As a book lover, there's nothing I enjoy giving at a baby shower more than a book or two. But when I actually go to the bookstore, I find myself a little paralyzed. (Yes! Even as a former librarian!) The thoughts race: "What if they already own this book? What if someone else gives them this same book? Is this too weird? Too sappy?"
Who knew picking a bedtime story could be so fraught with peril?
Over the years, I've compiled a list of my very favorite baby books that they probably don't already own but are sure to love. Try one or two of these next time you're welcoming a new baby into the world:
"Good Night, Gorilla" by Peggy Rathmann. When a zookeeper locks all the animal cages for the night, he has no idea the gorilla is following him, letting all the animals out. Then they all follow him home! I have read this one approximately ten million times and I still love the bright illustrations and sparse text.
"Piggies" by Audrey Wood and Don Wood. This book is beautiful and so fun, with highly individual piggies dancing on the fingers of a little child, enjoying the beach, the bathtub and a snow day. I love the text's easy rhythm and the extra details that make it no effort to read it again and again. This is one of my all-time favorite children's books.
"The Nice Book" by David Ezra Stein. This sweet book about how to treat others isn't preachy and just delightful. The board book version is perfect for little hands.
"Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes" by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury. Despite being only a few years old, this one feels like a classic. It showcases babies from around the globe with different hair and skin colors, different homes and different clothing—but each of them has the same ten little fingers and toes.
"The Runaway Bunny" by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd. This is the same duo who did "Goodnight Moon," but it's not nearly as well-known. It has the same great mix of sweetness and a dash of weird that makes "Goodnight Moon" so fantastic.
"Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes" by Salley Mavor. The first time I showed this to my mom, she said, "I'm buying a copy for every friend of mine when they become a grandmother. A grandma needs this book to share with her grandbabies!" And it's true. Not only is it packed with nursery rhymes but each of the illustrations are hand-felted in elaborate detail. You can spend hours gazing at all the pages.
"The House in the Night" by Susan Marie Swanson and Beth Krommes. This has a similar sleepy and rhythmic feel as "Goodnight Moon" and is done in three color scratchboard which makes it visually striking.
"We're Going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. If you find a child who doesn't love watching this family chase a bear through tall grass, a river, and into a cave, I'll be surprised!
"Free Fall" by David Wiesner. This wordless book about a boy slipping into sleep is full of fun details and you can make it as long or short as you want. Which is just what I want from a bedtime book!
"More More MoreSaid the Baby" by Vera B. Williams. I remember this Caldecott Honor book from my childhood, but I rarely see it around anymore. I love how enthusiastically loving and fun it is to watch each adult interact with their little charge, whether tossing a baby into the air or giving a little tickle. And after each activity, the baby, predictably, begs for "more, more, more." So will every child you read this to.
Do you have any favorite books to give to a new baby?