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Books for a brand new reader November 5, 2009

Posted by Sandy in Uncategorized.

Today, as I went about my regular bookstore business, I was also keeping an eye out for my own shopping. In a few weeks, I’m going to be an aunt for the first time, and that means that I get to buy lots of picture books for my brand new niece!! It’s so exciting to think about all of the stories that are waiting for her to discover, and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to, every time I’ve helped a customer select baby gifts.  Of course, I’m happy to give recommendations to other people, but how will I choose books myself?!

Do I go for the classics? Do I steer clear of those, since she’s likely to end up with duplicates, and pick out some lesser known gems? Most importantly, how do I stop piling up the books? There are so many good ones, and it’s hard to stop at two, or five, or ten…

One that I have already set aside is Bear’s Day Out. This book by Michael Rosen just came out in board book format, and the  bouncy call and response rhyming tale is perfect for read aloud time.

I already gave my sister-in-law a copy of Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. This is another new book that’s destined to be a classic. Mem Fox’s rhyming story about babies all over the world is perfectly illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, who created a lovely multi-cultural portrait of babies doing the things babies do, no matter where they are from. Oh, an additional endorsement came from my friend, whose 4 month old got excited every time she pulled out this particular book!

Dwell Studio (which is apparently a home furnishings company and not the likeliest of candidates for producing a good book) has, in fact, developed a nice little line of beginning board books. My favorite is LOOK, which is wordless and features a single image per page, simple, bright, and sharply contrasting with its background.

So, these are some of my favorite new books, but there are so very many classics–some of my favorites growing up–that my niece has to have. Where do I start? Which ones should wait for later? I can’t wait to pass along Pippi Longstocking and Anne of Green Gables (apparently, I had a weakness for red-headed orphans), but those might be better gifts when she’s old enough to read them herself. But what about Winnie the Pooh? What about Beatrix Potter and Richard Scarry? She might not be able to understand the stories yet, but she’ll grow into them.

One of my biggest challenges is finding the very best book of bedtime stories–I had a bunch of books full of stories and poems when I was a kid, and I think almost all of those are out of print. It’s time to find something new for this new baby girl to love and ask for, night after night.

[Early morning additions] Obviously, I missed many wonderful books, but I woke up this morning and realized there were a few I couldn’t leave off: Madeline, Ferdinand, The Poky Little Puppy and The Tawny Scrawny Lion (for that matter, just about any book in the Golden Books collection), Green Eggs and Ham, Corduroy, From Dusk Till Dawn, Strega Nona, Jamberry, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Tacky the Penguin, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and The Belly Button Book are just a few of the books that I couldn’t let my niece grow up without.

Thank goodness I have years of being a book-giving aunt to look forward to!

What are your favorite books to give as baby gifts? What did I miss? What book should no baby’s library be without?



1. stellaluvstasing - November 14, 2009

What about Rackety Boom by Betty Ren Wright, Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald, Miss Jelly Tot (your personal favorite when you were in about third or fourth grade) and Raggedy Ann and Andy books?

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