There are children’s books and then there are children’s Books. You know the type I mean; books that hold more weight than all the others in their ever growing personal library. They might not physically take up more space than any other book on the shelf but they do in these young reader’s hearts, and lets be honest, in the hearts of the older bigger folk who read them again for the hundred and twelfth time that morning. We are always on the look out for new, genuinely brilliant, imagination inspiring and heart hugging books, so were thrilled when this bundle of beautiful Usborne books arrived in the post this week.
My friend Lindsay is Mum to two wonderful wee boys who, just like my two, are big readers and big fans of Usborne books. As such, Lindsay has become an Usborne Organiser and you can find her on Facebook over at Books from Us-borne with a whole host of fab book related events (including book swaps which I love!) and some great offers on Usborne books. She’s your go to gal if you want any Usborne book in their entire catalogue she can get it for you!
Now I grew up surrounded by books as my Dad owned a second hand book shop and I continue to attempt to fill every single square inch of our house with book shelfs as if I had my own shop to run. As soon as I was pregnant with Aiden I started buying up all my childhood classics that had sparked my love for literature. I soon discovered that along with the old greats, there were so many new books and publishers in the market that I could have easily bought a new book every single day of my pregnancy and still see more I wanted to read to my child. A common theme did emerge though and that was that you can divide children’s books very easily into good quality books and cheap rip offs. Four years later and I would hazard a guess that I have in that time alone read over a thousand kid’s books (no exaggeration) and can now easily spot a good quality children’s book a mile off. They may be a bit more expense that the boxes of ten books for £5 in the discount stores (all ten books are the same damn story repeated with varying animals people. Save yourself the fiver and the pain!) but books like Usborne books are 100 times worth the additional cost with their superior content, stunning illustrations, and always high quality craftsmanship. Here in case you have not yet picked up an Usborne book, is a glance inside a few to show you exactly how wonderful these books are.
Pop up books are always a hit in our house as the story quite literally jumps off the pages. An instant connection between child and book is produced as soon as they open that first page and squeal with delight as the colourful creations bound out at them. Faye at 18 months is now able to understand that you must be more careful with pop up books and Aiden has a new found joy in being in charge of moving the pages to allow the T-Rex to playfully snap at his little sister’s hands. Pop Up Dinosaurs does what Usboune does best; it takes a tried and tested favourite, the pop up book, but makes it that much better by ensuring each page’s pop up produces a different mechanism. Be that wings flapping, jaws snapping or heads chattering away, there is something new on each page. The kid’s were desperate to play with all the books themselves and here is were I think you see your value for money. Cheap books are manufactured cheap and inclined to tear or stop working pretty sharpish. Usborne books are made from ticked cardboard and with clever mechanics that means the book has survived even my two squabbling over who gets to slam it open and closed at breakneck speed next.
If you haven’t heard of the That’s Not My… series then I honestly don’t know how not. They are absolutely everywhere and for good reason too, kid’s love them. These board books follow a very simple format; they select one object (often animal or vehicle) and then each page declares that’s not my…cat/tractor/unicorn it’s too… shiny/rough/fluffy etc. The books are filled with wonderful fabrics and textures until we finally find the object that is ours at the end. We had a lot of these when Aiden was a baby and it is safe to say they are Faye’s current favourite books. She loves taking our hands and showing us all the textures and where the wee mouse is on each page (a fun I spy addition that keeps older kids amused too) As with all Usborne books, it is the quality of the materials used that is evident straight away and that the children really seem drawn too. I have had knockoff touch books but they never held the kid’s attention past the first read. We are already on rendition 348 of That’s not my unicorn and we’ve only had it a few days.
One of the things I love about Usborne books is how they have a whole range of book types. So for example they have Pop Up, That’s not my…, Look Inside, and Look and Find books. Aiden has always been intrigued by Where’s Wally and maze books but they are currently possibly a bit too old for him at three and a half. The Look and Find Jungle book is wonderfully suited to younger kids. It contains all the elements of any great search book but the illustrations are larger and less densely packed in so Aiden was able to do the searching on his own (once I read the prompts). It is such a beautifully illustrated book with so many glorious coloured scenes that it completely captivated Faye too even without the searching element.
I have had a hard time picking a favourite but after much deliberation with myself, I think I have come to the conclusion that out of this bundle, the Peek Inside Garden, which I have saved till last, is my personal favourite. It is simply stunning! Content is of course the most important part of any good book and this does have extremely informative garden facts to wow the kids, but it also is a complete design achievement and visual treat too. Each page is filled with so much to look at, flaps to lift and holes to peek right through to the next page and beyond. It really is as if you are making your way through the dense foliage of the secret garden, and my kids simply couldn’t get enough of it. I love books like this because they appeal to such a vast age range (adults included!) and they promote discussion about nature on both a practical level (think compost page) and through imagination.
Now you have seen inside some of the wonderful books Usborne have to offer, why not visit Lindsay over at Books from Us-bourne and stock up for birthdays or just a magical treat for a rainy day. I guarantee you will get more use and more smiles out of them than your average kid’s book. Here is our current collection of Usborne books and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Pop over and search their online catalogue for your child’s favourite interest and prepare to loose a few hours to exploring beautiful books.
To be in with a chance of winning one of the fantastic Usborne books mentioned in this post, simply enter the Rafflecopter competition below.
Disclosure: We received these books from a good friend in exchange for a honest and fair review. As always, all opinions are our own and truthful.