Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming

My 9-year-old daughter Jane likes playing with Scratch, a kids' programming language developed at MIT. (I recently reviewed a great book called Super Scratch Programming Adventure.)

Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming is another programming book for kids. I've been going through it myself, and enjoying it. Unlike Scratch, which lets you write programs by dragging and dropping colored command blocks, Python is a traditional programming language that uses lines of code. I've played around with other languages a bit, but Python is the only language that seems to be as easy and intuitive as BASIC. I'm not sure if Jane is ready for Python -- she wouldn't have trouble learning it, but it's not as fun as Scratch (at least at first), but I think in a year or two she might be. And this is the book I'll give her when she's ready.

Python for Kids brings Python to life and brings you (and your parents) into the world of programming. The ever-patient Jason R. Briggs will guide you through the basics as you experiment with unique (and often hilarious) example programs that feature ravenous monsters, secret agents, thieving ravens, and more. New terms are defined; code is colored, dissected, and explained; and quirky, full-color illustrations keep things on the lighter side.

Chapters end with programming puzzles designed to stretch your brain and strengthen your understanding. By the end of the book you'll have programmed

two complete games: a clone of the famous Pong and "Mr. Stick Man Races for the Exit" -- a platform game with jumps, animation, and much more.

As you strike out on your programming adventure, you'll learn how to:

--Use fundamental data structures like lists, tuples, and maps
--Organize and reuse your code with functions and modules
--Use control structures like loops and conditional statements
--Draw shapes and patterns with Python's turtle module
--Create games, animations, and other graphical wonders with tkinter

Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming


  1. I tried to get my son interested in Scratch but he was wanted to play with the pretty animations you can make but when I suggested he make his own he just went back to minecraft.

  2. I suggest Ruby for kids rather than Python; Python’s syntax is still a little too strict, you *must* have parens, and magic indentation matters.

    Ruby has optional parens, and indentation is not a concern. 

    Ruby also has a cleaner object model, for when kids get to that.

  3. Neat! I have been thinking (well, hoping) for a couple years now that it will be fun to teach my kids python. They are only 5 and 3 right now, but I keep bringing it up. Because I think about my nephews who are in high school. A few times they have said that they thought it would be cool to be game designers and so I said, that’s cool, can you program at all?, to which the answer was always no. Well, how is that going to work out? 

  4. I’ve taught 3rd-6th graders programming in Python, and they’ve had a good time. It is basically a matter of getting them to think logically (which can be hard) and follow the rules. The actual language is of secondary importance (but Python is a good choice :)). All of my slides are up on github [0].

    This looks like a nice book. When we were little we programmed on a C64 in basic, with little help (barefeet and in the snow too). A book like this probably would have made things easier.0 –

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