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  • Phoebe Barker

Book review: Sasha Savvy loves to code by Sasha Ariel Alston

A friend and colleague introduced me to the children’s book Sasha Savvy loves to code by Sasha Ariel Alston recently. My friend is a software developer, and brought the book for her younger sisters. She wanted to encourage them to get into coding and make them aware of the vast opportunities available to them. Children’s books aren’t my usual reading level, but I jumped at the chance to read this book because I love what it stands for and what it offers a whole generation of young girls.

“You can design video games, create mobile apps, build robots, make digital movies, and other cool tech stuff. It all starts with coding.”

The story promotes women working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), industries where the job pool is typically dominated by white men. The book empowers women of all backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures and sexualities. The book shows young girls the incredible opportunities available to them, and that they can do whatever they like if they put their minds to it.

“S.T.E.M. needs more girls!”

Sasha Savvy loves to code is a story about a ten-year-old girl finishing school for the summer and choosing to go to camp to learn how to code. With support from her Mum, who works as a software engineer, and patient advice from her coding teacher Ms Brown, Sasha Savvy becomes ‘tech savvy’.

Not only is the story very sweet, but the illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton are gorgeous; the sort that make you envious you were never an artist and couldn’t even draw a decent-looking stickman. They make the book just that bit lovelier.

“With a lot of practice and hard work, you can figure out your own mistakes but never give up and ask for help when you need it.”

I admire (and fully support) the premise behind Sasha Savvy loves to code. Alston wants to change the small numbers of women, especially women of colour, getting involved with software development and coding. Diversifying an industry is the motivation behind the children’s book, encouraging girls to learn about coding and the STEM industries from an early age.

Sasha Savvy loves to code also provides some basic coding terminology, which I is as helpful to children as it will be to their parents. Save trying to explain the basics of coding to your parents for the umpteenth time... The explanations are clear, with talk of ‘semicolons’ and ‘parenthesis’ being supported by a well equipped glossary at the back of the book, which covers the necessary basis.

“Coding is simply how you tell a computer how to do something or how to solve a problem in a language that it understands.”

Alston turned the frustrations of being underrepresented into a tangible lesson which is both welcoming and all-inclusive. We should all be encouraging children from a young age to do whatever they like, regardless of who they are. They’re the future, after all.

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