One of the reasons that the children’s section at Whodunit has been growing is that Mum (Wendy to you and Nain to her grandchildren) loves to send her grandchildren books. In fact, she has her own book club for them and sends books to both coasts for her eight grandchildren. The selection of books we carry does often narrow in on the ages of the grandchildren, but now that they range from ages 16 months to 23 years, it’s fair to say that we cover a lot of ground.
The (not so recent now) addition of Baby Penelope has meant that our collection of board books is growing further. In a surprise to no one, Penny is a voracious reader and loves nothing more than to be read to or spend some quiet time in a corner “reading”. Here are our favourite books so far.
The very first book that Penny actually connected with was purchased for her by her Aunt Hannah, who swore that she would be obsessed with it. Baby Talk has 14 pages and six flaps and features photos of babies. This is the book she learned to turn pages with and when we get to the page where the book says “This baby wants her mommy”, Penny will say “Mama”, just like the baby in the book. This is my number one recommendation for baby’s first library.
Penny’s Grandma introduced her to Mother Goose at a very young age and we were thrilled to find this board book by Barbara Reid, Sing a Song of Mother Goose. Reid is Canadian and the illustrations are done in plasticine. These are abbreviated versions of the rhymes we’re all so familiar with and Penny loves them all.
We, Michael and I, grew up reading the delightful stories by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, with The Jolly Postman: Or Other People’s Letters being a personal favorite. Penny is still a little young for it, but their books for babies, Peepo and Each Peach Pear Plum are favorites. These are sturdy board books and not too tedious to read more than once. The Baby’s Catalogue, also by the Ahlberg’s, isn’t really for reading out loud, but Penny loves browsing through it on her own.
The great thing about having friends with slightly older kids is that they can recommend, or ever better gift, books. A dear friend from high school bought Penny The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and Bus Stops by Taro Gomi. Both books are lovely, but more importantly, feature non-Caucasian characters, which is so important in terms of exposing our kids to people who don’t look like them.
I have to admit that there was a certain futility attached to the idea of reading books to Penny before bed when she was tiny. Partly because she didn’t care and partly because our bedtime routine hadn’t really been established. But once she moved to her crib in her own room at six months, we started a more formal bedtime routine. At this point, I read the same four books every night. We start with the gorgeous Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin, then the soporifically repetitive Sleepyhead by Karma Wilson, we read about how Spot Loves Bedtime by Eric Hill, and then we finish with the classic Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton (even though Uncle Michael is in a rage that they shower and brush teeth BEFORE they exercise). I know all these books now by heart and in fact, Penny doesn’t want to look at the actual Going to Bed Book as she would rather just snuggle while I recite it.
Finally, if there is one book that Penny requests to be read OVER and OVER and OVER again, it is Maisy Goes to the Local Bookstore by Lucy Cousins. It’s bred in the bone, I guess.
As always, we’d love to hear the books that the children in your life are loving so that we can share them with other kids.