Title: Think & Play the Social Scouts Way: Firefighter Leo to the Rescue!
Authors: Amy Wilhelm, Heather Marenda-Miller, Alen Haljevac (Illustrator)
Genre: Children, Picture Book, Activity Book
Publisher: Social Scouts LLC
Date of publish: August 2017
Think & Play the Social Scouts Way™: Firefighter Leo to the Rescue! is an interactive reading adventure for children ages 3-7 intended to stimulate imagination and dramatic play. Vibrant illustrations, thematic based vocabulary and bonus cut-out sequence pictures help children with all different learning styles follow along and join in with Leo as he pretends to be a firefighter. This book can be used successfully with one child or within a group setting. Both children and adults alike will love to Think & Play the Social Scouts Way™!
“Five out of five stars
This is an excellent book describing what is a common play theme for children, pretending to be a firefighter. Leo is a boy that has aspirations to role playing as a firefighter, but he is uncertain as to exactly what firefighters do and how to accurately emulate them. In this book, Leo is stepped through the process of determining what firefighters do so that he can pretend to do their job.
Early in the book there is the very important sentence, “Before Leo can play firefighter, he needs to think about everything he knows about firefighters.” This hooked me on the book immediately, for the young reader is being instructed to research their play topics. something that I have rarely seen in books for children. …”.
-Charles A (Verified Customer)
With only 3 simple letters it doesn’t seem like such scary word, but I can tell you that sometimes that word is frightening.
Boy: Mom how did manage to grow up without video games?
Mom: Well Son, we just read books, rode our bikes and made up games to play.
Boy: How do you make up a game?
Mom: Well Son, you make believe you are someone else and pretend to do the things they would do.
Boy: How do you make believe?
Given the book I am about to tell you about, that conservation sounds like a bad commercial. The truth is that is a real conversation I have had with my son. He is a brilliant child who by the age of four could tell you anything you wanted to know about dinosaurs or the planets in the solar system, but ask him to tell you a simple made up story and he would either look at you blankly or repeat the plot of the last television show he saw, verbatim. My son is autistic. He lives in a concrete rigid world where imagination is an abstract concept that he can define but not understand. Even now at age 14 “How?” is his biggest obstacle in life. He see the end but the steps of getting there from here stops him cold. As his mom, “How?” has always been a scary word for me. How do I explain to him something so simple I just know how to do it, without ever having had to learn how first?
I was recently introduced to a book written by speech pathologists Heather Marenda-Miller and Amy Wilhem based on a concept they use in their therapy group, Social Scouts. Being the mom of a special needs child, I am big fan of social skills classes. They have made my son’s life a great deal easier over the years. This book however is aimed not necessarily at children like my son, but at the growing number of children growing up in a technology driven world a world of video games, smart tablets, Netflix binges, and CGI instant gratification. With the cutting edge technology making life easier for all it is ironic that some children have forgotten, or maybe never even learned how to stretch their own imaginations and just make believe.
In this first book of a ten book series “Think and Play The Social Scouts Way”, young Leo would like to pretend to be a firefighter. Rather than just telling Leo to go play, the book offers him step by step instructions on how to play successfully. It encourages him to think about everything he knows about firefighters; who they are, what they wear, what equipment they use, where they work and what kinds of jobs do they do, and so on. Then gather his props, dress up clothes, and toys to use as make believe equipment or people to rescue. Only then is he ready to play.
I love how the make believe play is built up step by step, expanding on what the child knows and encouraging him to think beyond that to what may happen next. This creative process is one they will use in many situations throughout their lives and is why learning to imagine is such an important step for our kids as they grow up.
In the back of the book is a handy parents guide and color coded flash cards outlining the entire process of “Let’s Plan,” “Let’s Play,” and “Let’s Put Away.” This interactive book is geared toward children ages 3-7 and their caregivers. While the book isn’t aimed at special needs kids so to speak, as a parent of one I appreciate the approach as it lays out its visual cues in simple, yet profound concepts.
My kid-lit co-reviewer AKA ” my son”, was immediately drawn to the old school illustrations. He said it reminded him of my old picture books that he loved so much as child, like Curious George or the Harry the Dog series. I have to agree with him, the illustrations by Alen Haljevac are simply precious. They bring the book to life with large colorful full page pictures that are sure to catch and inspire the attention of any child. The Boy also says that a book like this one would have been fun in one of his social groups. As a caregiver, I also believe it would have been a fun project to read through the book and play pretend with him.
Whether this book is used for entertainment or education it will be a welcome addition to any Kid Lit library shelf.
I received a copy of this book for free, this article is my true opinion
Amy & Heather met in 2009 as both were pursuing a private practice and providing in-home services to families in the greater Los Angeles area. The years of LA’s unforgiving traffic limited the number of children they were able to help. As their wait-lists were growing and their cars were overflowing with toys and materials, it was inevitable that they needed an office where they could unpack their trunks once and for all, see more children, and grow their practices together.
With a shared passion for working with children and creating a fun, friendly and nurturing environment for them to think, learn, play and grow, they opened the doors to their clinic in May of 2010. In the fall of that year, Heather & Amy founded Social Scouts™, a social-pragmatic language program for children struggling to navigate their social worlds. By merging their clinical experiences and instincts with techniques learned at conferences over the years, they developed an eclectic, yet unique and specialized approach in treating children with social language deficits.
With a major emphasis on teaching imaginary play skills to their clients, Heather and Amy realized that more and more children were playing with electronic devices rather than with each other. So, with years of experience building and creativity continuously flowing, they decided to channel their ideas to write books which teach imaginary play to not only the children in their clinic but children everywhere.
About the Illustrator:
Alen Haljevac came to Los Angeles in 1994 with a passion for illustration, design and fashion. He earned his degree in Advanced Fashion Design from FIDM in Los Angeles. He gained his experience working for various entertainment and design companies and is currently working in the toy industry. Says Alen, “I feel extremely excited to be part of the Social Scouts™ book project, working with an amazing creative duo such as Heather Marenda-Miller and Amy Wilhelm.”