By Suzanne Taylor
One of the most overlooked aspects of becoming a parent is the creation of a library of good books. When I go to baby showers, as much as I love the cuteness of baby onesies, I much prefer giving a mother-to-be books to start her toddler library. I find I am usually the only one at the shower who thinks of that, and so the gift never gets returned and also garners a lot of “oohs and aahs” from the other moms—especially when it is something as fresh and classy as BabyLit®, but that will be for another post.
What should be in a your library? Every month, I’m going to pull from my list of favorites and add them to this column. I encourage you to comment with your own, so, by the end of the year, we’ll have a great little list of favorites to choose from.
In the spirit of Red Barn, Sandra Boynton’s rollicking Barnyard Dance is one of the most entertaining books to read to your baby. “With a BAA and a MOO and a COCKADOODLEDOO,” your child will LOVE the rhythm of the text and the illustrations of twirling pigs, fiddle-playing cows, and other farm animals. It’s a lively barnyard square dance that your baby will love listening to and might even get your baby dancing and prancing like the other animals. Even city babies will want to come to this square dance!
Another book high on my list of books has to be Goodnight Moon because I can still hear my now 17-year-old son Ryan’s little boy voice filling in my sentences as I would read, “and a little old lady whispering, hush” as he put his finger to his lips. This IS a classic, written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd more than 65 years ago. Its soothing text and pictures are a great way to end the day with your little one.
When I asked my boys what books they remember, the first one that came out of their mouths was the picture book classic, Blueberries for Sal. Why? Probably because I fell in love with Robert McCloskey’s art and stories when I was reading Make Way for Ducklings as a child and didn’t waste any time introducing them to this Caldecott Honor book. It is a fun story of a summer’s day in Maine (which to the parent sounds incredibly romantic) when a little girl and a bear cub wander away from their blueberry-picking mothers and each mistake the other’s mother for their own. McCloskey’s vintage black-and-white line art is so simple and powerful that it allows for a quiet backdrop for a tender story. Besides, it’s so fun to say the words, “kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk,” in describing the sound the blueberries make when they hit the inside of Sal’s tin pail. With clever-sounding text like this, it’s never too early to start reading longer texts to your toddlers.