By Sasha Ariel Alston
Illustrated by: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Gold Fern Press, 2017
Ages 7-10, Grades 2-5
Other formats: e-book
Sasha Loves to Code is a lighthearted, early reader chapter book told from the perspective of a young girl who discovers that it’s best to give new things a try before deciding they’re not for her. Ten-year-old Sasha Savvy is less than excited when her mom enrolls her in a coding camp for the summer, because coding doesn’t sound like her “thing.”
Her mom makes it easier by ensuring that two of Sasha’s friends can join her, and unbeknownst the them, all three girls find themselves excited about the possibilities coding offers and the fact that they’re pretty good at it.
Sasha’s mom and other nurturing relatives encourage her to use her skills to create something that interests her, and while at times she and others in the book seemed to rely on their cell phones for entertainment, perhaps those sections of the book can spark conversations between young readers and the adults who read with them about the importance of balancing screen time with personal engagement. In this way, the book shows that while coding and gaming are exciting ways to bring STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) into daily life, setting aside technology at pivotal times is important, too.
Young readers of Sasha Loves to Code will enjoy the girl’s enthusiasm and may be inspired to try coding themselves. Ultimately, the story behind the writing of the book is as empowering as the plot itself. Author Sasha Ariel Alston wrote the book when she was a 19-year-old college student at Pace University in New York. She reportedly became so fascinated with coding that she decided not only to major in it, but also to write a fictional story to encourage young girls to give coding and other science-related endeavors a try. Ms. Alston, who is still in college, raised funds to publish the book through Kickstarter and since its publication has been featured on national morning news shows, participated in programs for girls at Disney and Google, and had the book named a statewide read for young students in Arkansas. Regardless of whether young readers ever encounter Ms. Alston in person or via a news program, the story she has penned offers timely encouragement to step outside of their comfort zones and learn something new. – SHA