Book Review: Riley the Brave

Hey there everyone,

Today I wanted to post a little review of a book I just got in the mail as part of a book swap with a lovely lady named Jessica Sinarski.  I traded her a copy of Families, Families Everywhere for a copy of Riley the Brave and I am honestly so thankful that she was open to the swap! This book far exceeded my expectations!

riley the brave grass

Not only were the illustrations cute and vibrant, the topic was dealt with so thoughtfully and intentionally – a difficult thing to do in a children’s book dealing with early life trauma and its behavioral and emotional impacts.

riley the brave interior pages tiger

Riley is brave in so many ways, and I appreciate the fact that this book acknowledges that it isn’t just the good, quiet, rule-abiding behavior that is recognized as “brave.” Yes, it is also brave to be “a plucky porcupine” and to be “a smart little squirrel.” I think this helps to reframe those early defensive (and potentially life-saving) behaviors such as acting out or hoarding from being viewed as annoying, frustrating, or overkill, to being understandable and, in fact, BRAVE responses to a really terrible situation. And I think this reframe is helpful for both child and caregiver alike.

riley the brave interior pages_reduced

It is also cool that there were suggestions of additional ways to be brave, some of the more difficult ways that use the “upstairs brain,” like asking for help. I also love the Afterword for grown-ups that goes through some tough issues and questions and explains some of the science and intention behind the book.

riley the brave afterword

I think children’s books can be such important and powerful tools and this book does some of my favorite things in this regard.  It provides a space for open and honest interaction in a safe and even fun context.  It helps kids to conceptualize big, abstract concepts and put words to some of the emotions and behaviors going on.  It also gives adults vocabulary and examples that can help them connect to the child and meet them in a way that is meaningful and on their level.  And it builds empathy and understanding. Overall, a really wonderful book that should be on the shelf of every psychologist, counselor, therapist, teacher, social worker, adoptive parent, and foster family! Get a copy here and learn more about it here.

riley the brave mixed up inside

Other Fun Facts

  • Rily the Brave was illustrated by Zachary Kline
  • This book was also funded through Kickstarter! Anyone who has been following my work, knows that Kickstarter is how I funded both of my children’s books as well. See their campaign here.
  • Jessica also gives talks and workshops and is the founder of the BraveBrains, which is “a comprehensive training and resource platform based on the trauma-informed book series Riley the Brave.”
  • Our agreement was to review each others books on our Instagram stories and on Amazon… this entire blog post is simply because I think the book is so amazing and I think she is really changing lives!
  • Check out my books here:

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