Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Book for Brighter Kids

A good children's book can do many things. It can ease the path to sleep for a restless child, entertain a group of youngsters through a quiet interlude at home or at school and speed a reluctant reader on the road to fluency. Yet another benefit may be hidden. As one reviewer of a children's book commented: 'This book also has elements of education in it that I appreciated, Holly didn't notice but she understood it so I think that was very well done by the author.' The reviewer was happy that her niece, Holly, would remember what she had read, especially what she found to be funny and interesting. Useful facts and information were being absorbed without conscious effort.

A reviewer of historical novels commented that the same children's book, 'with wit and delightful aplomb takes the young reader on an adventurous journey though some significant moments in history.' But not only historical facts might be unconsciously absorbed from a children's book by an enthralled reader, seeds of knowledge from almost every aspect of human life and human nature can be sown in this fertile field. And as with all seeds, they will germinate and flourish if the soil conditions are right for cultivation. The developing mind will harvest that for which it is prepared.

Another reviewer wrote: 'If you read this as a bedtime story be prepared for lots of questions. Very educational.' As every teacher knows, if you can get your students asking questions you know you are succeeding. Questions arise from curiosity, a desire to know the answer, and a young person is much more likely to remember a fact that s/he has earnestly sought than one that is imposed. The ideal children's book is one that is just ahead of the reader's progress, one that entertains and amuses but also wets the appetite to know more.

Yet another reviewer said: 'I'm still not sure whether this book is geared toward children or adults. Maybe both. It was an utterly delightful read with lots of laugh out loud moments as the author weaves fantasy and legend with actual history.' A children's book that adults can also enjoy must be one that stretches the young mind, painlessly implanting knowledge and stimulating curiosity. Jokes that adults appreciate may be lost on all but the brightest children, but a successful children's book can leave all young readers brighter than before.

Saint George, Rusty Knight, and Monster Tamer is a series of nine self-contained historical short stories which introduces George, a hapless knight who has an unusual skill for monster taming, and which, with wit and delightful aplomb takes the young reader on an adventurous journey though some significant moments in history.

Historical Novel Society, February 2016

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