As a newbie to Perl and coding, though not at all a child, I can maybe offer some input..
I have tried C, using the K&R book, and, although I enjoyed it, I was never able to get into it. I think the reason for this is due to the fact that I had a hard time seeing how far I could take it.
With Perl, I grabbed the "Learning Perl" O'Reilly book, and immediately saw some possible uses for it. I have taken those possible uses and turned them into actual working code (though probably not the best), and have started asking people what they wanted created. I have written a phone number to word generator (and the other way around), as well as a program that monitors your machine for an IP address change, when it changes, it will then update an HTML page with the new IP.
Neither of these are the cleanest code, and some would shudder to look at it I'm sure, but they work, in a few short months I have learnt a lot more Perl than I ever did C. Immediate gratification is a very good thing for newbies (like myself).
Now that I have created my first few applications I am trying very hard to advance both my programming knowledge, as well as style - ie use strict, better structure. I have ordered the 6 cd set from O'Reilly, and am looking forward to going through Perl Programming to advance further.
Rules are important, no doubt, but IMHO, you have to give the carrot stick before applying the whip ;-)
In a semi-related note, I would like to be able to throw some code up and have someone tell me what I have done wrong, or what could be better and why, I am completely dependant on just working through the books right now, and would like to know where I need improvement (OK, OK, everywhere, but you know what I mean). I'm not sure that Perlmonks is the best place for that though, some thoughts?