Celebrating National Coding Week: Ada Lovelace and women who shook the world

National Coding Week is the week beginning 13th September. Many of us think of computer programming as a male dominated arena, but did you know that the first computer programmer was a woman? 

Ada Lovelace invented the first computer code 100 years before computers were even invented!

Here we review our favourite books about influential women who shaped our world, starting with Ada Lovelace. Every one of our choices is beautifully written and is a real inspiration to girls and boys everywhere.

Ada Lovelace: Little People, Big Dreams

By Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Zafuko Yamamoto

Lincoln Children’s Books 2018

Whether you are reading this review on a laptop, tablet or a smartphone you have Ada Lovelace to thank! Ada was introduced to Charles Babbage at the time he was developing a machine that could solve maths problems faster than people. Ada thought she could improve the machine even more and she invented a computer code that told machines what to do. We still use this code today.

Ada, the daughter of poet Lord Byron, was a visionary and she was also determined. Although she suffered from illness and the limitations of being a woman in the 19th century she achieved greatness through perseverance and hard work.

This book is perfect for children from the age of seven upwards. There is enough information, but not too much, making it an easy and engaging read. The illustrations have a childlike quality which give the book a friendly, warm feel.

Also in the Little People Big Dreams series are books about Marie Curie, Michelle Obama, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Kamla Harris and more!

The Diary of Anne Frank (Abridged for young readers)

By Anne Frank. Adapted by Miriam Pressler

Puffin, 2015

When the Nazis took over Holland Anne Frank and her family, as persecuted Jews, went into hiding in an attic apartment in Amsterdam. The family hid for two years and Anne kept a diary during that time.

In the diary Anne shares her constant terror of being discovered, her arguments with her mother and her hopes for the future. In August 1944 the diary suddenly stops as Anne and her family are discovered by the Nazis and taken to concentration camps.

This version of the diary is sensitively edited for young readers with a commentary alongside. The diary is accompanied with photographs of Anne and her family and there is an Afterword explaining what happened next.

The Diary of Anne Frank is a harrowing but important read for children aged 9+ who are learning about the Second World War so they can relate to what happened on a human level. Anne holds onto her dreams of a brighter future even under the worst imaginable conditions and she never gives up hope.

Greta and the Giants

By Zoe Tucker and Zoe Persico

Frances Lincoln, 2019

This is the story of Greta Thunberg, fictionalised for very young readers. Greta lives in a beautiful forest threatened by Giants. When Giants first came to the forest, they chopped down trees to make houses. Then they chopped down more trees and made even bigger homes. The houses grew into towns and the towns grew into cities, until there was hardly any forest left.

Alone, Greta stands up for the animals and she doesn’t give up even when it feels as though nobody is listening. Eventually she is joined by one person who feels the same way, and soon a whole crowd stand beside her. The story has a happy ending as the Giants do listen and great changes are made. Greta’s real story is told separately at the back of the book.

Greta and the Giants is a positive way to teach children about climate change and to help them understand that their voices do matter. Nobody is too small to make a difference. Greta stands up for what she believes in with bravery and determination against fierce obstacles – there is no better role model for children today.

Her Story: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook the World

By Katherine Halligan and Sarah Walsh

Nosy Crow Ltd, 2015

History is dominated by the stories of men, but this book celebrates the achievements of 50 incredible women who shaped our world today.

Some of these women and girls faced imprisonment and death but they followed their dreams and did what was right whatever the cost to themselves. The book is divided into five sections, Believe and Lead, Imagine and Create, Help and Heal, Think and Solve, Hope and Overcome. There are a range of careers including astronauts, activists, musicians and mathematicians – so there will be somebody that every reader can relate to.

This is an inspiring and uplifting book about determination and never giving up hope because following your dreams really can shake the world!

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