If vintage books aren’t your thing, there are a ton of great illustrators and writers creating classics now for the next generation. Author and certified readiologist — Esme Raji Codell — keeps a wonderful blog with current (and past) recommendations worthy of any child’s bookshelf. The two Aussie mums at We Heart Books do a great job highlighting anything that is literary-related for your wee one, and they sort their picks by age so you can choose appropriately.
As for me, I love David Wiesner, Mo Willems and Christopher Wormell, but my favorite contemporary picture book author is Eric Rohmann. When August was only a year old, he wanted to hear Rohmann’s Caldecott Medal-winning book, My Friend Rabbit, over and over again. He was so enthralled with the stories and pictures of both Rabbit and The Cinder-Eyed Cats that I felt compelled to write the guy a letter (because that’s the kind of thing you do when you are book obsessed) telling him how special my family thought his talent was. Three weeks later, a box arrived on my doorstep filled with posters, an autographed copy of Clara and Asha, and a hand-doodled letter thanking us for being inspired. Needless to say, we are now his number one fans for life.
New or old, books are an important part of any child’s early development. I made a point from the moment my son first shifted in my belly to have books tucked in every corner of our house so that at a moment’s notice we could be trekking out to the hundred acre wood (Pooh) or sneaking over to the Plaza Hotel to share scones with Skipper Dee and Weenie (Eloise).
Once out in the world, August graduated out of board books pretty quick. Though some are really beautiful and teach our babies important lessons like how a cow goes and the basic ABCs, too many parents lean for too long on these books. My advice? While you have your child sitting there in your lap, still unable to run or crawl away, why not try engaging them in a longer picture book or even a chapter book? Turning your child onto full stories when they are still lap-bound will help them build an incredible attention span and become early talkers. I know sometimes is seems like life is too full to read to your kids all the time and hearing Curious George for the 120th time is mind numbing. But, trust me, if you make the commitment to seek out the books you loved as a kid, passing on your favorite stories just might help you stay engaged for a little while longer.