Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Girls Who Code:  Learn to Code and Change the World Book Poster Image
Lively, engaging how-to empowers girls to love coding.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Coding and its uses explained; easy-to-understand fundamentals of coding; step-by-step walkthrough of how to code, how to brainstorm, and how to troubleshoot, with examples; lots of terms defined, including a glossary in the back; brief bios of women important to the history of computers and coding; online safety tips for both coding and personal internet use.

Positive Messages

Girls are perfectly capable of coding, and in fact are really good at it. Coding is not sitting alone in front of a computer; it's fun, social, creative, and collaborative, and builds lots of skills. Emphasizes nonjudgmental brainstorming and treating your collaborators with kindness. A healthy diet, exercise, and spending time with friends and family are key to problem-solving. It's OK not to be perfect. Be kind to yourself when you make a mistake or get stuck. Your voice and your point of view matter, so learn to code so that you can find new and exciting ways to express yourself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Provides brief biographies of many women who've made important contributions to coding and computer science. The author is a good model for trying to make her community a better place, and for seeing a need (there aren't enough women coders) and taking action to help fill the need. Interviews with real girls who've participated in Girls Who Code programs provide inspiration and relatability. The author takes a fictional group of racially and culturally diverse girls through the process of learning to code, a good example of how we have to work with all kinds of people to get things done.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

Lots of tech products and companies mentioned, usually in context of coding. Encourages visiting the Girls Who Code (a nonprofit) website and participating in its programs and clubs. Encourages looking for inspiration in advertisements when brainstorming.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Reshma Saujani's Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World is an illustrated how-to guide that encourages tween and middle-grade girls to learn coding for computers, including apps, games, websites, and more. After finishing the book, kids should know, or easily be able to go back to find, everything they need to get started coding. Lots of positive role models for collaboration, creative thinking, and problem-solving, including women who've made important contributions to coding and computer science. Lots of positive messages about how fun and social coding is, and that it's like a lot of things kids already like to do.

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What's the story?

GIRLS WHO CODE: LEARN TO CODE AND CHANGE THE WORLD shows that not only can girls code, but they're also really good at it. Author Reshma Saujani started the nonprofit organization Girls Who Code to help foster enthusiasm for coding and computer science among girls. This book makes the techniques taught at Girls Who Code's many programs and clubs accessible to girls everywhere. Step-by step instructions break the process down and show kids, especially girls, that they can create amazing things with coding.

Is it any good?

This lively, engaging how-to teaches tween and middle-grade girls everything they need to get started writing code. The simple explanations in Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World break the process down into small, doable steps with examples girls will relate to. Cute, funny illustrations keep the reader engaged; provide diverse and relatable role models; and show that coding is an active, social, collaborative activity.

Interviews with real-life participants in Girls Who Code programs and clubs spark the imagination by showing a wide range of examples of what can be done with coding to create things that will have a positive impact on others. Entertaining biographies of accomplished women in computer science will foster enthusiasm. Simple but thorough step-by-step guides help girls build the skills they need to do anything they want with coding.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the author's comment in Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World that there are messages everywhere that math and technology are not for girls. What kind of messages does she mean? Have you seen or heard messages like that? Where?

  • How could knowing how to code help change the world? If you could code something right now that could change something, what would it be?

  • Did you learn anything about coding or computer science that surprised you? What? Do you think you'd like to try it now?

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