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Ask HN: What are some great books for children?
30 points by DanBC on Nov 21, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 21 comments

what books do you think are excellent for children?

I'm particularly interested in STEM books for a 7 year old, but please don't feel limited by that. I'm interested in any books for children that you particularly like.

Three Little Pigs provides a solid foundation in engineering cost benefit analysis and the risk assessment of black swan events. It provides the basis for an in depth discussion with your tiny tike of whether or not Pokey's prioritization of low initial cost and straw design was economically sound in light of Lazy's more costly wood construction suffering the similar catastrophic failure when encountering huffs and puffs. The child might be encouraged to write a formal analysis of the counter-factual in which the wolf crept up upon Will while his brick structure was incomplete rather than visiting the other structures first.

The more sophisticated child should probably be introduced to actuarial consideration of how pig lives relate to absolute construction costs and the potential negative effects of increased hut construction regulations on the overall economy. Extending the exercise to draft lobbying positions may or may not be appropriate, i.e. should the construction of wolf-proof structures be left entirely to the private sector seeing as public funding for wolf shelters would provide good projects for engineers?

STEM and 7 in the same sentence make me sad.

Good luck.

> STEM and 7 in the same sentence make me sad

Why? there are some excellent non-fiction for 7 year olds. In UK 7 year olds are learning science and math in school.

eg The Way Things Work https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0241227933/

If... https://www.amazon.co.uk/If-Mind-Bending-Looking-Ideas-Numbe...

The Awesome Body Book https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awesome-Body-Book-Adam-Frost/dp/140...

Just a Second https://www.amazon.co.uk/Just-Second-Steve-Jenkins/dp/132874...

Some children are naturally curious and can't get enough of this stuff.

Children are not curious abut STEM. They are just curious.

STEM is a non-word used to discount art and literature and dance and history and everything expressive. It reflects the idea that human existence is about getting ahead versus falling behind relative to the conveyor belt created by the Sputnik Crisis. Absent are notions of blossoming and flowering and joy. STEM is white papers by think tanks and research grants and educational politics. STEM is an agenda.

A book about trucks, ships, and planes is a book about trucks, ships and planes.

Agreed. As a child, I read up on technology/computers as well as history (still a big hobby of mine), archeology, and random subjects found in the encyclopedias my parents bought me. I went through a bunch of phases (dinosaurs, Egyptian history, computer stuff, art, taking care of fish, etc.). My parents supported all of these with books and museums trips.

I understand the appeal of introducing your child to your passion, particularly if it's an employable skill, but IMO at 7 years old... just buy them whatever books or encyclopedias for children they find interesting. It's not going to hurt them! Though definitely share technology with them.

> just buy them whatever books or encyclopedias for children they find interesting

I'm curious why you think I'm not doing this? Why have you assumed I'm imposing what I want my child to read, rather than listening to what he wants?

> A book about trucks, ships, and planes is a book about trucks, ships and planes

Neuro-atypicallity exists, and some children do not enjoy fiction.

So a book like Budgie the Little Helicopter is a book about a helicopter, but I know my child will prefer a non-fiction reference book about helicopters. And this non-fiction reference book is a STEM book.

Haha, this is going into my copypasta list.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea - targeted at the younger reader, but I mention it as there's a great lesson to be learned there though, for young and old alike...

Of course Wind in The Willows is still one of my favourite books that I read as a kid and I can quote you large sections of it. Still read sections of it now and then...

I loved the Willard Price "Adventure" series of books. I read "Volcano Adventure" when I was 7. After that I became obsessed with volcanoes and Willard Price books. I drove the librarians nuts about those books and they had to bring them in from libraries near and far until I'd read them all. Grin.

The Willard Price books had a big impact on me though. I grew up and have lived those books - I've dived wrecks and reefs, explored jungles, gone on safari, I worked for four years in Africa, travelled all over. I even climbed up a live volcano. Funny how these things stay with you. Of course highly frowned upon these days as politically incorrect. Ditto the Biggles books.

My son is 6 now, and he has loved these two books since he was about 3:

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos - https://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Loved-Math-Improbable/dp/1596...

Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late - https://www.amazon.com/Bedtime-Math-Excuse-Stay-Late/dp/1250...

We also started this book recently, and he has really enjoyed it so far:

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World - https://www.amazon.com/Women-Science-Fearless-Pioneers-Chang...

Hoagies Gifted Page used to keep lists of good books for bright kids. I assume they still do. I don't spend a lot of time there anymore for various reasons, including its tendency to frame giftedness as "Whoa is me. I am so smart, and it is ruining my life." But if you are only looking for book recommendations, that aspect probably does not matter.

When my oldest was being homeschooled and no amount of science was ever enough, I subscribed to some kind of science magazine for him. We also had a lot of "cartoon guides... " They occasionally have off color humor, so some people think they aren't appropriate for age 7. But I had no problem with it.

There are also nifty math books out there, like The Number Devil, Alice in Flatland and ...memory fails me. But I imagine all of these are listed on Hoagies.

For younger children (that is, children who can't read yet), you're going to have to read that book anywhere from once to several hundred times, out loud. Look for books that have interest for an adult, even though they are children's books.

One of my favorites is "The Bravest Ever Bear". I think a 7-year-old would get a lot of enjoyment out of it. It's not STEM at all (though an interesting engineering problem does show up).

Here are a few of my suggestions.

Picture books for young children- We really enjoyed I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat, and "Sam and Dave Dig a Hole" written by Jon Klassen and illustrated by Mac Bennet.




Books (with some illustration) for older readers- We're enjoying The Saga of Erik the Viking by Terry Jones and illustrated by Michael Foreman.


Laura Ingalls Wilder's books include very detailed descriptions of how things were built or constructed back in the day. One gets the impression the author would've loved to be a carpenter but wasn't able to because she was a woman.

You will need to provide historical context, and point out and countervail all the racist, nativist, etc. parts.

You cant beat Roald Dahl - the dark humour and themes are brilliant. Im reading them to my son and its great to still enjoy stories as an adult, and see a different side to the story I would have missed as a child

My neighbor, a chemist, gave me some childrens books on why leaves turn color and the different states of matter. I am not sure if they are still in print, but I think something like this would be fantastic for age 7

Good night stories for rebel girls - https://www.booktopia.com.au/good-night-stories-for-rebel-gi...

It contains stories of 100 famous women throughout history to inspire young girls to be whatever they want to be.

No offense, but I found the writing for these stories to be pretty horrible. The idea and concept is great, but horrible execution. There is also some very poor grammar in there as well.

that's a shame. (especially since I just bought it.)

Maybe I should have got this instead? https://www.amazon.co.uk/Women-Science-Fearless-Pioneers-Cha...

I know you wanted STEM books, but I loved the Cam Jansen series of mysteries from about 6-10ish. It was to the point that the school librarian wouldn’t put the new one out generally until I read it.

Link: http://www.camjansen.com

Randall Munroe (of XKCD fame) wrote "Thing Explainer", a book that attempts to explain things using only the most popular 1,000 words in the English language: https://blog.xkcd.com/2015/05/13/new-book-thing-explainer/

I also remember having a book similar to this around that age (maybe a couple of years older): https://www.dk.com/us/9781465414175-knowledge-encyclopedia/

The nice thing about the latter one is that the pictures will be enthralling now, and as your child grows they'll be able to understand more and more of the book :)


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