Over the past few months I have been investigating a handful of toolkits that are aimed at teaching kids (and beginners) to code.
The reason for this, aside from my general interest in education and code literacy, is because I may be teaching an extracurricular intro to programming class for middle schoolers come next autumn.
One such tool I’ve found is Microsoft Small Basic. It’s a quite simple language with a friendly IDE and lots of built-in classes for graphics and visualizations. Even as a professional programmer, I find Microsoft Small Basic to be surprisingly fun.
The language, the IDE, and the book itself, hide some of the complexities and ceremony that are typical of professional languages, making the process of learning simpler and more focused.
So the book is an excellent resource for any parent or teacher looking to provide a gentle introduction to coding. The ambitious middle schooler might also find it a suitable read to tackle on their own.
Realistically, it’s a great introduction to programming even for adults, who might appreciate the slightly more mathy parts that are peppered here and there.
This book also included numerous colourful pictures and syntax highlighted code, which suits a title of this nature nicely. (See photo below.)
What I liked in particular about this book is the fun tone and style, the clear explanations that make no assumptions, the heavy use of graphics, and the fact that some basic foundations of game programming are covered. And let’s not forget the idea of creating Art with code.
NOTE: This giveaway is limited to US readers only (my apologies to everyone else, fellow Canadians included). Most future giveaways will not be limited to the US only, so international readers, please do stay tuned.
For this giveaway, we’re using the Rafflecopter widget below. The widget will ask you to log in / identify yourself by providing your name and email (or through Facebook).
Once you’ve “logged in”, you’ll be presented with a few options to enter the raffle. Each action will give you a variable number of additional tickets, which can therefore increase your odds of winning.
For example, if you subscribe to Programming Zen’s mailing list, you’ll get 5 raffle tickets. You’ll be able to do so by simply clicking the checkmark in that entry within the widget, which you can also click if you’re already a subscriber. After the giveaway, if you dislike my post updates, you can unsubscribe at any time. I obviously care about my readers and would never spam you.
I also offer other tickets for tweeting, commenting (follow the instructions in the widget), and so on. Your maximum amount of tickets for this giveaway is 20, if you were to complete all of the actions. The widget will show you how many entries you have claimed and how many entries there are in total among all participants.
This giveaway wraps up at the end of the day on Monday July 3, 2016 (at midnight PST, so technically July 4th) and the winner will be randomly selected from amongst all of the entries.
The winner will be contacted within 48 hours by email, and arrangements will be made to deliver the book to the winner’s physical US address.
Please note that in order to avoid unfair entries, the randomly selected winner’s entries will be verified to confirm that the actions were actually taken. If not, then a new random draw will be executed.
Antonio Cangiano is a Software Developer and AI Evangelist at IBM. He authored Ruby on Rails for Microsoft Developers (Wrox, 2009) and Technical Blogging ( The Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2012, 2019). He is also the Marketing Lead for Cognitive Class, an educational initiative which he helped grow from zero to over 1 Million students. You can follow him on Twitter.