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Guinness World Records 2013

Book Review for Parents

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Book cover of Guinness World Records 2013
Guinness World Records


Guinness World Records 2013 is filled with an amazing number of world records (4,000) and color photos (1,000). There is a great deal of interesting factual information, along with some inspiring and exciting world records. There are also a lot of funny world records, as well as some you and your kids will look at and say, "gross."

It's this mix that is so appealing to tweens and teens, as well as many adults. While the amount of information is mind-boggling, the book's format helps to organize it in a way that makes it easy to locate information. In fact, it's the combination of the book's design, format and content that makes it particularly appealing to boys, even reluctant readers.

The Book's Organization

The 16-page Introduction section includes the Editor's Letter from Craig Glenday, Editor-in-Chief, highlighting some of the book's features and related activities. There is information about Guinness World Records (GWR) Day, how to become a record breaker, and Peace One Day, an initiative GWR supports.

The table of contents covers a double-page spread and includes several sample pages with notes explaining what readers will find: fact circles, background information, infographics, photographs, notes and annotations, and more. It also provides information about two extras. There's a bonus chapter about the creation of the book available online. If you have an iPhone/iTouch/iPad or Android device with a camera, you'll be able to download a special free Augmented Reality app that you can use to see 3D animation where ever you see the 3D logo in the book.

As outlined in the table of contents, Guinness World Records 2013 is organized in 12 color-coded chapters by theme: Space, Green Earth, Animals, Humans, Human Achievement, Adventure, World Tour, Society, Engineering, Science, Entertainment, and Sports. Each of these chapters is further subdivided, beginning with a To the Limits question that looks at whether or not there is a limit beyond which a record cannot be broken.

For example, the first section, Space, includes the following topics: To the Limits: How Far Will We Explore?, Venus, The Sun, Living in Space, Space Warfare, and Cosmic Curiosities. The last Section, Sports, is also the longest. It covers 23 topics, including American Football, Cricket, Track & Field - Men; Track & Field - Women; Golf; Water Sports; Soccer and more, as well as addressing the To the Limits question, How Fast Can We Run?

What Will You Find About Each Topic?

The type of information provided differs with the chapter, but in every chapter you'll find brief illustrated descriptions, with an emphasis on intriguing information. For example, the World Tour chapter's emphasis is on superlatives. For example, the double-page spread about Africa emphasizes, in words and photos, man made and natural wonders that meet the criteria of being the "largest," "tallest," "longest," "greatest," or "oldest."

For specific sports like soccer and rugby, on the double-page spreads in the Sports chapter, you'll find photos of players, facts, records, and a variety of records, such as the largest attendance. While a surprising amount of information is provided, it comes in small doses - a bold heading, followed by a sentence to a paragraph of text - on a page filled with photographs, shaded boxes of information and fact circles.

How Can You Locate Information?

Besides the table of contents, there are two helpful indexes. The first is the Subject Index. It not only provides a list of subjects covered, but it also indicates the depth of coverage, with entries in bold meaning a main topic entry and entries in bold capitals indicating an entire chapter. The second index is the Superlative Index, which readers can use to search in such categories as "Biggest," "Fastest," "Longest," and "Most," as well as a host of other superlatives.

Why Do I Particularly Recommend the Book for Boys?

While I imagine a number of girls will also enjoy the book, research has shown that boys read less than girls and are much more apt to be reluctant readers. Research has also shown that boys tend to like nonfiction books more than fiction and that reluctant readers tend to be intimidated by books that have page after page filled with words, without illustrations or breaks other than chapter breaks. The pages of Guinness World Records 2013 contain lots of color photographs and brief descriptions, making it an excellent book to dip into again and again, without feeling you have to read it all.

Because of the thematic organization and the two indexes, it's easy for young readers to locate information that interests them. If you want to encourage your kids to read daily, just pick a topic and have them look it up in Guinness World Records 2013 and read you what they find. If they enjoy the book, they are apt to also enjoy the annual National Geographic Kids Almanac. I recommend it for a narrower age range: ages 8-14. Some of the topics it covers are nature, animals, geography and history. It also includes numerous maps. (Guinness World Records, 2012. ISBN: 9781904994879)

More Recommendations

If your kids are interested in science, I recommend the books in the Scientists in the Field series. Some of my favorites are The Snake Scientist, Digging for Bird-Dinosaurs and The Wildlife Detectives. Another favorite is Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot, the winner of the 2011 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal.

If your kids are interested in setting their own records, see the About.com Guide to Chemistry's articles How To Set a World Record and World's Biggest Smoke Bomb.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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