It’s always interesting to see what my boys, ages 4 and 6, pick out at the library when they browse in the non-fiction section. I’ve heard that many boys gravitate toward this area of the library. My boys have gone in phases. I remember Mr. E (now age 6) going through a phase at about age 3 where he wanted to hear any and every book about sports we could find at the library. Mr. E and Mr. K have both gone through phases where they wanted books about cars and other vehicles. Various science topics, weapons and war in general are often popular with the boys.
Lately, they haven’t ventured much into the non-fiction section on their own. While they’ve enjoyed history and science-related books I’ve selected as a part of topics we are studying as a family, they have gravitated more toward Star Wars, Ninjas, and Super Heroes for their book selections.
This past week, however, they came away from the non-fiction section with a big stack of books to bring home. I think they chose Pox, Plagues and Pestilence by Richard Platt more because of the outlandish illustrations of giants rats, bugs and germs than because they were really excited to learn about disease. They were actually surprised to find out that this was a true book!
Pox, Plagues and Pestilence details the history, causes, effects, cures and more for many of history’s worst diseases — the black plague, small pox, malaria, influenza and more. The pages are very busy, full of lots of illustrations and small boxes of text. I think this very visual presentation was part of what kept the boys listening…for over 45 minutes while I read almost all of the book on a recent afternoon!
I asked them several times if they were ready to be done hearing about death and disease…but no, they wanted me to continue. I thought the author did a pretty good job of giving death statistics and describing the effects of the diseases without being unnecessarily gruesome. One word of warning for those with a young audience like mine — there are a couple references to diseases being transmitted sexually. But those references are minor and easy to edit out for an audience not ready for that sort of discussion.
Many of the books in this most recent library stack are about cars. I was surprised at how much I myself was draw into Fast! Supercars by Ian Graham. Mr. K picked this one out on a recent night when I was on duty to read bedtime stories to the boys. I told him I wasn’t sure we had time for the entire book…but I kept on reading to the end because I was interested too!
Now, before you are too amazed, I do have to say that I am a sucker for anything having to do with transportation history. 🙂 Fast! Supercars covers a lot of historical ground about the cars that were the fastest in their day, and many that broke the land-speed record at various times in history. People have been trying to beat the land-speed record for well over 100 years. I was vaguely aware of that, but I had no idea that more recent land-speed records were set by jet cars and rocket cars — or that the current land-speed record holder broke the sound barrier traveling over 700 miles per hour. The boys and I all thought that was pretty amazing!
It’s always amazing to think about how much random information the boys are picking up from all these books they select at the library — and how much it adds to their imaginative play. Just today I overheard the boys pretending that some of their lego weapons could infect the bad guy minifigures with the black plague or smallpox. 🙂