What We’re Reading Now

It’s been a while since I’ve written in this space. Since that time, I’ve had a child, Little A (not his actual name, of course, just an internet nickname to protect his privacy), who is edging closer to toddlerhood every day. Luckily, he seems to enjoy books as much as his mama, so I hope to use this space to share books that we are both enjoying on a regular basis.

Little A’s Current Favorites:

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Clap Hands by Helen Oxenbury

Little A is learning to clap his hands (his is more of a brushing his hands together excitedly, which is cute beyond words), and he loves to copy us when we clap. This classic is short and sweet and has a tiny trim size, perfect for little hands to hold.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

This is the first book A pulled off a shelf (at the bookshop) all by himself. Baby has good taste! And taste it he does–for some reason, this is his favorite book to chew on. It is also one of the few story-driven books that he will sit still for, and he loves the bright, contrasting colors.

Peekaboo Morning  by Rachel Isadora

I love this one for its simple language–since I am starting to teach A sign language, it is easy for me to sign “mommy,” “daddy,” etc. as I read along with him.

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

So far, this is his favorite Haughton (and mine!)–as he is trying out new sounds, he loves to copy the “shh” sound, though with only a couple of teeth it’s more of a “sss.” Adorable.

Peekaboo by Guliano Ferri

I checked this out from the library a few months ago, after A took to playing peekaboo constantly. This was the first book I saw him really delight in, laughing when each animal is revealed and getting so excited for the big finale when his face is revealed in the mirror.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

I have been reading this book to A every night before bed for the past six months (I can recite the book by heart now), and just a month or so ago, he really started to react to the story. Every time I turn the page to the spread where the animal arrive at Amos’s house, A looks up at me, and when I read, “Hooray, my good friends are here!” His face lights up and he gives me a big grin. I always yawn when Amos does before his nap, and this also makes A smile.

 

My Current Favorites:

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You’ll notice a theme here: motherhood.

Things That Helped: On Postpartum Depression by Jessica Friedmann

While I have not suffered from postpartum depression, I did have some serious baby blues and postpartum anxiety. More people need to talk about it and more people need to hear about it so that we can reach more mothers suffering from postpartum disorders. They are so common, but should never, ever be brushed aside as a “normal” part of new motherhood. Friedmann’s memoir moves between symbolic items that helped her piece herself back together after postpartum depression shattered her and the ways in which her life as a new mother intersects with larger issues of race, class, and gender identity. It all reads like talking to a deeply thoughtful friend who has seen the darkest days and wants to steer you toward the light.

Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy by Angela Garbes

I am reading this now–I planned just to thumb through it to see if it was interesting, and I ended up not wanting to put it down. If you hate reading pregnancy guides (yes, me, I HATED them all and their judgmental perspectives) and anything regarding pregnancy/birth/motherhood on the internet (also YES), this is THE ONLY book you need to read while pregnant. But it’s also a fantastic read if you have already given birth, as she covers some important postpartum issues (breastfeeding, pelvic floor dysfunction) as well. Garbes tangles with hard scientific data and the anecdotal experiences of mothers she knows and gives readers a straight-talking, woman-centric guide that doesn’t pull any punches (she describes precisely what happens during a c-section, y’all), she also empowers readers with knowledge both personal and political.

Look How Happy I’m Making You: Stories by Polly Rosenwaike (out March 19th)

Pregnancy and motherhood can be the most isolating, lonely experience, and Rosenwaike expertly captures that feeling in her stories while simultaneously making the reader feel less alone and more understood than they have ever felt before. Pure magic.

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(Board) Books for Baby

I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I last wrote here! A lot has changed in these ten months, as I am now expecting a little one come late winter. Over the past several months, I have been alternately exhausted, elated, and anxious–and sometimes all three at once. Of course one of the first things I thought about was what books I had to have for the baby’s library. I have a list that continues to grow, and for someone who lives immersed in children’s books, winnowing the list to a manageable size is a sweat-inducing challenge. So in order to give myself the ultimate challenge, I’m highlighting my top five (board) books for my little one, in no particular order because c’mon.

babywantcollageWhat Does Baby Want? by Tupera Tupera

Spoiler alert: Baby wants milk. This tiny book has so much going for it–a pro-breastfeeding message, gleeful cheekiness, and a unique and clever design.

Buy | Borrow

nicebookcollageThe Nice Book by David Ezra Stein

Because one thing I want my kid to learn is that “love was meant to be passed on” (and that there are many ways to be nice). And Stein’s art is full of joy and childlike playfulness, so it’s fun for little eyes to look at.

Buy | Borrow

oppozoocollageThe Opposite Zoo by Il Sung Na

This is the only book on this list that was originally published as a picture book, but it is one that translates perfectly to the board book medium. Minimal text and bright, dynamic illustrations invite gazing and reading aloud.

Buy | Borrow

globalbabiescollage.jpegGlobal Babies / Bebés del mundo by the Global Fund for Children

My favorite thing about this book is that it highlights, in the simplest ways, that while we may look very different from one another, we have a whole lot in common. I’m of the opinion that it’s never too early to introduce this concept to little ones, and this book does it brilliantly for babies. And I love that this edition is bilingual!

Buy | Borrow

animalscollageMy Soft-and-Cuddly Animals by Xavier Deneux

I absolutely love all of Deneux’s innovative board books, but I love this one in particular for its two-in-one combo: The black and white color scheme that appeals to the youngest of eyes and the tactile element that promotes sensory exploration. Perfection!

Buy | Borrow

 

 

Diverse Book Night at Avid Bookshop

A group of parents approached us at Avid Bookshop, wanting suggestions for books that featured children of color that weren’t “issue” books–essentially, they wanted books for their children to read and enjoy and get lost in that just happened to star a kid who looks like them.  We ended up planning a little event at Avid, and it went so well, I can’t wait to do more! Below are a few of my favorites that I shared.


Little You

by Richard Van Camp, illustrated by Julie Flett

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This one’s a tiny board book, but it packs a big, beautiful, poignant punch. I actually just shared this one with a customer today, who began tearing up as she read it. (She bought it immediately). Van Camp’s loving lullaby is a celebration of joy and wonder babies inspire in their parents, and it remains well outside of the mawkish territory these paean-type books can venture into. Flett is one of my favorite illustrators working today–her art is stunningly spare yet sophisticated here, and allows the unique affection found in the parent-child bond to shine through with warmth and serenity. Both Van Camp and Flett are of Native/First Nations heritage–Van Camp is a member of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation, and Flett is Cree-Métis.

Ages 0-3.

Buy | Borrow


One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree

by Daniel Bernstrom, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel

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This is one of my new favorite books to read aloud–I used it for storytime, and it was a HIT. A hilarious take on There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly, this book features an upbeat, resourceful little boy who is swallowed by a snake (gasp!), and while inside the snake, convinces it to eat more and more creatures until, well, you know–out they go. The rhythm of Bernstrom’s text is infectious, and Wenzel’s illustrations are vibrant, playful, and spectacularly expressive.

Ages 4-8.

Buy | Borrow


Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle

by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin

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This remains one of my favorite informational picture books. I love Paul’s lyrical poem and how it streams seamlessly throughout the book and how the page turns are oh so perfectly timed. I love how Chin’s fine attention to detail creates a world and characters that seem so real they could jump out of the book. His watercolor illustrations hint at a deeper story about childhood and family and friendship that flows underneath the information about the water cycle. And the back matter is superb: clear, concise, and seriously engaging.

Ages 5 & up.

Buy | Borrow