Three-and-a-half years. That’s how long it’s been since I last bought myself a good set of books to read.
I never realized how literature deprived I had gotten until a few nights ago, when Migs (Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri) and I arrived early for our movie date at the mall. We had about 30 minutes to kill, so we strolled over to the bookstore.
Normally I head straight to the children’s area, but this particular night, I found myself browsing through the bestsellers’ list. I felt like I was reunited with an old dear friend. I wanted them all!
I narrowed them down to my top three choices, which included the last book I had picked up simply because the title was too cute to resist—“The Happiness Project.”
At home, I excitedly flipped through the first book, “Sundays at Tiffany’s.” The photo of two little kids grinning on the cover was what made me pick this one up, but the line, “What if your one true friend from childhood was your one true love?” sold it for me.
As I got cozy with my new friend, I thought about how much I truly enjoyed reading and being transported to a different world with just a turn of a page. What a pleasure it was to be able to lose one’s self in a book once again.
The author Emilie Buchwald, once said, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” I couldn’t agree more. I don’t know whether the books I read my children will develop their interest for the printed word; I truly hope they do.
Pools of knowledge
Books truly are amazing. In hindsight, I have to say that even those books I had been reading over the last three years have proven to be quite interesting and served as invaluable pools of knowledge. I never thought I would enjoy them, but now they are staples on my bedside cabinet.
As for the children’s books, while I initially thought I would be reading them simply for the sake of my kids, I was pleasantly surprised to rediscover childhood gems that I now truly enjoy reading myself, with my little ones.
I’ve taken the liberty of listing down the “bestsellers” of my mommy and baby library.
1. “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg and Sandee Hathaway
If there was ever a pregnancy bible, this must be it, especially for first-time mothers. It is 550 pages, and truly tackles everything about your pregnancy. Every chapter starts with a quick run-through of what you are probably feeling, both physically and emotionally.
It then moves on to all the concerns that crop up during that period—no question is too trivial, shallow or taboo in this book. I read this repeatedly while I was pregnant, and couldn’t have asked for a better companion.
2. “Caring For Your Baby And Young Child,” by American Academy of Pediatrics
Oh, this is a big book! But this is also because it covers everything from how to swaddle a baby to surviving your 5-year-old’s jet lag. And that’s just part one! Part two is an incredibly useful and practical guide to common health problems, which even includes dosage charts and warning signs to look out for so you know whether what you are facing is harmless or a real danger.
It also features a very detailed response to emergency medical situations such as electric shocks and choking. Admittedly, it is a bit of a chore to read from cover to cover. But it has the kind of information that hopefully you will never need to use but is just what you need to save a life.
Don’t intimidate or overwhelm
3. Interactive books
I started with interactive books when Adriana was about six months old.
My favorites are “Pat the Bunny” by Dorothy Kunhardt and “Alphabet” by Matthew Van Fleet. Pat the Bunny’s classic pictures are simple enough for a baby to understand, and don’t intimidate or overwhelm with loud artificial noises and weird pictures. Together, you and your young one can pat the soft “fur” of the bunny and then compare it to the “rough” texture of daddy’s face.
On the other hand, “Alphabet” is full of bright drawings of animals for each letter of the alphabet with a wide variety of textures to discover and a number of flaps to open as well as other little surprises. It’s perfect for when baby gets a little older and looks for more excitement.
4. Educational titles
What children’s library today would be complete without a “Baby Einstein” book or two? These baby-proof books have thick laminated cardboard-like pages with bright pictures that depict whatever the subject is. My kids truly do enjoy their many different titles. However, Baby Einstein can be a bit pricey. The Brainy Baby Series is less expensive, but just as effective.
5. “Dr. Seuss”
If I could, I would list down all of Dr. Seuss’ books but so far, but the most popular title in our home is “Hop On Pop” (“The Simplest Seuss for Youngest Use”) and from experience, it really is an amazingly simple book of short rhymes that teach kids basic phonics and grammar.
“Oh The Places You’ll Go!” isn’t exactly easy reading for little children, but the bright pictures keep them entertained while I read the rhymes.
6. “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney
This is my husband’s favorite story to read to Adriana. He loves to have her on his lap while he reads her this beautiful tale on how much the Big Nutbrown Hare loves the Little Nutbrown Hare. Together, they stretch their arms out as they try to outdo one another. It is a wonderful story to share with children to help them grow up secure in how much their parents love them.
Morals and values
7. “Aesop’s Fables”
These delightful short tales, credited to Aesop, a slave in Ancient Greece, are perfect for passing on valuable lessons in life on morals and values as they are told with animals in the title roles. Though my daughter doesn’t always understand the irony of some of the stories yet, I’m happy with how these stories always prove themselves to be both entertaining and educational.
Nothing teaches karma better than this old classic tale. The concept of being a good person and resolving to be kind no matter how difficult it may be is best shown in this well-loved tale.
9. “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” by Hans Christian Andersen
I never cared much for this story when I was a child but now, I find myself enjoying it. Through this story, I try to teach my daughter not just the value of honesty, but the importance of being true to yourself and not being afraid to speak the truth.
10. “Bible Stories for Children”
The Bible is actually packed full of stories that children would love to listen to, while allowing them to learn about their faith. “The Wedding at Cana” is among my daughter’s favorites, except I tweaked it to be about the lack of juice in a birthday party.
11. “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch
The first time I read this book, I was in tears in the middle of the bookstore. Now, after reading it more than a hundred times to my son, I still can’t get through it without getting teary eyed. It is a beautiful and heart warming story about a mother’s love for her son, and begins with her rocking her newborn to sleep and singing, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”
It follows the cycle of life until the day comes when roles are reversed, and the son must step up and take care of his dying mother, singing “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my mommy you’ll be.” It ends with the the circle of life turning once again as the son is shown singing the same song to his newborn daughter. Oh no. Here come the tears again.
There are so many other great finds out there that I wish I could include in my list, but finding a great book unexpectedly is half the joy of reading, so I’ll leave it to you to add your own to the list.