I first saw these books over on 5 Minutes for Mom earlier this summer - they reviewed them and gave a couple away. I was disappointed that I didn't win and thought seriously about buying them for the girls. Another thing on my list that never got done. Well, I was contacted by Stacey Kannenberg, one of the moms behind Cedar Valley Publishing, last week to see if I would consider reviewing them. I immediately said yes - with both a first grader and a pre-kindergartener in the house, these are perfect for us!
"If two brothers can change the face of aviation, why can't a mom inspired by Oprah tackle education?" Why not, indeed... And I think that she's got a good start already - the Let's Get Ready Series is in over 350 school districts throughout the US and has won a whole slew of awards (including the Adding Wisdom Award from Parent-to-Parent and a Silver Addy for illustrations by the American Advertising Awards). You can also find articles featuring the books and Stacey in 22 parent magazines this summer.
"Most parents want to be involved in the educational process for their kids. Unfortunately many do not know what to do." I can also add to this that many parents just don't have the time to sort through various tools and books to find something that will help them figure out what their kids should know. I know that we tried several different kinds of activity or learning books and although the kids liked them, they didn't always work for us for various reasons. It seemed like they either were too easy and the kids flew right through them and then, of course since they were 'done', wouldn't touch them once all marked up with pencil or crayon. Not necessarily the best use of our money! Or the books were too difficult and the girls got frustrated because they couldn't figure out what to do in them on their own.
We got these books just last night. I gave Abby the "Let's Get Ready for First Grade!" book and the "Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten!" book went to Hannah. They were incredibly excited and dinner got put off by almost an hour so that they could work in the books.
(Not to be outdone, Becca had to 'cowa' in her own way too!)
I am really impressed with these books, for a couple of reasons. First, they include simple concepts that are easy for the girls to understand without being 'too easy'. With Abby having gone through kindergarten last year, I know from experience what she needed to know - and the kindergarten book covers all of the basic concepts, from letters and numbers, to telling time and learning the days of the week. Hannah's favorite pages are these:
We had to put in a bookmark to 'save' her place so she won't forget to come back to these pages the next time she uses the book, LOL.
I think the best part of these is that the pages are coated, yet flexible. It's not a heavy 'board book' that's awkward for kids to hold and write on but they can write anywhere on the pages with a dry erase marker and the ink wipes right off with a tissue. One of the previous books we tried a few years ago used dry erase markers, but they left a residue behind after the pages were wiped off and after only a few uses Abby could hardly read them anymore. These pages wipe completely clean, so that the book is never 'done' and kids can work in them over and over again. And even though they can't always read the text and instructions by themselves, they can get a pretty good idea of what to do just by looking at the page in general.
I think we're going to be enjoying these books for a long time to come and I look forward to passing them down to Becca as well as she gets older. I only hope that Stacey considers adding a preschool book and ones for the older grades at some point as well! With 10% of the profits being donated to literacy programs, parents can feel good about the money spent - and many school districts are looking at grants and other opportunities that Cedar Valley Publishing is offering in order to come up with creative ways to get the books into as many schools as possible.
This brings me to... my first giveaway opportunity! Now, believe me - there's no prying these books out of my kids' hands, but Stacey has very generously offered an additional copy of each book for me to give away. If you are interested in a copy of either "Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten!" or "Let's Get Ready for First Grade!", just leave a comment below and let me know which book you'd like. Please link back to this post as well, in order to help spread the word. The books can be shipped worldwide, so anybody can enter.
The contest will be open for comments until next Wednesday, September 26th at 5:00pm Eastern time. Good luck! :)