Many kids in the 1980’s began programming computers using the USBORNE computer books, which were very colorful, step by step books that were appropriate for any age in reality.
These books took you through the stages of creating programs from the idea creation, the design, the programming, modifications, and quite literally, all the way to the finished product. These books were quite good at teaching fundamental concepts to users, giving a good groundwork upon which to build.
From initial forays into programming and robotics, there were also advanced books that taught you more of what to do in BASIC as well as individual subject books which took the user and reader into the realm of arcade games, interactive fiction games as well as aspects of graphics, music, models, controllers, and other things that could be done with the computer and related components.
Each book USBORNE produced in the 1980’s was seemingly another step in the ladder of programming and kids who used the books gained a firm knowledge of the concepts through the repetition of the exercises in the books.
Primarily written for the inexpensive ZX Spectrum and BBC Micro computers, the programs were simple enough to run on any system for the most part. Some of the books were specifically written fro the TRS-80 and Apple II as well as other computers. Books such as Beginners BASIC and Apple Graphics were the two that were best for Apple II users but other such as Computer Space Games provided listings for both the TRS-80 and the Apple II as well as that of the BBC Micro that it was primarily focusing on. The book even included a nifty little conversion chart that showed kids the difference between the BASIC commands on each system:
Usborne offers the books in PDF format for people to download. Not all of the original books are available on the site but there is a good selection none the less at: