Best of the Old

By Josh

In a recent New York Times Magazine profile, rocker Jack White (formerly of the White Stripes) voiced a concern about today’s crop of kids and teens that also worries those of us who are parents of today’s kids and teens. “This generation is so dead,” White lamented. “You ask a kid, ‘What are you doing this Saturday?’ and they’ll be playing video games or watching cable, instead of building model cars or airplanes or doing something creative. Kids today never say, ‘Man, I’m really into remote-controlled steamboats.’ They never say that.”

Like Jack White, the editors of UNBORED grew up in an era when the Internet, personal computers, on-demand entertainment, and videogames existed… but they weren’t as easy to access as they are now. You certainly couldn’t fit them into your pocket! We grew up doing creative stuff, too. So we agree that — as often as possible — kids should make (and break) stuff, and use their imaginations.

Although we’re not so nostalgic about the supposedly good old days — believe us when we say that kids were glued to TV and computer and handheld electronic game screens in the 1970s and ’80s, too — we do take inspiration from old how-to manuals for kids and grownups alike. In fact, as the photos shown here demonstrate, I have a pretty good collection of such books. I’ve listed a bunch of them in the MORE RESOURCES section of each UNBORED chapter.

However! Our goal with UNBORED is to present readers of all ages not only with the best of the old (e.g., crafts, bicycle repair, science experiments), but with the best of the new. UNBORED is bursting at the seams with contemporary, high-tech activities like geocaching, LEGO robotics, and LED “graffiti.” We enthuse about our favorite apps and websites. And we even have a few kind words to say about — don’t tell Jack White! — videogames.