BOOKS: The New York Times has an article here about science books for children (click if you're alergic to free registrations). Speaking as a geek with a daughter, this is a great trend. Nothing will kill the love of learning like Science Class in elementary school unless you have a teacher who loves science. Most science classes for young kids are taught by the math teacher or the teacher who knew who Darwin was and as a result of this and the coma-inducing writing of most elementary science books the only thing kids learn in these classes is that science sucks and only extras from The Revenge of the Nerds know anything about the world. Of course parents who grew up knowing nothing about science and our strange cultural thing of disdaining intelligence doesn't help. Kids need to understand that intelligence is not a handicap and science is not a subject in school, it's the world around them. Everything in their lives is science. Asking questions about things is science.

A lot of people are under the impression that kids are too stupid to understand science. This is just wrong. One of my coworkers has two boys no older than 12 and after only 15 minutes of explaining it to them, they probably understood more about brain function than their parents. And my coworker just couldn't get the fact that I wasn't wasting my time explaining why our brains have wrinkles, how memories are formed, etc. As long as you use words they can understand and don't start out with the assumption that they won't understand, kids have an amazing capacity to understand even advanced concepts. So-called 'pop science' books have become very popular in recent years with scientists writing books such as The Elegant Universe that explain very advanced concepts such as string theory to lay adults. Applying the 'pop science' idea to kids books is something we should all get behind.

David Macaulay, one of the authors mentioned in the article, was probably one of the most influential authors of my childhood. His books Cathedral and Castle (which I borrowed from my 6th grade teacher and accidently never returned, oops) were amazing to me even in 6th grade. The illustrations and explinations of the construction and design of these two huge structures I'm sure contributed heavily to my love and appreciation of architecture. The Way Things Work is another great book by Macaulay (who should be given an award for his contribution to society as far as I'm concerned) that uses humor and art to explain the world.

Anything parents and teachers can do to keep the love of learning alive in their children should be helped and applauded. Kids ask a million questions about the world for a reason, they're curious. Instead of telling them to shut up and stop bothering people they should be rewarded for their behavior. If they ask a question you don't know the answer to, great! Use the opportunity to find out together. This being the gift giving season, kids are going to get a hundred pointless toys they'll use and probably toss in the closet. Instead of bowing to commercial pressures and buying the latest retarded Bratz doll for a kid, buy them a good illustrated science book and read it with them. Everyone can use a little learning.