January 29, 2012

Building baby's library

Almost as soon as I had that positive pregnancy test, I started collecting books for Baby Lu's library. I ordered books willy-nilly from Amazon, poured over "best of" lists, scoured thrift stores, asked friends and family to recommend their favorites, so that my daughter's library would be as interesting and well-rounded as I want her to grow up to be.

In the months since Lu came, we've tried to get creative with finding books for her collection. Here are some of our favorite ways to build her library from the ground up.

Look in the attic:
Chances are, your parents have saved a few of your old favorite reads, for sentimental reasons. Ask them to take a look to see what they have. There's something sweet about books bridging the gap between generations.

Find books to honor loved ones:
Over at Constance Reader, I blogged about a gift someone gave Lu for her first Christmas: a book featuring a character with my grandmother's name. Other readers chimed in to talk about their tribute books--buying a book about a teacher, to honor a parent with that profession, or a book that features a sibling's nickname or favorite color.

Collect milestone books: This has been a fun one in Lu's first year. Whenever she hits a milestone, we buy a book to commemorate it. The first time she slept through the night, we bought a copy of Goodnight, Moon to celebrate. When James's sister was married in Maine, he brought back Blueberries for Sal. We've just ordered a copy of Slither and Crawl in honor of Lulu mastering this skill last week! When it comes, I'll write the date and occasion inside the cover, and how old she was, to make a bookish kind of time capsule.

Make your own books:
Lu has one set of grandparents in the area, but my side of the family lives at the other end of the state. We don't see them as often as we'd like, so I used Shutterfly to make photo books featuring all of the smiling faces we miss. Each person in the family picked a color, and we took a picture of that person wearing or holding something in that color. A good way to teach Baby Lulu about the rainbow, and to keep in touch with the family she doesn't see every day.

Host a book-themed birthday party:
Offbeatmama has some great ideas for planning a book-themed birthday party, including invitations, cakes, favors, and decor. When friends ask what baby needs or wants, ask them to bring a copy of their favorite book, with birthday wishes written inside for baby to treasure all her life.

How do you build your child's book collection? Are there any books that mark special occasions in your child's life?


  1. When our first child was born, my husband was still teaching... his room mothers threw us a "Baby book shower" and every child in the class brought in their favorite board book from when they where a child. Then the room mothers had them sign it and put the year on each on. We still love those books (9 years later) and LOVE seeing the names and dates in them. We collected 26 books from that 3rd grade class!

    1. Kate, I love the idea of a book baby shower - I wish someone had done that for either of my babies! Such a special way to welcome a baby and share memories.

    2. What a great idea--and how meaningful that your husband's students participated. That'll be something he remembers forever. Thanks for sharing!

  2. When I was little, whenever my parents had an extra dollar or so to spend, my sister and I got to go pick out a Little Golden Book at the grocery store. It was so much fun, last year, to go to the Borders closing sale with Joy and Grace and tell them that they could each pick out one Little Golden Book.

    We have a lot of librarians and teachers in the family - we end up with a lot of books as gifts, and I love it. I'm thinking of doing book parties for the girls' birthdays in the future (for as long as they let me get away with it), where you ask the guests to bring a copy of their favorite book for a gift. Saves on ending up with a lot of cheap junk, and expands our library by introducing us to other kids' well-loved stories. Win-win!

    1. I have to admit that I give books as gifts...I figure nobody really needs a hunk of plastic singing junk...but everybody can use a book.

  3. We are the family that gives books as gifts - I do it, my mom does it, my sister does it - and my husband's family is just as bad as we are. My babies already have an entire bookshelf (floor to ceiling) stocked full of chapter books, and their board book and picture book collections continue to grow. I have collected several series that I loved as a child (thanks, ebay!), and am a compulsive garage sale book buyer. My sister and I both inscribe gift books with the date and occasion, so the kiddos will have a little snapshot of growing up whenever they read their books.