Kids & Parents

Ready or Not, Here I Code!

Hands down, the best hiding place in the world was Grandma and Grandpa Beckwith’s hall closet: Long…narrow… seemingly endless.

One of the Great Cousin Myths was that no one ever reached the end of the closet; we all agreed to believe that it went on forever.

You would crawl in earthworm-style, navigating the maze of shoes and handbags and wool coats by feel more than sight.

Between the excited anxiety of hiding and the lack of air movement, you'd get sweaty – but your hair would be full of static from the friction of the carpet. Sweat and static cling at the same time - a distinctly uncomfortable feeling.

When you finally found your knee-hugging spot between the sneezy burlap-covered walls and the scratchy wool coats waiting for someone to find you, time would slow down so the space between every heartbeat felt like an eternity. 

Until recently, I got that same anxious, itchy, uncomfortable feeling whenever I thought about trying to learn how to code.

I see the quotes all the time.

“Everybody should learn to program a computer.” - Steve Jobs

“I strongly believe every child has to have the opportunity to learn this critical skill.” - Barack Obama. 

I already stress out when I think about all the things in my life that I depend on and use daily, and have absolutely no idea how they work. 

Photo of corn plants devoured by wild suburban raccoons. Coding is easier than growing corn.omputer code.

In one of my attempts to be more self-sufficient, and inspired by Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle, I grew some of our own food one summer. The raccoons knew just when the corn was ripe and ravaged our crop. Coding is easier than growing corn…because raccoons won’t eat your code.

Cars…access to clean water…plumbing…electricity in general...the list is endless.

If it's not covered in What Do People Do All Day?, I don't know anything about it.

Not knowing how to be self-sufficient (with all my modern conveniences intact) bothers me.

In the post-apocalyptic Station Eleven scenario running through my brain, things don't work out too well for me, with my limited skill set.

Computer coding felt like another thing on the list: Something I should know how to do, but overwhelmingly impossible to learn.

Finally, my curiosity overcame the discomfort of learning something new.

I started small (growth mindset, right?) with a little html and CSS, and a teeny tiny bit of Python.

It turns out that computer coding isn’t as mysterious and scary as I had imagined.

When you learn a musical instrument, you don’t have to invent a whole new instrument and the notes and the music.

Similarly, with coding, even if you start from the very beginning (a very good place to start), the tools and languages have already been invented many times over.

You’ve already learned to use code in many taking a symbol and using it to make it mean something.

If you can read, play music, put a piece of Ikea furniture together…you’ll be able to code.

And now that I’ve stopped hiding from it, I’m having fun learning something new.

Here are a few lines of code in Python that solve one of my greatest problems: What to make for dinner. Run this code and the program will randomly choose chicken, beef, or beans!
(Glitter optional, but sparkles improve everything.)

Here are a few lines of code in Python that solve one of my greatest problems: What to make for dinner. Run this code and the program will randomly choose chicken, beef, or beans! (Glitter optional, but sparkles improve everything.)

Bonus: At the end of the day, after I’ve spent hours trying to get younger sentient beings in my charge to do my bidding with a varying success rate, it feels really good to give the computer a command.

The computer doesn’t argue with me.

I don’t have to use reverse psychology or turn something into a game to get the computer to listen to me.

I may need to fix my command so the computer can understand me, but the computer doesn’t have a choice.

It’s like The Book With No Pictures for grown-ups.

It must do what I say, and that is disturbingly gratifying.

So, if only to satisfy your power-hungry whims, I highly recommend learning to code!

Check out all the free resources we offer here at the library, both online and in print.

I've highlighted some of them below.

You can’t hide forever!

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Ready or not, here I code!

STEM Lab in a Bag program promotion

Want to help your kids learn coding skills?

Be sure to check out the newest edition of our exclusive Lab-in-a-Bag, available at the Youth Services desk starting April 27.

Or code screen-free this summer by playing with Ozobot robots at the library, June 22 , July 20  or July 24.

Online DPPL resources Gale and Lynda

Both Gale Courses and, available through our online learning page, offer courses on how to program.

Help Your Kids Learn to Code

Ask any Youth Services staff member for help looking for our "how to program" books. You can try Help Your Kids with Computer Coding, My First Coding Book, How to Code, or this narrative-based coding guide. 

Or search our catalog online yourself, place holds and stop in the library a few days later to conveniently pick up the books you've chosen!

Discovery Kits available at the DPPL

Many of our Discovery Kits available in the Youth Services Department offer kid-friendly, hands-on opportunities for developing skills used for coding. More are on their way this summer - but for now, take a look at the Bee-BotCubelets-Six, and the Makey-Makey kits.

beanz magazine

Check out an issue of the kids' magazine Beanz, chock full of all things coding-related! 

Girls Who Code

If you are a girl who is in 6th through 12th grade, contact Cathy for more information about the Girls Who Code program.

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