Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Computer Lessons for Kids Taught by Kermit the Frog

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Computer Lessons for Kids Taught by Kermit the Frog

Article excerpt

KERMIT LEARNS HOW COMPUTERS WORK By Margy Kuntz. Illustrations by Tom Brannon. Prima, 49 pp., $9.95 Ages 5 and up.

KERMIT LEARNS WINDOWS By Kathleen Resnick Illustrations by Matthew Fox. Prima, 49 pp., $9.95. Ages 5 and up.

WHEN most kids sit down at a computer for the first time, they seem to instinctively realize two essential facts: First, that desktop computers were designed, built and sold expressly for the purpose of playing games; and second, that every child in the world should be given one for his or her own personal amusement.

Now two new books, out in time for the holidays, feature Kermit the Frog teaching young children something else: how computers work, and how to use the machines to express themselves. That's good news, since the inner workings of the typical desktop computer are a mystery for many people, children and adults alike.

An unfortunate result of the semiconductor revolution is that even an inquisitive six year old with a screwdriver won't get many answers from prying off the cover and peering inside. Actually seeing and understanding how a computer is put together requires far more delicate tools and a good guide. That's where the Muppets come in.

In "Kermit Learns How Computers Work," Jim Henson's green talking frog takes kids (and their parents) on a tour a typical desktop computer. Kermit teaches children the names for the different parts of computers and shows what they are used for.

Although computers are great for playing games, Kermit shows kids that they're also handy for writing plays, painting pictures of friends, and playing songs. He also explains how a single computer can accomplish so many different tasks by having different programs loaded into it.

Next, Kermit opens up the cover of a typical system and takes kids on a tour of the computer's insides. Shrinking real small, he shows that computers are really tiny cities, with data moving around and around in wires, being directed by the central processing unit and stored in files called memory. Despite the seemingly simplistic explanations, the book's author, Margy Kuntz, takes pains to be technically accurate: not even a professor of computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could find fault with what Kermit says. …

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