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Book for teaching coding to kids surprise success on Kickstarter

Jan. 27, 2014 at 6:36 PM   |   Comments

HELSINKI, Finland, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The Finnish author of a book meant to teach kids programming fundamentals, hoping to raise $10,000 in a Kickstarter campaign, says it's already raised $185,000.

In just four days, 4,300 backers have contributed toward the book, "Hello Ruby" by Linda Liukas, aimed at 4- to 7-year-olds and telling the story about "a small girl with a huge imagination" who meets a cast of characters as she sets out on adventures.

The illustrated storybook will contain activities that teach early programming skills to young readers, Liukas said.

The Kickstarter campaign, already surpassing her original goal, still has 25 days to run.

"I thought this would be a 20-year project, and hopefully it still can be, but now I get to do a lot more stuff than I expected early on," Liukas told the Guardian Monday.

Liukas is co-founder of the Rails Girls, a non-profit volunteer community aiming to make technology more approachable for women, and also worked at U.S. online education company Codecademy.

"I started drawing the pictures about three years ago, when I was working with more serious programming languages like Ruby," she said. "Whenever I ran into a problem that I didn't understand, I'd think 'how would Ruby explain this?"

"When I came back to Helsinki after Codecademy, I really thought this would be a little art project: a side thing I would do for my friends, or the Ruby community," she said. "I felt tremendous warmth and love for the idea from the Ruby community, but never would have guessed it could be this popular.

"Code is the 21st century literacy and the need for people to speak the ABC of Programming is imminent. Our world is increasingly run by software and we need more diversity in the people who are building it," she said.

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