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93 of 97 found the following review helpful:
The Excellent Teach Your Kids (Or Teach Yourself) Programming In The Python Language Book.May 11, 2009
By Ira Laefsky
This attractive and moderately-sized volume gets elementary through high school education in programming computers right, and makes the best use of the universally available (and free) "batteries-included" language--Python. In the early days of personal computers (about 1978), everyone and his brother had a Teach Yourself Basic on the TRS-80 or Apple-II programming book that got you and your kids up to speed in the Dartmouth-developed (Digital Equipment Corporation-improved) BASIC computer programming language. At that time, you were lucky if at the conclusion of the book you could produce a simple-minded character-based Tic-Tac-Toe game (or self-prompted lessons in the multiplication tables). With excellent pedagogy and the libraries (like PYGAME) now available for the modern Python programming language this book enables the home-schooled student (or timid grandparent) to build sophisticated simulations and graphical entertainment (like a virtual pet) at least equivalent to the commercial games available in that era.
Due to the excellent tools and step-by-step examples given by Warren and Carter Sande the young reader, or his/her parent, is well prepared for a modern college level course in Data Structures or Algorithms with well illustrated examples of Lists, Modules, Event-driven and Object-Oriented Programming. The use of GUI-builders and programming libraries enable the novice to achieve impressive results within the course of a few short months of self-instruction.
The book is well illustrated, and the examples and tools downloadable from the book's web site run correctly without the need to fix typo's.
All in all, the book is an excellent read for a 12-year old, or an adult novice, and will provide superb instruction and entertainment for its readers.
67 of 73 found the following review helpful:
Excellent but designed for PC not MacJul 25, 2009
By I Teach Typing
I have been programming and teaching programming at the university level for 25 years and I have been looking for years to find a book for children, like my 10 year old son, who wanted to learn about programming but were not up to the high school reading level. This book perfectly fills the niche. With clear writing, well thought through examples and gentle humor, it is superb for the young learner. My son has taken over my PC since I gave him the book. So, it is safe to say it can hold a child's attention.
The fact that it is good for a young audience does not mean that it is dumbed down too far to be useful for any age. The depth and pace of the material is appropriate for anyone, starting from scratch, who wants to learn to program from lots of examples. Actually, it sets the stage nicely for someone who is anxious about needing to learn programming at the university level.
The only real down side is the support for Mac. The book uses Python which works on Mac, Windows and Linux but a couple of the components used in the book do not have good instructions for the Mac on the books website. For example, they are written for older Mac OS or require you to dig deep in the system files to find the directories where things belong. The forums on the website will help but expect to need to dig around a bit, especially if you use Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard), until the author(s) fix the main Mac instructions.
Even though I had to poke around a bit to make sure the Mac would behave, I still love this book. Setting aside the fact that this fills a badly need gap in programming instruction for kids, this book is just great with a wonderful ratio of code snippets to explanations and clear concise discussions of both basic and fairly advanced concepts (like object oriented programming).
46 of 50 found the following review helpful:
Good Principals - Bad Timing - Poor FocusJul 18, 2010
By Papa Bear
The programming principals in the book are sound and valid. However, the book was written based on Python 2.5 instead of Python 3.0 which is a sticking point; I say this because the original release date in late 2008 would have allowed for for at least Python 2.6, but I digress. Each project in the book builds upon the previous module that was covered which is good, however the opportunity to teach core programming principals at one time in the beginning is missed. The text is easy to read and the syntax is explained well with relevant explanations. By the end of the book, the reader should be able to make a text-based programs, a windowed program, and different forms of arcade games. I was very pleased to see the layout for a card game which no one else has done to date. However, the author presents a lot of various graphic user interface mechanisms and doesn't really focus enough on them before moving on. Several editors for python are covered as well; some are challenging to install and configure which could be discouraging. I would like to point out that the author's use of EasyGUI is great because it is easier to use than Tkinter that comes standard with Python and allows the user to make text based programs more user friendly. However, he moves from EasyGUI to Pygame (which could be a book unto itself) and then to Python Card (which needs another module wxpython). My point is that it would have been better if he had stuck with EasyGUI and focused more on one of the graphic modules instead of dabbling with all of them. I was fortunate that the book was offered at my local library. If you dont get this book, then I would recommend "Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python, 2nd Edition" by Al Sweigart which is written in Python 3 (and available as a free PDF) or "Game Programming: The L Line, The Express Line to Learning" (The L Line: The Express Line To Learning) by Andy Harris even though it's written with Python 2.
29 of 34 found the following review helpful:
What a great book for kids!Jun 01, 2009
By Lisa Hartjes
My husband's a computer programmer, and my nine year old son told us he wants to learn how to write computer programs too. I did a lot of looking around for something that would be suitable for my son to use, and finally discovered this book.
We had to wait a while for this book, as the release date was changed and there were other problems, but this was definitely worth the wait. My son read through the book in no time flat, and definitely understands what's in it.
The next step is for the two of them to sit down and go through the code examples together.
Mr. Sande (young and old), thank you so much for writing this book!
11 of 12 found the following review helpful:
Great educational funJul 15, 2009
By E. Peck
My daughter and I have been enjoying working through this book together. The choice of an open, multi-platform language is nice, as almost anyone with a computer can take advantage of what it has to offer.
Python has many great libraries and the use of Pygame makes possible some projects that would be much too difficult for this level of work. That really hooked my daughter, the ability to make her own games. We've been having a blast working through the book together.
There are tons of learning opportunities that take things well outside the realm of just 'programming'. I recommend this book to anyone with kids that are inclined towards doing more with a computer than just running applications.
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