This was true with my own children, but especially now that I am an elementary school librarian, I see how much kids love a highly visual non-fiction book with chunks of information scattered across the pages. National Geographic Kids recognizes this as well and has become a go-to publisher of encyclopedic books. With How Things Work: Discover Secrets and Science Behind Bounce Houses, Hovercraft, Robotics, and Everything In Between by T.J. Resler, this format gets an extra layer of (shh! educational material) with features on innovators in their industries and a really cool "Try This!" section in each of the five chapters that gives kids easy experiments and crafts to create at home.
Resler's approach with How Things Work is to grab kids with flashy, fun things like bounce houses, hoverboards and rollercoasters and explore the science related to these marvels. I especially like how Resler begins Chapter 1, Beam Me Up, "Cool gadgets and scientific discoveries don't just come from laboratories. Many are dreamed up in the minds of storytellers." There is even a timeline of science fiction imaginings that have come to fruition in one way or another.
Every chapter of How Things Work includes a "Just the Facts" page where readers can find quick answers about how things work s well as a "Tell Me More" page where they can delve deeper into the science of it all. I really enjoyed the section on tablets and touch screens, particularly a factoid about British novelist E.M. Forster, author of A Room with a View, among others, an a science fiction story he wrote in 1909 (who knew?) where "people communicated through handheld round plates, a type of live video call." There is also a great feature in each chapter, Tales from the Lab, where I learned that Hollywood starlet Hedy Lamarr and composer friend George Antheil patented an invention that allowed secret communications to be transmitted during WWII, thwarting the Nazis.
How Things Work includes an extensive glossary as well as a great "Find Out More" section with websites, videos and books for kids to explore. How Things Work is a great appetizer, filled with images and ideas that will get kids thinking. It's also a great jumping off point for deeper explorations and experiments!
Source: Review Copy