A few weeks back, Evan reviewed the Dangerous Book For Boys. This is a great book for childern and adults of any age, as is the Daring Book for Girls. These books both remind of all the discussion going on about the demise of the chemistry kit post 9/11, or the disconnect with nature that people of all ages are experiencing in modern society as well as many other issues. They remind me of these things because they go directly against them.
There seems to be hope right now for do-it-yourself'rs, for explorers, for people looking for something other than what is spoon fed to them. To go along with this change are a number of books that can serve as manuals to this mini-revolution.
If the Daring and Dangerous books are a little too advanced for your youngsters, then Howtoons, a brilliantly illustrated comic book, is the answer. You won't find Spiderman here though. Instead what you get a series of simple projects that kids can undertake, including a section on safety.
If your kids are a little older - say in their 20's or 50's - then MAKE magazine is certainly the way to go. MAKE has led the pack for the last few years as they've made it ok for people to tinker and experiment again. The magazine features beautiful design, stunning photography, technical illustrations and a diverse amount of content ranging subjects from biology to home made transportation. If you've missed the first few years of the magazine you can catch up with the Best of Make and then get a subscription.
Quickly back to the Dangerous and Daring books...if you are concerned about the gender specifity of these books, just buy them both. Your kids will probably start with the one who's cover they find most appealling, but if they are into one book, they'll soon explore the other for more content.