Alex Frith

LONG LIST REVIEW: Politics For Beginners


To coin a phrase- I live in a house where everyone wants to change the world but not the toilet roll!

My young ‘adulty’ children have an opinion on EVERYTHING and my husband combines nodding sagely with throwing angry cushions at ‘Question Time’ and those serious Sunday morning television programmes - which leaves my 12 year old and I somewhat bemused.

He, because of his age and politics not really having much to do with ‘You Tube Vines’ with dogs in them, and me, because I fell down a hole in my political knowledge some time ago and have always thought it far too dull and complicated to try and get out.

However- enter stage right- ‘Usborne Politics for Beginners’ by Frith, Hore and Stowell. My boy and I have eaten this book for breakfast, dinner and tea!

With its easily accessible infographic style, the big ideas of politics are delivered in bitesize, easily digestible portions.

Through its fun interactive use of charts and cartoons, I have filled the gaping crevices in my political education and my son has been empowered!

For example- it  will go down in the the annals of our family history ‘that’ Tuesday in May when our youngest calmly and confidently explained his reasons for thinking our ‘Plurality Government ‘ was unfair- using the ice-cream analogy from Page 39, headed ‘The Democratic Process’.

Rarely has his much older sibling's jaws been so silent or my husband’s jaw dropped so fast and far to the floor!

Since the reading and sharing of this book, I am soundly of the opinion that everyone needs it in their lives. Even if they think they are a bit of a political ‘know-it-all’, the eloquence of this book makes explaining ‘Big Questions’, ‘Political Ideologies’ etc concise and engaging. It really smashes the idea that politics is a dry, stuffy subject, important for the few,  right out the park! There is undoubtedly a chapter or page that can be used with any age group of children either to support learning, give background or even to just provide reassurance.

Knowledge is indeed power and with so much for us to dislike in the political world around us, a healthy first step for change is owning a copy of Usborne’s ‘Politics for Beginners’.

It is now with great pride I take my place on the sofa on a Sunday morning with my cushion throwing arm fully warmed up!

Politics For Beginners   Alex Frith, Rosie Hore and Louie Stowell, illustrated by Kellan Stover

Usborne   ISBN: 978-1474922524

Royal Society Young People's Book Prize 2017

The Young People’s Book Prize celebrates the best books that communicate science to young people. Each year an expert panel of adult judges panel choose a shortlist of their favourite science books from entries submitted by publishers. Once the six best books have been selected we hand over the task of picking a winner to those who know best – groups of young people under 14 across the UK. These groups can be formed in any setting, from schools and libraries to scouts/brownies, science centres or youth groups. They form their own judging panels, read and discuss the books and submit their verdict to us – together they decide the winner.

This year, I was delighted when we were picked to be one of this year's Judging Panels. My class were so excited when I unpacked the box that I had to let them all have a good look at the treasures inside.

Each book was greatly admired- and liked for different reasons. Petr Horacek's beautiful illustrations captured their attention immediately in 'A First Book of Animals' whereas they couldn't stop giggling over the facts in 'The Awesome Body Book'.

Robert Winston's 'Home Lab' caused  much discussion, with many of the class declaring their intention to try out some of the ideas.

'This Little Pebble' was referred to as 'fascinating' and 'eye catching' and they thought 'If...' was 'full of amazing information'. 

'100 Things To Know About Space' tells you things 'in a fun way', making it a 'great read'. 

What a short list! Every one of these has something special to offer and would make a welcome addition to any library. Our next step is for the actual judging panel to take a closer look at each title and make some difficult decisions!

You can find out more about the awards on the Royal Society's website.