Gabriel Ford, Sadie Ford and Melissa Ford's Hello, Scratch!

In the new book Hello, Scratch! (published by Manning Publications), parents and kids work together to learn programming skills, but not in just any old way. They create new versions of old retro-style arcade games with the Scratch open-source visual programming language from the MIT Media Lab.

Author Melissa Ford teamed up her two children, Sadie and Gabriel, to write Hello, Scratch!, and the intergenerational trio begins by introducing the basic Scratch workspace, art editor and the most common computer science concepts used in the projects, along with interesting exercises centered on the games.

The subsequent game chapters are broken into two manageable parts with the initial, shorter section focused on background and prep, and the second, longer section focused on coding.

The authors also explain how to make game art, including backgrounds and sprites (the game pieces) in a pixel art style directly in the Scratch editor.

Upon finishing the book, readers will have the skills to create their own games and understand the basics of computer programming and game design.

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James Gray is Products Editor for Linux Journal.