In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published every Friday. These reviews will cover computer programming books aimed at children, as well as reality-based children’s books.
At first glance, I thought this thin book had too many words and not enough pictures. And, in some ways, I was right. My visually-oriented, computer-geek loving nine-year-old didn’t really go near this book after a first perusal. And for reference, he’s on his 4th re-read of the Harry Potter series in 3 months. The boy loves to re-read books that interest him. Especially non-fiction books.
Ms. Van Lent did a great job of laying out the parts of a web page, but I think she assumes just a little too much from students. She recommends that you use Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (on Mac) to write out your HTML code. This is a great first step and it allows students to use the materials they have on hand. I would have liked to seen a brief description of why you can’t just use word processing software, but I may be getting ahead of myself.
Throughout the book, she walks students through steps to create a basic web page. All of which is great! Until she recommends they test it in their browser. Unfortunately, she doesn’t tell them how to open up a file in their browser window and I think that new HTML5 users may have trouble with this step.
So, I am hesitant to recommended this book as a stand alone book. This definitely needs some adult guidance, at least with the younger set of kids. But, it is a really good first step into creating an HTML page from scratch. The last two chapters give even more formatting codes and recommendations (and warnings) about publishing your page to the web. Though she gives basic suggestions about domain names and servers, there are no recommended kid-friendly web hosting sites listed. So, interested kids need to turn to parents to find out this information and that may be a huge let down if a child’s parents are not tech-savvy enough to manage that next step.
Overall, I think this is a helpful book, but only for a tech-savvy parent who is comfortable with the questions they might get from their children. I would also suggest that this might be a good book to use in conjunction with Code Academy’s HTML interactive course. The course breaks down each concept and the hands-on work ensures active participation from your child.