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Hello Ruby, Adventures in Coding

So, imagine with me, for a moment, a world where the stories we tell about how things get made don’t only include the twentysomething-year-old Silicon Valley boys, but also Kenyan schoolgirls and Norwegian librarians. Imagine a world where the little Ada Lovelaces of tomorrow, who live in a permanent reality of 1s and 0s, they grow up to be very optimistic and brave about technology. They embrace the powers and the opportunities and the limitations of the world. A world of technology that is wonderful, whimsical and a tiny bit weirdLinda Liukas, TEDxCern

withlindaAt 13 she crushed on Al Gore, inventor of the internet.  So she did what any teenage girl would do, she built him a website. She also fell in love with coding as an imaginative, creative experience.

Among the most inspiring of the speakers I heard at November Learning’s Building Learning Communities Conference this week was Linda Liukas, Finnish programmer, and illustrator and author of the delightful picture/activity book Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding.

Liukas believes, “programming gives me this amazing power to build my whole little universe with its own rules and paradigms and practices. Create something out of nothing with the pure power of logic.” She believes “a single line of code can affect millions of people.”  And she wants all children to see the power, playfulness and poetry she sees in coding.

In addition to writing and developing the Kickstarter -funded book, Liukas is creator of the HelloRuby site and co-founder Rails Girls, a global nonprofit that has initiated programming workshops for young women in more than 250 cities. Before writing her picture books she worked at Codeacademy. This summer she began a summer camp for computational thinking, an experience she hopes to grow internationally.

Hello Ruby would be a fine addition to any primary collection, both for independent reading and for sharing in groups and classes.  Ruby is the chief creator and architect of her own world.  Cheerful, spunky, red-haired and Pippi-like, Ruby solves problems and addresses bugs with her friends while she introduces vocabulary and programming concepts and models computational thinking, logic and a clever, contagious DIY attitude.   The story of an adventurous girl off on a grand adventure to find five hidden gems based on her father’s clues is engaging and adorably illustrated. But I found the clever, extremely low-tech, logic-based activities and games for future coders just as valuable for our library programs.

Beyond the book, the HelloRuby website includes further fun activities to foster computational thinking:

They include:

Down the road, look for Ruby in additional books, and perhaps an app as well.

Explore Ruby resources in these spaces:

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. What a fun book and resources! Just added them to a workshop lesson. And little Ms. Chu – adorable. That conference always sounds wonderful. Someday!

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