When I became a sister, I was the happiest girl on the planet! I had begged my parents for a baby pretty much from the time I could talk, and just before my 4th birthday my wish came true!
Fast forward to the next generation: when my firstborn bookworm became a big brother at 22 months old, he pretty much was unaware that anything had happened. Visiting me in the hospital, he was entranced by the privacy curtain, the buttons on the bed, the sink pipes… everything except the baby! We brought Baby Bookworm home and life just continued. I was prepared for epic regressions, jealous meltdowns, angry outbursts. Still waiting for those. I’m sure they’re brewing, but as this post title suggests, I’m not looking to borrow trouble.
Now my sister is getting ready to welcome her second born baby into the world and I’ve been digging out the new baby books for my nephew. (Who, when asked where the baby is, points to his own belly. Sweet.)
I know everyone’s experience is different. My friends have lived their fair share of transitional nightmares, household destruction while mommy’s busy nursing, potty training regressions, and the list goes on. I have a booklist forthcoming for those situations, but today I’m focusing on books that celebrate the anticipation and arrival of a new baby to the family.
These books tenderly encourage older siblings to embrace the newness headed their way without planting any bad ideas in their heads. So many new baby books center on jealousy and the bumps in the road. These do not.
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One Special Day: A Story for Big Brothers & Sisters by Lola M. Schaefer. (toddler, preschooler) This is my new favorite book, in any subject matter! The first three quarters of the book introduce Spencer: strong as a bear, fast as a horse, tall as a giraffe, told simply as similes completed by illustration. Both of my Bookworms loved completing the similes by identifying each animal in the illustrations. At the book’s beautiful climax, on one special day, all of the animals along with Spencer are seen peering quietly through the window as new baby comes home, “and then he was gentle, because, for the first time ever–Spencer was a brother.” The family is shown in several scenes cuddling the new baby as the animals peer from a distance. Spare text with ample message. I love how empowering this story is for the older siblings! (Gentle was an important concept we worked on for many months with Big Bro Bookworm prior to my due date! Sign language provided a simple tactile way to practice.) Don’t miss the endpapers! We all loved poring over the vignettes of the siblings enjoying childhood together.
Mission: New Baby by Susan Hood. (preschooler, early elementary) While the military & spy jargon might be lost on the littlest bookworms, this “Top Secret Info for Big Brothers and Sisters” is adorable and positive in tone. What big sibling doesn’t love being “in on” a special mission? Here, big siblings are briefed on how to train their family’s brand-new recruit. The illustrations follow pregnancy, first meeting, early infancy, first steps, and sibling fun as time passes.
My Big Brother and My Big Sister by Valorie Fisher. (toddler, preschooler) A book of photography, told and taken from the perspective of a baby. “Everyone makes a fuss over how big I am, but my brother is REALLY big.” It shows a typical day’s worth of activities as the siblings interact, play peek-a-boo, eat, blow bubbles and the like. I love the natural rhythm of life that it captures. These siblings already have a special friendship.
15 Things NOT to Do With a Baby by Margaret McAllister. (toddler, preschooler) I’ve enjoyed sharing this one with my Toddler Bookworm (19mo) as we prepare him for a baby cousin. He loves the artwork, and Preschool Bookworm thinks the ideas are “soo silly”: Don’t send him up in a hot air balloon. Don’t give the baby to an octopus to cuddle. Following the expected fifteen forbidden activities are seven suggestions to try instead, including cuddling, kisses, singing, reading. 🙂
Waiting for Baby and series by Rachel Fuller (toddler) These board books are perfect for the youngest of big siblings. They are positive in tone but cover the bases of pregnancy and welcoming the new baby by exploring the sights & sounds of each stage. In Waiting for Baby, the sibling shops for clothes and a special toy for the baby, helps paint the nursery (ah, fiction!), visits the obstetrician, and helps daddy quietly while mom takes a nap (amen!). In the final spread, baby is presented with the toy they had selected earlier in the book. In My New Baby, typical daily activities are explored such as nursing, diapering, and bathing, again shown in a positive and helpful light (“Why is baby crying? Can we make it stop?” For real.). You’ll find one line of text on each page, which is a great jumping off point for making connections and discussion. Other books show the siblings growing together, but I haven’t gotten my hands on these in person yet.
Brothers Forever and Sisters Forever. (toddler, preschooler) I bought the brother version when Baby Bookworm was first born, as a form of inspirational reading. The scenes depicted are of older brothers playing and generally being best friends. I knew it would be a while before these dreams came to life, but the book was an early favorite of then-Toddler Bookworm in spite of this. A celebration of the sibling bond. (Also realistic, admitting that sometimes they fight but they work things out in the end.) Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find an offering for brother-sister relationships from this author.
What Brothers Do Best/ What Sisters Do Best by Laura Numeroff. (toddler, preschooler) Similar to Brothers Forever and Sisters Forever, this 2-in-1 book describes the fun that siblings enjoy together: climbing trees, doing a puzzle, playing tic-tac-toe, making music, going to the library 🙂 Older siblings for sure, but an encouraging reminder of what’s ahead.
Here Comes Gosling! by Sandy Asher. (older toddler, preschooler, early elementary) This is a longer story compared to the previous recommendations. Froggie is eagerly anticipating a visit from Gander and Goose who are bringing Gosling for a meet & greet. The wait feels interminable to Froggie who invents a joyful waiting song and excitedly prepares for the visit. The song is repeated throughout and my Bookworms enjoyed the tune’s playfulness (and my silly rendition). When Gosling arrives, Froggie is surprised by his loud honk, and the parents explore a variety of measures to quiet the crying. Froggie’s waiting song does the trick and he makes a fast friend. Out of print, so look for this at your library, or snag a used copy for a penny!
Best wishes to all the new siblings out there!