Saturday, August 7, 2010

Kid Konnection: Books that Teach (and are Fun!)

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. Today, I'm going to share with you fun, yet educational, books for kids!

Summary: Can you change the world with your wallet?You already do.In this frank, teen-friendly manifesto, Mara Rockliff reveals what you’re really buying when you spend your money on a cell phone, a cheap t-shirt, or fast food—and shows the way to better choices, both for people and the planet.Start seeing the world for real, and discover how you can make a difference. You’ve got buying power—now let’s see you change the world for good! -- Running Press

Last year, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel at the Lititz KidLit Festival at Aaron's Books. One of the panel participants was Mara Rockliff author of the THE BUSIEST STREET IN TOWN (my review) and the Milo and Jazz mystery series. When I asked her what she was currently working on, she mentioned a book that was very near and dear to her heart called GET REAL: WHAT KIND OF WORLD ARE YOU BUYING? It's a book for teens to let them see the world for "real" and also learn how they can make a difference. I was so excited when I received a copy!

GET REAL was a major eye-opener for me. Ms. Rockliff shares the harsh realities of what's going on the world from the candy bars you like to eat to the designer jeans you like to wear to the fast food joint that you frequent. The subject matter in the book wasn't always easy-to-read; however, I did learn a great deal about what's really going on in our world today. Ms. Rockliff is pretty blunt about how so much of our world is driven by greed and doesn't hesitate to call out the practices of some pretty major corporations.

At times, I found myself a little bit overwhelmed by how much I am doing "wrong." I really felt as if I am living a socially irresponsible life, and this book did make me feel guilty and want to change. I was so happy that Ms. Rockliff chose to end the book by showing how everyone can make a difference with just a few small changes to their lives. Suddenly, I wasn't as depressed or as intimidated by my actions; and I felt empowered. After kids finish reading GET REAL, I think that they will realize that they can have a positive effect on the world by making a few small sacrifices one or two at a time.

I thought Ms. Rockliff did a marvelous job of presenting a lot of information. While the book is aimed at teens, I think most of the concepts could be appreciated by pre-teens as well. Ms. Rockliff's style of presentation is extremely conversational -- almost like a friend giving you the inside scoop; and the book is filled with lots of humor so kids of all ages will be enjoy reading this book. Parents will also benefit from checking out this book!

There are many positive things about this book, but one thing that stood out to me was how Ms. Rockliff encourages everyone to educate themselves about what's happening in the world today. In addition to the vast amount of information she provides in GET REAL, she also offers names of movies, videos, and books for kids who want to learn more. There is also a pretty long list of websites that further provide specific information on topics including SweatFree communities, "green" sites, and how to buy differently.

I also really liked how Ms. Rockliff included some real-life examples of how kids made a difference. She gave an example of a teen who collected used computer equipment and fixed them for people in need as well as a group of kids who boycotted a popular brand of tee-shirt. She also included a wonderful section about the importance of buying locally -- including a shout-out to independent bookstores!

There is no doubt that GET REAL will make teens (and tweens) think about the effects of their behavior on the environment. Hopefully reading this book will make kids alter their consumption habits. (And as a result, wouldn't it be great if parents started making some changes to their buying patterns too?) I thing GET REAL should be a must-read for today's youth (and their parents), and I highly recommend it!

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of her book.

Summary: Do you know... HOW Orlando helps animals as it treats much of its waste water? (Hint: Think "Home Sweet Home!") WHAT destroyed most of the citrus crop around Orlando in the late 1800s? (Hint: It was a surprise from Mother Nature!) Find these answers and more in Cool Stuff Every Kid Should Know--an interesting little book about a very special place on the planet! Arcadia Kids is a new series of fun, colorful, easy-to-read books for children ages 7-11 featuring attention-grabbing cover art, inviting conversational style content, and vivid full-color images of landmarks and geography. Parents, grandparents, and savvy shoppers will appreciate the feel good factor of purchasing books that are both fun AND educational. --Arcadia Kids

COOL STUFF EVERY KID SHOULD KNOW: ORLANDO, FL by Kate Boehm Jerome is just a great book! Not only is the book chock full of education facts about Orlando and Florida in general, but it's presented in an eye-catching, kid-friendly way. This is just the type of book that I loved to read when I was a kid.

COOL STUFF EVERY KID SHOULD KNOW is geared towards children ages 7 to 12 years old. The book has 16 pages specifically about the city of Orlando, and then another 32 pages on the state of Florida. On each and every page, there are gorgeous color photos as well as large text with bright fonts. I think kids will enjoy reading the book from cover to cover or just skimming over the facts that interest them. I'm pretty sure every kid will find something that appeals to them in this book.

As I mentioned earlier, there are loads of informational facts in this book. Some are what you'd expect such as population statistics and information about the history of the state. However, I found myself really enjoying learning about the more unusual things including Orlando's major weather events, information about Florida's wetlands, and all of the state's symbols. There was also some very unique information about the state such as the annual underwater pumpkin-carving contest that's held in Key Largo and the crooked appearance of the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum in Orlando.

When I was given my choice of books to review, I immediately selected Orlando because our family visited Disney World within the past year. I knew the pictures and facts would mean more to my kids because they were somewhat familiar with the area. After reading this book though, I think they would have enjoyed any of the books in this series because they all filled with fun photos and facts.

Besides Orlando, there are many other fantastic cities covered in the COOL STUFF EVERY KID SHOULD KNOW series. Some of the other locations covered include Houston, TX, Dallas, TX, Cincinnati, OH, Tampa, FL, Buffalo, NY, Atlanta, GA, and Charleston, SC. I hope to see more of these books published, and I'd love to see ones for New York City as well as Washington, DC and Philadelphia, PA!

I was very entertained by COOL STUFF EVERY KID SHOULD KNOW: ORLANDO, and I was surprised with how much fun trivia I learned too. I highly recommend this book if your family has visited Orlando or plans to visit in the future.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this fun book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

Both these books would be great reads for my daughter who loves to learn new things. The Get Real book must be an eye-opener, and since teens are one of the world's major consumers, it's appropriate as well. Thanks for your great and honest reviews, as usual.

bermudaonion said...

They both look good! I'm excited about reading Get Real - I have a feeling I'll learn something from it too.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Ha ha, when you wrote about Get Real "While the book is aimed at teens, I think most of the concepts could be appreciated by pre-teens as well" - I was thinking, hey, *I* want to read this!!! But it also sounds great to get for my nieces, who could definitely benefit from it! Thanks for the great reviews!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Seems like that first book would give me the same reaction as those "Eat This Not That" books...don't really want to hear how awful I am, but it would probably do me some good. Tough love kinda thing.

As far as Florida and Orlando are concerned, it really is a tourist mecca (which can drive us locals crazy) but there are some treasures tucked away in corners that are better than a theme park. (Well, yes, we do go to the theme parks when everyone goes home!)

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Thanks for sharing GET REAL, Julie! we've enjoyed Rockliff's picture books, and I've wondered about this book for my tween son. He'd like the idea of picking one or two things to focus on (and not getting overwhelmed with ALL that's wrong with the world!)

Billy Burgess said...

Great Reviews!

Carol said...


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The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I posted a link to a YA read that I finished this week!