Linking code to literacy with The 13-Storey Treehouse

Learn how Leeds Libraries have adapted their Code Clubs and established a thriving online coding community as part of their #LibrariesFromHome offer. 

This online offer has given young coders from across the city the chance to be involved in a collaborative project linking code to literacy with the book The 13-Storey Treehouse. 

Lee is sat down, looking into the camera. In front of him is a laptop and on the screen you can see he is working on a Scratch project.
Young coder Lee who took part in the project

Linking Code Club to literacy 

Leeds Libraries looked at how to link Code Club to literacy, reading for pleasure, and their wider online offer #LibrariesFromHome — particularly their e-borrowing service and Lego Club.

The team were keen to create a project inspired by a book that was available via the e-borrowing service, to encourage Code Club participants to borrow and explore the book to get ideas for their code.

Deciding on the book 

The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton became the book that inspired the creation of the club’s first multilevel platform game. The book was also selected as the theme for the libraries’ online Lego Club, which allowed the team to cross-promote their online offers and reach a wider audience.

Mark Kirkby, librarian at Leeds Libraries, shares why this book offered the perfect opportunity to create a collaborative online game:

“The different levels of the treehouse in The 13-Storey Treehouse provided an ideal structure for a platform game allowing us to showcase all our Code Club participants’ coding together in one project.”

“Club members were encouraged to take the setting and game narrative ideas from The 13-Storey Treehouse, and draw upon their experience of Code Club projects such as Dodgeball for the platform game content, and Create your own world for creating multilevel games.”

Collaborating online 

For the young coders to collaborate, the team created a Scratch Class with a Treehouse Challenge Studio for club members to upload their coded levels to. Instructional videos were added, members could use the Studio to leave comments, and the team could track the progress of the project too. 

Throughout the project, the team communicated with the young coders through instructional talk-through films, written guidance, and Zoom calls. 

The finished game 

Have fun playing the finished game and let the team at Leeds Libraries know what your favourite level was by tweeting @leedslibraries and using the hashtag #MyCodeClub

Level one of The 13-Storey Treehouse game

“Freya (12) and Lars (9) have really enjoyed it and it’s given them something to do and new skills to learn in lockdown. Lars says it’s ‘very, very, very fun’. He also used his Scratch projects to earn his Cubs Digital Maker Staged Activity Badge! Freya got really into her Harry Potter projects this week and had a lot of fun with them.” 

Freya and Lars sat on a sofa, Freya has a laptop on her lap. Both are smiling
Code Club members Freya and Lars

We asked the team for their top three highlights: 

  1. “The book acted as a real source of inspiration. It was a joy to see the crossover of reading and coding in action.” 
  2. “From drawing their backdrops to creating their own sprites and obstacles, the sheer creativity of club members amazed us!”
  3. “Adding that final block of code to complete the project and bring all their hard work together was very satisfying!” 

What’s next? 

Liam Garnett, librarian at Leeds Libraries, shares what they plan to do next: 

“We want to create animated stories using sprites from Leeds Museums and Galleries collections using their My Learning resources. Backdrops have been chosen from the Leeds Library and Information Service photographic archive, Leodis.”

Leeds Libraries’ online Code Clubs are sponsored by CityFibre. If you live in Leeds learn how you can take part in their online challenge.

If Leeds Libraries have inspired you to set up an online club, we have resources to support you. Take a look at our guidance for clubs or listen back to our community calls.

If you want to know more about Leeds Libraries’ online offer, contact Liam and Mark.