Need Rec: Book to teach about computers and BASIC at an eight year old level

Tapley, Mark mtapley at
Fri May 27 14:37:44 CDT 2016

	generating interest in the topic is probably the single most critical step you will take. That is where I’ve had the most trouble, and from your first paragraph, sounds like that is your first stumbling block, too. Here are things that might help:

1) Provide him with problems (lots of them!) in other areas that the PC-XT / basic combo can solve for him. Give him math homework with iterative solutions, ask him to calculate the value of pi or find the first 500 pythagorean triplets, or something like that. Then help him through solving those problems, and pose him more problems to solve himself. This will take a lot of time on your part.

2) Demonstrate that *you* are interested in it - play nim or trek or hammrbi for a couple of hours, or write your own computer game on it, with him watching over your shoulder. Let him help, 

	Make sure that the interaction between you and him is the primary goal, and BASIC and the computer are secondary, while you do this. He is hard-wired to resist the idea of you foisting him off on a machine and then walking away while he “learns” - in relational terms, that will feel like a punishment to him. On the other hand, if the computer and the lessons form environments that establish better connection between you and him, he will like it. 

	My 2 cents worth, and please note I was not successful at following the above advice myself. My kids got “exposed” to a bunch of this, never really clicked on it, and only now (away in college) are beginning to get interested. They are sailing through their CS courses because they keep tripping across nuggets that they immediately “get” (having had me bore them to tears about it in past ages) while their classmates struggle - but that’s not the goal you were looking for.

	Good luck!
								-  Mark

On May 27, 2016, at 12:29 PM, Ali <cctalk at> wrote:

> So somewhat OT - I've setup an 8 year old w/ an IBM PC XT w/ CGA. To say he
> is less than impressed is understating things :). However, I am determined
> that he will learn basic computer terminology, architecture, history (i.e.
> how we got here) and at least get his feet wet with programming by learning
> BASIC this summer.
> Apparently teaching is not my strong suite - while I can talk about a larger
> number of the above topics, especially at his level, organizing them in a
> way to make sense is the problem. I was wondering if anyone could recommend
> a good book that gets the basic stuff out of the way (what is the CPU,
> memory, storage, etc. what are different the parts called, etc.) and maybe
> another one that teaches an intro to BASIC written for a very young reader?
> It would be nice if the book is in the PD or at least available as a PDF
> that way he can read it on his Kindle. However, I am not averse to buying a
> physical new (or used book) either. 
> Thanks.
> -Ali

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