Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"Thing Explainer" - Big Ideas in Small Words

My children like reading reference books and encyclopedias (knowing lots of random and seemingly useless facts is a bona fide geek skill, after all). So I was thrilled to find a new kind of book just in time for the holidays.

Randall Munroe, author of "What if?" and the xkcd comics, took up the challenge to explain complicated concepts by only using the 1,000 most common English words. Sounds easy? Well, you try explaining baseball without the use of the words pitcher, catcher, bat, or strike then.

Going along with the fantastically simple explanations, "Thing Explainer" (a sample here) also contains wonderful blueprint-style drawings and diagrams for items such as the International Space Station, submarines, dishwashers and sports. So besides being a great reference book children can read themselves, it is also great for parents who struggle to explain technology or scientific concepts to smaller children, who still lack most of the vocabulary used in these fields.

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