Monday, October 5, 2009

Random Encyclopedia Entry

In September, Tim and N. started reading a randomly-selected encyclopedia entry (or several entries) just about daily. I bought for very little money a complete set of 1997 World Book Encyclopedias and a complete set of 90s Britannica at my university library’s deaccession sale a couple years ago. This is a fairly self-explanatory activity! N. picks a volume from either set of encyclopedias, and they open it and read whatever they alight on, as well as other nearby entries that grab their attention. We love the fortuitousness of bibliomancy; there's just nothing like randomly happening on things as you flip through a book, and we much prefer the book versions to online encyclopedias for this reason. This activity violates the principle of contextualized learning that usually guides our studies, but N. seems to enjoy it very much, and to retain a fair amount of information from these snippets. At supper, Tim and N. tell me together about what they learned, reinforcing through conversation. N. is already very curious and eager to learn, and I think the random encyclopedia entry reading reiterates that inherent wonder in the vastness of interesting things in the world that makes young children so much fun to be around.

Bonus reading: The Know-it-all: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World, by A. J. Jacobs, in which Jacobs sets out to read the complete abridged Encyclopedia Britannica. Very, very funny.

2 comments:

sgaissert said...

The things you do with your little guy remind me so often of the things I did with my little girl! We used to read daily encyclopedia entries, too.

I'd say "great minds think alike," but that would be conceited of me. : )

Fanny Harville said...

Susan,
Great minds like ours certainly do think alike! Now we can be conceited together!