Girls Who Code Review Event: Code It! Create It! and Team BFF: Race to the Finish

Girls Who Code Banner

Coding is such a vast field of study. Personally I find it both fascinating and a little intimidating, mostly because of all that math!

When you think about it, coding is present in almost everything we as geeks and nerds interact with on a daily basis. Even those who don’t consider themselves as such come into contact with it. The apps we use to get our news, the CGI in our favorite superhero movies, the HTML that supports the websites we looks out while waiting in line for our breakfast, etc. These are some generic examples, but truth be told coding is a huge job market in the United States, one of the biggest and yet the number of female job holders within it has actually declined in the last couple of decades.

Noticing this, someone took steps to encourage girls to look at coding as a field that might interest them, to nurture the skills that they already had, via Girls Who Code.


About Girls Who Code:

In 2012, Reshma Saujani founded the national non-profit organization Girls Who Code to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.  Girls Who Code believes to close the gender gap in technology, we have to inspire girls to pursue computer science by exposing them to real life and on screen role models. They engage engineers, developers, executives, and entrepreneurs to teach and motivate the next generation. Their guest speakers, mentors, and instructors are leaders in their fields, working in positions the girls aspire to attain.

Girls Who Code aims to provide computer science education and exposure to one million young women by 2020. Together with leading educators, engineers, and entrepreneurs, Girls Who Code has developed a new model for computer science education, pairing intensive instruction in robotics, web design, and mobile development with high-touch mentorship and exposure led by the industry’s top female engineers and entrepreneurs.

Through rapid iteration and expansion of the Summer Immersion Program and highly-scalable Girls Who Code Clubs, Girls Who Code has delivered thousands of hours of instruction since beginning in 2012. 94% of students graduate from their Summer Immersion Programs and say that they want to pursue a major or minor in computer science, and 99% would recommend Girls Who Code to other girls.

Girls Who Code programs have earned support from CEOs of top Fortune 500 companies, engaged more than 700 industry professionals, delivered some of the most robust data on computer science education, and been featured in 100+ publications and media outlets, from The New York Times to the Today Show. By the end of 2015, Girls Who Code will have reached over 10,000 girls and plans to have a presence in all fifty states.

Ready to start coding? Try our interactive Girls Who Code coding activity and find a club near you at:


Thanks to Penguin Young Readers, who in August of this year published Girls Who Code’s official coding guide Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World, I am able to share with you my thoughts on two new books in the Girls Who Code series today. One is a DIY journal with prompts and inspiring passages for budding coders. The other is putting the ideals and energy behind the previous books into a fictional world ala The Babysitters Club (my favorite series growing up).



Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

Published: 31 October 2017

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Category: Coding/DIY/Activity Book

Come up with the perfect coding-powered project in this informative, interactive journal published in partnership with the nonprofit organization Girls Who Code!

Think being creative has nothing to do with computer coding? Think again! Coding is all about creativity.

The video games you play, the photo-sharing apps you love, the animated movies you watch–they’re all made with code. And the coolest part? YOU can make anything with code, too! The possibilities for coding projects are limitless, so use these pages to get inspired, jot down ideas, doodle, play coding games, and more. Let your imagination run wild–you just might come up with the most awesome coding project ever.

Rating: 4 Stars

A companion book to the Girls Who Code novels and Girls Who Code itself, Code It! Create It! is a book that will appeal to those already familiar with the subject and those that have only a passing glance idea of it.

This activity book is a good addition to the Girls Who Code line because it’s accessible to it’s core audience. The text isn’t dense considering the material addressed and it’s broken up with typical fun things like word searches and mazes. There are a couple of pieces of information in the first half that feel a bit repetitive, which detracted from the main goal for me a bit, but overall the flow of the book was good.

There’s a glance at basic programming languages, ideas as to what coding is for and how the process of learning coding can be applied not only to it, but to everyday activities as well. These parallels are part of the reason I think this book will be a success both with girls heading in with coding interest already and those that are looking into developing a new hobby or skill.

Plenty of room is left for the owner of the book, and anyone that they invite to help (as the book is big on working by yourself or with a group of friends, totally up to you), to come up with ideas, draw plans, doodle, etc. There is so much room to breath in the book alongside the learning in what I would typically consider a rigid subject. The nice thing about the binding of the book itself, besides the content, is that it’s hard bound and the covers lay flat, making it easier to draw on the provided pages.

I’m excited that books like this are being published, especially for younger girls. Coding, web and app development, etc., is not a single gender field field anymore like it might have been considered going back decades. Women have made incredible strides, including some mentioned in this very book. Hopefully the readers the pick up this book will find a little inspiration to start their own journey.


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

Published: 31 October 2017

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Category: Computer Science > Coding/Childrens

Perfect for fans of The Babysitters Club and anyone interested in computer science, this series is published in partnership with the organization Girls Who Code!

Sophia and her coding club BFFs have the best time together. Sure, they work on coding projects, but mostly they gossip about crushes, eat cookies, and do totally silly impersonations. Now they’re about to participate in their first hackathon–a full day of coding and meeting other coders–so it’s time to step up their game!

Just when Sophia and her friends think their hackathon project is ready for the big time, a change of plans threatens to tear their group apart. Will they have each other’s backs, or are they destined for an epic fail? They know that coding is all about teamwork and problem-solving–maybe friendship is, too!

Rating: 3 Stars

Race to the Finish brings Sophia’s perspective front and center in the confines of the girls’ coding club. She not only has the difficulties of varying personalities within her club to maneuver, especially with the hackathon coming up!, but with regard to her family. So many expectations, so much pressure, so little time.

There’s a lot of energy in the girls with respect to the things they love outside of coding, such as sports, jewelry, etc. This translates better for some than others into coding club activities and it shows.

There’s definitely a strong leaning toward moral fortitide here which I think is the ideal rather than the strict norm but hopefully the readers that are the age of the main characters will see that as something to work with that lay down for or ignore entirely.

girlswhocode charactersheet

I would have loved to get more time actually spent at the hackathon. More time seemed to be concentrated on Sophia’s problem getting there than actually competing. Another thing: her parents were by far and away the most lax parents when it came to her and her friends changinging plans at the last minute. Even if the change was something that they would’ve done prior to a last minute emergency, the escapade of the Rocking Robotics Club was a bit how in the heck to me.

The cast seemed pretty diverse, but going from my experience of this book alone, I’m not sure how well I’d say the series does it overall. There are small inclusive pieces, such as Sophia’s abuela and Leila’s hijab, but in Sophia’s case at least, since we spent so much time in her point of view, it felt dismissive.

As for whether you can read this book out of order from the other books, I’m not too sure about that. I feel like there’s some personality set up for the characters that would have been beneficial. From the point of view of someone who has only read book two, there were times when they seemed a bit much.

Team BFF: Race to the Finish seems like a good companion to Code It! Create It! as well as a further addition to the Code Girls series. It’s an encouraging novel for girls looking not for role models, exactly, but for girls very much like them that are interested in coding and other things and how those differing interests meld together.

Reshma Saujani’s organization and continuing work opens doors not only fictionally but in the real world for girls that might still be looking for their place, that might have been told their place isn’t available because it’s “boy” territory. Never be afraid to explore your interests, like Lucy, Sophia, Maya, Erin, and Leila!





I received a copy of this book from Penguin Young Readers for promotional purposes and an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

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