I’m finding that my 6 year old is increasingly enjoying a range of non-fiction books in addition to the usual diet of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton. With this in mind, and my ideal of hoping that my children develop ‘proper’ research skills as they grow up (without constantly resorting to Wikipedia), it’s become my aim to build up a sizeable collection of good-quality, accessible non-fiction books. So when I was sent a new release from Wide Eyed Books to review, I was over the moon. What had come through my door was this beautiful book:The 50 States is a non-fiction book like no other. Using America as its theme, it takes us on a wonderful tour of geography, history, politics, sports, music, ecology, tourism, languages and more. Each state fills a two-page spread of fascinating but concise facts about everything from famous people who were born there to places of interest to important historical events. The generous size of the book makes it possible for two or more children to read it at once, each picking out what interests them, and thus dissolving many a sibling argument.
There’s a separate section for all the state flags, and a comprehensive list of all the presidents. An extensive index makes this book very accessible, enabling you to look up an American person, landmark or phenomenon that your child has heard of, giving you a starting point within such a hugely eclectic book.
An important thing to say about this book is that it is BEAUTIFUL. I thought I’d hit the jackpot when I discovered we could keep this incredible tome of gorgeousness. The illustrations and text are so invitingly laid out on durable matt pages that you can’t help but dive in, reading fact after fact about all sorts of subjects.
Age-wise, my fact-loving 6 year old, albeit with a little persuasion, was interested in this book and quickly found his ‘favourite’ pages/states. My 4 year old was less keen (although she does, inexplicably, have a strange fascination with the pages listing all the presidents). Both kids perked up their ears when I read them something about a person or place they’d heard of. The book is clearly aimed at primary-aged children, with 6 probably being the youngest recommended age, unless you have a younger child who’s a particularly keen non-fiction addict. And I would suggest that children would love this book well into later childhood/early teens. There’s just so MUCH to discover. Whilst my kids were maybe on the young side to review this book, I know we’re going to get a lot of mileage from it as they grow up.
The Wide Eyed website states that their books aim to “encourage curiosity about the world we live in, inspiring readers to set out on their own journey of discovery”. The 50 States certainly does that, striking a careful balance between providing plenty of information for the money (£20, if you’re asking) and not overloading its readers with too many facts. Unfortunately, it doesn’t yet seem to be available to buy, but the Wide Eyed website gives hope that it won’t be long before their online shop is up and running. Watch this space…
Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of ‘The 50 States’ by the very generous Wide Eyed Books, via Mumsnet Bloggers, in return for my review. I received no payment, and all views are my own.