So You Want to be a Coder?

A book about the daily life of many different programmers who do neat things with code.

There are lots of ways to learn software programming languages and computer science. This book is about the other part of software programming: What do they do all day? What are the skills programmers use and need to know?

When you hear the word “programmer,” what do you think about? Most people think of Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg or college students starting a software company in their dorm rooms.

Reality for most programmers is very different. There are NASA programmers, for example, who write software to convert data sent from places like Saturn and Mars into photographs. Other programmers work on software that trade stocks in milliseconds. Pick any industry — sports, fashion, manufacturing, education, health, finance — and lots of people work to create software to solve problems in that industry.

More interesting, there are many different kinds of software. There are websites, for example, and software embedded in hardware that goes in your car or home. Operating systems like Windows need to be updated. Services like Facebook rely on software to manage your information across thousands of servers in data centers around the world. Security software protects hardware and software. And, of course, video games, robots, and artificial intelligence use software.

Through lots of interviews with programmers, as young as 16 and people who started programming in the 1970s, this book gives you an idea of how programmers think and how they got to where they are today. Quizzes help reinforce the information about what personality traits are common among programmers, as well as the differences between the many types of programming.

This book also is easy to read. It’s a great way to introduce (and imagine) the real life of software programmers. Kids age 8 on up, and adults, should find the book quick, fun, and thorough with lots of useful insights. This book should be in every library for kids to discover and read.

Learn More

So You Want to be a Coder?

This Simon & Schuster book site has a sample plus links to purchase.

Don’t Call Yourself a Programmer

Long, funny, totally accurate, with lots of inside coding jokes.

So You Want to be a Programmer?

Shorter essay but equally thoughtful about the reasons people become programmers.

Why Can’t Programmers.. Program?

Many well educated programmers stumble on basic skills.

6 Signs that You are not Meant to be a Programmer

Programming skills are useful in other jobs and careers.


  • Tim Slavin

    Tim is an award-winning writer and technologist who enjoys teaching tech to non-technical people. He has many years experience with web sites and applications in business, technical, and creative roles. He and his wife have two kids, now teenagers, who are mad about video games.

Also In The June 2016 Issue

Tinkercad makes it easy to create and print 3D objects from your designs and designs others create.

Figuring out how to find prime numbers is a matter of the right strategy plus code plus trying different ideas.

There are many ways to learn technology while playing. Here are technologies and resources you might want to find online this summer.

A super portable version of Makey Makey, there's lots of experiments you can do with the new Makey Makey Go!

A computational fairytale updated for the computer age, a grasshopper learns algorithms and planning ahead.

A book about the daily life of many different programmers who do neat things with code.

The US Congressional App Challenge is an annual contest to encourage US high school students to try programming by creating an app.

Younger kids can have lots of fun playing games this summer while learning basic programming concepts.

Minecraft is a fun game to explore with a vast set of worlds, animals, and adventures. Here are ideas to continue the adventure, online and offline.

Battery history is a critical part of the history of technology. Without stored electricity, there would be no electronics.

Links from the bottom of all the June 2016 articles, collected in one place for you to print, share, or bookmark.

Interesting stories about computer science, software programming, and technology for June 2016.

A Swiss-made robot, Thymio robots work with drag and drop languages and text-based languages like JavaScript.

Interested but not ready to subscribe? Sign-up for our free monthly email newsletter with curated site content and a new issue email announcement that we send every two months.

No, thanks!