Those early days of motherhood are tough. The lack of sleep, the fear of getting it wrong and the utter shock that you are now responsible for the life of a tiny human is a potent cocktail which can you leave you feeling like you’re losing your mind.
When Ivy was tiny I used books as a way of bonding and calming my thoughts. We’d snuggle on the sofa, surrounded by a whirlwind of mess, and let the words wash over us both. It didn’t matter what I read – sometimes it was a picture book and sometimes it was a magazine or the novel I was reading – but the result was always the same. Ivy would listen to my voice (and inevitably fall asleep) and I would feel like I had been reset, ready to face whatever the next challenge of the day might be.
When Loretta discovers that her Aunt Esme and Uncle Jax are expecting a baby her whole world changes. Her family explain to her that babies are a celebration of love, life and hope and soon the whole household buzzes with activity as they prepare for the new arrival. Nappies are purchased, a cradle is built, a nursery is prepared and little woolly hats are knitted. There is even a baby shower with a huge stack of gifts!
Loretta is a kind and thoughtful girl so naturally she wants to give the baby a gift too – but she just can’t think of anything appropriate. She doesn’t have enough pennies in her money box to buy anything and when she tries to make something she ends up just making a mess. What can she possibly give to someone as precious as a new baby?
Seahorses are special because, unlike most animals, it is the male of the species which gets pregnant. When it’s time to mate he puffs out his tummy and the female lays her eggs in a little pouch where they are then fertilised. He carries the eggs until the baby seahorses are ready to be born.
This beautiful board book follows Mister Seahorse from conception to birth as he meets a whole host of other sea creatures who are preparing for the arrival of their own little ones. As we follow his journey we discover that he is not unique and that many other male fish go to great lengths to keep their young safe.
Mr. Stickleback builds a nest for Mrs. Sticklebacks eggs and then hovers over it, protecting them. Mr. Tilapia carefully carries eggs in his mouth so they are safe from predators. Mrs. Kurtus lays her eggs on Mr. Kurtus’ head and he carries them there until they are ready to hatch. Mr Pipe has a line of eggs running right along his belly and Mr. Bullhead is the primary carer of his brood once they are welcomed in to the world.
When we received this in the post we thought initially thought it was a chunky hardback, but upon opening it we found a lovely surprise. It actually contains nine mini board books, each dedicated to different types of animals.
Each tiny book contains 5 double page spreads, featuring a gorgeous illustration of an animal along with its name. This makes them perfect for babies and younger toddlers who are just starting to recognise different creatures.
But this set isn’t just for reading. The books are shaped like cubes so they’re great for stacking and sorting. If you turn them upside down they become puzzle pieces which when ordered correctly display a larger animal scene. You can also play a matching game when placing them back in the box because the cover images are repeated inside.
Have you heard of The Little Black & White Book Project? Run by mum Ruth Bradford, it’s an award-winning small business which creates beautifully designed black and white board books for babies.
A newborn baby’s sight is a little blurry and their field of vision is only 6-8 inches. They cannot distinguish between shapes or colours but research has shown that the stark contrast in black and white images helps stimulate their vision. If you’ve ever worn a black and white Breton top around a baby you’ll know that they just can’t stop staring. Try it and see!
Ruth’s books are designed to help with early visual stimulation. Each one focuses on the animals from a different region and our favourite is this one – Spectacular Animals of Africa.
We adore this little book which teaches children colours whilst celebrating diversity and unconditional love.
The gentle rhyme encourages kids to step out in to the sun and be exactly who they are, safe in the knowledge that their families will always love them. The accompanying pictures show happy children from around the world, along with photographs of families with same sex parents.
We are introduced to the colours from the Pride flag, and a special section at the back tells you about Pride Day and the special significance of each colour.
This is a sturdy board book which means it’s perfect for even the littlest libraries and the use of colour and real photos is really engaging.
Ivy is fascinated by this beautiful little board book which celebrates the fact that all children are different.
The gentle rhyme encourages the reader to think about their own personalities as they explore the detailed illustrations. Are they a big kid or a little kid? Are they calm or a little crazy? Do they like hugs? Are they outdoorsy? Do they like to make a mess?
There is a diverse host of characters, playing in lots of different ways and I like the fact that care has been taken not to genderise the activities. We see little girls climbing, making a mess and dressing as superheroes and little boys snuggling with teddy bears and showing emotion.
The prospect of having a new baby brother or sister can be both exciting and daunting for a toddler. A new playmate sounds fantastic but where will the baby come from and how will life change when it arrives?
When I found out I was having Ivy I bought a big book which told me what to expect from my pregnancy and beyond, and this gorgeous book is like a mini version of that for kids!
The early pages talk about what having a new baby means and how it might affect you. It addresses the fact you might be a little worried and emphasises that although life won’t be the same, it will be better because there will be even more love and cuddles.
This gorgeous classic tells the true story of two very special male penguins at Central Park Zoo.
Choosing to ignore the female penguins, Roy and Silo are inseparable. They sing together, bow to each other and go on little strolls around the penguin enclosure. When they see the other penguins pair up and build a nest of stones they do the same and snuggle up to sleep. Soon however they see that the other penguins all have eggs in their nests. They watch as the eggs grow then hatch, and they want a baby penguin of their own.
Clever Roy spots a large round stone which looks just like an egg. He brings it home to Silo and they pop it in their nest. For days and days they take turns sitting on the egg, just as they have seen the other penguins do, but no baby penguin appears.
Felicity and Jane are two African snails who are very much in love. The pair are inseparable and are looking forward to spending their lives together. Then something very special happens – Felicity finds out that she is going to have a little baby snail. She can’t wait to tell Jane, but when she does it turns out that Jane also has some special news, as she is pregnant too. They are going to be a family and are very excited!
The two expectant mums work hard to create the perfect egg chamber for their new arrivals and then together they lay their eggs and wait. It’s not long before the tiny snails start to hatch and soon Felicity and Jane are the proudest mums on the planet.