I can clearly remember the first time I saw a Star Wars movie, and I bet you can too. We had a taped-off-TV video recording of both the Ewok Adventure movies, and I nursed a (sadly ill-fated) crush on Mace. I was 16 when Episode 1 came out, which is both young enough to have been excited about Natalie Portman as Amidala and more than old enough to have been crushed by the movie’s intense silliness (although the pod-racing, you guys, that was pretty freaking sweet). I saw all the movies (of course), lost my faith, and then had it restored by the original Clone Wars webisodes, which I to this day will proselytize about at the first opportunity (they are brilliant and you should watch them immediately).
October 6 was Star Wars Reads Day, which meant I got to dress up as a Jedi, lock lightsabers with some young proteges (with whom the Force was indeed strong), and nerd out with fellow grown-up fans. And it struck me then that I didn’t read any Star Wars books until well after college. Timothy Zahn is not to be missed, but how does that help the 6 year olds so excited about R2D2 and Kit Fisto? Not at all. Luckily, there are other options! These three books may not add any new stories to the Star Wars galaxy, but they will lead you deeper along the path from padawan to master.
Star Wars: 1, 2, 3
Ostensibe Age Range: all ages
For the indoctrination of too-young-for-the-movies kids, look no further than this. You’ll learn that General Grievous has FOUR arms, and that while there are many Jedi, there is only ONE Grand Master. And the further along you go, the more fun it gets: Can you name all SEVEN of these bounty hunters? Or these EIGHT scary creatures? What about these TEN villains? Grown-ups take note, this book would also be an excellent addition to any trivia challenge.
The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee, Tom Angleberger
Ostensible Age Range: 9 – 12
This is the third book in Angleberger’s Origami Yoda series (The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Darth Paper Strikes Back), but don’t let that stop you from picking it up right away — or from reading them all. Like Star Wars itself, these books are epic tales of redemption, of the battle between good and evil, and of betrayal and discovery. Ever since new-kid Dwight came to school with an origami Yoda back in the first book, the kids of McQuarrie Middle School have come to rely on things being interesting, and on their Star Wars knowledge to get them out of trouble. But now Dwight is at a new school, and things are booooooring — until Sara shows up with a Wookiee-shaped fortune-teller. Angleberger reminds us of the benefits of being different, the importance of girl power, and throws in all the nerd references you could want and more.
Darth Vader: A 3-D Reconstruction Log
Ostensible Age Range: all who dare to discover the secrets of the Sith Lord
This log of notes from the surgical team that turned Anakin into Vader was salvaged from the memory logs of two medidroids. Page by page, the secrets of his suit and his alterations are revealed, in glorious (and sometimes gory) detail. Did you know that Darth Vader’s suit is rated as a Class C space suit? That his right glove is an authentic Mandalorian crushgaunt? (Oh man, why don’t I have one of those?!) Fair warning, you are going to see Darth Vader’s organs — but the notes from the (rather grumpy) team, and the incredibly detailed breakdown of what goes where and why, are totally worth it.