How to Code a Sandcastle – a Picture Book for the STEM revolution

The world of coding is growing by leaps and bounds. A few years ago, Reshma Saujani started Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization formed to help close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a programmer looks like and does. They want to help encourage girls to get active in the world of coding and to show them that coding is for everyone. Girls Who Code has published a few chapter books which I will highlight in an upcoming Middle Grade Monday, but now, there is also picture book written by Josh Funk to help explain what coding is and what some of the core concepts are.

Josh Funk is known for his fun and funny picture books such as Dear Dragon, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, and Albie Newton. What I didn’t know about Josh Funk until reading this book, is that his day job is coding in Java and Python. Definitely a match made in heaven.

how to code sandcastle cover*Note – I received a copy of this book from the #kidlitexchange for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

How to Code a Sandcastle is a fun story about young Pearl who has been trying all summer to build the perfect sand castle. On the day we meet her, she has brought her trusty, rust proof robot Pascal to the beach with her to help out, but she has to talk to him in code – “special instructions that computers understand.” What she quickly learns, like the kids in that funny “exact instructions” video about making a PB&J sandwich, is that you have to break down every step and be very specific about what you want.

how to code sandcastle spread

The book is broken down into 4 small problems that Pearl has to figure out – finding a good spot, gathering sand, shaping the castle and finding decorations, and building a moat. She learns the importance of a loop and what can happen if you don’t put an end to the loop. She also breaks down what an if-then statement is and how to use it. After building her own sand castle, she and Pascal “can code an entire Kingdom!”

This is a great way to get young kids interested in coding concepts with a fun story that they can relate to. As kids get a little older and want more understanding, or for parents who need a little more explanation, there is a “Guide to Coding” in the back of the book where a few things are explained more thoroughly.

Coding is like another language, and the earlier that we get kids excited by it and comfortable with the language itself, the easier it will be for them to work with it. Josh Funk has done a great job with this one!

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