My father, Peter Usborne, who died suddenly last spring, was passionate about meticulously crafted writing. So I have a very definite sense of him sitting on my shoulder as I write this, saying, “Make it clear, Nicola! Start in the middle, not at the beginning—that’s how you engage your reader.” And, most important, “Never, ever be boring.”

I’ll try.

My dad’s favorite job was being a father—and he was a great father—but he always said that his second-favorite job grew directly out of the enormous privilege of being a parent: he started Usborne Publishing, an independent children’s press, when my brother and I were born. He believed passionately in the potential of children, and that young people could learn anything if it was explained to them in the right way.

In the early 1970s, he didn’t think children’s nonfiction was exciting enough, so he set out to revolutionize the genre. Drawing from innovations in TV and magazines, he aimed to make books that children would want to pick up, as well as learn from. “Stealth learning,” he called it.

He pioneered the model that we still use today—of employing a large number of hugely talented in-house writers and designers who collaborate to write our books. This means we can publish what we want, when we want, and exactly how we want—drawing always on his carefully considered publishing values and our 50 years of experience of creating books for children.

Our handcrafted books can take a long time to finish, as we never let one go until we think it’s good enough to send into the world with the multicolored Usborne balloon on the top right corner. We are guided by my dad’s overriding mantra, which was, quite simply, “Do it better.”

As of last September, Usborne Publishing has been working with HarperCollins to bring our list of more than 2,000 titles to children and educators in the U.S.—a collaboration that my father championed. Having worked and lived in the U.S. for years, I am particularly excited to see our books in U.S. stores. I believe that children’s interests are largely the same around the world, but I also know that it’s important to tailor our offerings to the particular needs of American readers.

We are thrilled with the great uptake of Usborne books by stores across the U.S. Our lead series—such as the evergreen That’s Not My..., Sticker Dolly Dressing, Magic Painting, and the Don’t Tickle program—and other sticker and sound books are being sold by retailers faster than we could have imagined. Our inaugural That’s Not My... book, That’s Not My Puppy..., has already sold tens of thousands of copies. It is part of a series that has sold 30 million copies worldwide since launching in 1999.

My dad always said that he’d had the best life he could ever imagine. He was an enthusiast and optimist for the ages. He loved his job more than anyone I have ever met, and he was so incredibly proud to publish for children. He loved that we’d stayed an independent, family-run publisher and been able to publish exactly how he wanted. And he thought it wonderful to publish only for children, the most important audience of all.

Shortly before he died, he received one of the highest honors ever given to a publisher for “services to literature” at a very august ceremony with King Charles at Windsor Castle. Obituaries have recognized him as a visionary, a genius, a maverick, a believer, and a man who “simply put a lot of good into the world.” The U.K.’s Guardian newspaper wrote in its op-ed that “a light should be kept burning for the visionary enthusiasm of Mr. Usborne.”

As my dad would have wanted, Usborne continues as an independent, family-run publisher, and my brother and I, and the entire Usborne team, will keep that light burning, will follow his values, and will keep those wonderful books coming. We look forward to sharing them with American families and educators.

Nicola Usborne is the managing director of Usborne Publishing.

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