Book: The New Way Things Work

The New Way Things Work
by David Macaulay

This is the way a zipper works
A flashlight works, a zeppelin works
This is the way that machines do work
Around us everyday

This is the way our kiddos learn
Invest time, see a return
This is the way you too can learn
About machines today

Note: It’s never too early to give clear, accurate information. Apparently, I have yet to learn this lesson.

Nick: The radio’s not working.

Me: Because it’s not plugged in.

Nick: Why it’s not working (sic)?

Me: Because it needs electricity. It needs juice.

Nick: Oh. OK.

Later that evening, Nick tried to fix one of his battery-operated toys by giving it apple juice.

Thank goodness for David Macaulay’s book, which covers everything from how sound works, to magnets, to rocket engines. For anyone under 6, it’s not a read-from-start-to-finish book as much as it is a handy reference on how things work as narrated by a woolly mammoth – which kiddos seem to have no problem accepting. The illustrations are imaginative yet precise, making it very easy to follow how each piece of the “machine” works together.

Think IKEA instructions by way of The New Yorker.

So the next night, Nick and I “read” the entry on electricity, which involved me reading some of the text, pointing to the pictures, and him fixating on the woolly mammoth. I know that most of the material is probably going over his head, but I figure if it’s smart enough to make the connection between “juice” and power, he’s smart enough to understand some of what we’re reading, even if he doesn’t make the connections until his 5th grade science experiments (can’t wait!).

Who am I to place limits on what he can learn?


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