Sunday, October 28, 2012

Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun - Joshua Glenn & Elizabeth Foy Larsen

Title: Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun
Author: Joshua Glenn & Elizabeth Foy Larsen
Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2012 (Hardcover)
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Young Adult/Children's Nonfiction
Started: October 26, 2012
Finished: October 28, 2012


Unbored is the guide and activity book every modern kid needs. Vibrantly designed, lavishly illustrated, brilliantly walking the line between cool and constructive, its crammed with activities that are not only fun and doable but also designed to get kids engaged with the wider world.

With contributions from a diverse crowd of experts, the book provides kids with information to round out their world view and inspire them to learn more. From how-tos on using the library or writing your representative to a graphic history of video games, this book isn't shy about teaching. Yet the bulk of the 350-page mega-resource presents hands-on activities that further the mission in a fun way, featuring the best of the old as well as the best of the new: classic science experiments, crafts and upcycling, board game hacking, code-cracking, geocaching, skateboard repair, yarn-bombing, stop-action movie-making, plus tons of sidebars and extras, including trivia, best-of lists, and Q&As with leading thinkers whose culture-changing ideas are made accessible for kids for the first time.

Just as kids begin to disappear into their screens, here is a book that encourages them to use those tech skills to be creative, try new things, and change the world. And it encourages parents to participate. Unbored is exciting to read, easy to use, and appealing to young and old, girl and boy. Parents will be comforted by its anti-perfectionist spirit and humour. Kids will just think it's awesome.

I saw this book receiving a lot of hype over the summer, and once I realized exactly what it was, I knew I had to buy it. A few years ago when The Dangerous Book for Boys was released (and subsequently The Daring Book for Girls), I bought so many of them as Christmas presents for both kids and adults. What I call 'compendium of information' books, they're chock full of a variety of stuff that appeals to almost everyone, and Unbored takes the format to a new high.

Unbored is full of activities, novel excerpts, how-tos, trivia, interviews and more, that are organized into four sections (You, Home, Society, Adventure). This book has a much more modern feel to it compared to similar titles, incorporating sections on blogging, geocaching, and using smartphone apps to make changes; while still bringing together classics like hand games, conkers, back-of-the-classroom games, decoupage, and making your own board game. My favourite section is Society, which includes pages showing kids how to take a stand against bullying, how to contact their political representative,  how to research, and even an old 4th-8th grade SAT quiz from 1922.

What I really like about Unbored is that it's gender-neutral. Boys and girls are equally featured in the book, dressed alike in jeans, hoodies and sneakers, and in neutral colours (goldenrod, green, grey, and red). The information in the book appeals to both boys and girls, even the sections on crafting feature boys knitting pacman ghosts on scarves and sewing eagles on the back of their jackets. I also like how the theme throughout the book is to urge readers to get involved with the world at large and how everything from the information to the activities gives kids the tools to participate in the bigger picture rather than stare aimlessly in front of a screen.

This is a must-buy for kids and teenagers (heck, even some adults would love this), I'd say ages 9-10 and up would be old enough to get the bulk of the content. I can guarantee any kid would be glad to get this come Christmas time.

Thoughts on the cover:
I like the red cover with the shiny silvery font for the title, and even though all the stuff on the cover is pretty busy, it works somehow for this book.

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