Have you ever wanted to gift the perfect picture book to an expectant mother, young child, or teacher? I know I have and the idea of finding the right one is simply overwhelming. The market is so saturated with strong writing and beautiful illustrations that it can be hard to know where to start. I’m still learning myself, but my experience as a book curator has given me a new perspective on this daunting task. Here are my tips:
- Consider the receiver’s interests and taste. Does your niece love construction vehicles or your pregnant pal adore mid-century modern style? Consider her interests and style when selecting a book. This is where it can be helpful to flip through a book in a bookstore to get a better sense of the story and illustrations.
- Preview on Amazon. If visiting a local bookstore isn’t an option for you (which is sadly the case for many of us), you can usually use the “Look Inside” tool on Amazon. You may be able to see a couple pages on your phone app, but the desktop version is much more thorough.
- Check out recent award-winners and starred reviews. I’m always worried that someone is going to have the book I gift them. This is especially the case when attending a baby shower. If you want to (almost) guarantee they don’t, research the latest starred reviews on Kirkus, the monthly selections on School Library Journal, or the annual award-winners courtesy of the New York Times or the Caldecott committee if the timing is right. If a book has been published in the last few months, you have a better chance of finding something fresh and appealing.
- Double-check for sensitive material. Covers can be deceiving. Read a review and some book tags if you want to be careful about the material you’re gifting. This may not be the case with a simple baby book, but even picture books can be used to wade through difficult situations like death or violence. So peruse a couple reviews on Barnes & Noble or check the tags on Junior Library Guild to ensure you are buying the best book possible.
Happy book buying!