“Daddy, I’m bored.”
“You’re bored? Here. I’ll tell you a story. When I was a kid, my dad had a set of 1963 World Book Encyclopedias. An encyclopedia was a set of books. There were about 27 of them in all and they were supposed to give you an ‘encyclopedic’ amount of information, which means they tried to include all the information you could ever hope to ask. So you’d look things up like you would in a dictionary, but instead of just telling you what a word meant, it would tell you all about that thing or place or person.
But let’s get back to the story:
“Now, 1963 was a long time ago even when I was a kid, so people worried that, after they paid for a set of encyclopedias, the world would change and then their encyclopedia would be wrong. So, in order to sell more encyclopedias, the company that made them would promise to send another book each year that had all the changes that happened for years and years after a person bought the set. That was called a Year Book. So, every year, World Book would send out a Year Book and sheets of stamps. The stamps had the name of the entry and the year and page number that the updated info could be found in the Year Book. That way, when you looked up President of the United States of America, you’d see a stamp that said you could find out who the new President was in 1964, 1968, 1972, etc. by looking at the right page in those years’ Year Books.”
“Daddy, can I go play?”
“No, I have to finish telling you about what happened when I got bored when I was a kid.”
“But I’m okay now.”
“No, you still look bored. Let me finish telling you all about this.”
“So, where was I? Oh, yeah, every year, World Book would send out the new Year Book and sheets of stamps to put in the original set of encyclopedias. Whenever I would tell my dad that I was bored, he’d go get a sheet of the stamps and tell me to go ahead and put them in the right places. I would have to look up each entry and put the stamp in. Usually, I would start off really upset that he didn’t just let me turn on the TV, but eventually I would always get sucked in and start reading about all kinds of interesting things. Like, I learned all about different countries and politics and I even read about things that hadn’t changed because sometimes while I was looking for one thing I’d come across something else that seemed interesting. Eventually, I read the whole encyclopedia set all the way through. That’s how I know that John Tyler ran for Vice President with William Henry Harrison, who was called Tippecanoe and who died after only, like, a month of being President because he caught pneumonia during his inaugural address. And that’s how I know that John Tyler had more kids than any other President. And that’s how I know that John Tyler’s kids must not have been terribly bored most of the time, because there wasn’t a World Book Encyclopedia back then, but Tyler was still able to be President without having his kids come in and complain about being bored all the time. Also, James K. Polk was from Tennessee and he was President during the great California Gold Rush back in 1849.”
“Daddy, I can go play now. It’s okay.”
“No, you still look bored. How about if I tell you some of the other things I half remember from the 1963 World Book Encyclopedia?”
“No, I want to go play.”
“Are you sure?”
“Okay, well, next time you’re bored, just tell me and I’ll entertain you with stories about the other things I remember from the encyclopedia okay?”
And that is how to battle boredom. My plan for the future is to show them the random page feature on Wikipedia.