Friday, September 25, 2009

A very Basic book

In the vein of Awful Library Books, I bring you Donated Books Are Hilarious.

Our tutoring program accepts donations for our "trade books" -- little libraries of books kids can take home, read, then bring back to trade for another book. Using donated books means we don't have to worry if the books never make it back to our "library." We've found there are kids who don't have shelves full of books at home -- some don't have any.

That said, I don't think we should try to pawn off crap books to these kids either. Sure, as long as they're reading, I don't care if it's comic books or the newspaper or classics. But yesterday I pulled a book from our trade books shelf that is only appropriate for one thing: Making adults laugh.

It's not that the book is naughty or inappropriate in any "adult" kind of way. It was written in 1985, and while plenty of books from that decade and earlier are still worth reading (I'm thinking Newberry Award winners and other classics), this book is nothing short of ridiculous. It was probably a bit silly in 1985.

I give you "The BASIC Book" by Seymour Simon.

"A computer will do what you want only if you give it exact, step-by-step instructions.
A step-by-step list of instruction for a computer to follow is called a program.
Programs have to be written in a 'language' computers understand.
There are many different computer languages. BASIC is on language most home computers understand."
Just imagine giving this book to a kid today. Check out the "computer" these kids are working on. Not only is it gigantic, it's all in one piece. It's possible some kids grandparent has one of these in the attic somewhere, but unless the kid is a huge fan of the movie "War Games," he probably doesn't know what it's for.

I brought it home to show the S.O. He's kind of a computer geek, you know. I even offered to let a friend take it for her computer class at college. I thought maybe she could get extra credit.

It's a bit of a precursor for text messages. The kids surprise Adam with a birthday message on the computer -- at a party they're all attending together. And Adam writes a program to thank them all.

"Then Adam types RUN and presses the RETURN key. What do you think everyone sees on the screen?

RUN
HELLO, EVERYONE!
THIS IS YOUR FRIEND ADAM
MAKING A COMPUTER TELL YOU
SOMETHING IMPORTANT.
WHAT A GREAT BIRTHDAY!
THANK YOU!
THANK YOU!
THANK YOU!
THANK YOU!
THANK YOU!
THANK YOU!
THANK YOU!
THANK YOU!
THANK YOU!
THAT'S ONE THANK YOU
FOR EACH FRIEND."
The very best part? On the back is a message from the publisher. The first sentence says it all:

"Children want to be up-to-date."

I don't think this is the book for them.

2 comments:

Tiffany said...

LOL!! I remember taking a BASIC class in 4th grade and programing it to do things like constantly scrollng How are you today.

kayla said...

I've read that book before in like 1st grade!