Rising local author seeks funding support
February 15, 2018
A new children's book transports readers through a portal and into a digital realm where the Code Wizard and his friendly dog, Codex, introduces children to concepts of computer science.
A 2008 Douglas High School graduate and Gardnerville resident, Tracy Francis, has created an adventure of facts, vocabulary and easy concepts of computer science to reach out to young minds through a fully illustrated children's book called "The Code Wizard."
The book is full of imagination, creative rhymes and colorful illustrations while introducing and supporting science, technology, engineering and mathematics in a way children can understand.
"My husband and I are strong advocates of STEM and computer science education," said Francis. "With my husband's computer science degree, and several of my own computer science classes, I was able to gain insight into the fundamental concepts of computer science and with my own child-like nature, I found a way to present the bigger picture to children that would be interesting and exciting for them to understand."
Francis believes children should understand what coding is and what they can do with it. She hopes the book will provide enough excitement to children and they will want to further their computer science education.
"That is why I was inspired to write a book for children all about the many things they can create using code. It was so important for 'The Code Wizard' to be the first of its kind where it would capture the imagination of all children, empower them with an exciting future of possibilities, and inspire them to want to learn more in the computer science field."
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Even though "The Code Wizard" has a lead female character, the book reads to target boys and girls between the ages of 3 and 10 and has adventures and other characters that all ages will love and relate to, said Francis.
"I wanted to inspire girls in particular to follow their dreams and do what they want to," she said. "Many children's books have male lead characters which can sometimes alienate girls. This book has been specifically designed with that in mind and strives to open young girls' minds to a future in STEM by helping them to envision themselves doing cool things with code, such as making robots or helping to save people's lives."
Overall, Francis said there is a high demand for STEM education at an early age and "The Code Wizard" will help children get excited and inspired to make their own coding projects someday or pursue more.
"In the end, it's still a children's book and a good bed time story for all ages," she said.
Writing has always been more of a hobby and a creative outlet for Francis than anything else which has led her to write four other books over the last few years, but "The Code Wizard" is the first she has illustrated and published.
"We felt the need for a fun and inspiring children's book about coding was so high that we decided to make it a top priority," she said. "It wasn't about the writing and it wasn't my job either, it was more the creativity that went into it. It was fun."
The book is being previewed on Kickstarter, an American public-benefit corporation based in New York that maintains a global crowdfunding platform providing support and recognition to creative projects.
"Kickstarter is all or nothing funding, which means if we don't make our goal you will not be charged and the book won't be published," said Francis.
The book will be available through the website for 30 days. In that time, backers can purchase copies of "The Code Wizard," a fully illustrated coloring book based on the book and learn more about Francis' mission.
Francis said not only will the Kickstarter backers have the opportunity to purchase the book, but they will be the only ones guaranteed a first edition copy. These first edition copies will not be reprinted once the Kickstarter is over.
"The reason for this is that I want my backers to feel special and strongly know that without them none of this would be possible," she said.
The book launched on Kickstarter on Thursday and will be available through March.
"My goal is to have enough funding and sponsors and be able to publish it this summer," said Francis. "If you would like to see this book come to life we really need your help."