Are encyclopaedias obsolete?

I don’t know about you, but our home is pretty bereft of books. When Hubs and I first moved in together, 12 years ago, we had overflowing bookshelves. Bookcases were crammed into tiny rooms, with books two or three deep on each shelf.

Then everything changed. We still read avidly. Possibly more than ever before. But the difference now is that we are not reading paper books. Hubs is Mr IT and, as a super techie, he is an early developer of anything nerd-like. He had a digital camera and MP3 player already before we met in 2001. His first e-reader appeared on the scene in 2007. Much to my disgust. I was a book reader, and would be one forever. Or so I thought.

Fast forward 7 years and I’m on my third Kindle, constantly being upsold onto new gadgets. A light on my Kindle? Yes please!

So, you see, our home now has very few books in it. We have numerous cookbooks, a handful of paper books that I can’t handle getting rid of. But apart from that we do all our reading on electronic devices.

The kids, however, that’s a different kettle of fish. Fortunately our girls are massive bookworms, like their parents. Yes, I know that one of them is just 16 months old, but she constantly ignores the toys that are out, to go to the bookshelf and “read” books. Upside down, granted, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

L and C have books all over the house, and reading is a big part of our day to day lives.

But Hubs and I are Mr and Mrs Electronic. We shun paper as much as we possibly can, in favour of putting things in a Google Doc, or on an app. So when I got asked by Parragon Books to review a children’s encyclopaedia, I was a bit “meh”.

We look things up online with L (aged 7), if she’s got homework questions we discuss them, and she learns how to search for things on the internet. So what was the point of an encyclopaedia?

Anyway, the “Children’s Photographic Reference Encyclopaedia of Everything” arrived, and I flicked through it, and thought “yes, it’s quite nice”. Then forgot about it for a while.

The cover of the encyclopaedia

The cover of the encyclopaedia

Then L went and picked it up. And got engrossed in it.

L engrossed in the encyclopaedia

L engrossed in the encyclopaedia

Then she left it lying around, and C was taken with it too.

C doing a bit of learning

C doing a bit of learning

So I asked L what she thought of the book, and she said “I love it!”. Then a few weeks later it turned out to be quite handy as her topic recently was “Space”, and there are some great, beautiful, and clearly explained, pages on that very subject.

Double spread on Our Universe

Double spread on Our Universe

Double spread on The Solar System

Double spread on The Solar System

Now that L is reading more and more, she’ll often pick this book up and go and read a page or two on the human body, or the vikings. The only problem then is when she comes to me with questions about what she’s read!

My verdict? I was convinced that encyclopaedias were obsolete and had no place in our house or our lives. But I am happy to be proven wrong. Hubs and I love this book, and L spends hours riveted to the spot, reading it, which she wouldn’t do with online information.

The only criticism I would have is that it is a “light” version, in that there is not information on everything, which is understandable considering the size of the book, and that the information on each subject is fairly simple, so some people may find it lacking. But we find for our 7 year old it more than suits our needs.

You can buy this encyclopaedia from Amazon for around £9, which I think is pretty reasonably priced. I think it is worth spending that amount if it means getting your child interested in learning facts.

Disclosure: I received a complementary copy of the Children’s Photographic Reference Encyclopaedia of Everything in exchange for this honest review. As ever all words and opinions are my own.


12 Responses

  1. Vicky Myers says:

    That’s really interesting, I would have had the same thought as you re internet versus paper encyclopedia. Paper does mean children can easily access information:)
    Vicky Myers recently posted…Sunday Catch UpMy Profile

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      I’m sold! I do think it’s easier for them to delve in and out with the paper version.

  2. Shell Louise says:

    I love my kindle but I couldn’t ever imagine getting rid of my paper books. In fact, right at this moment, hubby is outside cutting wood for the shelves he’s building to house our many books!
    Shell Louise recently posted…How does your garden grow? #hdygg?My Profile

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      I was like that, but when we relocated to the UK from France the cost of transporting all our books just wasn’t justifiable sadly 🙁

  3. penny says:

    I am so torn! Techie husband, English Lit student me, yet I am always telling him to.clear out the books. You can’t beat real books to really inspire sometimes. We’re doing space here too, in year 2?
    penny recently posted…Our journey into a dragon’s butt and other adventures…Visit Wales.My Profile

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      So similar – my first job was in a bookshop, I’ve got an English Lit A level, I come from a family of bookworms, but Hubs is a techie. The decider came when we relocated to the UK from France, and the cost of transporting all our books just wasn’t justifiable. Yes, Year 2 here too 🙂

  4. Tarana says:

    I thought they were obsolete too, but this looks great! I’m still a paper book lover, and in fact, a hoarder. Thankfully, my toddler loves them too.
    Tarana recently posted…Staying connected with family + Grandparents Frame reviewMy Profile

  5. I used to run a business selling books with my husband and we had three garages full of books, now? We have about 15 books between us! My toddler on the other hand has about 50, I think its much better for kids to be able to pick books up 🙂
    Kate Williams recently posted…Silent SundayMy Profile

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      Sounds familiar – we used to have so many, now it’s just the kids who have them, I think children have to have paper books, ebooks are just not the same for them.

  6. My boys adore fact books and would love this. I think that the big sets of encyclopedias are obsolete, but not books like this aimed at kids
    Jen aka The Mad House recently posted…March’s Small StuffMy Profile

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      That’s very true about the big sets of encyclopaedias, but this condensed one is great.

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