Technology Books for Children

Books or Technology vs Books and technology

Image showing Books for Budding Computer Scientists - Technology Books for Children

There is a false dichotomy when it comes to reading books and reading with tech. When using either/or thinking, I often hear people say, “I’m not really a book person, I prefer watching a video” or “I don’t like reading, I much prefer listening to an audio book”. I’ve been guilty of this in the past. But in reality, I think books can form an important part of everybody’s journey when learning about technology.

When I created the “Books for Budding Computer Scientists” poster, I thought about some of the books which had helped me learn, helped my students learn, or helped influence my thinking. The best book designers and authors are geniuses. How do you create something that has not been done before? Often, it comes from an idea, other times necessity; simply a solution to a problem.

I will touch on a few of my favourite examples: Linda Liukas’s Hello Ruby series where computational thinking is explained through the lens of a young girl as she explores the world in an unplugged way.

Image of Hello Ruby - Technology Books for Children

The second book that changed the way I learnt and taught was Chris Roffey’s Python Basics. Despite studying Computer Science at University, I was a terrible programmer. In early 2011, I decided to learn Python as the ICT curriculum in England was starting to make way for the Computing curriculum. Chris’s book was useful in many ways. Number one, a lay flat binding. For beginners, it can be difficult to learn programming from videos as you need a second screen or you have to resize your windows which makes the code examples too small to read. A book with a lay flat binding means you can code along with ease. Roffey also sets plenty of problems for users to solve and gets the reader building working programs very quickly.

Image of Python Basics Book by Chris Roffey

The Usbourne flip book series are also a tactile, unplugged way to explore computers away from a screen.

The final set of books which are really important are those that challenge gender and racial stereotypes. Ten years ago, if you searched the term “computer scientist” in Google images, most of the images will show old white men, I made a short video about this here. This led me to create the pioneers in tech poster.

It’s great to see that in 2024, a similar Google search and prompt into Generative AI such as Gemini actually shows more women and people from more diverse backgrounds. Writers recognised this bias many years ago too, which led to books with females and black men, women and boys as the lead protagonist instead of the stereotypical white male. Ultimately, books are powerful and children growing up will believe and relate to what they read. The books below are therefore play an important role in educating children and adults about technology.

Selection of Technology Themed Books

As a child, I loved reading both fiction and non-fiction, yet aside from academic books, I practically stopped reading for pleasure between the age of 18 and 25. Even now, I struggle to carve out time to read for enjoyment. Despite this, the books that I have read have inspired me to start writing. I believe that anybody with an interest and a great body of knowledge can be an author. Think of something that you know a lot about and which you can share a different perspective. That is how I wrote my first book, Teaching Computing in Secondary Schools.

Books by William Lau

After that, I decided to solve some of my daily problems in teaching by writing books for my students. To help them with their programming, I wrote the Little Book of Algorithms. For wellbeing, distraction and pleasure, I designed the Computer Science Colouring Book and during the pandemic, when we were all getting too much screen time, I wanted to write a book that allowed people to learn about Computing while outdoors, even if you were social distancing. As these were books to encourage learning, I did not want money to be a barrier to learning and as I had a full time job as a teacher, I was able to release digital versions of these books for free here. Of course, some people prefer the physical copies and these are also available from book shops and online retailers.

When it comes to books and technology, I believe the two exist symbiotically. Books and technology complement each other in the learning process. Books have the power to inspire, educate, and challenge preconceived notions, making them invaluable tools in the journey of learning about technology. From foundational programming guides like Chris Roffey’s Python Basics to inclusive narratives that challenge stereotypes about who can be a computer scientist, books offer unique benefits that digital mediums alone cannot provide. When you have a book on your bookshelf, whether you bought it, was gifted it, or borrowed it from the library, you are making a statement. You are saying that this object is so powerful that it deserves physical space in my home. Books are powerful in that way. By integrating books into our learning toolkit, we can enrich our understanding and foster a more inclusive and comprehensive approach to technology and education. As a teacher and author, my experiences have shown that anyone with knowledge and passion can contribute to this ever-evolving field, demonstrating that books remain a vital resource in both teaching and learning about technology.

William Lau is an Assistant Headteacher (Learning Technology), Award winning teacher and Author

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