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Coding iPhone Apps for Kids A Playful Introduction to Swift Review by Tere Scott

Gloria Winquist and Matt McCarthy
No Starch Press
(415) 294-3586
245 8th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Coding iPhone Apps for Kids A Playful Introduction To Swift by Gloria Winquist and Matt McCarthy is a paperback, 336-page book published by No Starch Press priced at $29.95. The book is a wonderful place to start for kids who want to learn how to program for Apple products using Swift, an app programming language used in developing apps for the iPhone or iPad. The book is a complete guide and ready to use once you have access to a Mac OS X 10.11 or higher and XCode, which is a program that runs on Mac OS X. Download and installation instructions are included in the book.

The book includes an introduction followed by three parts that include learning terminology such as variables, strings, arrays, loops, or dictionaries and then getting practice using the Swift programming language within an on-screen “playground” on the Mac and then putting that knowledge into practice by developing a couple of useable programs. After all, if you’re going to call yourself a gamer, you might as well be the one responsible for designing and coding the game.

The three sections are as follows:

XCode And Swift – Learning to use the programming playground

Birthday Tracker – Creating a functioning app that tracks birthdays

Schoolhouse Skateboarder – Creating a playable fast-paced game

The book is designed to be used by beginners and is written in common terms to be understood by kids ages 10+. Every new programming terminology is presented in an easy-to-understand format but is not overly childish. The book is also fun to work through with colorful images, highlighted section headers, and plenty of examples of actual Swift code to follow.

The authors wrote the book to be used with upper-elementary- or middle school-aged children and is not specifically designed for homeschooling, but is easy to adapt to either a classroom or one-on-one teaching. The book is structured enough that you could easily develop lesson plans if you prefer. For a homeschool setting, this could be used as a semester course in programming or just for fun. It definitely fits into excellent standards in implementing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or STEAM—add in the Arts—learning. Depending on the student, you could hand them the book and let them pace themselves, or you could sit with them to help them work through the book.

Pros: We absolutely loved this book. It is laid out in an easy-to-follow format, and it is very pleasing to the eye with the colorful illustrations and screenshots along with examples of actual code. The font is also slightly larger in the introductions to each new section, making it pleasurable to read.

My son lives and breathes code, so I had him take a look at the book. First, let me tell you how much of a critic he is. He is now completely unschooled because he gets quickly frustrated by teaching methods that don’t really produce results. However, he was very impressed with the book and its layout.

Cons: The only possible downside is if you do not have access to a Mac OS X 10.11 or higher, since it is necessary to be able to run the programming playground—XCode—in order to use Swift.

In summary, we found the book to provide information that was easy to follow and taught skills that are useful for future programming endeavors. We would highly recommend it for children who are interested in learning to code apps for the iPhone or iPad or to expand their programming skills to include Swift.

-Product review by Tere Scott, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2017