When I was younger I spent a lot of time going to wedding showers and then baby showers. After the cycle of birthday parties for toddlers, there were years—decades, really—of relative quiet. Now I’m older, and phase two of the wedding and baby shower cycle has begun.
These would be the Boy’s friends. :)
Naturally, I’ll take any excuse I can get to give books as gifts (and do: birthdays, Christmas, Easter, confirmation, graduation, bon voyage, get well soon—you name it, I can find an appropriate and personal book). But while I subscribe to Anna Quindlen’s theory of home decoration (“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves”), it’s still not socially acceptable, yet, to give books as wedding gifts. (Well, maybe a good cookbook and an expensive chafing dish.)
One can, however, get away with giving books at baby showers. :)
My favorite baby shower gift these days is a collection of bedtime books—the read-aloud variety. These types of books fall into three categories, I think:
1. Settle down, go to sleep, sleep, sleeeeeep. These books use simple rhymes and gentle repetition designed to lull little ones to sleep. Pictures generally show children in bed, often being read to. The gold standard here is Goodnight Moon, but my personal fave is Half a Moon and One Whole Star, which is out of print.*
2. Mommy loves you: feel-good, bonding books. Small children are comforted when reminded of the security they feel wrapped in their parents’ loving arms. And when they’re feelin’ the love, they drop right off to sleep.
3. Bedtime is good for you. See here? Other kids do it. All children go through a phase of thinking they might miss something if they close their eyes; they must learn that everyone has to sleep. A subcategory here (3a) is books for children who are nervous about turning the lights out.
So here’s a list of books I own and have also given as gifts. I’ve listed authors but illustrators are just as important when you’re talking about a picture book: most of these books are works of art. (I’ve always thought Goodnight Moon is just ugly, but let me tell you, the Boy loved it. Loved it! So once again, repeat after me, everybody: you can’t judge a book by its cover!)
1. Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown) 1947
1. Half a Moon and One Whole Star * (Crescent Dragonwagon) 1986
1. Grandfather Twilight (Barbara Berger) 1984
1. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site ∆ (Sherry Duskey Rinker) 2011
1. Time for Bed (Mem Fox) 1993
2. Guess How Much I Love You ∆ (Sam McBratney) 1995
2. The Runaway Bunny (Margaret Wise Brown) 1942
2. A Night Night Prayer * (Amy Parker) 2008
2. I Love You, Little One * (Nancy Tafuri) 2000
2. On the Night You Were Born (Nancy Tillman) 2006
* I always prefer hardcover, especially for gift-giving, so the out-of-print asterisks here refer to hardcover editions. All but Half a Moon … are available, though, as softcover or board books. Hardbacks can easily be found from the used book retailers; I keep decorative paper from the scrapbooking shop on hand to paste over endsheets that may have acquired writing or library stamps or stickers. I’ve also noted (∆) books that might have a special appeal for boys.
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