“Do you want to hear a song?” my now-ten-year-old asked a random stranger the summer before kindergarten. “I know a song. ‘Immune system, with your lymph system / will your enemies attack / With the white blood cells, the leukocyte cells / that will destroy and turn them back.'”
Oblivious to the expression on the startled shopper’s face, she continued much-too-loudly, “…a germ is like a cucaracha! That would love to live inside ya!” The stranger vanished into the clearance racks at Target, and my singing scientist, perched inside the red shopping cart, kept belting out a symphony of lymphatic facts.
[Disclosure of Material Connections: I received a complimentary copy of 100 Things to Know About the Human Body from Timberdoodle in exchange for writing and publishing this review. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]
Aveline has long been fascinated by the inner workings of the human body. For a household where no one actually works in the medical profession or in healthcare, we’ve amassed a humorously large collection of anatomy books and other scientific delights.
Human body torso puzzle? Check. Anatomy and physiology homeschool course? Check. A graphic novel journey through the beloved digestive system? You bet. And on our last trip to the used book store, Aveline was thrilled to come home with an enormous old edition of high school anatomy and physiology, as a just-for-fun bedtime read.
Non-fiction is a great option for voracious readers
One way you can keep up with a voracious reader? Think beyond fiction! Take advantage of your child’s unique interests, and invest in a variety of non-fiction titles to nurture curiosity.
If you tend to think of non-fiction as less worthy since it’s not story-driven, or you fear books of facts are too on-the-nose and “digest the information for the child”, keep reading. Later in this post, I tackle why non-fiction is not twaddle.
100 Things to Know About the Human Body is the perfect book for kids who love science, medicine, and trivia.
I thought we’d already exhausted Usborne’s selection of human-body related encyclopedias and illustrated dictionaries, yet Timberdoodle keeps finding gems I didn’t know existed. “100 Things to Know About the Human Body” is a fun book. Each of the 128 pages is jam-packed with bold edge-to-edge matte color illustrations and tremendous trivia.
I’m a fan of Usborne’s unique flexi-bound binding, too, a sort of hardcover-softcover hybrid for maximum kid-friendly durability.
100 Things to Know About the Human Body is more than a book of trivia.
Aveline is quite well-read when it comes to kids’ anatomy books, but she is absolutely thrilled with “100 Things to Know About the Human Body“, and discovered lots of fantastic new facts:
- The language you speak affects the way you sneeze.
- People sigh up to twelve times each hour, which keeps their lungs from collapsing.
- The body’s internal clock is called the suprachiasmatic nucleus.
- Humans are actually bioluminescent.
“100 Things to Know About the Human Body” doesn’t drop contextless trivia and leave kids in suspense. It explains why the astounding facts are true, and takes kids on a tour of the affected body systems in the process.
Kids will come away with a list of eye-popping trivia, sure. But they’ll also come away with a richer, deeper, understanding of anatomy and physiology — and a list of new topics to research and read.
What ages is this book for?
Of course, if there’s a future medical professional or sprouting scientist in your family, this book would definitely be a hit at an earlier age as well. Just be aware: as is to be expected from a book of body facts, there’s a fair amount of blood, guts, and talk of medieval healthcare habits. (It wouldn’t be a good fit for squeamish or sensitive kids in early elementary.)
A non-fiction book like 100 Things to Know About the Human Body doesn’t have to be curriculum.
For some inexplicable reason, homeschool moms often feel some sort of compunction to turn every book into schoolwork. Have you noticed this? Perhaps it’s a drive to be thorough, or a fear of not doing enough. Yes, “100 Things to Know About the Human Body” would make an ideal supplement to a study of biology, or life-sciences. But do you know what? It’s a terrific stand-alone fun read, on its own merits, just as it is, for fun.
Don’t try to force every non-fiction book to be a curriculum spine. Acknowledge the ability of children to simply revel in the fascinating facts of non-fiction, just as they are able to delight in the twists and turns of good story.
A non-fiction book like 100 Things to Know About the Human Body isn’t less important than a novel.
In the quest for narration and story, homeschoolers often turn a blind eye to the tremendous value of non-fiction.
Homeschoolers can get so hyperfocused on the importance of literary fiction and literary analysis and literary worth, they sometimes forget about the unparalleled magic of learning by meandering through non-fiction.
On reading encyclopedias in childhood, Martin Cothran writes, “These new things paraded before my eyes—how could I simply pass them by? In trying to find out about a mere animal, I learned about a country in the southern hemisphere, a heavenly body, weapons, a classical scientist, the academic discipline of the study of human cultures, and a kind of cactus plant. I would get lost for hours.”
This is profoundly true.
And every child is different, just as every adult is. Some adults love Jane Austin, although there’s far too much dialogue for my taste. I prefer Charles Dickens, although there’s far too much description for others’ tastes. Some kids read coding books and the toaster manual (true story) while other kids read Lucy Maud Montgomery. Does it matter? Let each kid be the unique individual God created them to be.
Non-fiction books — like “100 Things to Know About the Human Body” — allow for child-paced exploration and learning.
Non-fiction books are a portal to untold other worlds.
Illustrated dictionaries, reference books, and books of facts are such an extraordinary addition to your homeschool library — not just for reference, but for delight-driven reading. Do not fall into the trap of thinking every book in your library must be a living narration, a historical artifact, or a work of fiction with some overarching moral point.
- …are not twaddle. (That’s probably a hill I’ll die on, actually.)
- …deserve a place on your shelves.
- …meet the needs of logical child.
- …open up the wonders of the scientific realm.
- …provide extraordinary opportunities for rabbit trails of learning.
- …allow meandering through myriad fields of topics.
- …point to the wide-reaching creativity of the Creator.