Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Books for New Babies and Parents, too!

The birth of a baby is such magic. This is my precious Emmy just a day old. What I remember most is the warmth - her body and my body so close that we were magically one in the same. I thought this feeling would be lost when she entered the world, but instead it only intensified. This post is to celebrate the birth of our babies... yesterday, today and tomorrow!

Let's begin our celebration by acknowledging the first nine months with a delightful book titled Ma! There's Nothing to Do Here: A Word From Your Baby-in-Waiting written by Barbara Park (of Junie B.Jones fame) and illustrated by Viviana Garofoli. If a baby in utero were to write a letter to his "Ma," he might say something like this:

"There's nothing to see here! Not one scrawny tree here! No puppies. N0 toys. No girls and zero boys. Not a sandbox or swings. Or those monkey bar things. Not a park or a zoo. Ma! There's nothing to do here!"

Ms. Park came up with the idea for this book when her daughter-in-law invited her to her first sonogram (sonograms were not used at the time of Barbara's pregnancies). As she watched the baby on the screen, she realized that the baby wasn't doing much. Perhaps he had nothing to do in there! This sparked Barbara to write a poem, cleverly narrated in the voice of the unborn child, to give to her daughter-in-law and later made into a book.

This sweet story would be the perfect gift for expectant mothers and the perfect read aloud at a baby shower with the guests then writing their own "notes from utero" to be collected and presented to the Mommy to be!

My favorite book to welcome a new baby is On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier.

On the day you were born the Earth turned, the Moon pulled, the Sun flared, and, then, with a push, you slipped out of the dark quiet where suddenly you could hear...a circle of people singing with voices familiar and clear.

In Debra's words, "I have always liked to write letters, and people often would say to me, 'Why don't you write books?' My first one, On the Day You Were Born, came unexpectedly as the result of a difficult pregnancy with our only child, Calla. Early in the pregnancy, when things were at their darkest, I asked a nurse at the hospital to bring me some paper so I could write down all the things on earth that would welcome my daughter, if she would just get here. Later, after her safe arrival, I took this jumble of words and scribbled drawings and began to turn them into the book that became On the Day You Were Born."

As has become a tradition in our family, a book is presented to Emmy on each of her birthdays with a special letter written on the first page. The book On the Day You Were Born was given to Emmy on her second birthday with the following note,

"Happy Second Birthday Emerson. We are celebrating the day you were born. The day a circle of people sang with voices familiar and clear. 'Welcome to the spinning world. Welcome to the green Earth. We are so glad you've come!' We are forever grateful for your birth and your life with us. We love you forever and ever. Love, Mommy and Daddy."

Another favorite book to present to a newborn baby is On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman.

Ms. Tillman created this book to convey to children at an early and impressionable age that they are "the one and only ever you." According to Nancy, "Too many children are unaware of their innate, immeasurable value. It is my dearest hope that this book will help give children a deep sense of their personal worth."

This enchanting tale begins,

On the night you were born, the moon smiled with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, "Life will never be the same." Because there had never been anyone like you...ever in the world.

Next on my list of favorite new baby books is Happy Birthday to Whooo? A Baby Animal Riddle Book

by Doris Fisher and illustrated by Lisa Downey. In baby announcement style, this book gives the reader riddles to solve through informative facts and clues in the partially hidden illustrations. Such as:

The Latest Word In Our Herd! Born September 23 and tipping the scale at 250 pounds, my baby stands 3 feet high at the shoulders. New Mother: Ms. Ivor E. Tusks

Included at the end of the book are Animal Fun Fact pages and a numbers game as well as a creative writing page where a child could create a birth announcement for himself or a baby brother or sister. Of all the books mentioned in this post, this is Emmy's favorite.

Another favorite book to present to a new baby is If You Were Born a Kitten by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by JoEllen McAllister Stammen. It is the sweetest story showing, through pictures and rhyme, twelve different types of animal babies
entering the world including a human baby.

If you were born a kitten, you'd slip into the world in a silvery sac, and your mother would lick, lick, lick you free.

And another wonderful book for a newborn is Fiddle-I-Fee by Will Hillenbrand. This is a delightful story based on the folk song titled 'Bought Me a Cat.'
Hillebrand's illustrations cleverly show a farmer and his wife preparing for a new baby as their animals secretly meet at night to plan a surprise of their own. The sheet music is included at the beginning of the book, but if you're anything like me, you might like to hear the tune so click here to listen.

And finally...on the day Emmy was born we gave her the book Before You Were Born retold by Howard Schwartz and illustrated by Kristina Swarner. This book retells
a folktale where the indentation that everyone has on their upper lip is explained.

But the moment you were born, Lailah put her finger to your lips, reminding you to keep everything that she had taught you a secret. That is how you got the indentation on your upper lip. It is your reminder of all that Lailah taught you before you were born...and all that you have forgotten.

Lailah, according to Jewish legend, is the angel of conception who brings together the soul and the seed in the womb and stays with the unborn infant sharing the mysteries of heaven and all the secrets of the world. The instant the child emerges, the angel lightly places its finger to the child's lip, as if to say "Shh," which causes the child to forget everything learned in the womb and places an indentation above the upper lip. The story implies that the knowledge is present just merely forgotten and the child has the rest of her life to learn all of the wondrous secrets again.

As a mom, I can think of no better gift for a newborn baby and his or her parents than the gift of a book. I hope these recommendations are helpful to you as you think of your own home library or that of a friend's or relative's.


You are the poem
I dreamed of writing
the masterpiece
I longed to paint.
You are the shining star
I reached for In my
ever hopeful quest
for life fulfilled..
You are my child.
Now with all things
I am blessed.

~Author Unknown~

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