Book Review: Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)

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Ok, maybe it’s not quite that amazing, Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) is one hefty and awesome read, and perfect for this era of helicopter parenting.

Authors (and married couple) Gever Tulley and Julie Spiegler seem to have one big point: letting your kids do something mildly dangerous (with supervision, for the most part) will help your kids grow to be creative people who can figure out life problems on their own. Each topic has its own easy-to-grasp page, complete with diagrams and plenty of supplemental info, such as potential hazards and the time each undertaking might last.

The topics include, but are not limited to: “Explode a Bottle in the Freezer,” “Stand on the Roof,” “Put Strange Stuff in the Microwave,” and “Super Glue your Fingers Together” — all actions that have an intriguing element of danger, but aren’t super likely to have anyone end up in a hospital ER or something equally awful. Basically, these are things your kids can do, while you’re in the same room/area, and you’ll all have a good time and enjoy the results (some more than others).

Tulley and Spielger are also the founders of the Tinkering School, which is self-described as “an exploratory curriculum designed to help kids – ages 8 to 17 – learn how to build things … by providing a collaborative environment in which to explore basic and advanced building techniques and principles, we strive to create a school where we all learn by fooling around.” Essentially, Fifty Things… is an extension of this school and mode of thought.

You can buy the book at Amazon, follow the book’s blog, and read a review with Gever Tulley at Wired. Aussies in particular may want to make haste, as an Australian psychologist is apparently pushing for the banning of the book.

Comments on Book Review: Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)

  1. Those are all things I’ve done myself on accident, at least if you do them on purpose you feel smarter about it as you’re trying to “seal grab” the ringing phone after supergluing all your digits together.

  2. This is so cool! This reminds me of my cousin’s kids. They run barefoot EVERYWHERE and a complete stranger was lecturing my cousin about the dangers of this. He wouldn’t shut up and she told him their feet were tough and he pointed out a shard of glass in the ground pointing up just as my little cousins ran over it barefoot. They little feet were perfectly fine and all the man could utter was, “Wow, how’d they do that?”

    A little danger never hurt anyone…much 😉

  3. My brother was OBSESSED with fire, so my mum decided the safest thing to do was to let him experiment in safe way (so he wouldn’t sneak matches and do himself serious damage).
    He used to stand in the garden burning page after page of newspapers, just watching it burn.
    He never burnt himself, is super safety conscious and no longer obsessed with fire.

    • My mom and my best friend’s mom did the same thing.
      My best friend and I used to go out in the back yard and build little fires. The rules were: the fires couldn’t be over a certain size, they had to be on the concrete and we had to have a hose or a bucket of water within reach. We never had any mishaps serious enough that I remember them.

  4. So I posted this book on facebook last night for other parents to see. I got a few comments of this is horrible and a few of this rocks and a few of “oh I am so buying that for so-n-so, they won’t their kids do anything.” And then I came to work this morning and guess what I had on my desk. The BOOK. A co-worker saw the post and had the book. He received it as a joke, since he does not have kids. Well, he decided to give it to me! Oh I can’t wait!!!!

  5. I was vaguely horrified by the title of this book. I don’t have kids yet, but when I do, I expect to be an over-protective parent. So, I expected to see a bunch of things that were probably good learning and growing experiences for kids but which I’d never be able to bare to let my future!kids do.

    Then I looked at the activities mentioned in this post and the pages it links to (Including the article about the psychologist who wants to ban the book) and went “These aren’t even that dangerous! I DID most of these things as a kid. Most of them with my parents’ approval and/or help.”

    I played with fire (With strict precautions), climbed trees, stood on the roof (Parents weren’t too pleased about that one. But I think it was the roof they were concerned about), had a Swiss Army Knife (I cut fingers many times, but never badly enough to require more than a band-aid).

    Licking a battery I probably wouldn’t encourage without doing some research first. Looking at the sun seems like a bad idea to me, that what I’ve read says that eye damage can occur before pain does, but that’s the only one I’ve seen that worried me.

    Huh. Maybe I’ll be a less over-protective parent than I thought.

  6. Love this idea! The area we live in is full of unbelievably over-protective parents, many of whom I have babysat for… it was torture, having to make them follow their ridiculous rules. I intend to get this book, and put it to good use!

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