A Children's Book That Celebrates the Wonders of Real

We tell our children stories about fairies and giants and wizards and trolls—all still favorites, even as an adult. So let's not stop with the fables. But can't we also share with kids the wonders of what's real?

That's what evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has done with The Magic of Reality, a children's book that cares more about the magic you feel staring up at the stars than the kind that comes out of a wand. Dawkins divides the work into several sections that are scientific, historic, and astronomical, jabbing at various myths about his subjects before coming in with a haymaker of truth.

I'm getting married in a week and a half, and when I do I'm going to inherit two incredible nieces. And as much as I'm looking forward to sharing the joys of Peter Pan and the Cowardly Lion with them, I also can't wait to show them just how incredible the world around them is. [Open Culture via BoingBoing]

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Outstanding. We need a very great deal more of this kind of thing. I also recommend "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark". In his last book, Carl Sagan wrote passionately about not only the need for science education but for education in critical thinking as well.

There follows a longish personal anecdote about this from when my kids were little; hope you read it.

There was a tv cartoon called "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. He-Man was a guy with a magic sword. When things got bad he would use the sword to muscle-up and bash the bad guys. He had a minion called Man-At-Arms who built all his starships and stuff. I pointed out to my daughter, six at the time, that He-Man was nothing without magic, but Man-At-Arms was an engineer who could really build things with his own mind and hands. Later in the show the starship blew up and a large beam fell on Man-At-Arms, pinning him to the deck. My daughter turned to me and earnestly asked: "What will the engineer do now, daddy?". Of course muscle-guy came and lifted the beam off of him. I slunk away, my science defeated by magic and brute strength.