Disney Hyperion’s newest children’s book, Instructions Not Included: How a Team of Women Coded the Future, tells the story of three women mathematicians during World War II who programmed one of the earliest electronic computers, ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). Not only did they write ENIAC’s code, but they did it with pencils and paper. Their revolutionary contributions laid the groundwork for the programs used in modern computing.
As STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs continue to pop up and children are encouraged to explore science and math, Instructions Not Included couldn’t be more timely. More companies are placing an emphasis on teaching youth the basics of coding and offering unique products and toys that allow kids to incorporate practical technological applications into their everyday fun. And giving kids the power to code wouldn’t be possible without the work of Betty Snyder, Jean Bartik, and Kay McNulty.
Written by Tami Lewis Brown and Debbie Loren Dunn, Instructions Not Included is geared for 1st-4th grade readers. It follows Betty, Jean, and Kay from the time they were girls up to when they become critical members of the team that programmed ENIAC. Told with bright visuals by Chelsea Beck, readers will discover that long before the handy devices on which they enjoy screen time came to be, computers were large and clunky and took up an entire room. And, before it could work, people needed to create a language and teach the computer how to read that language. Betty, Jean, and Kay all loved mathematics and each had something unique to contribute to the project. Betty was inventive, Jean was consistent, and Kay was the perfectionist who didn’t make mistakes.
Meant to be read in one session, this “history lesson” will enhance vocabulary, encourage a love for learning, and tell an essential story in a fun way. Kids will be able to grasp the importance of hard work and how the behaviors they develop while young can play a big role in their futures. Additionally, at the back of the book are a selection of resources that provide even more information about the earliest computers and the women who made them work.
Instructions Not Included is available now.