Friday, December 9, 2016

Small Readers: You should meet women who launched the computer age by Laurie Calkhoven, illustrated by Alyssa Petersen

I have to admit that until this year I was very skeptical about easy reader biographies. Do the kids who are still learning to read have the context to understand what they're reading? Why would they even be interested in low-level biographies of famous people?

I stand corrected. Two of the kids in my beginning reader's book club, Bookaneers, are absolutely obsessed with biographies - and they are both stellar readers that can easily devour a stack of whatever I hand them but especially love biographies. Do the kids really grasp the context and character of the personalities they're learning about? Eh, probably not - but it introduces them to historical figures they'll later learn more about.

So, naturally, I am finding as many biographies about overlooked people in history as possible! This new biography in the You Should Meet... series profiles six women who were the first computer programmers.

The story begins in World War II, when a group of six women were hired to program (even though nobody used that language yet) the first computer. The story is interspersed with information on the development of computers and computer languages. It ends with the recognition of male scientists and the six women being lost to history until 1985 when Kathy Kleiman discovered their important contributions. The book ends with a brief history of programming, more notes of women in computer technology, and discussion questions. The illustrations are cheerful, but not too cartoonish.

Although this is promoted as a level three easy reader, I would actually call it a beginning chapter book. It is primarily text, sometimes full pages, and paragraphs. While the font is larger than the typical chapter book, the density of the text and more complex sentence structure make this best for intermediate readers who can handle a challenge.

Verdict: If you are looking for more beginning chapter nonfiction and high level easy readers, this is a good series to consider. I am eager to introduce more diversity to my nonfiction, especially now that I am getting a lot of school requests for nonfiction for a new curriculum, so this one is definitely going on my list.

ISBN: 9781481470476; Published 2016 by Simon Spotlight: Borrowed from another library in my consortium


Ms. Yingling said...

My elementary school's biography section consisted of one six shelf section of Childhood of Famous Americans books. I read every single one! I just ordered this title but may have to look at others. I learned a lot about history by reading biographies.

Emily said...

This sounds fantastic! I'll definitely be adding it our collection. Thank you for sharing!