children's books

The pressure’s on!

One of my best friends is having her first baby this summer, and her shower is in a couple of weeks.  There’s a new-ish trend for baby showers, you’ve probably been invited to a shower where you are asked to bring a book for the baby instead of a card.  I don’t know about you, but I hate this! Now don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that we want to get babies books, and that we encourage parents to read to their newborns, that is WONDERFUL. I hate having to pick out just one really great book! My friends all know that I’m a preschool teacher, I feel like this puts a lot of pressure on me to pick the best book ever. How do you do that?!

I have a few criteria for picking out books for baby showers. First, I stay away from the really popular books and the classics, namely the Eric Carle books, Dr. Seuss, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, because I am sure that others will gift these. I know they are great books, and so does every one else, so I try and spread the love and share authors that may not be as popular with the general public (read: those of us who are not teachers).  I also stay away from mom/baby books, the ones that make women everywhere cry (“Love you forever” and “Thank you for me” along with others), because these will also be gifted by others.  Then I think about the books that my students have loved since they were very very young. I’ve had many of my students since they were two, and a lot of the books that they loved at two years old are still their favorites at five years old – these books are definitely worth giving because families will enjoy them for years.

These criteria have helped me create a pretty solid list of books that I can turn to when I’m on the spot to choose a really great one.  Here are my top picks:

 Anything by David Shannon. He is hilarious, my kiddos love love love the David books.  For baby showers and very young children’s birthdays I really like the Diaper David Board Books, they only have a few words, but they are all words that even very small children are familiar with, and they will laugh out loud every time you turn the page. My all time favorite David Shannon book is Alice the Fairy, but we also love Good Boy Fergus. 

Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins.  This book is a classic, but not one that many people pick up for a bedtime story because it doesn’t have very many words. That is precisely why I love it.  People who don’t read children’s books for a living can be intimidated by books with few or no words, but children love them.  My students could tell me this story when they were three, and that really builds confidence in young readers.  This is a great book for parents to share with their children because both the parent and the child will be able to really get into the story of Rosie and that Fox.  Little ones worry that Rosie won’t get away every single time that they hear the story, and older ones are able to predict what is going to happen, and figure out all of the ways that Rosie gets rid of the fox.

I Love You Stinkyface by Lisa Mccourt. This is a sweet book about a mom who is trying to explain how much she loves her child, but kiddos don’t find it the lease bit sappy because the child pretends to be a stinky skunk, slimy swamp monster, and a bug-eating alien.  Children think that it is sill, and they love to come up with their own versions of repulsive, scary monsters to see how their own parents would respond to the question “Would you still love me if…?” We had an audio version of this book in my classroom and we actually had to throw away the CD because it was so scratched and worn from being listened to too many times.

Good night Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker.  This book is amazing, I give huge props to the author for coming up with rhymes for all of the construction vehicles.  The illustrations are absolutely mesmerizing, they are seriously works of art.  This is a great bedtime story for any child who loves construction and heavy equipment.

Pinkalicious by Victoria Kahn and Elizabeth Kahn.  I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical the first time that I read this book, but I was pleasantly surprised by the positive message that it sends all young children.  The idea that you should be yourself, and do the things that you enjoy, even when those things may not be popular or “in” is powerful, and something that, unfortunately we need to instill in our children at a very young age.  Plus, who can resist the illustrations of sparkly pink cupcakes that look good enough to eat!

I also have a number of series that I regularly turn to for gifts.  These have something for nearly every season, or gift-giving situation, so it’s easy to make a book just a little more personal.

Little Critter by Mercer Mayer.  These are classics, but there are so many of them that it is unlikely someone else will choose to give the same one that you do, so that makes them fair game 🙂 I remember my parents reading these to my sister and I when we were little, so there’s some sentimental value for me, which is probably why I love giving them to others.

Llama Llama by Anna Dewdney.  I love the way that these books rhyme, without being to obvious, it makes them a lot of fun to read.  They are also great for introducing discussion about emotions and feelings, and the illustrations are great – it is super easy to read Llama Llama’s facial expressions, and little one’s really respond to this character.

The Pigeon Books by Mo Willems. These are really popular, but I can’t resist them. Any book that can make children and adults laugh out loud is a winner, and all of the Pigeon books are hilarious.  They also lend themselves to voicing characters differently because they aren’t narrated, but instead are full of dialogue.  Children love to be sneaky, but they also love to follow the rules, so they go back and forth with that silly Pigeon, wanting him to get his way, and loving the opportunity to tell him no!

The Bear books by Karma Wilson.  This is the sweetest bear in the entire world.  He takes care of all of the other forest animals and is a really good friend, and an all-around good role model for kids.  I love that Wilson uses animals that may not be as common (Wren and Hare), therefore introducing children to new vocabulary. There are Bear books for every holiday, but there are also books that touch subjects that are not quite as popular (Bear looses a tooth), so there is always an appropriate Bear story.

These are the books that I always turn to, I’d love to know some of your go-to picks for baby shower gifts. Do you feel the pressure like I do?!

(all photos from

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