Thursday, September 29, 2016

Baby Got Books

We love books.  Books were an important part of our time with Oberon, they are an important way we remember him, and they are a staple of our interaction with Everett.

Reading 'The Sleep Book' to Oberon in the NICU.

Reading 'Snuggle Puppy' to Oberon at home.

Reading Seuss with Everett.

The books people gave to us when Elizabeth was pregnant with Oberon - especially those with inscriptions - are very special.  We tell Evie that these are his big brother's books and we talk about who gave them.

More than just sentimental, books are awesome.  They are a staple of our bedtime ritual - Everett gets to play with an interactive book (or two, or three), followed by Mommy or Daddy reading while the other snuggles him.

We thought we'd share some of our favorites in various categories, because googling "kids books" can get overwhelming very quickly.

Classics for a reason
  • Seuss - in general: They are fun to read, fun to listen to, and the illustrations are exciting.  We haven't met a Seuss we don't like, but our favorite is certainly The Sleep Book.  We read it many times to Oberon in the NICU and at home, and we often read it to Everett.  It's a little bit magic because 99 times out of 100, Everett is asleep by the end of it!  We've read it so much that we can nearly recite the 64 pages by memory.
  • The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear: The title says it all.  Elizabeth remembers loving this book as a kid, and it's been fun to read over and over again.
New and fabulous
  • The Pout-Pout Fish: A rhyming board book that's fun to read out loud with a little twist of an ending.  We may need to talk about consent, but other than that it's just about perfect.
  • Baby Lit: These board books are fun ways to introduce classic stories, characters, and themes to young children.  We've all seen primers on colors, animals, and shapes, but how about fashion with Anna Karenina?  Or weather with Wuthering Heights?  And our favorite, fairies with Midsummer Nights Dream.
  • Little Pea, Little Hoot, and Little Oink: These darling stories all have a little twist - such as a little owl that doesn't want to stay up late and just wants to go to bed.  They all end a little punny as well.
  • The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy: A tangent from the Ladybug Girl series, the imaginative Sam plays Bumblebee Boy and doesn't want to include his little brother, until he realizes how fun it can be to play together.  We got this because, bees, obviously, but were pleasantly surprised with how much we liked the book.  We've even gotten Ladybug Girl books as gifts for others.
  • I Dreamt I Was A Dinosaur: This book has a special place in our hearts as Grandpa F read it frequently to Oberon in the NICU and at home.  After Everett was born, we noticed it even has dragonflies in the illustrations!  A perfect book for both our boys.  
  • The Monster At The End Of This Book: Grover worries about the monster at the end of the book, but he shouldn't because not all monsters are scary.  This one is fun because Grover talks directly to the reader.
 Grandpa F reads 'I Dreamt I Was A Dinosaur' to Obie.

Grandpa F reads 'The Monster At The End Of This Book' to Evie.

Fun(ny) for the whole family
  • The Book With No Pictures: Probably our favorite book to read aloud, and definitely our favorite book to listen to others read.  Written by B. J. Novak of The Office fame, this silly book makes grown-ups say silly things, and that's all we'll say.  
  • We Are In A Book!: Especially fun with two readers, this is meta-children's lit.  The characters in the book realize they a book.  And with that realization comes the understanding that they can make the reader say word.  Giggles ensue.
  • Square Zair Pair: We found this book at Silicon Valley Pride, and it's delightful.  The zairs are a breed that pairs up - always one round and one square until one day two squares pair.  What happens?  We think you have a good idea.  
  • It seems we are a bit low in this category.  We have a couple others that have wonderfully inclusive and diverse illustrations, but they don't address the topic directly.  Looks like we have some book scavenging to do!
  • The Little Boy / Girl Who Lost His / Her Name: These books started being advertised on Facebook shortly after Oberon died.  We bought one for him immediately, and are so glad we have it.  It's a beautifully illustrated story, and it has his name.  
  • The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home: By the same company as the Lost My Name book, this one we had made for Everett.  Everett and his robot buddy, Hubble, get lost in space when their navigational system is broken.  The personalization doesn't stop at the lead character's name and gender, but also includes a Google Earth visual of your home!
Loss, grief, and tough topics
  • Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories: We have the first Chester Raccoon book, The Kissing Hand, and when we found this one we ordered it in case it was good.  It is very good.  A schoolmate of Chester's has died, and his mother helps him process his grief.  
  • The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm: This was one of Elizabeth's backer gifts for the Reading Rainbow kickstarter that blew up a couple years ago.  What a wonderful book.  It acknowledges big tragedies occur and shows that there are people to help support us.  
  • A Rainbow Baby Story: The Rainbow After the Storm: It is hard to find books that refer to the death of a baby without turning that baby into an angel in heaven.  This one does a pretty good job.  It tells the story of a baby bird who gets scared during a storm, and his parents return to the nest to keep him safe.  They tell him about the baby they had before and how that baby died, but will always be part of their family.
  • Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children: This book may look dated, but it isn't.  It describes in matter of fact terms that all living things are born and then die, and the time in between is their lifetime.  Some lifetimes are short, and some are long.
  • My Father's Arms are a Boat: This one is different.  A Norwegian book, it's not like most children's books we've seen.  A boy whose mother has recently died is comforted by his father's arms.  There is no neat tie up, no perfect resolution.  It resonates, because it accurately represents grief.
Bugs and beasties
  • UnBEElievables: Grandma and Grandpa T sent us this collection of poems, which are fun to read AND informative.  
  • Are You A Bee? / Are You A Dragonfly?: These books talk about bugs from when they are born until they are grown into adults, and also things to watch out for (like a duck!).  At the end though, the book assumes that it's probably a human child reading, and not a bug.  This is an accessible way to start teaching young kids about different bugs.
  • Beecause I Love You: This book has antennae!  And besides that is very sweet.  
  • A Tale of Two Beasts: We love this book because it's about a beast, but also because it gracefully shows perspective.  It opens with a young girl "rescuing" a little beast from the woods and taking care of it.  Unsurprisingly, the little beast doesn't see things in quite the same way.
  • We enjoy finding Obie's Bees (and Evie's Dragonflies) in our storybooks.  Some hidden bees can be found in Can You Growl Like A Bear?, The Biggest Kiss, and Hop on Pop, to name just a few.
Then there are cloth books, touchy feely books, finger puppet books, noisy books, and counting books, which we're not even going to get into here.  So many books, so little time!

Evie with the best touchy-feely book!

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