Wednesday, October 2, 2013

WWRW: Dangerous Book for Boys

Linking up with Housewife Spice for What We're Reading Wednesday!

Has this book been beaten to death? No. This book cannot. There can never be enough good things said about the Igguldens' fantastic compilation of Great Things with commentary to the minimum, thank you very much.

This book was given to my sons many years ago, and I think since that time it has never sat still long enough to be blessed with dust. The back of the book wildly proclaims:

I would add I think girls of this same age range just might like it as well, but this book came at the just the right height of "girl power," and seemed to be a lone voice crying in the wilderness that it is okay to be a boy. And I would add, it is okay for girls to be fascinated as well (as I am), and let's leave it at that.

But the part about reclaiming Sunday afternoon? Perhaps you have heard all the Catholic mom buzz (I first heard it from Micaela here) about Anthony Esolen's Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child.) (Which I still, regrettably, have not finished.) Anyway, Laura of "This Felicitous Life" wrote a beautiful assessment of it here.  One of her issues is how do conscientious mothers effect Dr. Esolen's suggestions that a brilliant childhood is one filled with unstructured play and the elements of danger without actually exposing them to danger? 

I think this book is an absolute answer to that. I don't believe it is necessary to let our little ones play unattended in dark alleys with broken beer bottles (although that does sound fun) in order to tap into the creative power that is simply oozing out of them. As Esolen also proclaims, knowledge, the right knowledge, opens so many doors within, and imagination flourishes not in a vacuum, but in a mind supplied with awareness of the beauty and wonder surrounding the every day.

Just glancing through the table of contents, you come across titles as varied as "The Five Knots Every Boy Should Know," "Making Cloth Fireproof," "Famous Battles," "Secret Inks," "Grinding an Italic Nib,"Hunting and Cooking a Rabbit," "Sampling Shakespeare," "Making a Bow and Aarow," and even "The Ten Commandments." Honestly, the titles alone are enough to ignite the imagination, and they go on and on. 

I have somehow found myself trapped into homeschooling Joseph this year, and this book is serving as somewhat of a backbone for our year together. I cannot tell you how many projects he has spent days on based simply on a single page guideline from this book.

Joseph's homemade squirrel snare

peanut butter bait

counter balance. Don't ask me.
No, he hasn't caught a squirrel (yet).

Well, he already knows how to fish,
but this is a beauty.

Not only does it have activities that encourage physical skills (magic tricks, sports rules, role playing games,) it has an enormous wealth of simply things any human should find fascinating, and make for more than worthy study time. We will be putting great use of the science related titles like, "A Simple Electromagnet," language arts sections such as "Understanding Grammar," and "Latin Phrases Every Boy Should Know," and history titles such as, "The History of Artillery," and on and on and on. 

The idea is that the world around us is fascinating, and the Brothers Iggulden have done a superb job serving up a delicious sampling of just the beginning of possibilities if you are provided with information just dangerous enough.

As Cari so generously noted in her beautiful post about their found food, (okay I'm done linking now) it is a particular hobby of the Family Es to search out whatever nature has provided locally and eat it up. This is sooo Dangerous Book for Boys. We are overrun with coconuts right now, just from our yard, and Joseph taught himself to remove the delicious coconut water, scoop out the pulp, and even made coconut milk for me I needed for a recipe.


You see it isn't that knowledge is beautiful. It is that there is an entire universe waiting to be discovered. And it is beautiful, and very dangerous.


  1. That book is going on the Christmas list. What a great recommendation. And how sweet of Joseph for making you your own coconut milk!

  2. We adore these books. There's a girls' one, called "The Daring Book for Girls" which is, amazingly, just as great. There's no sense of "well, we may as well knock out one of these for the ladies, just to line our pockets".

    And I couldn't have said it better- "You see it isn't that knowledge is beautiful. It is that there is an entire universe waiting to be discovered. And it is beautiful, and very dangerous."

    Today, Joaquin is going to figure out how to take apart a bike so he can use the wheels in a go-cart. That's school today. The other kids are making a house under the hemlock tree. So much to learn, so much to try.

    Also, I think Joseph and Lotus would be best friends. That coconut stuff is right up her alley.

    1. Thanks for the information about the girls book! That's something I definitely need to get. And, I'm keeping The Dangerous Book for Boys in mind for when my boy is 8 (he's only 5 now). I've heard so many people rave about The Dangerous Book for Boys...and I'm excited to hear that there is just for girls that is just as great.

  3. You're absolutely right! My mother gave this book to my eldest boy and he devours it regularly. I love that it's almost bite-sized pieces/articles, so I don't have to lose him completely to the book (which happens often) because he runs off to try something.

    Also, have to mention, have you read Dr. Meg Meeker's books? "Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters" and "Boys Should Be Boys." The idea you were mentioning about letting boys learn about fighting, and danger, is in there in a beautiful and great way. I love those two books for grounding my parenting in the sane.

    Thanks for linking with Jessica!

    1. Hey Becky! No, I have not heard of those books, they sound right up my alley, thanks for the suggestion!

  4. Our oldest son gave us this book a few years ago for Christmas--and unfortunately, this was after our five boys had all grown up and left the nest. I wish I'd heard of it earlier. But I've got it ready to share with my future grandsons!

  5. This sounds awesome. I gave it to my little brother years ago but never read it myself. . . . I think Esolen might actually mention this book and the girls' one in _ten ways_. Can't remember for sure though. . . . Coconuts in your backyard! So cool!

  6. Oh man I'll definitely need that for John Paul when he's older - all these younger sisters and he'll NEED it!

  7. You might have to Google squirrel recipes if he actually catches one. =)

  8. Buying. Joseph is so lucky to have this year, and living on the beach for this exact year is perf. It reminds me that when we run out of Catholic School Money this spring, it will be just fine if I unschool a few of them!!

  9. What an awesome recommendation. I am definitely going to look into getting the Boys and Girls books. Of course, I will have to wait to share this stuff with my little honey badger sons. They need to garner a little wisdom before I set them loose with those ideas.

  10. LOVE that book here! I have honestly never taken the time to go through it carefully but John Paul has devoured most of it and is always surprising me with knowledge he gleaned from it. I was going to mention but Cari beat me to it that there is a girl's version, though I have no experience with it.

  11. We got that book before we even had a boy. There is no one who doesn't love it. I've heard the girls' version is not as good so I've decided that both genders can enjoy this. Because I'm a rebel like that.


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