Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Joseph Recommends...

He started early..

One of the most fun things of the summer for me, has been 'working' with Joseph.  Yes, I used air quotes, because it doesn't feel like working.  Except when he is in a mood and doesn't want to do anything, because then it feels like a lot of work telling him "I don't care.  This is your job." This usually happens when we talk about cleaning up his room.  Like mother, like son?
Just making things clear before we start, Joseph is NOT studying this whole summer.  We spend half an hour to an hour per day, most often in two segments, working on a summer bridge book.  The rest of the time is for free play, crafting, running around like a loon, playing with balloons, doing flying sock monster, making cards, talking, Lego's, museums, and so on.  A lot of Joseph's ideas of fun are quite like his mommy: he loves to read (a lot, especially at night) and he is enthralled by his new robot set.  
After he graduated Kindergarten he got a reward: his brand new, first library card. Joseph and the library have a complex relationship. He LOVES the library.  However he hates to return the books.  If it was up to him, he would keep any book he likes. I feel more sympathy now for my own mother in trying to keep up with my voracious reading habit, though it is strange to think that at Joseph's age, I was barely be able to read more than a primer.

At my advice Joseph went to the library with a list.  When he was younger, I told him that Libraries are magic and that Librarians are magicians.  Whatever he wants to know more about, a librarian will be able to find him a book.  I will admit he gave them a challenge this time.  A book about Dinosaurs would have been pretty easy, but he wanted to know why trains run on tracks, how planes stay in the air, and one or two things about numbers.  He came home with ten books.  The dinosaur book got lost in the shuffle at the library, but there were two books about the history of trains.   They were not very successful. Or as Joseph just said himself: "I just got lost in the number books."  He certainly did.  There was a book about forces.  How a push or a pull is a force.  How moving an object means a force is applied.  What friction is, etc.  With experiments to match (like bowing a pebble, a cotton ball and a car and see which moves easiest) the book was interesting and easy to grasp, and he liked it.  But his absolute favorites were the 'number books'.   When I asked him which books he wanted to recommend, he brought these three down:

"On beyond a million.  An Amazing Math Journey." by David M. Schwartz.  We will definitely be looking for more of this author.  Joseph loves it because "it teaches you about really huge numbers"  It deals with exponents, and numbers beyond a million.  It also teaches you that Gazillion is not a real number but just a fun way of saying lots and lots, that you can never count to infinity and that there are always bigger numbers.

"Can you count to a Googol" by Robert E. Wells is another favorite. It deals with much the same subject but is a little bit more easy and there is nothing mentioned about exponents.  Just really big numbers.

"Big Numbers and pictures that show just how BIG they are." by Edward Packard is also about really big numbers.  It's written very easily but it does include the very basics of what exponents are.  

I did encourage Joseph to get one book down as well, which he has also enjoyed very much, called "That's a possibility.  A book about what might happen." By Bruce Goldstone.  It starts out very easy about the meaning of possible and impossible, but then delves further into probable, improbable and even in odds.  It's a really good beginner's book for analyzing chances on the most basic level.

So there you have it. Joseph recommends.. if you have kids to read these books with them.  If you don't have kids.. sneak in the library and read them yourself.  That's my recommendation, because he's right.  These books are FUN.