We were sent a copy of the My First Encyclopaedia of Why? for the purposes of this review. The book is called My First Encyclopaedia of Why? and is aimed at 4-7 year olds.
My First Encyclopedia of Why? book review
This is a spiral bound book, with a lovely cushioned cover, and paper of good thick quality. Some of the pages are plastic, which layer over the picture to create a different scene when you turn the page.
James is four, and asking lots of questions about some really interesting things at the moment. For example, some of the fab questions I’ve been asked lately; Why does it get dark? Why do some creatures hibernate? Why does it rain?
This book is set out to answer some of the questions your child might ask. It asks the question and then provides a very short bite-size piece of information in response. For some questions the answer will be adequate, or might prompt the more curious of mind to look elsewhere and learn more about their world.
I found some of the answers a little bit “because that’s what happens” rather than giving a real answer. For example “Why do children grow? – Our bodies are programmed to grow…”. The answer is a bit longer than that, to be fair! There’s a bit of a balance between giving technical information in a way that can be understood by children, and just fobbing them off.
The illustrations in The First Encyclopaedia of Why? are really good. There are drawings of mountains, space, and people, as well as lots of other things. Fab illustrations, which are enhanced by the plastic pages which overlay to change the scenes.
I think that some of the labels are a bit questionable, like for example this:
Why not just put genitals? I wouldn’t call a boy’s penis his sexual organ until he was much older. I’m not calling any kind of paedophilia police here, I’m just pointing out that personally I’d have called this particular body part something less adult.
Spiral bound books, in my experience do one of two things: Nothing – they’re fine for the life of their use and look good for the whole time; or the pages fall off the binding.
The book My First Encyclopaedia of Why? falls into the second camp, unfortunately. James had been looking at it alone for a short while and then came through into the kitchen and said simply, “oops!” and handed me a pile of pages and the back cover, which had slipped off while he was reading.
This book would make a great present for a 4 year old who is just starting to be curious about the world. If you can find a way to keep the spine intact then you’ll have a great reference book they can go to whenever they have a question. You’ll be able to help them find the habit of researching and discovering the answers when they wonder. As they get older, they’ll be able to read it for themselves, but I suspect by 7 they’ll have outgrown the bite-sized pieces of information given in this book and need something a bit more comprehensive.