One of the trends I am seeing in baby showers these days is something that I love. People are being encouraged to bring children’s books as gifts or in place of a card. I have done extensive reading and research over the years about the benefits of reading, reading aloud, and having ready reading material available to the growth and development of children. Giving books upon the birth of a child is a wonderful idea for several reasons:
1. Giving books to new parents emphasizes the importance of reading to a child from birth. All of the studies and information from child development experts reiterate the same thing — reading to your children from day one sets them up for success in school and in life. (And while I’m expressing this idea of reading to your little ones, your bigger ones benefit from the same thing long after they learn to read!)
2. Giving books to the new parents gives them a built-in way to cuddle and create a bond with their children that will be a wonderful memory in years to come. Those same experts mentioned above all agree that this is a wonderful bonding experience. I know from asking my high school students about their earliest memories of reading that the students who have the best memories about an early book or having been read to were more likely associate reading with good times and love. They are more likely to grow up to love books and learning. When students recounted these memories to me, they often smiled and told me how important that time with their parents was. If your teenager still remembers and smiles about cuddling up with you and a book, that’s a win!
3. Giving books to new parents plants the seeds of a home library. Children who have reading materials in their home readily available are more likely to become readers. Children who see their parents reading and talking about books are more likely to see reading as something valuable to do. When books are a part of the fabric of your home and family life, your children will be more likely to become lifelong readers.
I had a call from a friend this morning. She’s going to a baby shower where they were asked to bring books. She doesn’t have children in her everyday life so she wanted some suggestions of titles to look for. Is that you too? Maybe you’ve never had children in your daily life. Maybe your kids are grown and out of the house. You knew children’s books back when they were little but haven’t been keeping up with any of the newer titles.
There are great ways to bone up on the topic quickly. I’m here for you and will, of course, provide you with some titles right here! Your local children’s librarians can walk you through some of the most popular books. Ask them what books they have trouble keeping on the shelves. Your local bookseller in an independent bookstore with a great children’s department will also be a big help. One of my sources for what is new is to walk into The Curious Iguana in Frederick, Maryland, look at the bookseller, and pose the question “what’s new that I might not know about but should…” (Just as a word of warning for your bank account, be specific about what you are looking for. Let them know you want children’s books and the age of the children, adult fiction, nonfiction, or whatever genre you want. Otherwise, you’ll end up like I have on occasion with bags of books!) Finally, you can do something I also do. Go sit in the children’s section of your favorite bookstore and read the new releases until you find the ones that speak to your heart.
I’m going to give you some suggestions here divided into categories so that you can narrow down your choices. As usual it is by no means an exhaustive list but a good starting point, Also as usual, the books are in alphabetical order by author.
*The books listed as “Picture Books for preschoolers” are for any age from birth to kindergarten. I often like picking clothing and books that the infant can grow into. I also like to pick up a book for the older siblings who may be feeling a little left out.
**If you are buying for little girls, I highly recommend Robert Munsch’s The Paper Bag Princess, Anna Kemp’s The Worst Princess, andSonia Sotomayor’s Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You as must reads!
BOARD BOOKS for the wee ones:
Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees — Giraffes Can’t Dance
Lisa Town Bergren —God Gave Us You
Sandra Boynton — Barnyard Dance AND anything else by her
Rod Campbell — Dear Zoo
Eileen Christelow — Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
Amelia Hepworth — I Love You to the Moon and Back
Tad Hill — Duck and Goose AND the others in the series
Karen Katz — Where Is Baby’s Belly Button?
Nina Laden — Peek-a-Who?
Alison Richie — Me and My Dad!
Alice Schertle — Little Blue Truck (AND other titles in the Little Blue Truck series such as Springtime, Halloween, Christmas, etc)
PICTURE BOOKS for preschoolers:
Beaty, Andrea — Rosie Revere, Engineer AND Iggy Peck, Architect
Beaumont, Karen — I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!
Brown, Monica — Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match
Byers, Grace — I Am Enough
Carnavas, Peter — The Children Who Loved Books
Cherry, Matthew A. — Hair Love
Choi, Yangsook — The Name Jar
Cronin, Doreen — Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type
Daywalt, Drew — The Day the Crayons Quit
Higgins, Ryan T. — Mother Bruce
Kemp, Anna — The Worst Princess
Martin, Emily Winfield — The Wonderful Things You Will Be
Munsch, Robert — The Paper Bag Princess AND Smelly Socks AND any of his other books
Novak, B. J. — The Book With No Pictures
Numeroff, Laura — If You Give a Mouse a Cookie AND others
Nyong’o, Lupita — Sulwe
Pizzoli, Greg — The Book Hog
Plourde, Lynn — You’re Wearing That to School?!
Reynolds, Peter H. — The Creatrilogy (features Dot, Ish, and Sky Color), Be You!, Say Something, AND others
Rosenthal, Amy Krouse — Chopsticks, Little Pea, AND all her others
Rubin, Adam — Dragons Love Tacos
Smath, Jerry — But No Elephants
Sotomayor, Sonia — Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You
Thomas, Jon — Rhyming Dust Bunnies
Willems, Mo — ALL of his books including the Pigeon and Duck books, the Elephant and Piggie books, and Knuffle Bunny
Some OLDIES but goodies:
Brown, Margaret Wise — Good Night Moon
Carle, Eric — Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? AND The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Piper, Watty — The Little Engine that Could
Sendak, Maurice — Where the Wild Things Are
Dr. Seuss — (My granddaughter says) Dr. Seuss’s ABCs AND all of his titles
The Monster at the End of this Book starring Lovable, Furry Old Grover (a Little Golden Book)
My Go-to Favorite AUTHORS for preschoolers:
Karen Beaumont, Sandra Boynton, Robert Munsch, Peter H. Reynolds, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and Mo Willems
SERIES to choose from for the little ones:
Little Leaders Series by Vashti Harrison — Think Big, Little One — Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World — Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History;Little Legends — Exceptional Men in Black History
This Little Series by Joan Holub and Daniel Roode — Scientists, President, Explorer, Trailblazer, Traveler, Artist, Dreamer
Ordinary People Can Change the World Series by Brad Meltzer — Walt Disney, Martin Luther King Jr., Marie Curie, Leonardo DaVinci, Neil Armstrong, Anne Frank, Helen Keller, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, Jane Goodall, Sacagawea, Billie Jean King, Rosa Parks Amelia Earhart, Gandhi, Sonia Sotomayor, and more
Little People, Big Dreams Series by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara — Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo, Josephine Baker, Maya Angelou, Harriet Tubman, and many more
Touchy-Feely Board Books by Fiona Watt, Rachel Wells — That’s Not My…(Bunny, Lion, Mermaid, Puppy, Robot, Giraffe, Flamingo, and More)