Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun: 22 Super-Charged Projects for Kids by Michael J. Caduto is an empowering book, literally and pedagogically. It’s all about power, both the renewable energy technologies that can help us live in balance with the environment, and the surprising power of each kid to reduce emissions, conserve resources and change the world. Catch the Wind helps the next generation get a head start by way of genuinely fun activities—22 big ones, plus hundreds of suggestions, questions and tangents in sidebars—that spark discovery and exploration of clean energy sources: wind, sun, static electricity and electromagnets. Projects range from quickies like mini-sailboats and sun tea, to the more complex like a bicycle-powered generator, which, along with the solar panel and backyard windmill, can actually charge iPods, laptops and cell phones. Meanwhile, crucial concepts and vocabulary are introduced at appropriate junctures, creating personal reference points and a good foundation for future scientists, smart consumers and keepers of the Earth.

FOLDING FOR FUN
Origami Zoo is aimed at children, but kids at heart will have just as much fun folding these 25 cute critters ranging from “very simple” to advanced. Not all are typical zoo residents. Along with the more familiar hamster, pig, cow, puppy and butterfly come a penguin, a koala and even an errant monster. After a brief explanation of papers, basic symbols and folds, clear step-by-step instructions take beginners and experienced folders through the moves to make a simple square of paper come alive. Sixty pieces of origami paper are included. The authors are origami superstars: Paul Jackson is a paper artist, teacher and prolific author, and Miri Golan is a professional origami educator and founder of the Israeli Origami Center, which trains teachers in Jewish, Muslim and Christian schools. The husband-and-wife team also co-founded Folding Together, a project that brought Jewish and Arab children together to make origami. Who knows? We may be helping our children fold their way into world peace by the next generation.

TOP PICK FOR LIFESTYLES
One Year to an Organized Life with Baby might sound like a fantasy novel, but as a parenting and self-help book, it’s legit. Regina Leeds, New York Times best-selling author of One Year to an Organized Life and other books in the series, teams with parenting expert and mother of five Meagan Francis to produce “a weekly system to ease parental stress and get organized.” The book takes readers from the eighth week of pregnancy to the 20th week postpartum, and can be referenced at any point in between. With impressive thoroughness, the authors pay attention to every possible topic, including closet purges, sleep schedules, home budget, delivery options (babies and dinner), medical testing, childcare options, nursery d├ęcor, infant care and a zillion other things, most of which new parents will not have thought of yet. Luckily, One Year does it for them. It may seem harsh to stick to a weekly prescription of to-do (and to-imagine and to-be) lists and tips, but for those who surrender to the structure, the payoff is profound: the chance to “fully enjoy the changing landscape of their lives.”

 

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