Sanding our assholes with 150 grit.

So how come when I search for programming books for kids

Most are BASIC books from the 1980's?

Why are there no (or almost no) recent books on programming for kids?  My 8 year old has been asking me to teach her how to program her computer "like daddy does".  She wants a book, as she's an avid reader.

Aside from me writing one, what do I do here?

I was hoping for a book on Perl because it'll run on her Mac and she doesn't have to futz with compiling and so on, but I can't find ANYTHING less than 20 years old, let alone a specific language.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
July 31st, 2007 11:00am
Logo? When I was applying to Cambridge they suggested that was the language that we should learn if we wanted to learn programming.
Permalink Send private email Colm 
July 31st, 2007 11:06am
Funny you should mention this.  I was going through some old boxes, and found a Creative Computing from 1977, 1981, and 1984.  It was amazing how the technology evolved in that time.

Since Borland's top scientist was bought out by Microsoft, it seems the urge to maintain a simple, inexpensive development environment has been overcome by companies selling multi-hundred dollar "Programming Systems" which seem to require a college degree to use effectively.  That includes the Visual Studio suite, the Eclipse IDE, and all of these Web-Page Generation Technologies.

Back in the day, people used "Interpreted Basic" (okay, Microsoft Interpreted Basic) as a simple command-line based programming language.  It was sufficiently simple that middle-school and up people could hack stuff together.  And people wrote books to that target audience.

Nowadays, a Perl book targetted at that same audience might be a very good idea.  But I agree, I haven't been able to find one either.  You'd think the "Nutshell" books would do that -- but their Perl set has 'evolved' into multiple volumes, none of which are really "in a nutshell".

Shoot, I'd even like a "101 games in Perl" book.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
July 31st, 2007 11:07am
I'm sure I can find an open source port of LOGO or similiar, but I'm wondering if that's going to meet her expectations.  I think she wants to create interactive web pages and stuff like that.

Yeah I know that you have to walk before you run, but I'm hoping to show her some basic things with big results, and then work in the details.

Good idea, though.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
July 31st, 2007 11:08am
"My 8 year old has been asking me to teach her how to program her computer "like daddy does".  She wants a book, as she's an avid reader."

My first, good programming book was game programming for dummies.  I was 18, but I still felt it could have worked when I was younger.  Maybe in a year or two, she can get that one.

But you may look up books on Logo or even Squeak.  Squeak is basically designed for young programmers.
Permalink Bot Berlin 
July 31st, 2007 11:10am
Hmm.  Seems there might be a market for such a book.

One of us should write it.
Permalink AMerrickanGirl 
July 31st, 2007 11:11am
Maybe I should send out some query letters.  :P
Permalink Send private email muppet 
July 31st, 2007 11:15am
Kids don't seem to want to program any more.  The hip thing seems to be social networking sites and multi-media creation/mangling.  That makes the programming market kind of small.

Have you looked at the offerings from lulu?  I don't know if there's anything appropriate, but it's a goldmine of books targeted at niche audiences.
Permalink Send private email Clay Dowling 
July 31st, 2007 11:37am
I think kids would LIKE to program, but don't see an outlet that lets them produce sufficiently polished products.

Producing yet another command-line based Star Trek clone isn't really seen as valuable today.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
July 31st, 2007 11:43am
"Kids don't seem to want to program any more."

Computers used to do a lot less!

I think the best environment to get kids started is classic Visual Basic.  They can produce relatively standard looking applications pretty quickly with drag'n'drop.  It hides a lot of the messy details.  It has intellisense.  The language itself is pretty small and simple.

My daughter has expressed some interest in learning how to program and that's what I intend to show her if I get a chance.  Plus, there are lots of Visual Basic programming books out there.
Permalink Send private email Wayne 
July 31st, 2007 11:55am
perl probably has too many wrinkles for a first langauge.

but logo is nice ... also there are a bunch of basic versions out there. Google is your friend.
Permalink $-- 
July 31st, 2007 12:30pm
Logo is too simple, I think.  Kids are no longer impressed.
Permalink Send private email Wayne 
July 31st, 2007 12:36pm
I started with Perl, discounting LOGO.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
July 31st, 2007 12:39pm
Perl is a bit freaky.  Again, Visual Basic is a far simpler language.  It has it's own weird exceptions but they are few (and you can mostly ignore them) and the language constructs are a bit simpler to follow.

You can't do anything *useful* in LOGO which I think is the biggest problem with it.  It's very pointless.  The best part about programming is doing something creative that can actually be used.
Permalink Send private email Wayne 
July 31st, 2007 12:43pm
Well, really really I started with Basic 2.0 on my Commodore 64.

Perl isn't freaky.  There's a perfectly sane and rational language hidden under all the cryptic shorthand that the 'l33t' like to reduce their code to.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
July 31st, 2007 12:49pm
You had a Commodore 64, muppet? I am *so* jealous. I just had a measly Vic-20. Had 4K of memory, no, not 4K of RAM, that was 4K of RAM plus ROM.

