We had a crash course (no pun intended) on auto racing the last few weeks, as we prepared for our time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Because I’m incapable of just letting my kids watch cars go around a track, of course we HAD to read a dozen books and learn all about the inner workings of racing. Whether you’re headed to a race, to the Hot Wheels exhibit at the Children’s Museum, or you just have a child interested in what it takes to be a race car driver, here are some great books to get your learning started. As my kids are 7 and 9, the books I’ve chosen are geared towards elementary aged learning. Most of the books will be a little fact-heavy for younger children, though most of them do have really great pictures that will probably enthrall the younger set.
Racing Driver: How to drive racing cars step by step is perfect for kids that like to memorize facts and details. It goes through each kind of racing and really talks you through how to drive the vehicle, what goes on in a race, and little things like what all the different flags mean. I love that it even shows you what the controls look like behind the wheel of the different vehicles. It’s full of pictures and diagrams to help kids understand the concepts.
I chose Race Cars: Science, Technology, Engineering specifically because it devotes a chapter to the crew. Many books talk about racing and being a race car driver, but I love how this book shows you the many other careers that are available in the field, and highlights that racing really is a team sport, even if all we see on TV is the person behind the wheel.
A Daredevil’s Guide to Car Racing
A Daredevil’s Guide to Car Racing is just right for my Little Man. It is shorter and gives the facts in bite-size pieces that are easier for a child with a short attention span or lower reading level to take in. It’s still informative and offers the basic facts you need to understand racing, but it does it from a fun snippets. Of course, it highlights some of the more dangerous aspects of racing (things like hard courses and crash statistics- nothing too graphic, though it does mention that some crashes have resulted in death). This might scare some sensitive children, but mine thought it was interesting.
Science at Work in Auto Racing
I’m really disappointed that Science at Work in Auto Racing is more difficult to purchase than the others, because it is my favorite on this list. Luckily, the Indianapolis Public Library does have a copy, and you can find used ones around on the internets, but it’s not as readily available as the other books. This book is THE PERFECT compliment to the Children’s Museum’s current Hot Wheels exhibit. More science than racing, this is a super educational book that takes scientific concepts and explains them using racing as its example. Kids learn about friction, laws of motion, air force, and so much more. Every page is packed with useful information. I really can’t say enough how much I love this book.
The Racecar Book
The Racecar Book: Build and Race Mousetrap Cars, Dragsters, Tri-Can Haulers & More is hands-on learning at its best. This is a book full of instructions for building different types of race cars. Many require adult supervision or an older student, but if you’re willing to put in the time you can make some really cool racers from household objects. Though this one isn’t full of facts about racing, it’s a fun addition to your unit.
And because you know I can never stick with just five, here’s a bonus for you!
Great Moments in American Auto Racing
Funny story about this book, I didn’t choose it, it chose me. I was sitting on the floor in front of the racing shelf at Central Library, and when I picked up my books, this happened to be at the bottom of the stack. It must have fallen off the shelf as I was pulling other books off. I wouldn’t have picked this book because it has zero pictures and doesn’t really fit what I was looking for, but once I looked it over I realized how much Big Boy would like it. Great Moments in American Auto Racing is a chapter book that is written more like a lifestyle article in a magazine than it is a fact book. Over half the book deals exclusively with the Indy 500, the rest with Daytona. The book starts with the opening of the Brickyard and the Indy section ends at 2010. It highlights all the biggest events and exceptional moments throughout the years. Big Boy likes to be able to sit and read a chapter book all the way through at one time. This book works really well for him because of that. It’s great for kids interested in the history as opposed to the science or glamour of racing. Also, I was wrong, it does have pictures. It’s just a photo insert in the middle as opposed to pictures throughout. Again, works better for my “just the facts, ma’am” kind of child.