All of my photography books are in boxes right now, but I'd suggest your local library. They may not have a manual on Photoshop curve techniques, but they may have a good book on basic photography.
Going to the library and checking out a mess of books is also my suggestion, and essentially how I taught myself photography. Different books will illustrate different concepts differently, and there will be a wealth more examples of photographic styles. The other benefit to the library is that you can check out a large number of photo (not instructional) books and look at them in conjunction to the educational texts, to see how rules are applied or not in their images.
As far as specific books, I particularly like those by Lee Frost--but I have only read his B&W and Panoramic Photography books, not his introductory texts. The Camera is good in a classic education sense--you will be giving him a baseline that many people are familiar with and will have encountered in school or on their own. It is also good to read the camera when you still know little about photography, as it is (in my opinion) a bit tedious to read once you are already familiar with the concepts and are no longer experiencing them for the first time.
Also, check out the <a href="http://www.radiantvista.com/archive/video_tutorials/1/
">composition tutorial</a> at the Radiant Vista for a visual vacation from static text.