The Bookshelf: Geeky Fun

I recently received review copies of My Name is Not Alexander and Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred.

My Name is Not Alexander by Jennifer Fosberry is a follow up to My Name is Not Isabella. This colorful picture book follows the title character as he works his way through an identity crisis. Oh, wait, it's just called pretending when little kids do it.

As Alexander goes about his day, he takes on the persona of a number of well-known and influential men. Only many kids won't know those figures until reading this book, which touches on Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, and Jackie Robinson to name a few. When my boys were younger, I always had a soft spot for fun books with simple stories that opened the door to broader learning. This book does that and provides a detailed bio of each historic figure in the back section to help make parents look very knowledgeable.

Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred by David Erik Nelson is a great book for the child who's grown up a bit and likely thinks he's now smarter than his parents. Though ideally, per the book's subtitle "seriously geeky stuff to make with your kids," this is a book for parent and child. It's suitable for an eager (but supervised) eight-year-old or more likely ages 10 and up.

Published by No Starch Press, a publisher with a very unique geek niche, this book makes me long for a home of our own with a proper workshop in the basement (ahem) where my boys can destroy, build and explore to their hearts' content. Honestly, I thought we'd have that space by now, but that's another story.

Nelson's book contains at least a few projects I could lead the boys through, like screen printing, some we could explore together, such as the Go board, and some I'd hand off to DH to complete with them (most of the electronics projects). That said, the book, which was designed with beginners in mind and includes an overview on electronics components which is handy for folks like me who don't (yet) know their potentiometers from their resistors.

I liked that in addition to basic carpentry and electronics skills, some of the projects involve sewing. Frankly, I love the whole concept of the book. Even at down and dirty places like American Science and Surplus (a local treasure to be sure), there's a proliferation of prefab kits for this and that. Cutting and drilling and using real tools to truly build something from scratch provides a richer, albeit messier, experience.

As you see, the illustrations are of a very different type than found in Not Alexander.I'm looking forward to trying out these projects when we are settled in our new home.

Do you allow your kids to tool around with real tools? Any cool projects you recommend?
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