I, Humanity By Jeffery Bennett - Washington FAMILY Magazine: Mom Reviews

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I, Humanity By Jeffery Bennett

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Posted: Monday, November 23, 2015 9:00 am

I, Humanity is one of seven new books heading up to the International Space Station on Orbital 4, set to launch December 3. Jeff Bennett’s first five children’s books are currently in orbit, being read by astronauts on the ISS to children on Earth. Two videos are now available on StoryTimeFromSpace.com.

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I, Humanity is a gorgeous, ambitious, information-packed book that won’t be on shelves until January 2016. Lucky me got a sneak peek at the book.

When I was a kid, I’d play a game in my mind to get a sense of where I was in the world. I’d start with my exact location, for example, on a horse, which is where I spent a lot of hours as a young girl. This is what I’d say: On Rio (my horse). At Red Gate Barn. In the city of Savannah. In the state of Georgia. In the United States. In North America. On Earth.

It certainly wasn’t rocket science, but I was trying to figure out where I was—literally, and where I was in the bigger world out there. Author Jeffery Bennett is trying to answer the same question, albeit in a much more fascinating, much more exhaustive way. I, Humanity is a nonfiction picture book that aims to teach kids how the human race—or, humanity—fits in within the greater universe.

In order to help kids understand this, Bennett explains the history of what we humans thought and what we humans knew about the greater universe. The story is told (confusingly at first, but by mid-book I got into it) by the point of view of Humanity. The story comes across as a wise elder explaining all of this history to a younger child, but is told in first-person narrative, hence the title I, Humanity.

After a necessary preface that explains how to best read the sometimes-overwhelming book, Bennett begins by explaining that humans thought the earth was flat. Why? (Kids will most certainly ask.) “…Because it seems to explain what we see in our daily lives…the earth seems flat as you look toward the horizon, and at night the stars seem to fill a great dome extending down to the horizon in all directions.”

The story of our understanding of the universe includes our increased knowledge of navigation skills and constellations, the daily paths of the sun and moon, and the discovery of planets, gravity and orbits. The story continues as humanity approaches modern time and new technologies such as telescopes, satellites and even space stations helped us to learn more and fine-tune our theories and hypotheses.

Because of the breadth of what he covers, Bennett does sacrifice some depth on each of the many topics he brings up. Yet kids will hopefully be inspired to learn more about all the little things he highlights. And, at the end of the book, there are suggested activities grouped by grade level that kids can do at home and school.

I was surprised to see that the recommended age for this book is 7 to 9 years old. My 8 ½-year-old, a big reader and fan of science, didn’t want to touch the book—I can’t put my finger on why (and continued questioning by her mom didn’t get me anywhere), but I’m guessing it’s the amount of information on each page. There’s either too much information for this age group, or the book is really best for 9 to 11 year olds. (But will that age group pick up a picture book? I’m not sure.)

Simply put, this is one cool book that does an admiral job explaining a vast, abstract subject to young kids in an innovative way. It’s definitely worth checking out—maybe your child will be looking at the stars in a whole new away.

Publisher: Big Kid Science

URL: www.BigKidScience.com

Available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million!

MSRP: approximately $15

Ages: 7-9 years

Readability: 3

Illustrations: 5

Kept My Children's Interest: 4

Appealed to Advertised Age: 3

I Would Purchase for My Child: Yes

I Would Purchase as a Gift: Yes

Overall Rating: 4

All ratings on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high).

Meet the Reviewer!

Kate Schwarz is a full-time mom and wife living in Great Falls, VA. In addition to being a reader to her three small children, Kate is a writer, distance runner, Crossfitter and blogger of raising kids with books at www.katesbookery.blogspot.com.