Maeve Visser Knoth: Need a gift for a baby shower?

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Need a gift for a baby shower?

Have you been invited to a baby shower? Know someone who is expecting and you'll need a perfect baby gift? I want to suggest baby books (no surprise) but I want to go further and suggest you enroll the baby in your own personalized "book-of-the-month" club. If you purchase twelve books from the following list you can give one to the family each time you see them and in just a year the baby will have an invaluable library. He or she will have long outgrown the baby clothes and will rarely use the silver-plated rattle, but the books will become part of her day.

Month 1:
White on Black by Tana Hoban.

This little board book is perfect for babies who are just developing their sense of sight. There are other black and white board books but what I like about this one is that the object are organized logically. A parent can talk about the objects even to a very young child and make connections between the things on facing pages. I would say "Look, there are four buttons on this page. One, two three, four. There are four more things here. What are they?" Of course I am answering my own questions but child development specialists have noted that even very young babies learn to listen for questions and fill the space after a question with an answering baby coo.

Month 2:
Clap Hands! by Helen Oxenbury

I'll recommend more Helen Oxenbury before this baby's year is out but I suggest you start with the large, clean board books about toddler activities. Clap Hands and the other books in the series have short rhyming text and parents will find themselves clapping their own hands and spinning the baby around inventing new baby games to go with Oxenbury's rhymes.

Month 3:
The Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown

Let's assume that the baby in question will get a couple of copies of Goodnight Moon. Since that may well happen, look further into Margaret Wise Brown's extensive repertory to find another lyrical story that makes the ordinary extraordinary. Brown describes the dawn to dusk activities that are part of life on a farm. The words sound lovely, the rhythm is inviting and the details just right for babies and toddlers.


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