Subscribe to SLJ
Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Baby Shower? Board Books!

I love baby showers just so I can happily share some of the board books that come my way. Tomorrow in the library we will host a baby shower for a teacher. (Don’t ALL parties occur in the library, seriously?!) I asked my friends Krys and Sandra to design a cake so I could focus on the serious choosing of the board books.

Let’s see. The baby’s room is navy and chocolate colored with a sports theme. Hmm? I don’t have any board books with sports as their theme. Looks like the cake will have to cover that aspect.

How else can I tie in? Mommy-to-be is a numeracy coach, so how about counting board books? Duck & Goose 123 may fit. Aha! I have Duck & Goose It’s Time for Christmas! to pair with it by the wonderful Tad Hills.

Maybe I miss something but the reviewers talk about Duck doing the right thing and focusing on getting the tree decorated for Christmas, but I spent the entire time rooting for Goose to continue enjoying the snow by sledding, making a snowgoose, building forts, skating, etc.

Every time I’d read aloud Duck’s saying “It’s not time for … (catching snowflakes, etc.)” I’d whisper “Yes, it is! Go, Goose, Go!” Wouldn’t you want me to read subversively to your darling babies? I make a wonderful babysitter. Duck & Goose It’s Time for Christmas! appeals to me because the cover is so tactilely fascinating, but mainly

I love it because I can go to the Castlemere website and order Duck & Goose dolls. I wonder if the newly opened independent bookstore in Nashville called Parnassus carries these. I must go check this weekend. <sigh> the extra research I conduct going to bookstores for the sake of my students and colleagues <end sigh>

Back to connecting babies with our school…. Our PBL theme is The Circle of Life and we are studying animals so how about the new board book Grandma Calls Me Gigglepie by J. D. Lester and Hiroe Nakata. Swinging, swift moving rhyming couplets take us through this homage to animal behavior and grandparent love so rapidly, that we MUST go back and re-read over and over again. In part to savor the happy feelings of being accepted and in part to discuss each animal’s name and behavioral characterists.

For those of you who think I am too intellectually focused with the babies, I encourage you to watch TV’s Bones as she prepares to become a parent and is already excitedly planning their first frog dissection together. I have been accused of behaving too Bones like recently, but I dismiss that as purely subjective rationalization by others not focused on the facts.

Hmm? If we are looking at loving relationships, we must check out A Bedtime Kiss for Chester Raccoon by Audrey Penn and illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson. The back cover mentions this is “A Kissing Hand book for bedtime”, but I view it as an opportunity to discuss nocturnal animal behavior and the viewpoint of a nocturnal animal’s perception of the afternoon sun. Would you consider these daydreams or nightmares? Actually it is not scary, but comically provides the chance for young children to be braver than Chester. Although, if I had been read this book as a young child, I would have added reasons to my arsenal of “Why I should not have to take a nap?”

This title joins my list of favorites from publisher Tanglewood Press. My Dog, My Cat would make a lovely baby gift. Ashfall (featured in SLJ this month) makes a lovely teen title. I’ve got to keep watching this publisher. Are you?

Back to the board books, I can’t forget to include a Clacker title so I’ll tuck in Clackers Black Cat illustrated by Luana Rinaldo.  There are more words in this book and we can model P-R-E-D-I-C-T-I-N-G, an essential skill to be taught from the cradle. Thank goodness the politicians haven’t mandated testing of parents reading to their child skills yet!

Black Cat includes sound effects for parent and baby to make. I prefer those sound effects instead of holding the book by the handle and shaking it to make it “clack.” Something about using a book for musical effect upsets the literary purist in me, but as long as I can make sound effects a different way, I’ll overlook playing with the book.

Any good future baby mathematician must include art in their repertoire so let’s throw in Artsy Babies Wear Paint by Michelle Sinclair Colman and Little blue and little yellow by Leo Lionni.

Artsy Babies Wear Paint seems to appeal to adults more than children, but I’m going to have to test this on a few babies to be sure. This is part of the Urban Babies Wear Black books. Author Michelle Sinclair Colman has many titles to appeal to a wide variety of parents. Another favorite of mine is her Eco Babies Wear Green title. Unfortunately I gave this away earlier at a conference while presenting nonfiction and ways to introduce informational text from cribs to college.

little blue and little yellow is a must for my board book baby basket. Celebrating it’s 50th birthday, this title is released as a board book. I’m a huge Leo Lionni fan and after having re-read this, I wonder if there is an interactive or e-book title of this for my kindle, nook, ipad apps, etc. Wouldn’t this be a wonderfully interactive title if we could move little blue and little yellow through their story? Has anyone created this yet? I’ll be watching so I can share such an app with baby’s mother as soon as possible.

Did you know that Random House has provided activity pages on their tribute page to 100 Years of Leo Lionni? Go check it out

I’m going to have to stop here for this basket because it’s bulging. I have so many more board books to share. Choosing among them is difficult. What would you add?


  1. Andrew Thorne says:

    Diane, I don’t suppose you saw the May 2011 Horn Book article, “What Makes a Good Baby Shower Book”? Lots of good ideas to add to yours.

    Best, -Andrew

  2. Lisa Von Drasek Diane Chen says:

    Andrew, that is wonderful. I attend LOTS of baby showers in an elementary school and that article is a definite keeper. Thanks.