YA Clicks: : Web Sites for Young Adults and Their Librarians February 2017
Jessica Farrow and the Web Surfers from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library
As computers become steadily more ubiquitous and necessary for everything from job applications to the Internet, many teens are finding new ways to explore and create digitally. Programming is not only a desirable skill for those about to enter the job market, it also allows them to be involved in everything from making websites for subjects they’re passionate about to creating the next online gaming sensation. For teens looking to be creators, not just consumers, of online content, learning to code opens a whole new world of ways to express themselves, get creative, and make something new. The Web Surfers share their favorite resources for learning basic (and not-so-basic) programming skills.
Through YA Eyes
5I 5R 5U
M J S
What is Tech Rocket? The better question is what isn’t Tech Rocket when it comes to your tech-learning needs. This amazing website offers coding tutorials for all skill levels in not only Java and Python, but also iOS, C++, all made to be part of an exciting game that teaches invaluable programming skills! But not only does Tech Rocket have coding courses, it also has courses for game design and graphic design for those less interested in the programming part of technology. It doesn’t end there, either. Let’s say you learn better with one-on-one instruction. Tech Rocket can help you, too. The site has tutors it can connect you with, as well as a live forum and chat support for any tech questions you might have. After an extremely helpful tutoring session or tutorial, if you need a break and want to play a game, you don’t even need to leave the site! Tech Rocket offers a variety of fun arcade-style games, such as Faultline (my personal favorite), and a very addicting Nyan cat game. So, whether you’re looking to begin learning code, want to advance your game designing skills, simply want to unwind with a game or two, or have another technological learning need, stop by Tech Rocket. You won’t regret it. -Eliza Falk
5I 4R 5U
Code Maven is an exceptional website for those who want to learn coding. It’s very informational, and it starts on the most basic foundations so anyone can use this website without any background knowledge. This site is mostly recreational, but the whole program is lengthy, and it doesn’t have any stopping points. Since this is the case, the site allows you to skip over lessons without actually having to complete the tasks, so you can resume from where you left off by skipping over your previously completed lessons. Other than that one flaw, the design, appearance, technical aspects, interactiveness, factual information, and ease of usability are outstanding and superb. I highly recommend Code Maven and this is an excellent place to begin with coding.—Rose Zheng
Girls Develop It
5I 4R 5U
Most individuals don’t have any desire to learn how to code, develop software, or even gain an understanding of the way their technology works. This is, of course, most likely due to the popular belief in the stereotypical image of a lonely hacker sitting in a dark room surrounded by only the glow of computer screens for company. Girls Develop It, however, has a unique approach for women desiring to learn about web and software development, one that completely shatters the stereotype as it creates in its users a feeling of community. Not only is the site completely navigable, but the connections to the real world outside of the website are amazing and different compared to other sites. Since the site has Chapters in fifty-three cities, not only can people on Girls Develop It improve their skills online, they also can meet with others for fun events and lessons in cities close to home.
The website itself is well organized, and full of helpful information that is presented in an easy-to-understand format. The Lesson Slides are easy enough for one to understand without needing assistance, but not so easy that one gets bored. All in all, the site is helpful, regularly updated, and unique compared to other sites of the same kind. Any women interested in improving their skills in this area would be well recommended to check out this site.
5I 5R 5U
M J S
Code.org is a great website for beginning coders. There are plenty of free aspects, such as their Hour of Code. I would definitely recommend this section for kids 7-14 to get them interested in the field of code. Their Hour of Code consists of a certain set of problems that you must use coding blocks to solve. There are also classes at Code.org that you can sign up to take. Unfortunately, they also have a few other parts to their site which you must pay for to access, but most of the site is available without cost. I had a great time using this site and found it very easy to use because of how it is organized. I would recommend it for most young kids and teens that are interested in the field of code.–Sarah Christofferson
3I 4R 5U
If you want to learn coding, it is very useful to have an app that you can play on when you are bored. Mimo is an app that you can download on your devices. The app’s format is geared towards seventh- to ninth-graders. It has simple instructions that guide you through the process as you learn. It has a very clean and simple appearance and is very interactive. For example, it allows you to set a daily goal of how long you want to learn and asks questions to make sure you understand. It also gives you an overall view of the material that you would learn. A downfall of this app is that to continue learning, you will need to upgrade to premium, or, in other words, purchase it. This is a big barrier for students if money is a problem. In general, the app provides the information you need and tries to interact with you as much as possible. Overall, I believe it is a great tool but the inconvenience of having to buy the app is a major setback.–Amanda Lin
Kudos for Library Teen Sites
Louisville Free Public Library
The Louisville Free Public Library’s teen page is dynamic and informative. Rather than merely being a copy of the library’s main page with a calendar of teen events thrown on, everything from the main articles to the links in the sidebar is designed with teens in mind. Bright orange sidebars provide information about the teen centers at each of the branches and helpful links, including pages about teen events, resources for applying to and paying for college, teen booklists, local sports information, and homework help. These links remain consistent throughout the related teen pages, though the location information is either removed or changes reflect other relevant information on subsequent pages. The articles on the main page highlight upcoming events, such as Anime Clubs; provide useful resources like their ACT prep assistance; give information about the library’s student-exclusive library card; and link to their teen-specific blog. The orange and white color scheme of the pages, which is specific to the teen site rather than being a feature of the library site in general, gives it a vibrant look without being overwhelming and lets them display event-specific promotional materials. The page, from the picture of a diverse group of teens at the top to the catalog link labelled simply “Find a Book,” promotes the idea that this site, and the library system’s teen spaces are welcoming and helpful.
The linked teen blog deserves special mention. It features everything from booklists and reviews of YA literature to articles about topics of interest to teens, like fiction-inspired food and ways to destress during exams. Teens are invited to comment on the articles, and the librarians’ bylines (first name only) are accompanied by which branch they work at, giving teens the chance to connect with both the librarians and each other over personal interests and hobbies. From booklists to events, the Louisville Free Public Library’s teen pages are inviting, informative, and, above all, teen-centered.