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Baby shower books

Originally published in the Ketchikan Daily News, July 2021; written by Amie Toepfer.

Recently a friend of mine had her baby shower, and for every librarian who has ever received a baby shower invite, there is a wee bit of pressure as we open that oh, so cute invite.

Why, do you ask? Because we have just been handed a gift. We have been given the opportunity to give a first book(s) to a new child.

These books could possibly create lifelong memories for the child and their parents, so we’ve got to get it just right. As a librarian and a lover of children’s books, I take this task very seriously; I consider both new releases and classic titles, what is happening in the world, and the family’s own tastes and beliefs. Even so there are a few titles that are perennial favorites of mine and are easy to find in most bookstores.

The very first book that I love to give and is almost always included in a book gift stash is, “Llama, Llama, Red Pajama,” by Anna Dewdney. This is a sweet tale about a little llama and his bedtime drama, which any parent can understand. The rhyming text allows parents to create a rhythm while reading, which is great for developing the early literacy skills of listening and speaking. The illustrations are bold enough that little eyes can see, but detailed enough that the book will remain a favorite as the child grows. This book is hands down a win and should be on every child’s bookshelf.

Another book that I adore is “Barnyard Dance,” by Sandra Boynton, but I will note here that any Boynton book would be an amazing gift since she is that good! In “Barnyard Dance,” we encounter the usual barnyard animals in the middle of a dance, but as readers soon discover, this isn’t your typical barnyard dance. Full of laughs, fun but simple illustrations, and repeating text make this sure to be a pleaser, even in the middle of the night. “With a baa and a moo, and a cock-a-doodle-doo,” everyone is sure to be full of smiles after this one!

“Little Blue Truck” by Alice Schertle holds a special place in my heart as it was/is my son’s favorite book. Follow one little blue truck on his drive through the countryside and then read along as he teaches all his friends and one (not so friendly) dump truck an important lesson about helping each other and the value of a kind word. Full of animal sounds, rhyming words, repeating phrases, and pictures that allow for further conversation as the child grows, this book is sure to please little ears well past the baby stage.

Finally, a newer book, but one that I absolutely love, is “Pride Colors,” by Robin Stevenson. This book is full of beautiful photographs of real children in their own environments, which is extremely important for children to see. There are lots and lots of colors and a diverse cast of families, which helps open a child’s eyes to the world around them. This paired with the simple message that a child is loved makes it a memorable edition to any childhood shelf. My son especially loved the purple page.

My best advice when selecting books to gift is to pick something that truly delights you as a reader. Take your time to sit down and read over some of your options. If you find ones that you love and enjoy, odds are the person receiving your gift will, too. Make sure to leave a special note inside the book to the family and/or the new baby. This creates ownership over the book for the baby as they grow and will make the book even more special.

Finally, if you need help finding a book, make sure to ask your local librarian or bookseller. We can help you find the perfect book!

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