BOOK REVIEW: Toys, Tools, Guns & Rules - A Children’s Book About Gun Safety

More frequently than not the teachable moments in my household were precipitated by unexpected events. From breaking a picture frame to knocking down mailboxes with cars, teachable moments covered those unexpected times when I overcame my natural tendency to get angry, choosing instead to try and make it a learning experience.

The things taught in those moments were varied, but focused on one important fact: the daughter involved “in the moment” was far more important to me than the thing that suffered the damage from the moment.

Today, those times are also treasured family memories.

Actually, I’ve been least effective when teaching was the goal. My tendency is to fall into the “expert” mode. Kids don’t like being lectured by experts.

They want to be loved and given attention -and during those times they’re sponges.

Recently, my great friend Julie Golob asked me if I’d like to look over her latest writing effort. Julie’s overlooked some of my horrific shooting over the years we’ve been friends, so I couldn’t say no- not that I wanted to.

If you’ve read The Outdoor or Shooting Wires for very long, you’ve seen her name -either in a headline or a byline enough to know she isn’t just a multiple world title holding shooter, she’s a very talented communicator.

And she’s managed to put a lot of helpful material about teaching young children about gun safety into a very small package.

Toys, Tools, Guns & Rules - A Children’s Book About Gun Safety is exactly that - a kid’s book. It uses carefully chosen words from Julie and illustrations by Nancy Batra to help an adult communicate -in terms young children will grasp -some important concepts.

The first resonates with many of us: guns aren’t scary things that are waiting to harm us- they’re tools, like hammers, knives, or saws.

But like other tools, we need to be careful with- and around- them.

It’s a concept that many of us in the OFWG generation take for granted. Our elders gave us replicas of their tools and used them to teach us how to use the real ones safely.

From cap guns to BB guns and then on to our first .22 rifle, many of my generation learned respect for firearms the same way we learned about knives and power tools. Under the watchful, helpful eye of a family member

Sadly, that generational teaching -and much of the familial connection- have both been broken down today. To everyone’s detriment.

As the child of a teacher, I know how much good teachers care about their students. But it’s not their jobs to be parents. When parents don’t take interest, everyone suffers.

The child suffers setbacks today. Society suffers later. We’re seeing that today.

Julie’s put together an instructional piece that could give a gun neophyte the ability to speak about guns -the way young children will understand.

Toys, Tools, Guns & Rules - A Children’s Book About Gun Safety blends teaching words with subtle visual cues.

The first image of a gun, for instance, is of the most widely-recognized owned gun imaginable- the pump shotgun. As Julie explains in the teaching notes in the back of the book, that’s because the gun’s so widely owned- and shotgunning’s also an Olympic sport.

This first gun is intentionally displayed against a yellow background - yellow being the universally recognized color for caution.

Kids know yellow on street signs, fire trucks and safety equipment. Seeing a gun on a yellow background can subtly make the point that they need to be cautious around all guns- even the one they’ve likely seen most.

Critiquing teaching materials isn’t really in my wheelhouse, but being a grandparent, I figured there was one way I could see if the ideas had merit.

So, armed with parental permission and Julie’s book, I sat down to read to my “almost” three-year old granddaughter about gun safety.

I’m happy to report that after spending a few minutes reading from -and talking about - the “story” in the book, I asked her what she’d learned.

She looked at me and said, “if you see a gun, leave it alone and tell a grownup.”

The one takeaway I was hoping for was leave it alone. Tell a grownup was a bonus.

It was a lesson learned - for both parties. My granddaughter taught me I’d been guilty of overcomplicating the message.

If you’re a parent, grandparent, or just want to have an inkling how to teach young ones, Toys, Tools, Guns & Rules - A Children’s Book About Gun Safety is a quick read you should consider.

Julie’s also provided parents/instructors teaching notes, along with links to other information including the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Project ChildSafe and the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle Program.

After all, as she writes, even in shooting the saying “it takes a village” is true.

You can get your own copy of Toys, Tools, Guns & Rules at

Republished from The Outdoor Wire.

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