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Top Coding Books for Elementary Students: Computer Science Picture Books

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Teaching computer science as an elementary school teacher doesn’t always have to require digital programming. In fact, picture books can be a wonderful tool to teach students computational thinking and introductory programming skills.

Consider using a read aloud in conjunction with a digital coding activity to introduce new concepts to your students.

In today’s blog post, I’m sharing my top coding books for elementary students. Based on my experience teaching K-5 STEM and coding, these computer science picture books are a hit with young learners.

Ava in Code Land by Jess Hitchman and Gavin Cullen

About Ava in Code Land

Ava thinks living in a video game is pretty cool. She and her cat, Pixels, spend their days riding breakfast rollercoasters and heading to underwater discos. And if something isn’t exactly perfect, Ava can reprogram the world to be just the way she likes it.

But then the game’s villain, Max Hacksalot, comes along on his magical pirate unicorn and breaks all of Ava’s code. When Max manages to send them all to the Game Over screen, it’s up to Ava and her coding skills to save the day (Google Books)!

Check out Ava in Code Land here.

How Ava in Code Land Supports Computer Science Learning

Early elementary students mostly learn computer science through block-based programming languages. Throughout Ava in Code Land, there are a number of illustrations that contain text-based programming.

Consider pointing out the text-based code throughout the book to help your students identify new ways to program. You can even ask your students what each line means.

In addition to text-based programming, Ava in Code Land also incorporates life skills like perseverance, when Ava encounters bugs in her code. Consider using this plot line as an opportunity to discuss debugging and developing a growth mindset.

Check out Ava in Code Land here.

Doll-E 1.0 by Shanda McCloskey

About Doll-E 1.0

A STEM-friendly tale of a girl and the doll she upgrades to be her new friend, for fans of The Most Magnificent Thing and Rosie Revere, Engineer.

Charlotte’s world is fully charged! With her dog at her side, she’s always tinkering, coding, clicking, and downloading. She’s got a knack for anything technological–especially gadgets that her parents don’t know how to fix! Then, she receives a new toy that is quite a puzzle: a doll! What’s she supposed to do with that? Once she discovers the doll’s hidden battery pack, things start to get interesting…while her faithful canine sidekick wonders if he’ll be overshadowed by the new and improved Doll-E 1.0! With a little ingenuity and an open mind, everyone can be friends in this endearing, modern tribute to the creative spirit of play (Google Books).

Check out Doll-E 1.0 here.

How Doll-E 1.0 Supports Computer Science Learning

In Doll-E 1.0, the main character programs a doll to become her friend, and because of this, the story is a great introduction to programming robots. Consider incorporating this read aloud to launch a robotics unit with elementary students.

Doll-E 1.0 also reminds students of the many overlaps between engineering and programming, as well as tinkering and creativity. STEM is interdisciplinary, and Doll-E 1.0 provides students with an excellent example.

Check out Doll-E 1.0 here.

How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk

About How to Code a Sandcastle

From the computer science nonprofit Girls Who Code comes this lively and funny story introducing kids to computer coding concepts.

All summer, Pearl has been trying to build the perfect sandcastle, but out-of-control Frisbees and mischievous puppies keep getting in the way! Pearl and her robot friend Pascal have one last chance, and this time, they’re going to use code to get the job done. Using fundamental computer coding concepts like sequences and loops, Pearl and Pascal are able to break down their sandcastle problem into small, manageable steps. If they can create working code, this could turn out to be the best beach day ever!

With renowned computer science nonprofit Girls Who Code, Josh Funk and Sara Palacios use humor, relatable situations, and bright artwork to introduce kids to the fun of coding (Google Books).

Check out How to Code a Sandcastle here.

How How to Code a Sandcastle Supports Computer Science Learning

As the book description notes, How to Code a Sandcastle teaches students fundamental computer science concepts, like sequences and loops. Consider incorporating this read aloud to introduce students to loops. You can also have a conversation about how loops allow for the code to be shorter and more efficient, as well as have fewer errors.

Check out How to Code a Sandcastle here.

How to Code a Rollercoaster by Josh Funk

About How to Code a Rollercoaster

Pearl and Pascal take their coding adventures to the amusement park in this follow-up picture book from our Girls Who Code program!

Pearl and her trusty rust-proof robot, Pascal, are enjoying a day out at the amusement park. Spinning teacups, ice cream, and of course: rollercoasters! Through the use of code, Pearl and Pascal can keep track of their ride tokens and calculate when the line is short enough to get a spot on the biggest ride of them all–the Python Coaster. Variables, if-then-else sequences, and a hunt for a secret hidden code make this a humorous, code-tastic day at the amusement park (Google Books).

Check out How to Code a Rollercoaster here.

How How to Code a Rollercoaster Supports Computer Science Learning

Much like How to Code a Sandcastle, How to Code a Rollercoaster supports computer science learning through introducing students to fundamental computer science concepts. How to Code a Rollercoaster focuses specifically on variables and if-then-else statements.

Consider reading How to Code a Rollercoaster as a supplement to a lesson about variables, a concept that can be tricky to learn. Students, too, can practice if-then-else statements, demonstrating understanding that conditionals perform different actions.

Check out How to Code a Rollercoaster here.

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

About Rosie Revere, Engineer

Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal—to fly—Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. But when her contraption doesn’t fly but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose insists that Rosie’s contraption was a raging success: you can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit (Google Books).

Check out Rosie Revere, Engineer here.

How Rosie Revere, Engineer Supports Computer Science Learning

Rosie Revere is an engineer who learns about the importance of having a growth mindset, discovering that failures lead to our greatest successes. While Rosie Revere, Engineer does not explicitly focus on or teach fundamental computer science concepts, the story supports student social emotional learning in engineering and STEM.

Check out Rosie Revere, Engineer here.

Thank You!

Thank you for reading this blog post featuring my top coding books for elementary students. What other books would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below, DM me on Instagram @edtechclass, or email me at

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