Confessions of a Biblioholic

Hello, my name is Amber, and I love books.  I mean it.  I. Really. Love. Books. I love to read them, buy them, read ABOUT them, talk about them, organize them, lovingly caress them (only occasionally, I swear…).  But really, I’m constantly on the lookout for new books, both for myself and for the kids.  Despite his generally spastic nature, Thing 1 can sit still and focus on a book like nobody’s business.  He’s always been a lover of books, just like his mama.  Not sure where the spastic thing comes from.  So, for the past 4 years, I’ve encouraged him (and Thing 2, when she came along), to use books to explore, discover, and re-imagine the world around him.  That’s why, after attending an Usborne book party, I was so excited.  Come on with me, and we’ll take a look…inside a book…(High five to all of you who got that reference.)

Many of you may have heard of Usborne Books without even realizing it.  I know that was the case for me. When I participated in my first Usborne book party, I realized that we already had two Usborne books on the “favorite” shelf.  At that particular party, I only ordered one book, but I also booked my own party, after which I ordered quite the assortment of books.  My book buying habit is your gain!  Here’s your chance for a sneak peek inside the world of Usborne Books (a.k.a:  Is my kid REALLY going to like these, or will they be relegated to the “colored on, torn up, and shoved in a corner” pile within the first week?).

First, let’s do a little bit of an introduction to Usborne Books & More.  I generally try to be a bit more original, but since they do such a great job introducing themselves, I’ll borrow a bit from the company website:

“Usborne Books & More is a division of Educational Development Corporation (EDC), a well-established company that has twice been recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of The 200 Best Small Companies in America  and three times by Fortune Magazine as one of America’s 100 Fastest Growing Small Companies, and has been in existence for over 20 years. 

On March 1, 1989, the direct selling division was created to concentrate exclusively on selling Usborne books. In late 2008, EDC acquired Kane Miller Publishing, an internationally known publisher of children’s books with over 20 years in the industry.  

Today, Usborne Books & More distributes books through thousands of independent consultants who sell directly to the consumer via home shows, direct sales, book fairs, and web sites.  Also, when registered as an Educational Consultant, can sell to schools and libraries.”

Now, at this point, I feel it’s only fair to disclose that I am a Consultant with Usborne Books.  Feel free to close this post if that bothers you, but my purpose here is, truly and honestly, to share some really fun experiences and discoveries our family has made with these books.  I’d love it if you decided to embark upon your own adventure with a load of our books, but mostly just because I want all of you to see your children’s faces light up like mine do when they read.  And if any books will do it, Usborne will.  (Trust me, I know what I’m talking about here.  Not as a Consultant, but as an ex bookstore manager for a large chain, an English major, and a mommy.)

I’m just going to touch on some highlights from each age group of books, especially those that my kiddos love because, obviously, those are the ones I’m familiar with from reading with Thing 1 and Thing 2 (over, and over, and over…)

One of the things I love the most about Usborne books is that they are so incredibly interactive, and you see this, to varying degrees, in books throughout the age categories.  The baby books, especially, are filled with a variety of auditory, tactile, and visual stimulants to encourage development and interest.  As I said earlier, the That’s Not My series has long been a favorite in our house.  Here’s Thing 2 chillaxin’ with That’s Not My Mermaid, as well as a photo of her with Baby’s Very First Touchy Feely Lift the Flap Book (It’s a universal truth in the world of Thing 2 that books are only truly enjoyed while lying down).

If you’re one of those parents who hates noise making toys and books, just skip this paragraph, because it will only annoy you.  One of our new favorites (and I’ve not yet managed to capture a photo of it in the wild) is Baby’s Very First Noisy Nursery Rhymes.  Although it plays music to go with each page, it’s actually quite nice and not at all obnoxious, as children’s music can sometimes be.  Each page has a nursery rhyme, and there is a button with a picture to match the nursery rhyme that, when pushed, plays the nursery rhyme for you to sing along.  Even Thing 1 enjoys this one (though, because he’s apparently 3 going on 13, he scowls if you catch him singing).

Recently, I was sorting my book inventory to catalog it all (and certainly not just because I enjoy looking through books…), when Thing 2 mosied over, took a fancy to one of the books, swiped it, and wouldn’t give it back.  Yes, I now have to buy a new copy to replace it, but I see it as a good thing.  She proved that kids really do love these books (that, or she’s a mini kleptomaniac with a dash of megalomania…).  This particular books was Alphabet Picture Book, and here she is bossily pointing at the bright, fun, simple pictures and demanding to be told what they are.

In addition to the amazing sensory aspects of Usborne books, I’ve found that they have some really amazing lessons to teach, and they often do so in a poignant way.  One of my favorites is Bob is a Unicorn.  You never see the main character, Bob, until the last page of the book.  You know only that he says he’s a unicorn, but his friends all seem to be confused by his assertion.  There’s a beautiful message about imagination, acceptance, and being yourself.  I love it.  I need to buy the plush for myself…er…for the kids.

If you’ve read much of my blog, you may know that Thing 1 has some sensory processing and anxiety issues (with great intelligence comes great sacrifice…or something…but that’s another blog post).  One of the books that has been an absolute savior in our house is Jonathan James and the What If Monster.  This book is an amazing tool for helping kids deal with fear and anxiety, but also just for encouraging them to experience life.  It even comes with a plush, which is really helpful for play acting.  This is one book that should be in every child’s library, and in every parent’s arsenal.  
If you’ve never experienced a shine a light book, you must check out Secrets of the Apple Tree and Secrets of the Seashore.  You shine a flashlight behind each page as you are reading it to reveal hidden objects.  I’ll admit, the husband and I were just as fascinated with these as the kids.  And Thing 1 slept with a flashlight and these books for about a month after we got them.  They are too much fun.
Another great book for school-aged children is See Inside Your Body.  It’s a lift the flap book that explains the body’s major systems (except, unfortunately, for the reproductive system).  We pulled this one out of my inventory kit to explain a surgery I’m having to Thing 1.  He promptly swiped it, pored over it, and now shows everybody the intestine flap hiding an image of poop.  It’s sooo funny…

I don’t have direct experience with many of the Middle School and High School books yet, but I’ve heard nothing but good reviews.  I do have a graphic to show the best selling books in each age group.

If you’d like some of these books in your home, just go to!

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