The grandmother and baby book club
Is it legal for a grown-up to have this much fun in a bookstore? To smile and even chuckle as she turns pages of a potential purchase? To wish she could share it with all those other grown-ups who pass by on searches of their own?
It has been a long time since I’ve had a reason to buy bunches of babies’ books.
I began reading to our son when he was 6 weeks old. I thought that perhaps there was a window of opportunity for each child: capture his imagination at the right moment and create a book-lover for life. Being a lover of books myself, I didn’t want to miss that window.
Apparently I didn’t. He loves books. But he’s a grown-up. It’s been a long time since we read that first book, a Little Golden Books picture book about baby animals.
Occasionally someone I know has a baby, and I have an excuse to immerse myself in the delights of our bookstore’s baby-book department. Every infant needs a book almost as much as he or she needs a soft blanket and a Teddy bear.
But now, thanks to our granddaughter who is six months old, I have a new reason to buy baby books. Once more I have an opportunity to help encourage a little one to love books, which her parents are already doing. That’s the good news. The bad news is that she and I live on opposites coasts and won’t see each other very often.
So I’ve started our own private book-of-the-month club. It’s possible to go online and register a child for a baby book-of-the-month club. But why should I pay someone else to have all the fun?
I don’t think children had book clubs when my sister and I were little, though, as I grew older, I read the grown-up books that my grandmother received in hers — only after she had checked their suitability for young people, of course. But when we were teenagers, someone enrolled our younger siblings in a children’s book club. What a sweet surprise for all of us each month when that package arrived: to unwrap some new treasure and love a story that none of us had ever heard of. Some of those books sit on my shelves to this day. Our son enjoyed them. Now they await the day when his little girl is old enough to receive them as part of our book club, as she has received the baby-animal book.
I’ve discovered such wonderful new books designed especially for babies. Some of my favorites are the Indestructibles™ from Workman Publishing, described as “books babies can really sink their gums into.” The material feels like sturdy paper that apparently won’t rip or tear or get soggy with drool; the books are non-toxic and washable, also bright, colorful, and imaginative. Our granddaughter hasn’t had time to put them to a true, long-term test. But when I bought some of these books, the clerk in the bookshop quietly confided that she had tried to rip one and could not.
As I write this, people around the country are preparing to observe Read Across America Day on March 1, sponsored by the National Education Association. The goal is for grown-ups to give every child an opportunity to celebrate reading.
Our granddaughter and I, living near opposite oceans, are reading “across” America in almost a literal sense.
I don’t know which of us is having more fun. Probably me.
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