Last week, I overheard some colleagues commenting on how hard it is to buy baby shower gifts. As librarians, we feel obligated to buy books for our friends and family. As a children's librarian, I am never at a loss of when it comes buying board books for showers. I always seem to go overboard with my purchases, but I can understand how co-workers, who do not work with children, might feel daunted. Here are some helpful tips and a list of great books that you can use next time you go shopping for baby gifts.
I avoid buying "classic" titles such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Good Night Moon or The Tale of Peter Rabbit. I always like to select titles that are not as common in order to ensure that the parents-to-be do not get duplicates of the same title.
If you have time, go to your local library and check out their selection of board books. It might give you ideas, especially if you plan on buying the books online. Do not be shy, ask the children's librarian about some of his/her favorite titles.
If you find a title that you like, you might want to buy numerous copies. If you have a small collection of books in storage, you will be ready for the next shower. Some children's books go out of print quickly so I like to buy multiple copies before they disappear from store shelves.
Most of the books I buy for baby showers are board books. Little fingers do not need to be gentle with the pages and the corners are excellent for chewing. Finding little teeth marks along the edges of a board book is always a good sign that the book is well loved.
Over the years, I have given away many signed books. If you are attending a book festival, conference or award ceremony, take the time to wait in line to have an author sign his/her book. While the baby or child in question might not understand what a signed book is, their parents will know that you have given them a special copy.
Here is a list of some of my favorite gift books by author.
Big Fat Hen
The Three Bears
The Little Red Hen
Old MacDonald: a Hand Puppet Board Book
This Little Piggy: a Hand Puppet Board Book
Moo Baa La La La
Dear Zoo (Lift-the-Flap)
Charlie Chick (Pop-up)
Gossie & Gertie
Mama Cat had Three Kittens
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
Time for Bed
Where is the Green Sheep?
Good Morning, Sam
Read Me a Story, Stella
Stella, Star of the Sea
When Stella was Very Very Small
Humpty Who?: A Crash Course in 80 Nursery Rhymes (for the parents-to-be)
Ginger Foglesong Guy
Black & White
Black on White
White on Black
Roberta Grobel Intrater (Baby Faces Series)
Hugs and Kisses
Peek-a-Baby: a Lift-the-Flap Book
Ten Tiny Babies
Where is Baby's Belly Button?
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
I'm a Little Teapot
Itsy Bitsy Spider
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear: ASL
I Love Animals
The Baby Goes Beep
Susan Schade and Jon Buller
The Noisy Counting Book
Matthew Van Fleet
Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings (Fold-out; Touch and Feel)
One Yellow Lion (Fold-out)
Tails (Touch and Feel)
Audrey and Don Wood
Do Cows Meow?
Do Crocs Kiss?
I use many of these books for our baby and toddler programs at the Children's Center at 42nd Street. Even if you are not in the market for baby shower gifts, visit your local library and check out some of these wonderful titles.
In addition to books, I also like to tell friends and family about this fantastic database that has been put together by the King County Library System. The Tell Me a Story site has hundreds of songs, rhymes and fingerplays for children. If you have forgotten the tune/actions for the Itsy Bitsy Spider, you can log in and watch a video of the song being performed by a librarian. This is a great resources for parents, teachers and librarians alike.
One of the best gifts you can give a child is a library card. Visit your local library to see if you can pick up library card application that you can include with your gift. Find out if the library offers baby laptime programs so you can share the information with your friend or family member.
Please note that some of the books listed, such as the hand puppet or touch and feel titles, are not readily available at the Library as they get worn out quickly. In some cases I have included links to the Barnes & Noble website so you can see an image of the titles, but I am in no way enouraging you to buy from a particular vendor.