Holiday Gift Guide 2012 (No. 2): Books Cleared for Take Off

December 10, 2012 § 1 Comment

Everything Goes: In the AirThere are days, OK months, OK years, when it feels like everything is about airplanes and rockets in our house. Last year, JP chose a space-themed birthday party; this year he chose an airplane-themed one. We’ve been to air shows. I chop vegetables in the kitchen while large LEGO creations go whizzing by on little pattering feet. I have even been known to spend rainy days hanging out at Reagan National Airport, just so my kids can watch airplanes take off and land (a.k.a. Richard Scarry’s A Day at the Airport, minus the bratwurst balloon). For my five year old, it seems, life above ground is infinitely more fascinating than terra firma. And his enthusiasm is contagious: even my two-year-old daughter can’t resist squealing when she spots an airplane in the sky. Children’s bookstores aren’t lacking in books about air or space travel, but the trick is to choose ones that don’t compromise on art or narrative. At the end of this post, I’ve listed some fantastic fiction and non-fiction picture books guaranteed to wow any young aviator.

This fall, Brian Biggs came out with Everything Goes: In the Air (Ages 3-6), a follow-up to last year’s successful Everything Goes: On Land (which we also have at our house, for when we get tired of reading about planes). This is young non-fiction at its best, a perfect combo of action and information. Blending a kind of comic book layout with bright cartoon-like illustrations (think Schoolhouse Rock), the simple storyline of a father and son navigating a busy airport is jazzed up by zillions of sub-plots, from the mom of quintuplets whose babies have escaped (lots of seek-and-find opportunities here) to the pirate who’s trying to take his sword through security.

Every other page or so—and here’s the biggest draw of a book like this for my son—the plot is temporarily interrupted by a double-spread cutaway, filled with facts and hand-drawn diagrams related to whatever flying machine our young protagonist has just spotted. Whatever is being discussed, whether it’s the history of planes, different jobs performed by planes, helicopters, blimps, or a detailed look at the cockpit of a modern passenger jet, the information is presented as a father talking to his son—clearly, concisely, anecdotally, and with great passion. You don’t have to fight the crowds of holiday travelers this year to give your child an up-close-and-personal look at flying. Or, even if you are headed to an airport, a little reinforcement probably wouldn’t hurt.

This picture alone is good for at least 15 minutes!

This picture alone is good for at least 15 minutes!

Other Favorites About Airplane and Space Travel:
Moon Plane, by Peter McCarty (Ages 2-5)
Amazing Airplanes, by Tony Mitton (Ages 2-5)
The Way Back Home, by Oliver Jeffers (Ages 3-6)
Violet the Pilot, by Steve Breen (Ages 4-8)
If You Decide to Go to the Moon, by Faith Mcnulty & Steven Kellogg (Ages 4-8)
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, by Brian Floca (Ages 5-10)

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