My posts have been sporadic lately, but there is a great reason for that. Our family is expecting another little one to join us in the fall. Between homeschooling, Strawberry’s 3-year-old energy, and pregnancy exhaustion and sickness, it has been rough going!
Because I’m feeling better now, I am all the more excited to share our journey with you. We are so excited. In the past few weeks, we’ve been reading some excellent picture books together to help the kids prepare for the change coming to our family, especially for Strawberry, who did not understand at first.
One great nonfiction book we’ve enjoyed is The Usborne Flip Flap Body Book, which explains where babies come from in no-nonsense terms with flip flaps to keep interest. I love the truth in books for little children. This one has a bit more text, so I think it’s just right for my older child. A bonus is that in addition to the section about babies, there are two other sections (digestion and senses).
Another nonfiction book for the younger crowd is the spectacular When You Were Inside Mommy by Joanna Cole, which also explains the process of pregnancy in simple terms perfect for a three-year-old child. I’d suggest it’s the perfect go-to book for a parent hoping to explain to a young preschooler just how babies are grown inside Mommy’s belly.
The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall is another favorite “expecting a baby” book for kids. Although it is full of nonsense as a soon-to-be-big brother is told all sorts of whoppers about where a baby comes from, it is in fact a no-nonsense book for parents interested in opening a practical dialogue with children. In this clever story about a young boy seeking the truth about his expected sibling, his grandpa, teacher, and other associates are not so frank with him, leaving him scratching his head. I love how when he finally has a conversation with his parents and gets the truth, he is satisfied that everyone is a little bit right. Ms. Blackall watercolor and ink illustrations perfectly capture a child’s confusion when people answer with fake answers: “babies come from a seed that grows into a tree” and “babies come from a hospital.” What is the child thinking when we give such confusing answers?
One Special Day by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Jessica Meserve (Disney Hyperion, 2012) is full of metaphors to show just what Spencer is: strong as a bear, tall as a giraffe, loud as an elephant. The animals are not named but illustrated in bright and colorful paintings as Spencer plays outside and enjoys his freedom. But one special day, Spencer is something he has never been before, and all the animals retreat as he watches his parents return home with a new baby. Spencer is a now a brother! One Special Day is an understated book in terms of text, but the large pages, bright paintings, and sweet emphasis on all that big brother can do makes it a nice addition to an older sibling’s “expecting a baby” reading shelf complete.
Lola Reads to Leo by Anna McQuinn and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw (Charlesbridge, 2012) is a big sister book, starting when Lola is reading with her mom before the baby is born. When baby Leo arrives, Lola gives him a book, the “perfect present.” When he is crying or hungry or messy, Lola knows just which book to choose to help him feel better. She knows she is being a good big sister when she reads to him. The acrylic illustrations are perfect and perfectly suit the mood. Big Sister Lola is the star here!
Henry Helps with the Baby by Beth Bracken and illustrated by Ailie Busby. As the title suggests, Henry has a little sister that needs lots of help. “Henry is good at helping!” When the baby needs a diaper, Henry gets it. When she is eating, he gets her a burp cloth. He shares his bath toys, he gives her a kiss, and he sings her a lullaby. The illustrations are kid-like paintings that capture the fun of being a kid, but they are also realistic enough to capture the ways in which Henry actually is helping his sister and his parents. The book gives a great message for young kids and may help an older sibling prepare for the arrival of a newborn.
Finally, There’s a House Inside My Mommy by Giles Andreae (illustrated by Vanessa Cabban) is the perfect balance between a technical “how a baby grows” and exciting “a baby is coming.” Told in rhyme, this book doesn’t have sketches of the life changes for an older child when a new baby comes, and it likewise does not explain how a baby is grown. It’s written for children who may not know what’s going on. There’s a House Inside My Mommy captures daily life for a child with a pregnant Mom: Mom feels sick, Mom falls asleep a lot, child talks to the baby through Mommy’s “tummy telephone” (Raisin loved that part). Of course, in the end, a baby joins the family. The emphasis in Mr Andreae’s book is on the long process of pregnancy. Also, the child in this book is illustrated in a way that it can be interpreted as a boy or a girl, so that may be a nice touch for you to adapt the story to your own situation.
See my aStore for information about these books.