Welcome to Elephant Notes . . . our periodic take on some of the ideas, issues, and news impacting parents, children, and reading.
Here at Elephant Books we pride ourselves in our focus on new and undiscovered reading treasures rather than the usual classics. Nonetheless we recognize and appreciate unique baby books of all kinds…be they baby’s first board book, memory books, naming guides, or baby journals. They all have a place, and we’re privileged to come across many such unique baby book finds in our explorations.
Unique Baby Name Books
Sure it’s a basic question but it’s also an important one that often is a significant point of debate for expectant parents…what do you actually name the baby? There are a number of approaches and certainly family traditions often play a role, but in a world where the idea of “standard names” is fast receding, it’s helpful to have resources in picking the best name for your baby. Here are a few we like that take different approaches to this age-old question.
1. Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana: What to Name Your Baby Now
Linda Rosenkrantz, Pamela Redmond Satran
With over a million copies of their books in print and shout outs in Parenting magazine and the Wall Street Journal, Rosenkrantz and Satran are bone fide naming gurus. The book explores the naming challenge with a number of different lenses using categories like what’s hot, what’s popular, associations with particular names and derivations. It is a great place to start on the naming journey.
2. The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby
For those of us who like the idea of a more scientific approach, The Baby Name Wizard comes backed up by computer models and visual imagery. Wattenberg uses a systematic approach to provide context around each name, its associations, and orgins in this fascinating and fairly comprehensive volume.
3. 20,001 Names For Baby
20,001 Names for Baby has been around for decades in one form or another. The one constant in different editions is that the number of names listed keeps going up and up. We liked this book as a resource because it was straightforward, alphabetical, and easily lended itself the kind of freeform brainstorming that picking a name, particularly with multiple people involved, requires.
4. “A” Is for Atticus: Baby Names from Great Books
As booksellers we absolutely couldn’t resist including this title. What’s more fantastic for someone who appreciates literature than to take naming inspiration from the great characters of books? It is a novel take (pun intended!) on the search for inventive and unique names!
5. Baby Names Your Child Can Live With: Thousands Of Names To Help You Make The Perfect Choice
Lisa Shaw, Andrea Norville (Editor)
To round up our list we like the premise of Baby Names Your Child Can Live With in that ultimately naming is a social phenomenon as well as an individual decision. This neat book divides baby naming into three categories: “tried and true classics”, “slightly daring choices”, and our personal favorite, “names that will have kids living on the edge”. This book as a fun way of considering some of the implications of naming while providing a variety of different choices.
Unique Baby Memory Books and Journals
Having a child is about building memories and literally starting the journey of a lifetime. Finding the right way to record many of those early special moments in an album, photo book, or journal is a particular obsession for first time and repeat parents. Where do you keep those special things that make each instance come back again? There are some really lovely and unique “memory books” out there today. Below are some of our favorites.
1. Personalized Baby Photo Album
You can never have too many baby photos as part of your shared memories, and this stunning baby photo album provides a special place to store those images. Embossed with a cute quote on the cover and with space to personalize with your baby’s name, this makes an excellent gift that no one would return!
2. Baby Book | The Story of You
We love this photo journal of a child’s first year for its clean and simple style, a choice of different neutral or gender-specific colors, and great prompts on every page to document with pictures all the moments you want to remember. While clearly a photo album it combines some of the features of a baby journal in a visual way that’s unique and helpful.
3. Baby – FIRST YEAR OF YOU Journal
Exquisite design, heavy stock paper, and neutral colors fitting for both boys and girls set this baby journal apart. Full of special prompts like foods I’m eating, first tooth, funny things I’m doing, it’s a great way to record on a month by month basis the unfolding story of a child’s life.
4. Personalized My First Year Record Book
How could we resist this beautiful elephant-themed baby journal, available for either boys or girls? The detailing on this book is exquisite including raised elephant cutouts on the cover and a beautiful pink or blue ribbon on the side. Plus it can be personalized with the child’s name on the cover, providing a unique gift for a new parent.
5. DREAMCATCHER, Baby Memory Book
This memory book is one of our favorites because its cute modern design and its ability for customization. Bound in a Chicago screw-style book, it comes with 50 uniquely designed pages. The best part…you can remove or add pages as needed so that the book reflects exactly those memories you are most eager to capture.
6. Mom’s One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book
For a unique and different take on the memory book genre, we thought “Mom’s One Line a Day” was a lovely approach. Imagine committing to write a short note once a day for up to 5 years about your child. It could be anything, reflections on what you did that did, “firsts”, funny recollections. We thought this would be something people would refer to again and again.
7. My Baby Book
This one is just plain cute! We love the foxes and other animals, like the colorful simplicity, and appreciate the casual nature. Sometimes baby memory books can feel too daunting with too much information to fill in and too “official”. The soft illustrations make this one very approachable and inviting and makes recording this information a real keepsake.
