This Week’s Word is “Computing.”
This week is Computer Science Education Week and since that’s the case, I have the perfect book for Word Wednesday; DK’s Help Your Kids With Computer Science. You may remember I reviewed a book in this range last year, on a rather different topic, but nevertheless great at navigating a parenting minefield.
Help Your Kids to Grow Up and this computer science primer may be wildly different in subject, but both books offer clear advice to both parent and child alike.
What is Help Your Kids With Computer Science?
The book is broken down into several different sections, all of which are aimed at both adults and children to help them navigate the ever-shifting sands of technology. Many of our readers will be familiar with a lot of what’s included in this book, but for those of you, like me, for whom the intervening years of parenting have seen a bewildering array of infotech innovations pass them by, the book will be invaluable.
HYKWCS has been designed for families ot read together, both parents and children, and starts with the very basics. Even people with no previous experience of computer science can access its information. There are a set of general terms used across the book to help you navigate its information. These use DK’s often-seen sidebars (nobody does sidebars like DK does sidebars).
Each type of sidebar has a different color:
- Orange: “Top Tech.” Explains the latest developments in computing.
- Purple: “In Depth.” As you’d expect, the In-Depth sidebars dig a little deeper into the subject in question.
- Yellow: “Lingo.” Explains the language of computing and all those confusing TLAs.
- Green: “Biography.” The lives and times of important computer pioneers. Ada Lovelace, we’re looking at you!
- Blue: “Real World.” How a particular computer science topic is applied in the real world.
Throughout the book, where relevant, there are grey “code boxes.” These have little snippets of code to show how something is achieved.
HYKWCS contains 13 sections in all, beginning with the basics, “Getting started” and “What is Computer Science?” before moving onto “Hardware”, “Computational Thinking,” and “Data.” Once you have a grounding in these areas the book moves on to “Programming techniques” and “Programming Languages.”
The latter third of the book is devoted more to real-world interaction with computer science, both practical, “Networks” and “Website and App Construction,” and social, “Digital behaviours”, “Social Media,” and “Digital Issues.” The final pages of the book are devoted to the “Future of Computers.”
All of this is presented with clear, concise text and lots of colorful flow diagrams. The Help Your Kids series are presented using infographic style block color representations of people and ideas. This style works well, being both informative but minimalist enough not to switch off skeptical teens. The book can be dipped in and out of, though, be warned if you’re a novice and you jump into some sections, (particularly the programming ones) you may feel out of your depth.
Why Read Help Your Kids With Computer Science?
Because it’s an excellent one-stop reference for most household’s computer science needs. It’s extremely comprehensive and, unless your child is deeply immersed in computing, it should be all you’ll ever need to help understand what they’re up to.
The fact that the book starts at with the very basics before building upwards makes it ideal for computing novices. I’ve found it invaluable in talking to my children about what it is they want to achieve with computing and how that might work. Even if you have no idea about how a computer works, if you have a willingness to learn, then this book will help you journey from novice to somebody competent with digital technology. It won’t teach you to code, but it can help embed the mindset required to go out and learn a programming language.
Possibly more important than that, though, are the sections on digital media and its interaction in the real world. Not everybody wants to know HOW their technology is working but everybody should know the impact it may have on their lives and the lives of those around them. Social Media bubbles, sharing content, gender equality, and being a good digital citizen are all covered, plus a whole lot more about staying safe online and harnessing the true power of the internet to ensure that time spent online is a positive experience.
Help Your Kids With Computer Science is an excellent all-around book. In many ways, it tells you things you already know, but it helps explain them in an objective and approachable fashion so that you can help your children as they step into the digital world. There is a lot of fear around the internet, and this book helps dispel that, whilst also reminding us why unfettered access for our children might be a bad idea. One of the hardest things, I find, as a parent to teenagers is helping them understand the risks they are potentially taking, whilst keeping them onside and not sounding like a pre-digital dinosaur. Help Your Kids With Computer Science gives me the tools to do exactly that.
If you want to pick up a copy of Help Your Kids With Computer Science, you can do so, here in the US, and here, in the UK.
If you enjoyed this post, check out my other Word Wednesday posts too.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to write this review.