This week on DISCOVER:
Unbored, written and edited by Joshua Glenn of HiLoBrow and Elizabeth Foy Larsen, and illustrated by Tony Leone, is a 350-page DIY “activity guide and curiosity-sparker” for all things fun. The book is geared toward ages 8-14, but many activities involve adult participation, and you’re definitely going to want to play!
Top 10 reasons I love Unbored:
1.) It’s about making (and remaking) stuff. Enjoying The Process. Make Magazine editor Mark Frauenfelder calls it, “the first kids’ book to truly encourage a hands-on approach to creating a personally meaningful life.”
2.) It sends the right message: Let’s value discovery, creativity, sharing, and initiative. Let’s show our kids how to be omnicompetent. As Joshua Glenn explains, “We live in a ‘throwaway’ culture; but there are creative, cultural, and economic benefits to taking things apart, figuring out how those things work, and learning how to fix them if they’re broken — or creatively improving things, even if they’re not broken. What we learn from the hacker movement is that you don’t have to accept the way things are, you can modify them. That goes for your own behavior, too.” Read more from Unbored’s 10-point manifesto here.
3.) These are not reprinted and unmanageable undertakings. Unbored features cool, challenging, handy projects, each tried out by the editors themselves. Here’s a taste:
- Make an exhaust pipe on a bike
- Illusion knit a space invader scarf (yay for my dear friend, Anindita!)
- Craft a cigar box guitar with toothpicks for frets
- Learn the graphic history of pooper scoopers, trampolines, and video games
- Start a band
- Hack a board game
- Create a stop-motion mini movie
4.) It’s a “field guide to life” about doing things together. Reconnecting. Sharing Experiences:
- Blog with the family
- Yarn bomb your nearest bus stop
- Hot-wire a Nerf water blaster with a remote control to blast people while under cover
- Build a backyard fort
5.) It’s a gender-neutral book with the graphics to prove it: boys knitting, girls doing carpentry. Anyone can develop expertise around their passions.
6.) It’s platform independent. Unbored is all about what’s possible online, offline, indoors and outdoors. Back to Glenn & Larsen’s Manifesto: “Kids who ride bikes, do parkour, hike and camp, and otherwise roam and explore, not only develop their agility, flexibility, and dexterity, but they also gain the ability to adapt to a situation if it doesn’t turn out the way they expected. From their room to their backyard, to their school, neighborhood, and town, kids can leave their mark — become actively engaged. In doing so, they become activists who will change the world for the better.”
7.) It’s about finding your scene and niche. Kids need to discover their passions and find groups with whom they share like-minded interests, both on and offline. This process of discovery fosters confidence, tolerance, and independence. Glenn and Larsen advocate for kids using social media, “as a way to support real-life community — not as a substitute.”
8.) It’s well organized into four categories: You, Home, Society, and Adventure, and features contributions from a wide array of experts providing craft steps, trivia, best-of lists, and Q&As, all while teaching you how to break free from your ultra-organized life to allow some true innovation to break through.
9.) It targets the right age group. Age 8-14 is a time of growing independence for kids, but also an opportunity for youth to foster deep connections and meaningful engagement with their parents, and why not bond both on and offline?
10.) It’s a great buy for anyone: kids, parents and parents-to-be, teachers, librarians, and any other adults looking for Fun Stuff To Do. Unbored incorporates, as Bloomsbury Press puts it, “the best of the old (crafts, bicycle repair, science experiments), and the new (geocaching, yarn bombing, LED “graffiti”) — for boys and girls to do on their own and with their parents.”
Glenn and Larsen’s Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun, has actually rekindled my decision to host a mini Freeskool event with my friends, where participants express a need, teach a skill in 20 minutes (Norse mythology, Twitter, origami), and leave full of laughter, food, and super cool new learning.
I’m also planning to bring Unbored to my family’s Christmas gathering, since we’re embarking on a new phase of project-based togetherness for the holiday season, with the Gift of Time valued over a Time of Gifts.
Need more cool-factor proof? Here are some early reviews, plus a few others:
“A parent-and-kids guide to doing things that are smart and quirky. Fun facts about condiments? Advice on starting a band? Yarn bombing, fan fiction, game hacking? It’s all there, illustrated.” — The Los Angeles Times Book Review blog, Jacket Copy
“Deliciously abundant… Any parent who has survived a school break or a summer vacation knows how difficult it is to keep their kids occupied, stimulated, and interactive. UNBORED is a 350-page treasure chest of games, computer fun, creative projects, nature hunts, lists, quizzes, science experiments, and much, much more. One family and childcare book we can’t praise enough.” — Barnes & Noble editorial review. NB: UNBORED is a Barnes & Noble SELF-HELP PICKS (BOOKS WE LOVE) selection for October 2012
“The coauthors of this book believe that young people are capable of much more than grownups usually think possible. And they are right! If you love outdoorsy, crafty, and adventurous stuff, then this book is perfect for you. It’s a guide to life — if you want an exciting and unbored life!” — Emma Kristjanson-Gural, age 12, in the magazine New Moon.
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Tags: activities, adventure, challenge, confidence, creativity, DISCOVER, DIY, educators, explore, free time, Freeskool, fun, games, gift, innovation, inspiration, kids, librarians, life, motivation, parents, projects, self-expression, sharing, social media, teachers, Unbored