Kids either love or hate reading. Oftentimes, the reason they don’t like it is because it’s hard for them.

It was hard for Derek Roberts when he was a child.

“I was never really excited about reading because I didn’t understand words, and I was actually held back for reading comprehension,” Roberts said.

Now, he and his wife Kristin who live in Pasco County are making it their mission to help kids love to learn to read — with the help of a special friend, Brudders the Bear! Brudders is the main character in their line of children’s books. Kristen is the author, and Derek hand-paints the illustrations with watercolor.

“He’s special in his own way as all children are, so we made him very unique and important and Kristin took it to a whole new story,” Derek said.

Their two books already completed focus on the joys of saying thank you and learning how to make new friends. Many children lost out on learning social skills and other important life lessons they’d typically learn in the classroom during the pandemic.

“We hear from parents and teachers all the time coming out of COVID,” Kristin said. “It’s one of the things they are really struggling with in the classroom, managing those pent-up bottled emotions and learning to understand each other and respect each other’s boundaries.”

So, with the help of Brudders the Bear, this local couple hopes kids in the area and beyond will be confident in reading while learning some of life’s most important lessons.

Kristin and Derek are working on a third book now. They are often out selling their books at local markets, but you can also buy them and a Brudders stuffed animal online.