"Boy couldn't hear, but he was happy. He spoke with dancing hands and he drew pictures for people in the sand. His parents loved his stories... but the villagers didn't understand."
Boy, by Phil Cummings and Shane Devries, is a beautiful story for many reasons. It tells the story of a feuding king and dragon, and a little boy who helps them see (or perhaps hear) past their differences. The story may be simple, but the message runs deep. In a society where it seems we are so often more interested in being right than being heard, we all need to stop and pay attention to the child who simply wants to understand, "why are you fighting?" And then take the time to talk it out.
The illustrations in this sweet picture book are crisp and powerful; everything about the book is thoughtful and filled with meaning. I'm a big fan of books where the illustrations tell the story as much as the text, because it means kiddos who don't yet read can still find meaning in the story.
It's that book where something as simple as dancing hands helps us understand each other a little better.
"It is a map." Let me tell you, that humble sentence is an exciting one. It's exciting because my son read it all by himself! As a confirmed book addict, I have been waiting, waiting for the day my kids can read because I know how empowering it is to lose yourself in a story. And, thanks to the First Reading Library, that day is on the horizon!
The Usborne My First Reading Library is a collection of 50 - yes, 50! - leveled books that will lay the foundation for literacy with your kids. The first 22 books are leveled very intentionally. They start with "dual reader" books with some text on the page for you to read and a very simple phrase or sentence for your young reader to practice. From there, you progress over 15 levels to books your kids can practice reading independently, still with simple sentence structure and vocabulary.
Buy the Usborne My First Reading Library here! (paperback in cardboard case, $79.99)
Other reading series to consider:
"Mom, can you get the little house down?" My boys were won over instantly with this dollhouse! Three story building, eight rooms, six people, two pets, and a whole collection of furniture... a world of play awaits with the Slot-Together Victorian Dollhouse from Usborne.
Ever since joining Usborne Books & More, I have been curious about the little slot-together kits - this dollhouse and a theater. I have always love little things, and I've loved constructing my own toys. But would my two boys? Would they destroy it? Would they get bored?
I decided to take the risk and invite my boys (3.5 and 5) to help me put together this house. They were so excited! All the pieces come on foam boards and just need to be popped out, so no extra tools required. The enclosed book gives step-by-step instructions for building first the house, then the people and furniture.
And my boys were enchanted for the whole two hours we spent constructing everything from start to finish! They were eager to help, followed directions as I handed them down, and were careful with the little foam pieces. That's a win in my book! And, once construction was completed, the boys loved moving the pieces around and opening and closing the front wall to see everything inside. ("We have to close it now, the house is sleeping!")
There is so much to love about this kit: it's a great project, the pieces are well-made and so beautifully detailed (though some pieces benefit from Elmer's Glue reinforcement), you can tell your own stories as you play, and you can learn fun tidbits of historical info from the accompanying book.
"Mom, can I look at that one again?" You know you have a winning book in your hands when your toddlers want to read it again as soon as you've finished. And that's the case with Robin Bright's Love You Hoo, a picture book from Kane Miller.
A parent or guardian owl is speaking to its baby in this sweet story - telling the little owl how special it is, how it has changed the big owl's life, and what the big owl is excited to teach the little one as it grows. It is an ode to parenting, to loving and being loved. And beautifully, there are no genders or labels assigned to these sweet owls, so it works for any mentor/mentee, or parent/child dynamic.
This is a simple but powerful book in the way it addresses the benefits and challenges of raising a little one, as well as the promise of adventures to come. You can't help but want to snuggle closer to your little charge as you read the parting words: "Whoever you are going to be... Whatever you may do... Wherever you may choose to fly... I'll ALWAYS love you - hooooo!"
It's that book that celebrates the special bond between a parent or guardian and their child.
Hi there! I'm Christine - Usborne Books & More independent consultant, kids' book fan, English teacher, mom of two boys.