I’ve been a parent for almost twenty years and have read hundreds, if not thousands, of books to my six children over those years. My wife and I have placed a high value on reading to our children so that they can not only learn how to read but also to love to read. Our personal “library” of children’s books is large and includes classics like Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Gorilla, 10 Little Rubber Ducks, Dr. Seuss, and many others. As a Stay At Home Dad I make it a priority to bring my kids to the library so that they can choose books for themselves. It helps to give them ownership and builds excitement and anticipation for when we return home and snuggle up on the sofa to read together. We can travel to many wonderful and exciting places through the pictures and words in those books. There’s nothing quite as sweet as the feeling of your children nestled into your lap, heads resting against your chest as they contentedly connect with the book.
Despite all of these lovely sentiments and feelings surrounding reading to my children I have one major issue. Some of the books that we own or check out from the library are really poorly written and/or illustrated. I’ll admit that my formal education is not in Art or Literature or Writing. The extent of my education in those areas came from a few School of Education courses while I was in college. I guess my “qualification” to write a book review comes from a limited formal background combined with pretty extensive field (or couch) experience as a parent. Like most parents, if the book I’m reading to my kids is hard to follow or uninteresting for the kids it’s going to be even harder to read with much feeling or interest on my part. (Yeah, I’m talking to you, Barbie and Clifford books.)
What if I told you that there’s an opportunity for you to get your hands on a fantastic new book that’s not even yet published? Would you consider supporting such a venture? It just so happens that my friend and fellow SAHD, Christopher Routly, is back at it again with another book. Last year I met him at the National At Home Dad Network annual convention in Denver, Colorado and I was thrilled to win a paperback copy of one of his children’s books, The Animalphabet, which he authored and illustrated for his own two boys back in 2012. I liked his colorful and vibrant illustrations and, upon bringing the book home, my kids agreed. Well, this time around, in his yet-unpublished book, Sometimes You Need A Jellyfish, Chris has taken a simple and slightly silly sounding statement from one of his kids and created a picture book that tells the story of two brothers who are packing for a trip. One of them packs a jellyfish and the story goes from there. Chris was kind enough to send me a link to a digital copy of his book and a few things about it caught my eye. First, his illustrations are engaging, colorful and simple. The text flows nicely between the brothers while sneakily introducing new vocabulary to the unsuspecting reader. Do you know the proper term for a group of jellyfish? I didn’t. But it’s in the book. (Bloom, in case you’re wondering.) Sometimes You Need A Jellyfish is also uses humor to draw in the reader. I showed the book to both my four year old daughter and ten year old son and they both loved it. When asked why he liked it so much, my son said “I think it’s pretty cool that he wrote a story about what his son said. And I liked the part about having a jellyfish clean up your messy room. That would be fun.” My four year old mostly laughed and giggled and said that it was silly…before requesting to read it again. It’s one of those books that I would enjoy reading right along with my kids. Even multiple times in a row!
What’s especially cool about Chris’s book is that it’s not even published yet. It’s pretty much ready to go to the publisher but there’s one catch. Money. (It’s always that, isn’t it?) This time around Chris wants to raise $10,000 to properly launch his book. He actually made a short video about his book and related fundraising campaign. Please take a moment to watch it. He explains it far better than me. Plus, there’s some nice music in the background of the video clip to cheer you up. Interestingly enough, after reading the book and watching the short video my son asked if he could donate to Chris’s book campaign from the money that he’s saved from allowances and doing extra chores. I’m also making a contribution. But, here’s the deal. It’s not like you’re just giving Chris your money and you get nothing for it. There are rewards for making a contribution. In essence, you’re pre-ordering the book since most of the rewards include getting a signed hard-cover copy of the book. It’s not often that one gets a chance to help “kickstart” a project like this. Please, check out Chris’s video about his book or his blog, which is Daddy Doctrines, for more information.
Finally, don’t just take my word about this book. Check out a review from another friend named Chris, who is also a SAHD and blogger at DadNCharge, living in Philadelphia, PA. Neither one of us was compensated in any way (now or in the future) for our reviews. We’re simply passing along an opportunity to help launch a wonderful children’s book while simultaneously encouraging Christopher Routly to keep on pursing his passion for writing and illustrating children’s books.