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- Usborne books were the first books that held my daughter’s attention for more than a few minutes, longer than any of her toys.
- There are books for every age level from babies to teens, and so many of the books for babies have interactive elements like finger trails, sounds, flaps, manipulatives, and textures.
- You can buy them from an independent consultant, or online where prices start at less than $5.
I’m an English teacher and writer, so it should come as no surprise that I love books — and have a ton of them. I’ve always wanted my daughter Ellie to have a huge home library too. Well, she’s only a year old, but she already has way more books than I do.
I love reading to Ellie, but when I first started hearing about Usborne Books from friends, I was pretty skeptical. Books are books — what was it about these that made them more special than what we already had at home? I decided to buy a few books when one of my friends hosted an online Usborne book party to find out.
When Ellie got her first Usborne book "Garden Sounds", she was instantly obsessed.
She was about nine months old at the time, and while she loved books in general, her attention span was maybe one page. With "Garden Sounds", she would sit there mesmerized while I read the entire book to her. She would even play with the book on her own and it was one of the first books she "read" to herself. The book includes realistic sounds, finger trails, and cut outs. Ellie is 1-year-old now and it’s still one of her favorites among our growing collection of Usborne books.
What makes Usborne so unique
It’s important for kids to read every single day, but it’s not always easy to get them to sit down and do it. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that among the many benefits, reading helps promote brain development in young children.
With more than 2,000 titles (including more than 75 in Spanish), Usborne does an amazing job catering to every interest and age group. From newborns to teens and even adults, this company uses so many techniques to make the books interactive, fun, and interesting.
For newborns, there is a series of high contrast fold-out books for tummy time. I didn’t know about Usborne when Ellie was still doing tummy time, but I wish I did because I would’ve definitely gotten these books to keep her entertained and happy. Older babies would love what the brand calls "Touchy-Feely" and "Slide and See" books that don’t have much text, but have textures and peek-a-boo slides instead to explore and play. Ellie’s favorite slide and see book is "Baby’s Very First Slide and See Farm."
There are a lot of interactive books for toddlers too, like "All Better," which has reusable bandages for kids to put on animals’ boo-boos throughout the book, and "Busy Car Book" which has a small car that can be moved around the pages as you read to keep kids entertained. This is part of what the "busy books" series. Even though she’s only a year old, Ellie already loves to play with the bandages and grabs the toy off the track as I read to her.
As kids get older, Usborne also offers fiction and nonfiction books with beautiful illustrations and cut-outs with longer text to help readers as they start the transition into chapter books. It also has a series of nonfiction books called "Shine A Light," in which readers use a flashlight to reveal hidden pictures. Reading in the dark with a flashlight is such a novelty for kids, which might encourage them to read.
In addition to the wide variety of types of books, Usborne also has books in a wide variety of physical sizes too. Ellie’s "Baby’s Very First Stroller Book Jungle" is only a few square inches and clips to her stroller or car seat. On the other end of the spectrum, she also has "Life Size," which has pictures of animals that are illustrated to scale so she can compare the size of her mouth to a lion’s mouth, for example.
As a teacher, it’s so sad to me when I see that the majority of high school students don’t like to read. When I ask my students why, their answer is often that they’re forced to read books they aren’t interested in when they get to the middle school level.
Usborne does everything it can to help young readers continue to love to read as they grow, and it gives parents the tools they need to engage their kids in reading. Every book is designed to entertain, educate, and inspire your child. According to Usborne, "More than 30 years ago, Peter Usborne pioneered a new generation of books that prove that it is possible to create books that compete with the vast media that attracts children today."
Drawbacks of Usborne
Usborne books are sold at retailers such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but the company also sells books through independent consultants. Buying from an independent consultant can be a really great experience because they can recommend books based on your child’s age and interests, and they’ll help you through the buying process.
One con to consider with this way though is that shipping can be slow, and at a flat rate of $6, it’s a little steep if you’re only buying one book.
The bottom line
Whether your child already loves to read or you’re fighting an uphill battle, you can’t lose when trying out Usborne books. Independent consultants can help you choose the perfect book if you’re stuck figuring out where to start, or you can take your pick from the wide variety and feel confident that the books you choose will come in handy sometime in your child’s life.
Thankfully, we live in a world where there are thousands of books to choose from, and as J.K. Rowling once said, "If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book."
If you want to try some other options, books from Indestructibles are great for young babies who prefer to chew and rip books, and Dr. Seuss books are classics that younger kids often like too. If your child is older and looking for chapter books, I’d recommend heading to your local library so they can browse and find something they love.
I truly didn’t understand the hype until I tried Usborne Books, and now I have a lot of my friends and family who are hooked on them as well. Even if your children don’t end up loving (or eating) them as much as Ellie did, adding another book to your child’s library is never going to hurt.
Pros: Fun and interactive, encourages reading at all ages, independent consultants can help you pick out books, reasonable prices
Cons: Shipping can be slow and expensive if buying from consultant
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