Books, Gifts, Reading

Gifting the Perfect Picture Book

person holding red and white gift box with ribbon bow


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.


woman using gray laptop computer on her lap


  • 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!

Books, Family, Literacy, Preschool, Reading

Reading with Your Preschooler

adult black and white books boy


As someone who was a classroom teacher, reading specialist, and now mother, I have a LOT to say about reading. But for today, I am just going to focus on the preschool age, specifically ages 3-4.


In the United States, there is increasing pressure to have our children reading earlier and earlier. Not just being read to, looking at books, but actually READING by themselves. As an (older) millennial, I remember attending half day kindergarten, reading aloud, and really beginning the reading process in school in first grade. That has since shifted and students are expected to be reading in kindergarten. Many of our children are ready at this point and there is nothing wrong with that, but pushing our children before they are developmentally prepared can leave them frustrated and with negative attitudes about reading.


Children in the preschool age should be given the freedom to explore books to develop a love of  reading. Here are some simple ways we try to do this at home. And the best part is that the only materials are you, your child, and a book!


  • Leave books in most rooms. Just like toys, books are fun and always leave space for discovery.


  • Let your preschool “read” a book on his own. You do not always need to read it aloud. Let him develop his own concept of a book and a story through the pictures and perhaps even some words.


  • In a book with sparse text, use your finger to track the words. This will help anchor your child’s understanding of how we read left to right and that each word is its own unit. You should not do this with all books and don’t even need to do it on every page.

photo of a boy reading book







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