Yikes. That title makes it look like we're talking zombies, doesn't it? Sorry. We're not.
It all started with a novel request - and at five-plus years in the public library, those are becoming fewer and farther between. (Although the young man who asked me to tighten the screw-in barbell in his lip piercing the other day was a new one, now that I think of it. I declined.)
So, trolling the children's section looking for patrons to
harass assist, I saw a beautiful young pregnant woman (and since you ask, yes I do think all pregnant women are beautiful) with a discontented expression on her face and a small stack of board books in her hands. "What can I help you find?" is my usual entree, and I was delighted and slightly startled to hear that she was looking for books to read to her unborn child. After assuring her that reading anything out loud would probably have a felicitous effect on this lucky baby, I suggested a few books with fun rhymes, onomatopoeia, singing (lots of singing), and/or laughing, plus a few gently rhythmic books for sleepytime.
I don't know if reading to the unborn has a measurable effect, but it certainly can't hurt, and it surely has a good effect on the parents. It introduces the parents to the joys of picture books, and is in some ways their last chance (for a while) to really sit and savor them without having to defend them from chubby, flaily little hands. They get to anticipate sharing familiar stories with this happy child once she or he is breathing air; and it's lovely to think of the time this woman is going to spend lavishing her undivided attention on the person to be. I am an atheist, and I do not believe in prayer, but I believe in the power of intention.
Anyway, I thought I'd share what I came up with.
Jazzy, fun-to-read books:
Chicka-chicka boom boom. Bill Martin, John Archambault, and Lois Ehlert.
Jamberry by Bruce Degen.
Click, clack, quackity-quack by doreen cronin and betsy lewin.How Do You Wokka-Wokka? by Elizabeth Bluemle. Here's the Pink Me review.
Mr. Brown can moo, can you? (and lots of other Dr. Seuss)
We're going on a bear hunt by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. Make the "swishy-swashy" sound effects a tactile experience as well.
Quiet, soothing books:
All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon. Read the Pink Me review.
Day is done by Peter Yarrow.
This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie
Books about parents thinking about their children:
Forever Young written by Bob Dylan, illustrated by Paul Rogers. Might really be the only time for this book - it's definitely written more for adults than for children.
Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman
This is the day adapted by Phillis Gershator ; illustrated by Marjorie Priceman. Made me tear up on Pink Me.
Just the two of us by Will Smith, illustrated by the breathtakingly talented Kadir Nelson.
Speaking of Kadir, He's Got the Whole World in His Hands gains a whole new meaning when singing it to your unborn child.
But I think, most of all, I'd recommend that this lovely young woman find a chapter book that makes her happy - something funny, like Nurse Matilda, or something old-fashioned, like Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, or whatever was her very favorite book when she was a kid, and read a chapter or two every evening out loud to her tummy. That is beauty with links to the past, the present, and the future.
Mazel tov to the fortunate parents, and all my fondest, strongest, best intentions to the babies of 2010,
-- your neighborhood librarian