Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Kids' Department Drops Some Knowledge

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.


  1. I think I'll just pull up a chair and wait for the next installment of my higher education. :P

  2. instalment or installment ... the computer says it's the former, but it just looks soooo wrong ... ;(

  3. sharks can't stop swimming or else they'll drown. sharks have been found with both suits of armor and diving suits in their stomachs. sharks' bones are made of cartilage. i read a lot of zoobooks when i was a kid and i loved dangerous animals.

  4. Anonymous3:00 PM

    A while ago I read the children's non-fiction book "Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Homefront in WWII" by Penny Colman, which was on sale at one of the bargain tables. I was already familiar with the subject, but I learned a lot more from this book than I thought I would. For instance, during WWII, a full one-third of produce in America was grown by individual families and communities as part of the "victory garden" program. Wow!

    This book also really drove home the cost of war and how much those on the "homefront" sacrificed to support the military overseas. I wondered--if we had to sacrifice as much as they did to pay for our current wars, how would we think differently about them?

    There certainly is a lot to be learned from "children's" non-fiction!

  5. From Charlottes's Web I learned that spiders are arachnids and died after laying their eggs. Also that they are noble creatures, community based, and some of them are good spellers.


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