Thursday, October 15, 2015

What Wouldn't You Want to Live Without?

What wouldn't you want to live without?

Chocolate?  Google?  Pictures? Snuggling?  Cheese? Those were some of the answers our students and parents gave when we asked them that question.

Zombies scary stuf! [sic]
Last spring I purchased 40+ books in the You Wouldn't Want to...  series (You Wouldn't Want to Live Without... Electricity/ BooksFireYou Wouldn't Want to Be A... Suffragist/ An Aztec Sacrifice; you get the idea!) for the school library.  I knew they would be popular once they made it onto the shelves this fall, but I still wanted to draw the students' attention to this new collection.  I left out slips of paper asking what they couldn't live without and tons of children (and a few parents) filled them out and, as expected, the books have proved popular.

These books are not the type of nonfiction I usually like.  I find a lot of today's nonfiction too busy (I did not grow up with all the screens and video games that get today's kids used to seeing lots of graphics and scattered information on each page). And while I think there is a place for nonfiction that provides snippets of information, I think they have to be supplemented if students want to delve more deeply into a topic.  Finally, these books feel a bit gimmicky to me - they make everything about history gross, horrific and negative.
Star Wars

Despite myself,  I do like these books.  I find they go more in depth than others of this type. They are less busy than, say, the Magic School Bus books, which I find dizzying.  The topics are interesting. When you think of things you wouldn't want to live without, clean water and toilets come to mind, and are covered by entries in this series, but you probably wouldn't think of things that you think you would want to live without, like insects, or extreme weather, which also are covered here.  Similarly, being a suffragist or a samurai or a gladiator might sound really cool... until you read these books.

So, what wouldn't you want to live without?