Want to be unbored? This book might helpIn an age where young people are bombarded by screens of all kinds, a cynic might ask whether there is a place for an old-fashioned children’s activity book.
By: Euan Kerr, MPR.org/100.5 FM
MINNEAPOLIS — In an age where young people are bombarded by screens of all kinds, a cynic might ask whether there is a place for an old-fashioned children’s activity book.
Minnesota writer Elizabeth Foy Larsen believes there really is. She’s co-authored a huge new volume called “Unbored: An Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun,” Minnesota Public Radio reported.
You wouldn’t describe the Larsens’ Minneapolis household as tranquil. She, her husband, Walter, and their children Henrik, Peter and Luisa are making “baggie bombs” — documented on page 26 of “Unbored.”
The theory is: the liquids go in the baggie, then when the charge is added and the bag is sealed, the mixture will fizz up and the bag will pop. It’s at that crucial juncture the family remembers it might be better to be outside.
Amid wails of delight they all lunge for the back door. Then the baggie bomb doesn’t pop.
“Shoot, I didn’t seal it all the way,” Larsen says. “We’ve got to do another one.”
And they do. In fact, they do several. There are no spectacular explosions, but there’s lots of laughter. Everyone is engaged and having fun. With the activities in “Unbored,” the process is as important as the result.
“Unbored” is aimed at people between the ages of 8 and 13, but it’ll remind more mature folk of the books they may have read as youngsters, their pages filled with how to build huts, or keep a journal or write in code. But Larsen said the world has changed, and so have youngsters.
“Most kids are really into technology, really into computers, really into screens,” she said.
This worries a lot of parents; Larsen said it worries her. But she’s said when she and her co-author, Joshua Glenn, began gathering material for the book, they realized the digital world offered an opportunity to be grasped.
“Sort of the genesis for the idea for the book was ‘let’s put together a kids activity book that combines the best of the old stuff with the best of the new,’ ” she said.
Thus “Unbored” includes ways to make disguises, do circus tricks, make a book safe and build an igloo. But it also give tips on doing Internet research and lists of useful apps.
In “Unbored” there are sections on puberty and how to deal with bullying, on ADHD, and how to calm your racing mind. Larsen sees the book as a field guide to life for youngsters learning about their place in the world.
“Eight to 13 is when you start to figure out who you are as separate to your parents,” she said. “I know I deal with that all the time at home. And that we wanted ‘Unbored’ to be a way that kids could start figuring out and listening to themselves.”
Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard in Duluth at 100.5 FM or online at MPRNews.org.