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Coding With Minecraft Review by Kim Rodriguez

Build Taller, Farm Faster, Mine Deeper, and Automate the Boring Stuff
Al Sweigart
No Starch Press
1-800-420-7240 or +1 415-863-9900
245 8th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Minecraft has been a part of our family for a long time.  With three children playing, it can become quite competitive to build the tallest building or best farm.  My eleven-year-old really enjoys Minecraft and he is eager to learn computer programming.  He was excited to be able to use a platform he already loves to learn how to code while building a world faster than his siblings.  Coding with Minecraft Build Taller, Farm Faster, Mine Deeper, and Automate the Boring Stuff was exactly what he needed to help him get a leg up on his siblings.

The book Coding with Minecraft is a great tool to use, however, it is not the only thing needed to begin coding.  You will also need Minecraft for Windows or MacOS, ComputerCraft mod, and ATLauncher software.  Luckily, both of these are free downloads and the book explains how to install them.  The book itself is $29.95 for a printed copy and comes with a free Ebook.  The child will also need basic Minecraft knowledge:  mine for ore, stone, coal, wood and other blocks; craft a workbench and tools; craft a furnace, fuel it, and then smelt ore blocks or cook meat in it; craft stairs, ladders, chests, doors, fences, and other parts used for buildings and plant seeds and farm food.

The programming language taught is called Lua, which is used often in video games and is great for beginners.  The book begins with basic programming and builds skill with each new activity.  The author not only teaches them a useful skill to use in MineCraft, but he teaches them computer science terminology as well.  Your child will learn about flow control, loops, how to share and reuse coding, function statements, constants, and algorithms.  There are also bonus activities included in every chapter, which tend to be more advanced.

My eleven-year-old read the book and performed the programming independently.  I do not have knowledge of MineCraft or coding, so I am glad it was written in a way he was able to understand and perform the activities successfully.  He was able to go through all the activities within a few days to a week.  Reading through the book, I noticed there is an abundant amount of encouragement and reinforcement that it may be difficult in the beginning but gets easier with time.  There were also resources where the child can get help from Minecraft tutorials or by referring to the companion website of the book if the code is a bit challenging.

Coding with Minecraft was written well and helped my son code successfully without help.  He has become more interested in computer programming video games after this experience and can’t wait to dive into programming his own game.  If you have children interested in coding who also love Minecraft, I believe this would be a great book to invest in.

-Product review by Kim Rodriguez, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July, 2018