I’m so glad that Stella loves books. I mean, she LOVES books. Even if she’s surrounded by her train set, blocks, singing tea pot (yes…she has a singing tea pot) and puzzles, she will still reach for the stack on her bookshelf.
I don’t only contribute this to my academic and professional interest in children’s books, but more so to those around me that have fostered a book-friendly environment since before Stella was born.
One of my best friends threw me a book-themed baby shower a month before my Bucca was born. Each guest was tasked with bringing their favorite children’s book to build the baby’s library in lieu of a card. The guests also attached bookplates to their choices with a little message to the baby. I still love reading the bookplates as Stella chooses a book each day.
I know that book showers are no longer a new or original concept…just look at Pinterest. But I can’t overstate the significance that this shower had on Stella’s love of books. She was gifted books that I probably never would have exposed her to otherwise and some of those are her all-time favorites.
Stella has also been the recipient of some unique book-related gifts. For her first birthday, some great friends got my Bucca a subscription to Babybug Magazine for a year. These little magazines are more like board books. Each issue contains songs, stories, poems and colorful illustrations. Stella loves getting a new issue in the mail and goes back to previous issues again and again. This was certainly one of the most meaningful and lasting first birthday gifts she received. Click here for subscription information.
The Imagination Library program has also proven to be invaluable to Stella’s growing library. This program, initiated by Dolly Parton, provides children birth-age 5 with age-appropriate and free books each month in the mail. I’m thankful that my mom has connected Stella with these books, which she is always excited to receive. This program is not available in all areas, but those interested are able to replicate the program in their own community. Check out the website to see if your community has an Imagination Library program in place AND, if not, get information to start one.
All of these things have been used in Stella’s life to establish a strong foundation with books and have allowed us to focus on literature as a significant component of our daily and collective family life. I’m so thankful that those around me have contributed to building this structure. As Gladys Hunt states in Honey for a Child’s Heart, “Don’t let your children live in spiritual poverty when abundance is available! Fill your children up with words, with imaginative worlds, with adventures beyond your ken” (27).
Lindsay (and Bucca)
Some dear friends gave my husband and I a copy of Honey for a Child’s Heart for our co-ed baby shower when we were expecting our Bucca. This book by Gladys Hunt offers helpful advice on how parents can encourage reading and, more importantly, cultivate rich experiences for children through books. As someone interested in experiential children’s literature, this book was a welcome addition to our library.
The title of the book implies the basics that parents offer to their children: milk represents a child’s physical needs and honey represents the richness of life. While many parents are primarily concerned with providing the milk, the honey is just as important. Hunt states:
To give honey, one must love honey and have it to give. Good books are rich in honey, and hence the title of this book. (25)
While the first part of the book is interested in providing guidance to parents on how to create growth through books, the second part contains reading lists based on a child’s age. While I’m not one to segment books to children based on only their age (I believe that books – and toys for that matter – should be chosen based on the uniqueness and individual nature of the child), I am thankful for Hunt’s suggestions. The first book list is for children ages 0-3, and I hope to expose Bucca to all of the books in her first three years through frequent visits to the library. I thought I had curated quite a beginning book collection for Stella, but to my surprise, we only have three books recommended on Hunt’s 0-3 list:
- Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
I’m excited to take Bucca through this list and record her reactions and responses to the books recommended in Honey for a Child’s Heart. Hey…I’ll take any opportunity to read more books to her! More to come!
Lindsay (and Bucca)