is free and will catch some, but not all syntax errors.  Debugging broken programs takes just as much (if not more) time to fix than they do to write.  Sometimes the show stopping errors are typos, other times it's a misplaced space or semicolon.  Fortunately, my computer science major husband was able to catch some of the errors in my daughter's programs when I couldn't find everything.  

Despite the frustrations of debugging, this has been a positive learning experience for our daughter.  She has been so excited about this that she showed her teacher at school what she has done, and was so impressed that her teacher made a whole lesson about it.  As a parent, I have seen the confidence and motivation this has given her and I am both proud and excited for her.  I feel like this could be a big first step towards a lifetime of self-learning and I can't wait to see where she goes with it next.

My seven year old son has been inspired by her and has started doing the Ruby Wizardry book.  Expect a blog about that soon!  I highly recommend either book to tech savvy kids, or to anyone who wants to introduce a potentially highly rewarding hobby to someone they love.

The Daniel Plan
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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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