What's the best gift to give expectant parents-to-be at a baby shower? The traditional gifts, like jumbo packs of diapers, burp cloths, onesies and cute tiny shoes, are always appreciated. And of course there's the registry: it's hard to go wrong with a gift you already know the new parents need! But here's an idea for something different: a gift of books.
Why Give Books to a Baby?
Newborns are needy. They need to fed, changed, dressed and bathed. They need to be held, sung to, soothed and, well, what they don't need is books.
At least not yet.
But a gift of books, especially a classic or favorite board book, will be remembered long after the diapers have been used up and the onesies are outgrown.
Sturdy Books For Babies
Books are no longer limited to the traditional bound paper that we remember from our own childhood. We no longer need reserve the joy of books for when children are older. Now, thanks to a couple of child-safe options, even the very youngest child can enjoy turning pages, just like mom or dad.
Board books, with their stiff, bend-resistant pages, have become very popular with parents of young kids. These are usually a smaller size than their paper counterparts, and each page is made of the same sturdy material as the cover. Plus, the pages generally have a glossy coating, which makes them easy to clean. If you're a parent, you'll know just how important this is!
How to Choose the Right Gift Book
Do you have any favorites from your childhood? A great way to choose a memorable gift book is to recall those you remember most. You may also have a few books in mind that your own children asked you to read again and again.
If a list of favorites and perennial best-sellers appeals to you, here's an easy way to choose a winner. Each of these books is a great choice to start a new baby's library!
1. Pat the Bunny is the classic, irresistably interactive book by Dorothy Kunhardt. Babies and toddlers can play peek-a-boo, look in the mirror, and, of course, pat the bunny's soft fur. One of the very best books for children, especially the very young.
2. Goodnight Moon is a wonderful bedtime sequence, written by Margaret Wise Brown and richly illustrated by Clement Hurd. The striped-pajama-clad bunny wishes everything in his world, inside his bedroom and outside his window, a good night. For added interest, there's a little mouse hiding somewhere on each page!
3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of Eric Carle's classics for the very young. It's the story of a caterpillar's adventure, incorporating both early counting and colors. True to his style, Carle combines beautiful collage illustrations with a special feature: children can see the "bites" the caterpillar has taken out of each food he samples!
4. I Am a Bunny is another classic not to be missed. Written by Ole Risom and beautifully richly by Richard Scarry, it's a glimpse of a bunny's joyful, peaceful life through the seasons, closing with his curling up to sleep for the winter.
5. Guess How Much I Love You is a light-hearted exchange between daddy and baby hare, culminating in the memorable "I love you to the moon and back." Written by Sam McBratney, with sweet, playful illustrations by Anita Jeram.
6. Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell, is the heartwarming story of baby owls who wake up to find their mother missing. Of course, she's just out hunting, and it's a pleasure to rejoice with the baby owls when she returns.
7. Goodnight Gorilla is the story of bedtime at the zoo. It's a visual delight, told almost entirely through the illustrations. The good zookeeper says goodnight to each animal in turn, but the mischievous gorilla has a surprise up his sleeve!
8. The Going To Bed Book is a joyful bedtime romp, written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton. In her usual clever style, she leads her animals through a lengthy and energetic bedtime routine, but then winds down in perfect time to rock to sleep.
One of the most rewarding things about giving books is that they're remembered in years to come. Parents still remark to me that their child "just loves that book, s/he asks for it again and again." For a memorable gift, choose a special book for your next baby shower gift!