How Do Computers Follow Instructions by J.T. Liso, illustrated by Srimalie Bassani

How Do Computers Follow Instructions (A Book About Programming) by J.T. Liso, illustrated by Srimalie Bassani, Flowerpot Press, 9781486716524, 2019

Format: Hardcover

Rating: (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

What did you like about the book? Liso deserves credit for taking an abstract, complex topic such as programming and attempting to deliver it to the young masses in an understandable and digestible way. The text tackles programming languages, input/output, data and variables, binary code, Booleans, and loops with great detail and explanation. Each page has catchy and colorful illustrations that help the reader to make meaning of many concepts. At some points, they may become a bit distracting if the reader isn’t experienced in shifting back and forth between text and visuals with ease. That said, the text is supported greatly by the playful images. The book ends with colorful photographs that demonstrate examples of programming at work in our daily lives. A glossary explains all of the key terminologies presented. How Do Computers Follow Instructions is one of two books in a series of “How To” books to be published by Flowerpot Press.

Anything you didn’t like about it? The suggested target age for this book is 7-10 years old. The density of the text and the complexity of programming and computer language suggest that the book is more applicable to upper elementary students.  While this book is visually appealing, and the author works diligently to keep the concepts accessible, the text waivers between scientific jargon and more simplified examples and explanations. The questioning routine appears to “cutesy” for the level of the concepts being explained. “How do computers remember what’s in a program? Do they write it all down in a secret diary? Secret diary?!?! No way!” This routine continues throughout the text with different questions being asked and answered in the same format. While providing context is recommended in texts such as this, the writing tends to jump from formal to informal and as such appears choppy. In addition, using the second-person point of view, referring to the reader as “you”, also takes away from the flow of information. The text clearly was well researched and contains a wealth of content.

To whom would you recommend this book? Upper elementary classrooms may wish to have this as part of a STEM or technology collection.

Who should buy this book? Elementary classroom, homeschool

Where would you shelve it? Computer science

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Linda Broderick, Lincoln Street Elementary School, Northborough, MA

Date of review: 7/22/19

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