Monday, September 24, 2012

6 Books That Aren't Goodnight Moon

Baby showers become an opportunity for seasoned parents to pass on their tips and experiences to new and to-be parents.  My tips are modest and usually focus on saving sanity like: "if you think you have enough onesies - buy 10 more!" (incidentally, you can buy 10 onesies at a local Goodwill for about $3-$5 and they will be like new - most kids outgrow clothes gifted at showers before they get a chance to wear them in).

That being said, I don't usually gift clothes.  I like to gift books at baby showers because they give years of enjoyment for both parents and kids.

Between my two baby showers, I received three copies of Goodnight Moon and two of Good Night, Gorilla.  Now, don't get me wrong, there are excellent books.  I enjoy reading them and my kids have loved them for years.  They are classics that I think should be in every child's library.  They just seem to be "over-gifted".

If you want to give books to new parents that will ensure years of enjoyment for boys, girls and parents, here are a few that I found fit the bill, and aren't usually duplicated by other gift givers. Each uses one or all of (what I call) "The 3R's" of baby/toddler books: Rhythm, Rhyming and Repetition.

Hand, Hand, Fingers Thumb
 by Al Perkins
(specifically the shortened board book edition)
I like to give the shortened version of this book because it's a quick read for younger kids yet still retains a fun, catchy rhythm.  No real story-line, just a really fun book.  While reading it we would beat our thumbs along with the words.  Building up to the last few pages, I would hold my boys tight and rock back and forth to the beat of the drum: "Dum ditty, dum ditty, dum dum dum" - they would giggle with anticipation each time we read it.  To this day it brings a smile across my face.

Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg 

Originally published in 1978, this classic was introduced to me by a former co-worker.  I am a fairy tale "nut" and the fact that I had never heard of this book blew my mind!  It's essentially a look and find book, where each page has a fairy tale character hiding somewhere in the (beautifully illustrated) picture.  The corresponding verse contains a hint for each page and is fun and easy to remember.  This is another story I could repeat without the book in front of me, something I was grateful for when I needed to comfort my boys late at night without free hands or a light.

Rock-a-Bye Farm
by Diane Johnston Hamm 
A cute, endearing story about a farmer who rocks his baby to sleep and then proceeds to rock the dog, the sheep and all the other animals on his farm.  The copy I found at my local used library book sale had illustrations by Rick Brown, personally I like the Rick Brown version better then this one, however it is out of print now and the newer edition is the one I've linked here.  Rock-a-Bye Farm is a perfect bedtime story.

Can't Catch Me by Michael Foreman
Another book I came across at our local library sale!  This fun story is about a mommy monkey trying to put her son to bed.  He jumps out the window and says "Can't catch me!".  Each turn of the page shows the little monkey running from a different group of animals, until they all finally catch him and.... TICKLE HIM!!!!  It's fun, funny and another great story for bedtime.

Hug by Jez Alborough
A little monkey (what's with all the monkey stories?) is looking for a hug.  All of the animals he passes in the jungle are giving or getting hugs from their mommies.  The interesting thing about this story is that there is only one word (well three by the end) through the whole book.  My kids liked to help me read this one and we all had that warm-fuzzy feeling when the little monkey found his Mommy at the end.

Inside Outside Upside Down
by Jan & Stan Berenstain

One of the great things about reading to your kids is re-discovering books you loved growing up.  This was one of my favorite books when I was little.  There's no Sister Bear in the original Berenstain Bear books, just Brother, Mother and Father.  Inside, Outside, Upside Down is a quick, basic story that uses repetition and rhythm while teaching the difference between inside, outside and upside down. 

So, the next baby shower or toddler birthday you're invited to, consider giving books!

I've enjoyed reading these to my kids for almost seven years.  They have survived the book and toy purges throughout the years and have ended up on my bookshelf.  I pick them up, smell them, flip through the worn pages and even read them aloud to myself.

My kids have outgrown them, but not me.

Who can say THAT of a pack of onesies?

Side Note:  
Personally, I prefer the 
Board Book editions 
(they last longer with wee ones)

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  1. Great post! I love "Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb" and "Hug". Two of the first books I read to my daughter. I'll have to check out the rest!

  2. Agreed! even though the kids are in school now, i simply can't part with Each Peach Pear Plum ... we still giggle at the funny illustrations and I fondly remember the baby shower! (our kids were miffed, btw, at the shorter version of Hand Hand Finger Thumb - they'd memorized my vintage 1970s copy!)