How to be a Genius

cover image for How to be a GeniusDK Publishing. (2009) How to be a Genius. New York, NY: Dorling Kindersley



Little kids may always want to know why things happen, but older kids are fascinated by how things happen. This busy and colorful book from DK answers all their questions about the human brain – everything from how neurons make connections to how optical illusions work.

For this particular non-fiction book, DK drops it’s trademark black on white text with color photos and instead fills the pages with vibrant cartoons and the occasional photo or detailed illustration. This works well for the topic, as much of what needs to be explained are processes and theories rather than examples of particular objects. The book is also liberally sprinkled with pages encouraging tweens to test their skills or improve their memory. In general, this book is interesting and informative and will keep readers turning the pages and even eager to share what they’ve learned with others. It’s not quite up to the level of David Macauley’s classics, but it’s a worthy addition to any library.


Best for ages 8-14

Personal note: I found the title to be slightly misleading. If little kids want to know why, and older kids want to know how, then teens want to know how to. For the most part, this book is about how, not how to and I found this to be a little frustrating simply because my expectations were otherwise based on the title.

Cautionary note: This title may produce challenges due to how it approaches religion, which is briefly mentioned. But there is nothing in it that is inappropriate and I would still very much recommend it’s inclusion in a library or booklist.


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