The Book Thief: Markus Zusak
Quick Hits

The Dangerous Book for Boys

The Washington Post runs a regular parenting column that sometimes includes book-related news. In this week's article, L. Carol Ritchie discusses, among other topics, a June 15th Guardian article by Tim Gill. The gist of the Guardian article is that the pendulum of over-protecting kids has swung too far, and that kids need to experience and overcome some amount of risk as they grow up, in order to develop survival skills. The article references a study by a safety organization (the Guardian article about the study is here) that came out in favor of more interesting (riskier) playgrounds. David Yearley, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said, in a keynote speech, that "unless playgrounds provide 'exciting, stimulating' diversion for children, there is a danger that children will not use them, and will play instead on railway lines, by riverbanks or alongside roads."

The Post and Guardian articles also note that The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden is number one on Amazon UK (and climbing in the U.S., despite a long shipping time). This book is a handbook to fun activities like making pinhole cameras, understanding cricket, building go-carts, skimming stones, and using invisible ink. It seems a bit unfair to limit these activities to boys, but I think that the idea is to get kids out there doing fun things, instead of sitting indoors watching television and playing video games. It strikes me in reviewing the chapter titles of the book (on the Amazon UK product page) that it's almost a manual for kids to be more like the kids in old-style books, like the Melendy family, out having adventures.

Not having kids, it's tricky for me to comment on the trade-offs between raising independent kids and protecting them. But I will say that this looks like a neat book. It might make a good belated Father's Day gift. And I'll bet you could have a lot of fun with finding companion books where kids in the book engaged in some of the same activities!