Thursday, 1 November 2012

Unbored by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen - book review

On the whole, I don't like 'activity' books, especially ones that are designed to get kids away from the TV and computer.

Don't get me wrong, kids today spend way too much time in front of a screen (mine included) but the reason I don't like the books is that I think, on the whole, they are fairly patronising and don't actually appeal to the kids they are aimed at. 

They are more a collection of things that adults wish kids would do.

Seriously, how many 10 year old boys do you know who, on being told they need to turn the TV off, would grab a book, flick through it and decide have a paper aeroplane throwing competition?

Would they enjoy themselves if they did? Yes, almost definitely but in the real world I just don't think they are going to do it.

So, as you can imagine I was a bit sceptical about Unbored - The Essential Guide to Serious Fun but, to my surprise, I was really impressed with this book.

Here are just a few of the reasons I like it:

- It has things that kids will actually want to do, like the chapter on explosions or ways to decorate your sneakers. These aren't activities that adults want kids to do, these are things that kids find fun.

- It is not so deluded as to exclude computer and TV activities. Instead it encourages kids to diversify what they do on the computer and watch on TV. For example, it tells kids how to create a blog instead of just playing computer games. It also encourages kids to diversify the movies they watch and to help them do that it lists movies by genre - for example the page called 'Best Ever Sports Movies' includes The Freshman from 1925 and Real Steel from 2011.

- It is written in a really engaging way and you can tell from the first paragraph what each page is going to be about, so if it isn't your thing you can keep flicking.

- It has extracts from books and lots of interviews and interesting facts, so if you were to pick it up and flick through it you would almost definitely find a few things to read while you searched for an activity.

- The parlour style games it suggests actually do sound fun.

In fact, the thing that makes this book so fantastic is that it actually is a comprehensive collection of things that kids would like to do. 

The cover says Indoors/ Outdoors/ Online/ Offline and that really sums it up. From apps to hip hop songs, from geocaching (the world's biggest treasure hunt) to farting games there is something here for everyone.

To my surprise, Unbored actually IS a book that you could pick up when you are bored, flick through, and find something cool to do.

Who'll love it: Bored kids aged about nine and older.
Cost: $29.95
Published by: Bloomsbury


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