Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Books: Best Present Ever!

Welcome to the December 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Greatest Gifts
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have suggested go-to gifts and gifting experiences for the holiday season for all your loved ones.


I am doing my best to raise my toddler son to be a bibliophile.

In case you don't know the term (and are too lazy to hit up Google), a bibliophile is someone who loves books. Or someone who hoards collects books. Or both.

Which is exactly what I am. Oh, I have tried to change my ways over the years. When my husband enlisted in the Navy, I swore to give up most physical books (except for cookbooks, graphic novels, and select other books) in exchange for slowly obtaining a vast collection of ebooks. After all, we'd be moving around a lot, so it just made sense to not have a dozen boxes of books to pack and unpack every time we changed duty station, right? And so I proceeded to sell/donate/give away boxes and boxes of books.

But it didn't last. Between being a book reviewer and my inherent, inescapable love of bookstores and libraries, I am always acquiring new books. And I'm continuing that tradition with Bug.

His library grows and grows.

Every time we go to the library (which is generally at least once a week), we check out the used books for sale. I pick out review books with my son in mind. I only ever go to the bookstore these days to buy presents for other people, but I always end up buying at least one book for Bug too. And many other people who know and love Bug buy him books sometimes, too.

In fact, whenever anyone asks me what makes a good present for Bug, books are my top answer. Clothes are handy sometimes, and goodness knows he loves toys (although he honestly doesn't need any more of those most of the time!). But one can never, ever have too many books!

There are many reasons why I love getting new books for my son's personal library:

Books provide a bonding experience.  Is there anything better than cuddling a normally squirmy toddler while sharing a good book together? Feeling his intense need for you to turn the page and tell him what happens next, even if you've read the story more times than you can count? Watching as he points out parts of the pictures that he loves, or things he's never noticed before? Hearing him "reading" along with you? Reading with Bug is one of my favorite things to do, and I'm pretty sure he feels the same way. Every book in a child's library is an opportunity to spend time together, an opportunity that can be used again and again.

Books provide some quiet time.  It sometimes feels like Bug is always on the go. But when we sit down to read together, it provides a nice, calm break in the middle of an otherwise busy toddler day. It's not passive quiet time, like watching a cartoon would be, but an active sort of quiet time that engages his mind. Goodness knows he needs those little breaks sometimes! And when we have new books that have been recently added to his collection, those little breaks will often stretch out into an hour or more at a time.

Books can be an integral part of life's little routines.  In our home, we always read at least two books before nap time and at least two books before bedtime, sometimes usually more at each occasion. So even if we don't do any other reading on a given day (not sure that's ever happened, actually, but it's theoretically possible), Bug knows that we'll read together at those times, and he looks forward to it. In fact, some nights the quickest way to get him into the bedroom is to tell him to pick out his bedtime books.

Reading can be incorporated into other routines too. My son looks forward to weekly story time at the library, and sometimes we attend the sign language story time as well. And now that he's getting older and starting to understand holidays and different holiday seasons a little better, I'm getting excited about introducing seasonal books into the mix; our Thanksgiving book collection grew this year, and I'm starting to pull out the Christmas (and other festive winter holiday) books now that December is upon us.

Books help kids learn a variety of good skills.  Reading with your kids can help build their vocabulary. Reading with them can help them learn to sit still. Reading with them can help them learn appropriate ways to interact with others. Reading with them can help them cope with big milestones like potty training or a new sibling. Reading with them can help them learn to read themselves. Perhaps most importantly, reading with them shows them that reading is something we do because we love it, not something we do because we have to.

Books are delicious.  Well, not precisely. (Younger babies certainly seem to think they taste good though! Didn't you know it's the first stage of learning to love books?) Not to sound cliche here, but books feed the soul. Reading stimulates the imagination, gets my son thinking, and inspires questions. As Bug gets older, books will be great ways to start conversations, and launch points for learning about other related topics. I sincerely hope that books will feed his brain for the rest of his life. (And the things we cook together from my cookbooks truly are delicious!)

But you want to know one of the best reasons that books make such a fabulous gift for little ones? When you choose to give books, you get the opportunity to share some of your favorite stories with a new reader, as well as the chance to discover other great ones. Since my son was born, I have delighted in acquiring copies of the picture books I remember fondly from my own childhood. My siblings have suggested books that were favorites of my nieces and nephews. Friends with children have gifted us with copies that their own babies enjoyed, my in-laws have introduced us to books that my husband loved as a child, and my own parents have suggested titles I had forgotten were awesome. And in turn, every time one of my friends has a baby, I can present them with books Bug and I have read and loved.

It's a beautiful cycle.

So the next time you're wondering what kind of present would be best for a little one in your life, why not head to the bookstore? 


