Review Detail

Middle Grade Non-Fiction 58
Great History of Everything Communication Related!
Overall rating
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
3.0
Learning Value
 
5.0
Broken down into in different types of in person communication and also long distance communication, this book explore different facets of how, why, and in what manner humans communicate. There are lots of good details about a variety of topics; how humans learn to speak, how speech actually works, how new words appear, and even some information about famous speech makers. There's even several pages on how we communicate through silence, and good examples of how one can tell a story just from a picture, even without words. The pages of what posture communicates should be required reading for middle school students, who don't always understand body language; the "Zone of Personal Space" diagram is one I might need to copy and post at my desk. Gives a whole new understanding to my concept of "personal bubble"! Also to be considered are gestures, facial expressions, and touch.

For sending messages to people who aren't near us, it's important to understand how symbols are used, and there's even a chart of Morse Code. There's a nice spread about the evolution of writing, as well as the history of written messages. Yes, both the newspaper AND the fax machine are there, right next to pigeon post! The two pages on mass communication are very interesting, and start with the first radio broadcast in history in 1906. My grandmother would have been 13! I'm a little alarmed that over half of the innovations occurred during my life time, although I am at least younger than television AND color television! The history of the telephone and the internet is both something that I wish young readers had well fixed in their memories, so the graphics for those are crucial.

Good Points
There's so much good information here, and it's in a very readable format that would be suitable for both elementary and middle school students. The graphics seemed a little goofy to me, but perhaps their bright, cartoon style will appeal more to young readers.

While I've seen several books on the history of television, the internet and telephones, and even Osborne's Who's Got Mail?: The Story of the U.S. Postal Service, I can't think of any book that lays all varieties of communication out so clearly. This would be great to use with students who struggle with various aspects of communication, but is also just a fun source of facts for general use.
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