Why Publish Books About Scratch?
By Bill Pollock, Founder of No Starch Press
One of the first “coding for kids” books we published at No Starch Press was Super Scratch Programming Adventure, a book for kids who wanted to create videogames using Scratch. I wasn’t really sure what kind of reaction to expect from our readers, or even how many to print, but upon release we were bowled away by the reader response. Parents and kids couldn’t get enough; one customer told us how she had to drag her grandson away from the computer and Super Scratch on Christmas morning, back to opening his other presents. There’s nothing quite as rewarding to an editor as hearing of that kind of reaction to one of our books.
Since the release of Super Scratch Programming Adventure, we’ve published many programming books for kids, including a more advanced look at Scratch, called Learn to Program with Scratch, as well as Mitchel and Marina’s new book on ScratchJr, The Official ScratchJr Book.
What’s key to the success of Scratch as a platform?
Scratch is a visual, block based language that makes programming fun for kids. It’s colorful and easy for almost anyone to pick up immediately. Like LEGO blocks, it’s pure creative “material” that a child can bend as they wish, and ultimately an incredibly powerful tool.
Just think: In 1972, it took a small team of adult engineers at Atari months to create a Pong prototype. In the space of an afternoon in 2015, a motivated 10-year-old can create a working version of that same exact game! That’s amazing.
But of course, making it easy for kids to create cool stuff is only half of Scratch’s appeal.
Scratch is so exciting not just because it makes coding accessible to kids, but because it makes it accessible to otherwise nontechnical, nonexpert adults who might not be able to explain languages like Java or Python. Even some college computer science programs use Scratch as a starting point because it’s such an extensible platform.
Scratch tells adults and children alike that they don’t have to be an expert to program a computer. Scratch and the “Coding for Kids” movement isn’t just about turning kids into future Facebook employees or getting stock options in the next big tech boom (though it is for some); it’s about empowering kids to understand the devices and software that they use every day, and to let them know that they have control over technology. Scratch succeeds because it makes it easy for kids to express themselves, gives them a germ that they can build upon for their future studies, and opens doors. Scratch is a tool that makes the possible real.
We’ll keep publishing books that help kids learn how to program (or learn science and math for that matter) because we love to see kids grow and learn.
About No Starch Press
No Starch Press has been publishing the finest in geek entertainment since 1994, covering topics like LEGO, hacking, science, math, and programming for all ages. Our titles have personality, our authors are passionate, and our books tackle topics that people care about.