And yes, I realize I probably do have some issues. :-P
Permalink Full name 
July 31st, 2007 1:01pm
<yoink>

I'll thank you in the foreword.
Permalink DF 
July 31st, 2007 1:02pm
Wow, another Vic-20 sufferer.  Wasn't sure they were out there.  I took all my allowance money for a summer to buy one.
Permalink Send private email Clay Dowling 
July 31st, 2007 1:32pm
What language will you be covering, DF?

Wouldn't want to saturate the market....
Permalink Send private email JoC 
July 31st, 2007 1:44pm
I had a VIC-20 too, eventually.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
July 31st, 2007 1:44pm
Oh, my goodness, *I* started with a C64, too.  I think I still have a couple in storage, along with a disk drive or two and that very nice color monitor.

One of the most awkward programming interfaces ever made, the slowest floppy disk (20 minutes for format 170,000 bytes, oh yeah, those were the days).

Still, now that I can run "Mule" on my 2.8 Gig Celeron PC running a C64 emulator at light speed, it's quite nice.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
July 31st, 2007 1:53pm
I never had MULE.  I don't think it would have appealed to me at 8 yrs old.

If it's any consolation to the "sufferers", I didn't have another computer after the C64 until my 486SX25 in the mid 90's.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
July 31st, 2007 1:54pm
Anyone have an Atari 800? That was another computer I wouldn't have minded having.

I was so deprived as a young lad. Woe is me! :-P
Permalink Full name 
July 31st, 2007 1:56pm
I bought a Sinclair at a garage sale one time. Smashed it to bits as soon as I got home when I tripped over the stairs in our split-level though.
Permalink Send private email JoC 
July 31st, 2007 1:58pm
I had an Atari 400.  I won it off a scratch-off ticket at McDonald's when I was 3 or 4.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
July 31st, 2007 1:58pm
I started with a C64 as well.  First with the cassette drive and then eventually purchasing a disk drive and a huge number of pirated games and software off of a friend at school.
Permalink Send private email Wayne 
July 31st, 2007 2:02pm
I had a huge huge HUGE number of pirated games and software programs from my uncle in the Air Force.

huge.

And we had two 1541 disk drives.  TWO.  We could copy a disk in like, an hour!
Permalink Send private email muppet 
July 31st, 2007 2:03pm
>the slowest floppy disk

You had a disk? We had no permanent storage for our C64 for the longest time. Instead we enjoyed the temporal nature of games typed in from magazine (it gave me an appreciation for Buddhist impermanence -- we worked typing it in, played in, and after our enjoyment hit the power button and it disappeared).

Later we got a cassette drive...now *that* was slow. Starting C64 Monopoly loading from the cassette, going and watching a show, and then going to check on it to discover it had one of the many transient failures.
Permalink DF 
July 31st, 2007 2:13pm
>I had a huge huge HUGE number of pirated games and software programs from my uncle in the Air Force.

I had a friend who was in the loop on those things -- shelf after shelf with thousands upon thousands of pirated games. I marvel that so many games existed when the development community was so tiny, and the market was so small.

Most of the games sucked, of course, but still.
Permalink DF 
July 31st, 2007 2:14pm
Yup, I think most C64 clubs were dedicated to maintaining a library of copied games -- very few of which were actually ever played, because most of them sucked, as you said.

I also tried to play the Infocom games -- Zork, Hitchiker's Guide, Suspended.  Loved Suspended.  Finally got an Activision copy on CD not long ago -- they're MUCH better on a 2.8 Ghz PC than that wimpy C64.

I think the key was, most of these games were written for the Apple, with a decent disk drive and graphics.  Then they were ported to the C64, with a snail-like disk drive (but pretty good graphics).  The result was the C64 versions were barely playable.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
July 31st, 2007 2:24pm
This is a cool old game.

http://free-game-downloads.mosw.com/abandonware/pc/adventure/games_c/countdown.html
Permalink Send private email JoC 
July 31st, 2007 2:30pm
"Abandonware"!  Yeah, that's a nice title.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
July 31st, 2007 2:35pm
seriously, check out squeak.

It is logo for 2007.

http://www.squeak.org/
Permalink Bot Berlin 
July 31st, 2007 3:38pm
Dude, I just checked out Squeak.

It's SO not LOGO for 2007.  LOGO had simple commands that could be demonstrated in a single step to a kid and get them interested right away.  Squeak makes you set up an entire fucking IDE and create a project before you start typing into pre-populated framework code.

WTF?  My 8 year old isn't gonna get THAT.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
July 31st, 2007 4:14pm
Look at squeakland.  Squeak can be super professional or not.

http://www.squeakland.org/
Permalink Bot Berlin 
July 31st, 2007 4:54pm

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