The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hal Iggulden is like a brain scan of a twelve year old boy 30 years ago. It's filled with fun and educational information like The Greatest Paper Airplane in the World, The Five Knots Every Boy Should Know, Slingshots, Making a Bow and Arrow, Timers and Tripwires, Famous Battles-Including Lexington and Concord, The Alamo, and Gettysburg, Spies-Codes and Ciphers, Navajo Code Talkers' Dictionary, Stickball, Fossils, The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and Skimming Stones; the stuff every kid used to know and now it seems like none do.
If you live in the city, you may be wishing your child had a backyard so you could take advantage of this kind of fun. But, I believe that this stuff is just as doable in the city, and maybe even more important for city kids. Just about any of the activities in the book are just as doable in NYC as anywhere. Go skim stones in central park, fishing in the Harlem Meer, or stickball in the schoolyard. Kids used to own the streets of NYC. Maybe it's about time they took them back.
Encouraging kids to get back outside playing traditional games, The Dangerous Book for Boys is finding itself part of a wider resurgence to restore the innocence of childhood and child play. In these days of earlier and more frequent high-stakes testing, over-scheduled childhoods some parents are starting to push back. Several groups have been formed to promote the slowing down of childhood. New York Voices for Childhood is a group of parents and educators that have joined together to lobby the schools to make old-fashioned play part of the curriculum. I don't know if it's appropriate or ironic that they don't have a website, but if you are interested in joining or finding out more you can find their contact information here.