Holiday Gift Guide Part III – Reference & Nonfiction (Mostly)

Last minute gifts? I’ve got even more suggestions for you this week that will make middle-graders’ heads spin. The best part about this list is that it’s full of beautifully packaged educational books that make learning fun. From sports to creepy monsters to the 100 scariest things on the planet, these brainy titles are 2011’s cream of the crop.

100 Scariest Things on the Planet by Anna Claybourne – Did you know that in 2000, a school of fish fell from the sky in Ethiopia? How about the fact that there’s a frighteningly narrow, 50-mile-long gravel road in the Yungas region of Bolivia with 3,000-foot cliffs, that’s known as the deadliest road in the world? (Believe me, it’s scary. I’ve driven on it and had my eyes closed the whole time!) This slim but super fascinating book is packed with trivia about all things terrifying and photos that will spook you, but good! From a haunted network of underground passageways in Edinburgh, Scotland, to a supposed alien abduction in 1961, middle-graders should “prepare to be terrified” when perusing these pages. (Want a double dose of the fear factor? Try Phobiapedia, a photo-filled dictionary of freaky things that go bump in the night (and are sometimes hairy with many creepy-crawly legs).

Total Sports  – This encyclopedic compendium of more than 75 sports, from soccer and cricket to the lesser-known luge and snooker, is the perfect gift for sports lovers and promises hours of reading pleasure. Chapters are broken up into team sports, racket sports, combat sports, extreme sports, water sports, and others, with two-page spreads devoted to each highlighted sport, plus 6 quarter-page descriptions of similar sports in each category. A helpful glossary of sports terms (like “smash” and “half-pipe”) is included, as well as a section dedicated to the Olympic Games, listing host cities, gold-medalists, and more. (For even more sports-related facts and figures from this year, try the annually updated kid-favorite Scholastic Year in Sports 2012.)

100 People Who Made History by Ben Gilliland – More than anyone else, kids need heroes and heroines in their lives . . . people they can look up to and aspire to be like. There’s no shortage of true visionaries from the past and present and this well-stocked book highlights just a few of them from across the globe. Five lofty categories consisting of even loftier individuals both well-known and semi-obscure (to American kids, at least) include Daring Discoverers (Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Mary Leakey, etc.), Inspirational Inventors (Johann Gutenberg, Alfred Novel, Mark Zuckerberg, etc.), Thoughtful Thinkers (Confucius, Mother Theresa, Aung San Suu Kyi, etc.), Leading Leaders (Alexander the Great, Simon Bolivar, Nelson Mandela, etc.), and Clued-up Creatives (Alexsandr Pushkin, Frida Kahlo, Ali Akbar Khan, etc.). As if that wasn’t enough, a list of 30 runners-up is also included, plus a glossary of possibly tricky terms defined.

The LEGO Ideas Book by Daniel Lipkowitz – I stunk at playing with Legos when I was a kid (do we have to build another castle with a catapult?) but even I can see how exciting it would be to receive a book full of model ideas, complete with photos of the finished product. A swampboat? Check.  A country barn? Check. A Viking longship and neighboring village? Check. Kids can even construct a chess board out of Legos using this book. The only thing missing from this super-cool collection is step-by-step instructions. But, I guess that takes all the fun out of it, doesn’t it? Silly me.

To read the rest of the post, please visit  Letter Blocks: The B&N Parents and Educators Blog.

%d bloggers like this: