Enjoy today’s guest post from my friend Rebekah Gienapp. She is a true expert on outstanding children’s books and has some great baby book gift ideas for you all. I purchase Barefoot Books on the regular from her, and I’m always very pleased with my purchases. 🙂
Book Gift Ideas for Baby Showers
Books are my go-to gift at baby showers and at first birthday parties. Why? I love giving something that will encourage an experience between babies and their families. Books do that better than any toy I can think of. Some parents also aren’t aware of the benefit of reading daily with their babies, right from birth, and I like to subtly encourage that habit! Finally, I hope that parents will appreciate that I’m giving them something that is easy to store, and won’t take up a lot of space in baby’s bedroom (unlike certain massive toys given by certain in-laws if you know what I mean).
So how do you know which books are right for babies? Here are a few types of books I look for, followed by suggestions of specific titles available from Barefoot Books that fit within these types.
High Contrast Books
This sounds like a fancy term, but high contrast just means colors that are easy to tell apart. Babies (especially newborns) are still developing their vision. They have a preference for black, white, and red because these colors are easy to distinguish. With younger babies, it’s important not to over stimulate them with illustrations that are too busy.
Baby Talk: Every pregnant friend receives this book from me because it has high contrast illustrations and it has a sweet message about love between baby and family members. Babies love to look at faces, and this book is filled with photographs of children and adults from diverse backgrounds.
Big and Small: This simple book with color high contrast pictures introduces the concepts of big and small through page spreads that feature concepts like a lion and a cat, and an apple and a seed.
Books with Rhyming Text
There’s a reason that Mother Goose nursery rhymes have long been staples for baby’s first books. The sounds we make when we talk or read mostly sound like chaos to infants. Rhyme and rhythm help babies to organize those sounds, even when babies don’t understand the words themselves. This helps them build listening, memory, and vocabulary skills over the long haul.
I Took the Moon for a Walk: It’s impossible not to look at the dreamy illustrations in this book and listen to the gentle rhymes without getting a bit sleepy yourself. The calming story follows a little boy who goes on a night time journey through his town with the moon as his guide.
Clare Beaton’s Nursery Rhymes set: Mother Goose’s classic rhymes have been given new warmth through Clare Beaton’s cozy fabric-inspired illustrations. Though the volumes are board books, I’ve often seen little ones reach out to touch the textures they see because they are so vivid. From action rhymes that teach babies finger play activities, to wild animals and farm animals, to rhymes that will make baby sleepy, this collection has every kind of rhyme you can think of.
Books that Introduce Basic Concepts
I’m a big believer in letting each child learn at her own natural pace. Reading books early on that introduce concepts such as counting, opposites, and the sounds of the alphabet, plant seeds of literacy that will bloom when the time is right.
Alligator Alphabet, Counting Cockatoos, and Octopus Opposites: This Baby Basics collection by Stella Blackstone features cheery, childlike illustrations. Babies tend to show a natural interest in animals, and these books build on that fascination to introduce letters, numbers, and opposites.
How Big is a Pig? Babies follow an inquisitive pig around the farmyard as he points out animals that are old and young, fat and thin, quick and slow. The rhyming text and quirky illustrations will always hold a special place in my heart because I remember the exact moment this book taught my son the difference between high and low.
Ship Shapes: This summery read gives babies a chance to find shapes on top of rolling waves and along the sandy shores. The rhyme and repetition help reinforce the shapes, as do the two full pages in the back that show each shape separate from the other illustrations.
Some parents naturally seem to know how to help babies interact with books by pausing to ask questions. For those who may not be as confident, books that ask questions can help families learn how to help baby look for hidden items, or make predictions about what will happen next.
Who’s in the Garden?, Who’s in the Forest?, Who’s in the Farmyard? This set of peek-a-boo books is best for babies who are nearing age one because of the more complex illustrations. Each book asks questions (filled with rhyming text) about animals are found in each setting, giving babies and parents a chance to guess. The peek-a-boo holes are perfect for inserting finger puppets or small stuffed animals, or for just giving a baby a way to easily turn the pages.
The Sounds Around Town: Babies are of course delighted by sounds like the shake of a rattle or the honk of a horn, and love to imitate them. The Sounds Around Town is filled with dozens of new sounds to make as it follows a mother and toddler throughout their busy day, visiting the market, the park, a restaurant, and more.
Hidden Hippo: This rhyming book takes babies on a safari adventure where they can find the hippo hiding on every page. The many different animals in the story also provide an opportunity expand baby’s vocabulary.
I hope these baby book gift ideas help you out if you are looking for a unique baby shower gift or if you are putting together a baby book gift basket, or simply trying to add a few great books to your baby’s library. If you’d like more baby shower gift ideas, check out Tiffany’s post on baby toys for 6-12 month olds (many people buy baby shower gifts just for newborns and don’t think about the second half of the baby’s first year!).
Rebekah Gienapp blogs about children’s books and literacy at The Barefoot Mommy, and is a Barefoot Books Ambassador.