Usborne Books + Disney World: A Match Made in Heaven
If you have been following me for any length of time, chances are good that you’ve heard me talk about making your Disney World trip extra magical for your kids by helping them pass the time during the not-so-fun parts of vacation (and you’ve probably heard me mention Usborne Books too!)
This is where the idea for my MousekaToy Kits came from. I LOVED surprising my kids with fun little things that made their waits so much easier. I loved shopping for things that would fit easily in my luggage, not cost an arm and a leg and would still delight the kids. I’ve loved making kits for many, many children (and I would love to do it for yours, as long as I’m not sold out!)
I have sold out every month since I started offering MousekaToy Kits, and after I do, I always get moms asking if I can point them in the right direction to do their own since I can’t do it for them. And I know there are some super frugal moms (#soulsisters) out there who wouldn’t want to pay me to do their kit, but they still want to do something for their kids. This post will help y’all a lot!
Also note: I use hashtags whenever I want, even if they don’t link to anything. It’s just who I am. They help me make my point. #IdowhatIwant #linklesshashtags #Imstartingatrend
Enter Usborne Books
Have you heard of Usborne Books? My story with Usborne goes like this: about eight years ago, a very good friend asked me to come over to her house for a book party. Of course, I said yes, not only because she always had great snacks at her house, but also because she couldn’t shut up about these amazing books and I had just had Seth and needed to build a library for him.
So, the day of the party comes and we eat the delicious snacks (food is a big deal for me) and we look at the amazing books. And even though my baby was teeny tiny I went ahead and bought a few of the more spectacular books for him.
Years pass, as they are apt to do.
Seth’s library grew and grew. In fact, with one grandma who owns a garage sale store and another who is a first grade teacher, his library grew too big. I’m always trying to prune it down, taking stacks of books to Salvation Army. But his Usborne Books stay in the “keep” pile every single time. Not because I’m partial to them, but because they hold his attention. Because they are the ones that he drags out to be read again and again and again. And because when I’m tired and really don’t want to read tonight, (“Let’s do it tomorrow.” “Nooooo!” “Ok. Let’s make it quick though.” #reallife) I’m always relieved to see the Usborne Books in the pile to read. Because they aren’t boring. For anyone. They hold all our attention.
I really didn’t think about buying more Usborne Books (because the grandmas keep us up to our eyeballs in books) until Seth was learning to read and Asher was showing a huge interest in books. He loves cars and trucks and anything that moves basically (#hesaboy). Seth was what my mom (the first grade teacher) gently called a “reluctant reader” which as far as I can tell, meant that he was struggling pretty hard and he dreaded reading.
Homeschooling Felt a Lot like Homefailing
I’m a homeschooling mom. I really wasn’t prepared for Seth to struggle. There was no teacher for me to defer to. No special class for him to take. If I’m being honest, I just assumed that *obviously* my children would be geniuses (#AndthenGodlaughedatme).
Seth is actually an exceptionally intelligent little guy. He understands investing at a level that I didn’t understand until my late twenties. He’ll be just fine in life provided I can help him get to a point where he can effectively communicate in written form. But he was struggling so hard that it was tough to get him to even try. And I was super frustrated. I’m not the most patient mom in the world and it was very tough to sit there reading these silly easy reader books that I would pick up from the library. I’d be lying if I said there were no tears. From both of us.
And it didn’t seem like he was improving all that quickly. He was stop and start, stutter, look to me for help, start again. And his reading comprehension was very low because he couldn’t read the words quickly enough to remember what the last one was. I started praying about it in earnest.
Usborne to the Rescue
Then, few months ago a Facebook friend asked me if I would do Usborne Party for her. She showed me the Usborne cards and said, “These would be PERFECT for the MouskeToy Kits!” And I thought she was right and if I had a party I could get the hostess rewards and get the cards for less so I could include more in each kit. #winwin
But God was working here. The party ended up being wildly successful. I had plenty of hostess rewards to buy the cards and do a little shopping for the kids. The My First Reading Library kept drawing my attention. The set was a little pricey at first glance. But it seemed like it might help Seth. The books had a progression to help him along and they had great reviews. I went ahead with it. And, boy, am I glad I did.
Seth liked the books so much that he actually wanted to try. The books are set up so that I read a page and then he reads a page. My pages are exciting and fun for him to listen to (and considerably harder to read.) His pages are significantly easier: bigger font, familiar words, lots of pictures. At the beginning of the library, I was reading quite a bit. But as he gained confidence and skills he read more and more. The books are set up to make that transition. And he didn’t really seem to even notice.
Before we started the Usborne library, Seth was struggling to read the boring easy reader books from the library. We would make it through maybe one of those at a sitting, maybe not even. Soon after starting the Usborne library, Seth WANTED to read two of them at a time. He would ask for another. I was so surprised and happy to accommodate.
Asher was showing lots of interest in books and I wanted to nurture that so I got him several books. I got a few that I thought Ezra (my six year old daughter) would go for as well, but she seemed to gravitate toward Seth’s books and always wants to try to read them. She’s only a little ways behind him and I’m sure she’ll be starting to really read the My First Reading Library books any day.
Asher quickly bonded with the 1000 Things That Go book and the Big Book of Trucks. He also went for the books I bought for Ezra. Asher can sit there for a good half hour and point out all the little details in the pictures. He makes up stories. On the page that has houses where you count the windows, he lists out who lives in each house, whose cat this is, who has a chimney, who has a dog. It’s very fun to watch.
And like I said before, these books aren’t hard for me to read at bedtime. They aren’t a drag. They don’t tire me out. There are lots of things that are interesting to me in them. Lots of flaps to open and details to check out. I can’t wait to get him some more!
So Usborne and Disney?
Yes! They are a match! There is so much waiting at Disney. You can do a lot to wait less, but you’ll still find that you’re waiting quite a bit. For food, on transportation, for rides, for shows to start. I have little kids so we do Rider Switch and sometime we just wait instead of trekking around to find something to do with the little ones. For all these times, I’m so grateful if I have an Usborne Book in my park bag (and I usually do!)
Here are some of my favorites:
Wipe-Clean Books. Usborne has tons of them and every single one of the ones that I’ve seen are interesting and fun. Sitting on the bench in the gift shop at Rockin’ Roller Coaster while Mike and Seth ride, doing dot to dots and search and finds with Ezra and Asher is a pretty good way to pass the time.
There are 50 Cards in most packs and they are double-sided so you actually have 100 activities. I take 10 cards (so 20 activities) and put them on a ring (which I get at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2zIlOtA) and attach a dry-erase pen. We just tie the pen onto the ring with yarn. I use these so much. We hand them to the kids when we’re on the way to the grocery store. I use them at Disney. I use them when I take my kids with me to meetings.
There are SO many amazing activity books available here. I take out a few pages at a time and they are so easy to put in my bag (diaper bag, bag I take with me to meetings or park bag), throw some colored pencils in there and keep them busy and happy for quite a while. The dolly dress up book kept Ezra busy for AN ENTIRE 90 MINUTE FLIGHT! The books are all very well done. Lots to do.
I could probably spend a lot of hours corralling my favorite Usborne Books, but I need to run and get my monkeys to bed (and we’ll definitely be reading an Usborne Book before we go to sleep!
I’ll leave you with this video, that not only explained a lot about the books I love, but also cracked me completely up! Is this woman hiding in my living room watching my life or what? 🙂
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