Code for Parents

pie graph of Latinos in STEM
Latinos in STEM
Photo by Sylvia Aguinaga

Why code

I’m Mexican-American and grew up with very traditional, hard-working parents who constantly reminded me of the importance of creating a stable future for my family and myself. As an ALSC Special Populations Committee member, my job is to make sure programming remains inclusive—reaching all children and informing all parents, including the Spanish-speaking.

In order for Spanish-speaking parents to support and encourage their child to learn to code, they must first understand the importance of code in today’s world. That is why it is critical to provide approachable Spanish-language resources and craft a clear message.

In the advertising world, they say a good ad communicates one benefit of the product. As copywriter Luke Sullivan puts it, Jeep = rugged, Porsche = fast, “and Volvos, they’re…what? If you said ‘safe,’ you’ve given the same answer I’ve received from literally every other person I’ve ever asked. Ever.”

What can we say about code?

It’s an intimidating question: code is so many things; in our daily lives, code is seemingly behind everything. That’s why it’s so important to teach kids – and it’s also why it’s so difficult to explain to their parents.

There’s one benefit of learning code that can stand out to our audience, parents who care deeply about their children’s future.

Code is money.

More than 1.7 million programmer-specific job opportunities will be available in 2022, with average salaries over $83,000. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) jobs are the fastest growing in the U.S. with 71% of these jobs involving computers.

Promising children an opportunity to learn code could be the most effective way to promise them a future. Once we communicate this clearly to parents, they will be interested. They’ve always wanted a future for their children.

As children’s librarians, this has been our goal all along too. Literacy = opportunity.

What you can do

If you slam a kid in a chair and make them stare at a wall of code – a black screen filled with ///{“symbols”;} and cryptic jargon – they’ll likely react like any of us: “what?”

Fortunately, there are tons of great resources for bringing digital literacy to children.

My favorite is Scratch. Scratch is a free programming language for kids (ages 8 and up) that lets you create games, music, and animations. It is visual-based. Kids drag and drop different elements, and link them together like Legos.

Essentially, introductory languages like Scratch get children thinking in a code mindset. Not only working logically, but playfully – learning to tinker, examine, explore.

The past few months I’ve partnered with Joanna Fabicon, a Children’s Librarian at Los Angeles Public Library, to help develop Coder Time (see resources linked below!). Coder Time is a weekly coding club launching this month at the Central Library and in after-school programs at elementary schools across L.A. Our goal is to inspire kids to do meaningful things with computers.

Each “chapter” of the Coder Time curriculum is paired with books that will encourage kids to explore their library and discover content that will in turn inspire them to make something they will love.

Another big goal of Coder Time is to empower librarians to facilitate their own coding workshops by using librarian-gathered and curated content. Coder Time materials are licensed under a Creative Commons license that lets you tweak and adapt content to your own community.

To truly bring digital literacy to children, we need library-created content and programs. Often, librarians outsource coding workshops to experts. Though well-intentioned and certainly helpful, these workshops don’t do enough to serve our public. Like reading, coding is a practice, a way of being in the world. Coding programs need to be a regular, fully integrated part of the library – not something tacked on just to cover the bases.

For this to happen, librarians need to be comfortable with and familiar with code. But as programs like Scratch show, this is no obstacle. You don’t have to be an expert. You just have to—as you ask of your young patrons—be willing to learn.

Beyond $

Like reading, the benefits of coding are deeper than money. Coding gives children a creative way of looking at the world. It empowers them to make, rather than passively consume. It encourages them to work together.

With a clear message, our voice can be heard by parents. In turn, all children can make their voices heard with technology.


The Coder Time zine + coding resources for parents (in Spanish & English) + more! can be found here.

Sylvia Aguiñaga, LSSPCC Committee Member


  1. Luz Rivas

    Thanks for creating these resources for our parents. The Spanish version makes it easy to share with parents of DIY Girls program participants.

    1. Sylvia

      DIY Girls (www.diygirls.org) is a big inspiration for this post. Looking forward to sharing these pamphlets with parents during our coding workshop this January at Pacoima Public Library!

  2. Dawn Prochovnic

    Thanks for this great post! I’ve shared it with the School Library Advocacy Council FB page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/802268366464689/) with the following message:

    This blog article offers a great example of the kinds of innovations a 21st century librarian can bring to a learning community. This article references particular opportunities in a public library, but the program described is applicable in a school environment as well. Likewise, the innovation of today is coding… The innovations of tomorrow are not yet known to us…nimble, innovative, forward-thinking teacher librarians can bring the future within reach to our kids.

    1. Sylvia

      Well-said, Dawn! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Pingback: Coding Concepts for Preschoolers - ALSC BlogALSC Blog

  4. Christie Hamm

    The dropbox links are no longer working – are these resources available elsewhere? Great project!

    1. Sylvia Aguinaga

      Hi Christie!

      I will fix this by tonight. I reformatted my computer and consequentially deleted my Dropbox! In the meantime, visit the “Coder Time” tab on my website, http://www.createwithcomputers.com.

      Thanks for the heads up!

      1. LSSPCC Post author

        The “Resources” link has been updated! 🙂

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