Getting children interesting in reading and learning is easy, if you have the right book.
‘Gruesome Facts‘ is a book with over 1,500 weird and horrible facts that will pique the interest of children, making them laugh but also teaching them some useful lessons. Did you know, for example, that a dead snake can still deliver a deadly bite?
This book answers all their questions about farting, burping etc., as well as some questions they hadn’t even thought to ask. Want to know about the Alaskan Inuit Tribe, the members of whom wash in their own urine? You’ll find out about it here.
Gruesome and yucky facts are a great way to capture the attention of children and keep them reading. A dry textbook describing how germs and bacteria are spread is nowhere near as much fun as reading about projectile vomiting.
The ‘Horrible Histories Series‘ is based on a similar premise. Give kids disgusting facts about what people ate through the ages, what they took as medicine or how they tanned leather in Victorian Times (with dog poo) and the door is wide open to explain other, more pertinent facts that might come in use during a history exam.
There is a huge range of Horrible Histories books, covering the Egyptians, the Vikings and all manner of subjects. Even if they’ve never read one of the books, kids will be familiar with the TV Show and this is a great way to get them to read. ‘Why is Snot Green?‘, is a book by Glen Murphy from the Science Museum that answers all kinds of science questions, including the one in the title. This book features an eye-catching cover, but there is also some pretty sensible stuff inside too, such as a chapter entitled, ‘How big is the Universe?‘.
Questions, both sensible and not so sensible, are answered in a fun way, giving thought to the way children’s minds work, making the material both accessible and enjoyable. They won’t mind their friends seeing them read this book either! Sometimes children have all kinds of questions that adults don’t know how to answer. After all, how many parents have considered what steps (or strokes) to take if they encounter a shark? Depending on where you live, this can be a pertinent question.
If, however, you live in a landlocked country, or somewhere you will never encounter a man-eating shark, you will either need to make something up or fob them off with nonsense. Another superb science club book that deals with scary stuff, how to avoid it or what to do if it happens, is ‘Stuff That Scares Your Pants Off‘. The publication deals with monsters, ghosts and aliens too in an informative, sensible but reassuringly fun way.
The writer, Mitchell Symons, is very much in tune with what children find interesting and how they prefer to learn. He has written a number of books, but one of the most popular is, ‘Why Eating Bogeys is Good for You‘. Apparently, there is scientific evidence that suggests this is in fact true, but he is good enough to include some health warnings too. The author certainly does not advocate eating ear wax and includes a number of other more relatively bland facts, such as why reading, writing and arithmetic are called the Three Rs.
Children are naturally fascinated by their own bodies. Also from the Mitchell Symons range are books which include trivia about what is happening in your body at various ages. They have great titles, too, such as ‘I’m 9 and I’ve Farted 46,021 Times‘.
The title is enough to put most adults off breakfast, lunch and dinner, but for a 9-year-old kid it is likely to be the best thing ever… until the next best thing ever comes along, that is. Children never learn more than when they are actually doing things.
‘50 Science Things to Make and Do‘ by Kate Knighton is great for encouraging kids to participate in easy experiments at home. Kids of all ages (some adults too) love making a volcano and a lot of the experiments can be done with things you will have lying around the house, or with very little preparation at all. Another book by Mitchell Symons that kids won’t mind being caught reading is ‘How to Avoid a Wombat’s Bum‘.
This advice is not as daft as it may at first seem: did you know that a wombat does in fact use its bum to kill predators? Other facts include the origins of the word ‘dude’. You and they may be surprised to learn that the term was coined by none other than Oscar Wilde.
Getting children to read poetry can be a chore. Introducing them to some fun and sometimes downright stupid poetry early on can make it easier in later life. The Puffin Book of Utterly Brilliant Poetry includes work by Michael Rosen, Benjamin Zephaniah and the inimitable Spike Milligan.
‘You Are One Third Daffodil‘ is another of those books that captivates children from the title. Compiled by Tom Nutall, it includes a great deal of useful but fascinating facts, including gems such as most toilets flush in E Flat and that the Eiffel Tower is a whole six inches shorter in the winter months! Of course, there is also plenty of room for more serious stuff, but if daft books get kids interested, you are on to a winner.
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This post was contributed by Love Reading; UK based online book suppliers since 2005.