As my daughter Cate approaches her very first birthday, I’ve had a slight internal struggle over what to gift her for the occasion. The sensible side of me says to stick with a couple essentials since she most likely won’t remember the presents. But the other side of me, the one who goes a little too crazy with Pinterest boards, wants to celebrate our entire family’s accomplishment of making it through our first year together. Regardless of where I ultimately end up in the struggle, I know one thing for sure…she’ll be getting at least a few new books for her growing library.
Having a librarian for a mom, Cate came home from the hospital with plenty of beautiful books on her shelf. Some were brand new, while others were well-loved hand me downs from friends and family. Although I did not know much about children’s literature beyond my own cherished childhood books, I enjoyed perusing through board books and easy readers while shopping for other nursery items, and purchased many of them. It was only after Cate arrived and I started actually reading the words and looking a little closer at the pictures that I became a more discerning about what earned a place on her crowded shelf. I began to realize that some of the books with beautiful images didn’t seem to have much of a story, sometimes rhymes felt a little forced, and that some books simply didn’t offer enough opportunities to ask “what is she doing?” or “how would that make you feel?” or “what do you think the goose will do next?”
While Cate loves just about any book, we’ve found a few favorites that pass the “mama test” (interesting, intelligent, and inspiring) that I’d love to share with anyone looking for new books to share with the babies they love:
- A is for Activist by Nagara Innosanto | A book for families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.
- Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann | An unobservant zookeeper is followed home by all the
animals he thinks he has left behind in the zoo.
- Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle | A small blue truck finds his way out of a jam, with a little help from his friends.
- Pom Pom Panda Gets the Grumps by Sophy Henn | One morning, Pom Pom Panda wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and then nothing goes right. By the time he arrives at school, Pom Pom is in a terrible mood.
- The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen | The pout-pout fish believes he only knows how to frown, even though many of his friends suggest ways to change his expression, until one day a fish comes along that shows him otherwise.
Nearly all of these were gifts from other moms, who shared books their own children loved. What about the babies in your life? What are they enjoying?