- Rebecca Purdy
The mid-2000s were kind to my extended family when within a 12-month period, two nieces and a nephew joined it. This year, they will all reach that extremely enjoyable early elementary age. Their sense of humor is growing strong, their curiosity runs rampant, they’re fun to talk with and I enjoy hearing their newly formed perspectives and opinions! Two of those children turn 7 this week and I can’t wait for them to see their birthday presents--books of course.
Non-fiction books coincide with this group's avid curiosity! My niece has such an avid interest in the weather that the first thing she did when she got home from school was check the forecast on her mom’s old phone. She’s going to love the DK (Dorling Kindersley) Eye Wonder book called “Weather.” When the DK books were first published they seemed too busy, but children loved them and I have learned over the years to appreciate them as well. Heavy with photographs accompanied by small amounts of text, these books are a great and very accessible way to enjoy non-fiction! She can scan the table of contents for subjects of interest or just flip through, reading about any picture that captures her attention. Mine was caught by a photo of some funny looking water bubbles. Did you know that raindrops aren’t tear-shaped, but instead “ actually look more like squashed buns?”
Early elementary children also love facts, so books filled with them are the ideal gift! National Geographic Kids offers several series that are perfect. Their “Weird but True!” has 300 outrageous facts including that “piranhas bark” and that “walking uses 200 muscles!” They also publish a traditional style almanac that’s aimed specifically towards children. The copious information includes lists of the presidents, some introductory information about animal taxonomy and the signs of the zodiac. Fun facts are also interspersed throughout. For example, have you wondered what will follow our recent Civil War sesquicentennial celebrations? In 25 years, we can celebrate the demisemiseptcentennial. Instead of saying that 5 times fast, try saying it just once!
Of course, fiction is another enjoyable option. Books that are in a series are especially great because children love the familiar characters and they provide plenty to read! It’s even better if the series is laugh out loud funny! I bought my nephew the first book “How to Train Your Dragon” in the series by Cressida Cowell. These silly adventures star Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III. He’s not your usual Viking, using brains more than brawn to train a dragon. My niece will receive “Judy Moody Was in a Mood,” the first in the series by Megan McDonald. Judy is entering 3rd grade as the book begins and does not want to give up summer for things like brushing her hair every day. Feisty Judy has fun, and funny, adventures as she adjusts to her changing world.
Originally published in the July 15, 2013 Free Lance-Star newspaper.