Working in the Kids Department has a major benefit that I never expected: my knowledge of small (sometimes quite useless) facts has increased exponentially, because of the efficiency of picture books as knowledge distributors and my near-inability to hold a book without opening it. If you want to know a small but good amount about nearly any subject, flipping through a well-written kids' nonfiction book is a great way to get just that. I once aced a pop quiz in an American History course because I had just read a concise definition of "social darwinism" in the preface to a reprinted edition of Little Black Sambo.
To demonstrate, here are some things I learned while browsing today (when I should have been shelving faster), which I will now use to be more interesting at parties:
1. What a shark's heart and "gill filaments" look like. The heart is tiny; the gill filaments are freaky and lobed. (See Uncover a Shark, by David George Gordon)
2. That bubble gum is pink simply because that's the only dye the inventor had around at the time. (See Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum, by Meghan McCarthy)
3. What analogous colors are- colors next to each other on the color wheel. They supposedly look good together. (See A Book About Color: A Clear and Simple Guide for Young Artists by Mark Gonyea)
4. That you can communicate effectively with your dog with just your eyes. I'm not a dog owner, so I couldn't figure that out for myself. (See How to Talk to Your Dog, by Jean Craighead George, illustrated by Sue Truesdell)
5. The first woman to hold a Cabinet position got it in 1933. She was Frances Perkins, FDR's Labor Secretary. (See Ladies First: 40 Daring American Women Who Were Second to None, by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel)
Now someone tell me something they learned from a kid's book this week. If you don't have anything, I think it's time to come over to our section and browse. Go!
-Anna in Kids
P.S. I have already learned something new today just by telling a coworker I was posting this. Did you know that mama sharks have TWO UTERI? And that the plural of uterus is uteri? Thanks go to Insiders: Sharks, by Beverly McMillan and John A. Musick, and to Caitlin, who knows a lot about sharks and shark books.