By Kathryn Peck
So the baby shower invitation reads, "Bring a book instead of a card." Now what? We see this request pop up more often nowadays, and let’s face it, this is a gift for both baby and mom-to-be. It’s a gift that has the promise to become a child or family favorite for years to come, perhaps even a book that the child might read to his/her own child someday. No pressure, right?
Not to worry, we can help. Here are 12 charming baby books that won’t disappoint. Plus, we’ve offered some tips on how and what to write in the book, too. (Yes, you need to write something meaningful or sweet in the front cover!)
- “The Wonderful Things You Will Be,” by Emily Winfield Martin, is a sweet story that calls to mind the Dr. Seuss classic, “Oh the Places You’ll Go.” “For all of your tininess, couldn’t disguise, a heart so enormous, and wild, and wise.” The illustrations are lovely, and the message heartwarming—you can’t go wrong.
- Depending on the baby’s due date, you might consider one of the new board books in Daria Harper’s new Little Zodiac series. “Hello, baby Sagittarius. Who will you be? Let's look at the stars. What do you see?” It’s a clever way of personalizing the gift, too.
- I've always been a fan of Mem Fox’s stories, and her book, “10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes,” has delighted all four of my children. It’s a simple story of rhythmic and rhyming text that celebrates babies from all over the world – baby fingers, baby toes, and three little kisses on the tip of baby’s nose.
- Originally published in 1940, “Pat the Bunny” has been and always will be a mainstay for new baby gifts. Written by Dorothy Kunhardt, this very classic touch-and-feel book prompts baby to play peek-a-boo, for instance, and to pat the fake fur of a rabbit. It’s sweet, simple, and a book that generations before and to come will appreciate.
- Another classic, “Goodnight Moon,” written by Margaret Wise Brown and originally published in 1947, is a simple bedtime story about a bunny saying "good night" to everything around him. "Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon. Goodnight light, and the red balloon.”
- When it comes to children’s books, there’s something about a book with little to no words that I love. I enjoy just talking about the pictures, describing and pointing to things I see, and I enjoy having the freedom to change the story each time. “Goodnight Gorilla,” by Peggy Rathmann, is one of these wonderful stories. While the zookeeper wishes all of the animals a good night, the gorilla follows him on his rounds and lets all of the other animals out of their cages. The detailed drawings allow for plenty to talk about.
- “Read to Your Baby Every Day,” by Rachel Williams, is an essential must-have for every nursery. It features 30 Mother Goose nursery rhymes, from Mary Had a Little Lamb to Old Mother Hubbard, that so many of us grow up learning.
- “Someday,” by Alison McGhee, is a beautiful story of a mother’s love and dreams for her child; dreams for her child to experience joy, to grow, and to love life. For parents, this one is a bit of a tear-jerker; think “The Giving Tree.”
- Susan Meyers celebrates the playing, sleeping, crawling, and noise of babies that are born from across the globe in her book, “Everywhere Babies.” The rhyming makes for a fun read and the illustrations are sweet.
- “I Wish You More,” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, is a wonderful book for any number of occasions – baby showers, graduations, or any other milestone. In it, the author writes of endless good wishes. Wishes for curiosity and wonder, for friendship and strength, laughter and peace. It’s versatile, sweet, and loving.
- Another favorite with few words (three to be exact), “Hug” by Jez Alborough, tells the story of a lonely monkey in search of a hug. His sadness grows as he sees his friends hug their mothers. Spoiler alert: not to worry, Bobo the monkey finds someone to hug.
- “Peek-A-Who?” by Nina Laden, was another favorite with all four of my children. (Amazingly the book lasted through all four of them as well!) This tiny 10-page board book is filled with vibrant pictures that grab a baby’s attention. Simple rhyming text—Peek-a-zoo! Peek-a-boo!— keeps little ones guessing what's peeking through the die-cut windows of each page.
Tips on How and What to Write
- Be sure to include your name and date on the inside cover.
- Get personal—explain why the book is special.
- Who are you addressing it to: baby or mom-to-be? Either one is fine!
- Consider using a quote from the book itself.
- You can’t ever go wrong simply noting how much the baby is loved, how excited you are for his/her arrival, or including your wishes for him/her for the future.
About the author: Kathryn is the owner of Bicycle Pie and mom of 4 little ones. Also a writer, editor, and former owner of one of Boston's premiere baby boutiques, she continues to write about motherhood, children's products, family life, and all other things that test our skills and patience as parents.