Unique Baby Books for a Shower
While any of the books we describe on this page would be suitable for a baby shower, when we think of that perfect and unique baby book gift for an expecting parent, we imagine those first books you can cuddle up with and read aloud. Typically board books because their sturdy nature ensures they can be read again and again with very young kids, these are the kind of delightful titles that are a baby’s first introduction to the joys of reading. We like the classics as much as the next person, but we think there are some amazing recently published books that are true hidden gems. Here’s a list of some of our favorites that we’ve delivered to customers.
1. Hopper and Wilson
Maria Van Lieshout
Join two great friends, Hopper the elephant and Wilson the mouse, as they embark on a fantastic journey to discover what it’s like “at the end of the world.” After they take to sea aboard a hat made from a folded newspaper, Hopper and Wilson both learn how they already have everything they want in each other. This beautifully illustrated book is a great reminder of true friendship and the joy of coming home.
2. Fluff and Billy
What happens when two penguin buddies who do everything together have a small tiff? Playing outside all day together in the snow and ice is the stuff best friends are made of. However, when a snowball is thrown and feelings are hurt, it’s only great friends who can eventually find their way back to playtime. A sweet book that effortlessly shows how even penguins’ hearts beat for each other.
Applying the tactile features of Montessori teaching, this innovative board book uses enhanced spot UV treatments to teach little ones about famous monuments from around the world, including the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, and Great Wall of China. One-of-a-kind colorful illustrations, sturdy board pages, and no moveable parts make this a unique addition to an early learning collection.
4. Watch Me Hop!
For babies and very young kids, reading is a five-senses experience with an emphasis on the tactile and visual as much as the words. With incredibly crisp photographs, these 60-frame lenticulars bring images to life. Watch a bunny or a grasshopper hop, and an elephant swing its trunk. These illustrations literally leap off the page! A wonderful and engaging way to introduce children to animals and movement in a visual way.
Turn the wheel and watch each scene transform with spinning, eye-catching designs! Award-winning artist Salina Yoon’s spectacular display of kinetic art immerses readers in a colorful, poetic journey. From a balloon-filled sky to the deep blue sea, Pinwheel reminds readers of the beauty all around them. Let the fun begin with every spin! Another book that helps capture the engagement of young children through multiple senses. A visual delight that immerses even very young kids in the colorful displays.
6. Peekaboo in the Snow!
Peekaboo! Who’s hiding in the snow? Lift the flap to find out! Perfect for guessing, prediction and memory skills – and simply joining in! It’s great for creating a dialog with young readers. Vibrant, high-contrast illustrations will make these books instant favorites. Simple, repetitive text is perfect for pre-readers. Babies and toddlers will be delighted by the surprise on each page, and repeated readings will help develop early memory skills.
7. Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!
This book has been specifically designed for babies. A great introduction to books through well-known nursery rhymes and interactive text. Singing songs and rhymes is the perfect way to bond with your baby and share quality time. It also aids language development by introducing them to the natural sounds and patterns of speech. Combining these with actions also stimulates the brain and helps muscle development.
8. The Big Book of Silly
This playful large board book from Natalie Marshall is sure to bring a smile to every reader’s face. Colorful, cheeky, and filled with delightful characters, this book is perfect for sharing. Large board format sturdy enough to survive hard knocks from little readers. Bright and colorful illustrations will engage young readers and provide a good starting point for further exploration of all things ‘happy’ and ‘silly’.
9. Mockingbird Song
‘Hush, little baby, don’t say a word, I’m gonna show you a mockingbird!’ In this beautifully illustrated retelling of the traditional gifting song, Carol Thompson celebrates the unconditional love and warmth that surrounds a cherished infant. With a high emotional content, this is ideal for sharing during a special, quiet time. It also introduces young readers to a common and well-repeated verse.
Baby Books as Gifts: Questions We Often Get
Are books a good baby shower gift?
Absolutely! In fact we believe it’s the kind of gift that keeps on giving as parents go back again and again to these titles to read to their children so will their memories of the gift. And, if you choose a books subscription service like Elephant Books, it’s a gift that literally keeps on giving with monthly shipments that are sure to delight and entertain.
What do you write in a baby shower book?
We get this question a lot, so much in fact that we wrote an entire article about it here. The short answer is that there are many ways to create a memorable inscription for a book. Check out the article for a range of ideas.
When should you introduce books to your baby?
The simple answer is that it’s never too early. Books, even with newborns, can fulfill a number of functions. At an early stage they provide a chance for parents to bond with their new child and even if the kids can’t comprehend the words or pictures it’s the closeness with the parent and the regularity of the activity that is often important. Childhood development experts tell us that the benefits accrue early on and that the same book can actually “grow” with the child fulfilling different sensory and development needs at different times.
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