I'm pleased to help kick off the MotherTalk blog book tour for The Dangerous Book For Boys. To say that this book is lovely, or interesting, or useful, really understates what's going on when you open the crimson canvas cover. You feel like you're peeking inside a treasure box, or a secret magic manual, or a fairy tale that will explain the intricate workings of the world. I'm not kidding.
This is a boy's field manual to a summer (or a lifetime) of adventure and curiosity. Inside, one finds instructions for projects and experiments, tales of bravery and heroism, history lessons, essential facts, and plenty more. Everything here counteracts technology's pull, encouraging boys to wield hammer and nail or read books or mix chemical compounds. Some examples:
- Building a treehouse
- Navajo Code Talkers' Dictionary
- The five knots every boy should know
- Extraordinary stories — Part One: Scott and the Antarctic
- Timers and tripwires
- Sampling Shakespeare
- Secret inks
…and, of course, the most mysterious topic of all:
- Girls (first tip: Listen)
Speaking of which, the book's title begs the obvious question: What about girls? While I find the premise and the presentation captivating, I can't help but regret that by excluding girls the book implies that a life of science, experimentation, knowledge, and, yes, danger, is uninteresting to girls or beyond their reach.
I'm sure the book's authors had no intention of implying such a thing, and I wouldn't want this book to be any different. I believe we must celebrate the inherent differences between boys and girls rather than pave over them with a bunch of bland generalities. I just hope that there's a Dangerous Book For Girls in the offing. Imagine a book crammed full of experiments and projects and stories of feminine leadership and valor (Athena! Joan of Arc! Mother Theresa!). I'm not talking about a reprint with updated pronouns and a pink cover. I'm talking about a book that celebrates the uniqueness of girls and acknowledges they're equipped and ready for a life of adventure.
Until then, I suggest that all of you parents of school-age boys put this on your Mother's- and Father's Day wish lists. Presenting this book to your son with the promise of summer afternoons spent playing table football or making a bow and arrow is a precious gift indeed.