So, when we moved to central Florida from Alabama (the land of actual seasons. Insert nostalgic, longing sigh here), we joined a wonderful church, which, thankfully, is directly across the street from our house. Sadly for my health, we’ve walked to church a grand total of zero times (it’s the heels and humidity, y’all). Also, we’re always late (blame the children, of course).
When we got pregnant (the “we” in that sentence makes me uncomfortable…) with George, we decided to join a young “marrieds” life group to make friends with people our same age and stage. Since that day, it’s been a never-ending parade of pregnant bellies wandering into our class. We’ve been together for first babies, little siblings, and third bambinos. It’s been a pretty incredible journey.
All of that said, I’ve been to roughly 147 baby showers in the past few years. I’ve also been the subject of a handful, so I’m going to give you my two cents about giving books at baby showers.
For the record, I love when a hostess asks guests to give books instead of cards. George’s bookshelves (he and Olivia now have 3.5 bookshelves combined) filled up quickly with beloved books and inscriptions from our friends and family. I semi-recommend writing your note on a sticky note on the inside cover instead of actually writing on the book. I received four copies of Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. I ended up combining the notes onto one copy, so I didn’t feel bad about giving away a copy that had a personal note.
Obviously, I’m a huge (love the use of this word right under a pic of my ginormo belly) fan and proponent of giving gift books. Books are the presents that keep on giving. I fully believe they hold kids’ interest better than most toys, and, obviously, they enhance some skills required to not be the dumb kid in class.
I try to give practical books, so skip this list if you like to give gold-gilded, delicate keepsake books to babies. This doesn’t make sense to me. While it makes me internally panic to see one of my children rip a page, I like to give them books that can handle a little wear and tear (if they rip a page, the book gets snatched away and lovingly taped while I whisper sweet nothings to soothe it).
These are books that kept George entertained and coming back for more during his first year.
Richard Scarry’s Best First Book Ever! by Richard Scarry – I don’t understand what kind of hocus-pocus hoodoo Richard Scarry possessed when he wrote and illustrated this book, but both of my children were drawn to it immediately. It was published in the ’70s, so everything is a little outdated (though Daddy Cat is shown washing the dishes, so it’s pretty progressive for its time).
I received this book for one of George’s baby showers and, frankly, was a little skeptical (sorry, Aunt Bev!), but it’s been an unequaled winner in our house. It’s so well-loved, in fact, that both children have torn out pages to consume (the sign of true baby love, in case you’re unaware).
Baby Talk and All About Me! by Dawn Sirett – These board books have large photos of babies and big, durable flaps for babies to discover. I love hands-on books, especially for babies. It’s super fun to watch babies learn how to open a flap. They get the proudest look on their little faces.
Baby Loves to Rock! by Wednesday Kirwan – Cute, bright illustrations with fun, punny animal rhymes for the parent. Also, Baby Loves to Boogie! exists, so it’s a great gift set.
Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins – This book permeated my husband’s childhood, so I love that George received it from a relative on that side. If I even whisper “hand, hand, fingers, thumb,” his whole family starts chanting, as it’s got a drum-beat rhythm, if that makes any sense.
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle – This book is hilarious when kids are about 12-18 months. Mostly because they have trouble not falling over.
Play and Learn 123 by Richard Priddy – Basically, if you type “Richard Priddy” into Amazon, you won’t be disappointed. These books grabbed and held George’s attention for months. This book teaches counting, has touch-and-feel aspects, and multiple flaps and sliders. The definition of an interactive book for babies.
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones – OK, to be honest, even George isn’t quite old enough for this book, however, I can’t wait for him to grow into it. It’s a beautiful children’s Bible with such a strong, Jesus-focused message. Get ’em started young!
Where is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz – Karen Katz is a staple author in baby books. They’re a bit mind-numbing for the parents, but babies seem to love them. Lots of flaps and exciting discoveries! (SPOILER! The belly button is under baby’s shirt.)
OK, I know this adds a chunk of wordage to this post, but I just had to share. Here’s Scott Rhee’s review on GoodReads (yeah, I have no idea who Scott is. If you see him, let him know I think he’s hilarious):
The suspense is built from the very beginning with the enigmatic title, “Where is Baby’s Belly Button?” Karen Katz’s exciting thriller for newborns pits the young reader in a race against time to find the elusive belly button. First, though, she deftly navigates the young reader through a checklist of other elusive body parts, like the eyes, mouth, feet, and hands with the use of an amazing technology called “lift-the-flap”. Where are baby’s eyes? I’ll be darned—they’re under the baby’s hat! Where are baby’s feet? Son of a—they’ve been behind the cat the whole time! Katz definitely knows how to weave an exciting narrative using nothing but cute baby body parts and lifting flaps. I personally found it exciting, and I can only imagine that my baby girl (three months old today) has had her tiny mind blown.
I mean, what can I even add?
And so, if you’re looking for some baby shower recommendations, check out a few of these. Consider staying away from obvious classics, just in case the mama-to-be already has them or receives them elsewhere.
We’re also a big The Very Hungry Caterpillar (by Eric Carle) family. Just wait until you see pictures from the joint birthday party that is rapidly approaching…
Any favorite baby books to recommend? Which books entertained your babies best?