Like many lucky-enough-to-be raised in the best parts of American gun culture, my dad made sure my brother and I were well versed in every aspect of firearm safety. Lawyer, “Top Shot” instructor, author and former 1st Ranger BN. sniper Ryan Cleckner has released a kids book aimed at giving parents another avenue to further press the importance of gun safety.
“There’s Only One You!” is short and sweet, with 17 pages of story. Brightly colored illustrations walk the readers through five scenarios with two children (Alice and Jack) where accidents happen and stuff broke. In each situation, the parents paid little heed to the spilled flour or broken lamp but instead reiterate their love for their child.
In the sixth narrative, the normally safety-conscious and gun-owning Grandpa slips up and leaves his ‘ol rifle leaning up against the house. Jack finds it and goes in to play, but Grandpa intervenes in time to deliver the lesson. “Guns are not toys – they must be handled with care” he says. He continues on about how objects can be fixed, but how there will “never, ever be another YOU!”
I have three boys, currently aged 4, 6 and 7. They’re growing up in a house with a former Airborne Ranger for a father who tests and reviews gun products, suffice it to say, they’re exposed to hunting and recreational shooting often. Safety is covered regularly, as it should and must be. This book was a great way for me to gauge where they’re at, as I didn’t make a big deal about it being “from work”. I just put the book out where they’d find it and let them take it away. “O”, our oldest, found it first and read it 3 times the first night. He read it a few more times the next day before I asked him what it was all about. “Well, it’s about parents who never get angry when stuff breaks or spills” he said. I pressed to see if he retained anything else and after a moments thought “yeah, a kid finds a gun and he was about to PLAY with it!“. His tone of disbelief at Jack’s aberrant behavior told me all I needed to know.
All told, I like Cleckner’s book and what it looks to achieve. There’s never too much reinforcement when it comes to guns and kids, so an additional approach to complement parental instruction is very much welcome. The story’s angle is great, the illustrations are clean and clear, and the message isn’t muddled by oversimplification nor over-complication. Kids books aren’t our usual review product here, but this is one book I’m happy to have on the shelf at home. “There’s Only One You!” runs $9.95 on Amazon. Check it out!