My cousin’s daughter just had her first baby and besides buying something from the registry, I always send new parents a bunch of books to begin a child’s library. Our family has dozens of favorites that we read over and over again. I have kept many books from my own childhood to share with my children and now my grandchildren—all of us have really beautiful home libraries. Sadly, many of my books are so old and out of print, I will concentrate on the books I share with my grandchildren.
By Edward Hemmingway
What a delightful book! Edward Hemingway attacks the pack mentality that so governs our society as a whole today. Bad Apple celebrates individuality and the glory of choice that our prepackaged culture denies people. I bought this book for every member of our family including my twenty-something nephews. He touches our obsession with appearances and group approval being pounded into the fabric of our culture by the rash of shallow reality shows on television. Bad Apple is a throw back to the golden rules of yesteryear: be kind, stay true to yourself and loyalty make the person, or in this case, the apple!
Ages 3-5 | Publisher: Putnam Juvenile| Aug. 2, 2012 | ISBN-13: 978-0399251917
Martha Doesn’t Share! is a delightful book about an adorable otter named Martha who is in need of tweaking her social skills. It seems her most favorite word is “Mine”.
When baby brother Edwin asks to play with her toys, she quite emphatically tells him, they are hers and hers alone. Mom and Dad Otter urge Martha to take turns, but Martha stubbornly reminds everyone that the toys belong to her and she goes off to play by herself. While performing magic tricks can be fun, it’s not as enjoyable without an audience. She realizes that “it’s hard to ping when you don’t have someone to pong.” Martha discovers that her toys by themselves cannot bring her the fun and enjoyment she expects. Martha learns that by sharing, she is guaranteed a playmate and finds an amusing solution to her problem. Loved the ending. It reminded me of a similar outcome when my own baby brother and I learned to share.
Cute illustrations, warm colors and an enjoyable read all the way around.
Ages 1-6 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers| Sept. 7, 2010 | ISBN-10: 0316073679
The Princess Bride has to be included because it was and still is my younger son’s favorite book of all time. He read it a dozen times, each reading bringing him new insights from its many layers. The characters are rich, and the story has it all, swashbuckling adventure, a sweet romance, villains galore, and a charming story. I just bought him one to read to his own daughter when she gets just a bit older. Though, she won’t get the satire, she will enjoy Westley and Buttercup and all the rest of the entertaining characters.
Ages 10 and up | Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | Nov. 5, 2013 (Illustrated edition) | ISBN-13: 978-0544173767
I never read this book to my own children; somehow I missed it when they were little. For my first Christmas as a grandmother, my dear friends bought this book with a recorder built in, so I could read it to him without being there. I adore this book. It tempo is peaceful, calming a perfect bedtime book to read cuddled together. I purchased a second one, and to my delight, my grandson had memorized the entire book, down to my exact inflection. I taped him reading it to me, and now, now only does he go to sleep with my words echoing in his head, so does do I.
Ages 1 and up | Publisher: Harper Festival | Jan. 23, 2007 | ISBN-13: 978-0694003617
My number one pick is not really for children, but for parents. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch took me by surprise. I expected a sweet children’s bedtime book and instead was rocked by a profound story of what it means to be a parent as well as a child. There are books that evoke the most primal feelings and this is one of them. This is a keepsake to be pulled out when your own children become parents. It is my favorite gift, and brings me to tears every time I read it.
Its message is both universal and meaningful.
Ages 1 and up | Publisher: Firefly Books | Sept. 1, 1995 | ISBN-13: 978-0920668375
An Awesome Book Of Thanks! By Dallas Clayton should be in everybody’s personal library. It’s that important! Dallas writes a simple book that starts in the beginning of time and acknowledges at first there was nothing. He mentions the familiar, like boats and cars or people were not here and then heads to the sky, “There didn’t use to be anything.” However, now he notes “There’s a lot so when I look around at all that we’ve got I say thank you.” He proceeds to thank everyone and everybody, sometimes thoughtful, “the breeze and for the rain.” and sometimes absurd, “girelephants in silly hats”.
He thanks for books, and the ocean deep, pigs and cows and ducks and sheep. He mentions to be grateful for “having all the time it takes and boxes for pretend and balls to kick and kites to fly and places to go when you want to cry”.
He remembers to thank not only each member of a family, but doctors and artists and teachers as well. He states, “It’s so easy we see these things everyday to forget to say thank you in every way.”
Ages 4 and up | Publisher: Two Lions | Nov. 18, 2010 | ISBN-13: 978-1935597377
About the Author
Award winning author and former social studies teacher, Carole P. Roman is delighted to add Kenya to her wonderful series, “If You Were me and Lived in…” Her other series Captain No Beard has won numerous awards and has been recognized by both parents and teachers alike as a successful way to introduce lessons on tolerance, sharing, bullying, and responsibility. She lives on Long Island with her husband and very near her children and grandchildren who fill her life with joy.
Find out more about Carole P. Roman, visit: caroleproman.com
For even more baby shower ideas and books to gift for all ages, spend some time digging around the “Family Favorites” of the many wonderful authors that have contributed to this column.