December 07, 2010

Must-have books for playful people

As the play deficit only gets worse, playful people must find new sources of inspiration. Well, look no further. Seven books released this year all attest to a growing movement of parents and concerned citizens who share a common rallying cry: “Let our children play!”

Here's our list of the must-have books of 2010:



New York Street Games: Game Rules

Have your children ever heard of Boxball, Ring-o-leavio, or Skully? Before screens dominated children’s lives, all they needed to entertain themselves was a street and a pink rubber ball. These Game Rules, which accompany the recently released documentary film, New York Street Games, take us back to that era. Watch the film, read the book, then set your kids loose outside with their own “Spaldeen.” Another fun bonus? A portion of all proceeds benefit KaBOOM!.

The Good Fun! Book:

Recognizing that kids love to feel helpful almost as much as they love a good party, The Good Fun! Book helps young children engage in their communities to do some good by throwing a party to benefit a local charity. Co-authored by Kate Hannigan Issa and Karen Duncan, wife of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a KaBOOM! employee, the book offers 12 party plans, one for each month of the year, including an animal lovers party, a planting party, and a bookworm party.

Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)

Parents, would you let your kids: Poison their friends? Explode a bottle in the freezer? Make a bomb in a bag? According to Gever Tulley, founder of the Tinkering School, these are exactly the kinds of things your kids should be doing—that is, after they get bored of supergluing their fingers together and licking 9-volt batteries. It’s not that Tulley wants your kids to hurt themselves. His goals are noble: To reclaim the spirit of invention and discovery for our children.

Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share

If you prefer geeky to dangerous, Geek Dad offers projects for dads (or moms!) and kids that combine technology, innovation, and play. Interested in creating the “Best Slip n’ Slide Ever?” What about a light-up nighttime kite, a working Lego lamp, or the ultimate outdoor obstacle course? Geek Dad is written by supergeek Ken Denmead, an engineer and author of the’s GeekDad blog.

Free Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)

Syndicated columnist Lenore Skenazy, also dubbed “America’s Worst Mom” has some questions for you: “Do you ever... let your kid ride a bike to the library? Walk to school? Make dinner? Or are you thinking about it?” Then this book, released in paperback in April, is for you. Lenore Skenazy is a formidable force in the growing movement against helicopter parenting and unfounded paranoia.

Mission: Explore

Children hate walking in straight lines; rather they prefer to meander, picking up stray sticks and leaves along the way. Mission:Explore encourages meandering with 102 playful missions, including finding the oldest person buried at your local graveyard, letting a dog take you for a walk, or drawing a local fantasy map. Written by The Geography Collective, a group of passionate geographers, this is a book with a mission: to promotes unhurried, curious, and playful exploration of the world around us.

Peas and Bananas: Outside with Lil Boo

Inspired by his outdoor adventures with his son, blogger “Daddy Bookins” has created a picture book that takes you on a journey through the curious eyes of a little boy playing outside. Lil Boo and his imaginary friend, Onote, go on a rhyming adventure from letters A to Z. This book is the first in a series, so if your children like it, there’s more to come.

Can you recommend other great books for playful people?

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