Playing pretend as a kid was one of my happiest memories. I’m not so good at it as an adult, but I still fully appreciate the wonder and magic that I see on my own kids’ faces when they pretend to be made-up characters or plan trips and pretend to take them. (I long since learned to check bags and backpacks when they were missing a toy or other item.)
Along those lines, two important new books will soon come out from Lonely Planet Kids: How to Be an International Spy and The Travel Book.
How to Be an International Spy: Your Top Secret Guide to Espionage, for ages 8 and up, is both an educational book and an activity/project book, filled with history and facts about the international spy community. It also contains all kinds of projects for becoming a spy yourself, such as creating code names, using invisible ink, making your own gadgets, building an HQ, and protecting yourself on the internet. The book is a fun guide to pretending you’re an international spy, but it’s also a close look into the history of espionage for kids and a guide for self-protection as well.
Throughout this colorful and visually appealing book, real spies are profiled to give kids a real look into what happens in the spy community–all the way back to World War I and even before–and the espionage around the world, such as in Russia, China, France, the UK, and the US.
For kids actually interested in going into the intelligence field when they get older, intelligence agency websites are included for reference and further research. This book also serves as a primer for them to learn the basics of spying on others and protecting yourself. So whether your kids are in it just for the fun of playing spy, or if they are fascinated by the prospect of working in domestic or foreign intelligence, How to Be an International Spy is for them.
The Travel Book, also for ages 8 and up, takes kids on a tour around the world, stopping in literally every single country along the way. Beginning with the impressive table of contents, the book dives in, giving each country a one-page treatment, highlighting each country’s statistics and some takeaways. While the book begins with Canada and the United States, it gives the same amount of book real estate to Qatar and San Marino. The message here is that every country is important.
Each country’s page includes a two-sided card with the name of the country, the country’s basic map, population, landmass, life expectancy, and more. Some countries include inhabitants wearing native dress, while others include information about local food, culture, sports, accomplishments, wildlife, exploration, and the arts. While the book contains just a sampling of each country’s culture, there is enough to whet anyone’s appetite to learn more.
While this book is for kids, I’ve found myself lost in it more than once. With plenty of photographs and drawings, the visual aspects of this book are second only to the information contained therein. I love learning facts about countries that aren’t usually in our school lessons. It also helps put a human face and cultural element to countries far away. Perusing this kind of book helps kids learn that, yes, there really are people who live in that place far away, and, yes, they live their life differently from how kids in the US live theirs. Diversity keeps the world going and is a good thing.
The back of the book includes a world map divided up into continents with all countries labeled. The same page also includes an index, listing all countries along with their page number in the book and their map location.
If your kids aren’t yet ready for a regular World Almanac, or if they prefer to consume their information in a more visual way (or if you know adults who enjoy taking a visual trip around the world, relatively quickly), check out The Travel Book.
Coming out October 1, both of these books are packed with information in an uncluttered way. They are the perfect gifts for the adventurous children in your life. Whether the children fantasize about traveling the world, using cool gadgets, or keeping the world a little safer, there is something here for everyone. Adults will learn new things as well!
Note: I received copies of these books for review purposes.