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • I Want to Buy All of the ThingsThe Economama discusses whether there's a way to buy all of the baby stuff she desperately wants for her daughter without spoiling her.
  • The "Collectors" and the "Concentrators": How Children React to Lots of Presents — Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., at Parental Intelligence discusses two types of children who receive gifts: the "Collectors" who rip open the wrappings on their their presents and love to count them and the "Concentrators" who spend endless time on each gift ignoring the array of presents around them.
  • The Joy of Giving and Receiving — Ellen at Life With Lucien shares her three-year-old son's new favorite toy for imaginative play.
  • Books: Best Present Ever! — Holly at Leaves of Lavender discusses some of the many reasons why books are the ideal gifts for little ones.
  • 10 DIY Gifts You Still Have Time To Make — A roundup of 10 DIY gifts that don't take much time to make from Doña at Nurtured Mama.
  • Pumpkin Gingerbread Loaves - A Delicious Holiday Gift — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares one of her favorite recipes to make and give during the holidays. This Pumpkin Gingerbread Loaf is much anticipated by her friends and loved ones. Learn how to create this delicious gift from the heart!
  • Christmas gifts for dreamers — Tat at Mum in search shares her favourite books and resources that have helped her get inspired and move forward towards her dreams this year.
  • Natural parent's baby shower registry — Since she had everything already for baby #3, Lauren at Hobo Mama is amusing herself by building a list of essentials and a few fun fripperies for a natural-parenting nursery.
  • Gifts of love — Charlie at PeelingClementines recalls her favourite Christmas gift of all time and thinks about how to add this magic to her little one's first Christmas.
  • The Gift of Letting Go — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has discovered that when you're a perfectionist, sometimes the best gift is simply releasing yourself from self-imposed expectations.
  • Montessori Inspired Gifts for Babies and Toddlers — Rachel at Bread and Roses shares gift ideas that were a hit with her son last year and what's on her wishlist for this year.
  • Giftmas Ideas for KidsMomma Jorje offers an original gift idea that hasn't been overdone and is good for the kids!
  • Favorite CDs for Babies and Toddlers {Gift Guide} — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her family's favorite CDs for babies and toddlers, some of which were favorites of her children and are now favorites of her granddaughter.
  • The Birthday Turned Christmas Wish ListThat Mama Gretchen forgot to share her birthday wish list this fall, but she's still wishin' and hopin' a present or two will arrive for Christmas!
  • 8 Thoughtful Non-Toy Gifts for Baby — Is your family asking for hints for presents to give baby? Moorea, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, offers this list of ideas that won't overwhelm your little one with toys.


  1. Your last point is so right on — I love sharing the books that have meant so much to me with my little ones, and it's so much fun to discover all the new and delightful ones that have been written in the meantime.

  2. Reading with my littles is one of my favorite parenting activities. We start when they are REALLY young - I have pictures of reading Dr. Seuss to my son with my mom when he was barely sitting up. Of course we did board books, too, but there's something about those silly rhymes that really made my son happy :)
    Now that he's older, it's such a treat to share my favorites with him, and to see him sharing his favorites with his little sister!

    1. My son is so obsessed with the Grinch right now! Dr. Seuss admittedly makes me a little crazy sometimes, but he loves them too; one of his other long-standing favorites is "Green Eggs and Ham."

  3. I could not agree with you more - books and reading together are the perfect gifts! Are bookshelves are already overflowing, but my son will be getting some new books to enjoy for Christmas this year. Having him sit close and snuggle with me is a gift for mama, too! This post made me think of a new picture book we discovered recently and loved - The Children Who Loved Books. So cute, and describes our house well!

    1. I will have to see if our library has a copy of that one! Thank you for the suggestion.

  4. I love books too! My daughter is not old enough to really understand them yet but we already read every day and she loves looking at the pictures and grabbing them. Any suggestions for books that are fun for the parents to read?

    1. Two books I loved reading to my daughter when she was really little were Everywhere Babies and Jamberry. Both are sing-song enough that hold baby attention, have fun pictures, and are still fun to read. She loved Brown Bear, Brown Bear, too!

    2. My son loves "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" too (and all of its variations)! The original especially is engaging, since it has familiar animals and lots of colors, and it lends itself well to sign language, if you're inclined that way. (Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozRkZ5aaoCQ&list=UU5LJUN2MIKsTegH9PZnKf_w to learn the signs!) We also love pretty much everything by Sandra Boynton; her drawings are adorable and all babies love rhymes. Try lift-the-flap type books like "Where is Baby's Belly Button?" by Karen Katz; while the words don't particularly enthrall me, it's fun to watch your baby figuring out how that whole flap thing works. My son also loves the Biscuit books by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, although those are admittedly not as much fun for us adults. ;) And if you like poems, pick up a copy of "Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young" edited by Jack Prelutsky.

  5. We are a book-loving house, too. And all of our book shelves are overflowing! The first time I went to see why it was so quiet in my daughter's room and found her "reading" a story to one of her stuffed buddies I think my heart swelled 4 sizes. These are all great reasons to give books as gifts!

    1. Isn't that the cutest thing ever?!? I love when we've read a book enough times that my son memorizes it. Then he "reads" to himself, and it's so adorable that I almost can't stand it.

  6. I'm such a book worm, too. I'm thankful for Kindle these days, but I still buy a lot of paper books, especially the ones you want to continue to refer to. Books are a fantastic gift for toddlers because they love reading the same book again and again.

  7. I am glad I stumbled across this, as I am pregnant currently but also am a stepmom to 4 kids. Our 11 year old does not read and I find it devastating that she would prefer to watch those horrible "sitcoms" on Nick and Disney than read a good book - I was a bookworm at her age. I've been wondering how to get your kids to be passionate about reading as I want my bun in the oven to be a big reader like I was... (I think I sense a new blog post forming in my brain as I write this!)

    Also, I prefer real books to ebooks. I tried the Kindle thing but there's nothing better than a good physical book in your hands!!

    Glad I stumbled across you... nice to "meet" you!

  8. I remember you telling me, in the little apartment in Waukesha (isn't that where it was?!), how you had compelled yourself to offload to many of your books before The Move!! #bleedingheart I feel your pain!!!

    Jakob loves to read every morning - so I LOVE it when we get new books for him, ha! Because sometimes mommy is bored from reading the same book about planes eighty-four-frazillion times ...

  9. Missed out this article on time, waiting for 2016 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Greatest Gifts