Saturday, June 4, 2016

Book review: Learn to Program with Small Basic

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to review for myself. I was not compensated in any other way, and all opinions posted here are mine and mine alone.

Computers have been a part of my life since I was about 8 years old and my dad brought home our first Commodore computer. I remember the old days of having to type instructions into our computer to get things to run. Later in my childhood I acquired a graphing calculator and my friends and I spent lots of time writing simple programs for our calculators. But now it's been 20 years since those days, and, although I've always been fascinated by coding and programming, it's not been a part of my adult life. Until now! I recently received a new book called Learn to Program with Small Basic. And it's been so much fun learning simple programming skills! Here's a bit about this book, from the publisher's website:

Small Basic is a free, beginner-friendly programming language created by Microsoft. Inspired by BASIC, which introduced programming to millions of first-time PC owners in the 1970s and 1980s, Small Basic is a modern language that makes coding simple and fun.
Learn to Program with Small Basic introduces you to the empowering world of programming. You’ll master the basics with simple activities like displaying messages and drawing colorful pictures, and then work your way up to programming games! Learn how to:
  • Program your computer to greet you by name
  • Make a game of rock-paper-scissors using If/Else statements
  • Create an interactive treasure map using arrays
  • Draw intricate geometric patterns with just a few lines of code
  • Simplify complex programs by breaking them into bite-sized subroutines
You’ll also learn to command a turtle to draw shapes, create magical moving text, solve math problems quickly, help a knight slay a dragon, and more!
Each chapter ends with creative coding challenges so you can take your skills to the next level. Learn to Program with Small Basic is the perfect place to start your computer science journey.

This book has been really fun to read and the instructions are very detailed and very easy to follow. No previous experience is needed, and I was impressed by how quickly I went from no experience to writing simple programs. My 8-year-old son was watching over my shoulder when I was writing some of the code and his first question was "when can I try it too!".  I'm excited to move beyond the basic skills and try out some of the activities in the later sections of the book. Learning all that Small Basic can do is my summer project and this book is the best tool I could ever want! I highly recommend Learn to Program with Small Basic for anyone who wants to have fun learning new computer skills.