The Guinness Book of World Records is one of the most popular titles among boys in our library. No one really reads it, of course — not like you’d read a novel. The beauty of the GBOWR is that you can browse it: flip through until a picture grabs you (like the world’s longest fingernails), read that little bit, and move on to something else.
Here are some other collections of odd and interesting facts that boys are sure to love browsing.
How BIG is it? A BIG Book All About BIGNESS, by Ben Hillman (lexile: 1000; AR book level: 6.0; 48 pp)
Even younger kids not ready for the GBOWR will dive into this BIG picture book portraying 22 of the biggest things ever in their respective categories. Each two-page spread has a side bar with cool facts, but the centerpiece of each is a sharp digitally-composed photo in which the object in question — be it asteroid, giant spider, or longest snake — is placed in an everyday context for perspective. It’s one thing to read that the biggest polar bear ever seen stood 12 feet tall — it’s much more striking to view him standing head and shoulders above a basketball goal and the puny NBA players gathered around. The tallest tree in the world, a redwood of 378 feet, is really impressive when pictured towering over the apartment buildings of Brooklyn.
The other titles in the series use the same format, and are just as fun:
How strong is it? : a mighty book all about strength (lexile: 1050; AR book level: 6.4; 48 pp)
How fast is it? : a zippy book all about speed (lexile: NA; AR book level: 5.7; 48 pp)
How weird is it? : a freaky book all about strangeness (lexile: 870; AR book level: 5.6; 48 pp)
Never Smile at a Monkey: And 17 Other Important Things to Remember, by Steve Jenkins (lexile: 920; AR book level: 6.3; 32 pp)
Would-be explorers-of-the-wild know that it would be foolish — downright life-threatening — to try to ride a crocodile or wrestle a tiger. But here are 18 other seemingly innocuous creatures which can be dangerous and even deadly. Did you know you should never pet a platypus? Never jostle a jellyfish? Jenkins issues an alliterative warning about each exotic animal, explaining how it can poison, sting or attack. Each is illustrated with Jenkins’ signature cut-paper collages that look three-dimensional. The descriptions are just a paragraph or two, but the curious can find more details at the end of the book.
Here are some other cool collections of interesting facts by Jenkins, done in the same style:
Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest (lexile: 920; AR book level: 4.9; 32 pp) Brief description and illustrations of some of the extreme places on Earth, including the deepest lake, most active volcano, highest falls, and driest desert.
Biggest, Strongest, Fastest (lexile: 840; AR book level: 2.3; 32 pp) Extremes of the animal kingdom: fastest, slowest, longest lived, and 11 others.
Actual Size (lexile: 1080; AR book level: 2.8; 34 pp) In this BIG book, Jenkins’ illustrations portray each of 18 animals or insects — or a part of their body — in actual, real-life size, from the full 36-inch length of a giant earthworm to just the eye of a giant squid.
Prehistoric Actual Size (lexile: 1130; AR book level: 6.1; 36 pp) Just like Actual Size, but this time featuring prehistoric creatures — would you like to look into the mouth of a Giganotosaurus?
What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You? (lexile: 580; AR book level: 4.0; 32 pp) Fascinating and unique ways in which wild animals escape or defend themselves from predators, from the bombardier beetle that squirts boiling liquid from its bottom to the basilisk lizard that runs across water.
You can find more books written and/or illustrated by Steve Jenkins here.