Summer’s a great time to indulge in the type of books you might not be able to squeeze in during the busy school year. I’m highlighting a few books in this issue that do more than tell a story. I’ll call these participation books. For the most part, these are books for younger kids, but no middle or high schooler is too old to draw, play, and search.
For curious kids:
Puzzle Island by Paul Adshead. I’ve had this book since I was in fourth grade myself and I still find it fun. It’s a book you play along with, discovering pieces of various puzzles along the way, then cycling back and realizing additional clues were right under your nose all along. Upper elementary school is the perfect age bracket for enjoying this hands-on book.
A First Sudoku Book by Dover Publications. This is a great Sudoku book for children interested in math puzzles and patient enough to figure them out. It starts with 4x4 squares before advancing to the typical 9x9. It’s perfect for mathematically-minded kids.
For kids of all ages:
Draw 50 series by Lee J. Ames. We’ve gotten a few of these from the library and have been very impressed. The step by step approach is non-threatening and the wordless instructions simplify drawing. As a very obvious non-artistic person, even my own drawing has vastly improved by our family drawing nights. I heartily recommend a book like this and the involvement of the whole family in taking up drawing.
For Star Wars fans:
Where’s the Wookie? A Look and Find Book. This book is a treat for Star Wars fans. Each page is jam-packed with characters and action, and while your task is to find Chewie on each page, you’re also bound to find lots of other familiar faces. I’ve seen lots of Seek and Find books for kids that are painfully easy. This one is an appropriate challenge. (Note: There are two other books in this series that are also fun, but neither one is as good as the original.)
Honorable Mention (a non-book!):
Atlantis Escape by SmartGames. This hands-on 3D one-player game has captivated the Mountz family. For each challenge, you are assigned a location on the board for your starting tower, then two or more additional pieces which you must use to “escape” from the island city. Following certain rules, your game pieces can only fit one way per challenge to correctly free you from the maze. We highly recommend this game, and we look forward to adding more games from this company to our collection!
The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries by Dorothy Sayers. Classical home educators likely know Dorothy Sayers for her nonfiction, perhaps her essay The Lost Tools of Learning. I’m ashamed to admit that until a year or so ago, I didn’t know of Sayers at all, much less the fact that she was a prolific author of fiction and nonfiction alike. I have since fallen in love with her Peter Wimsey detective novels. Not sure if you like mysteries? I didn’t think I did either. You can try to identify the villain, or just enjoy the ride and be surprised at the end. Either way, Sayers’ writing is masterful and well worth your reading hours.