I have found extraordinary things in both Arthur Rank and Cat’s Protection – nearly new Dr Seuss for 20p or 30p, a pile of brand new Julia Donaldsons for 30p each, (including ‘The Snail and the Whale’ and ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’) as well as a few weary, but still very readable, Ladybird books. Tristan now has a book collection to show off to his baby friends, and he has sat contentedly through ‘Treasure Island’, ‘The Cat in the Hat’, and ‘Bears in the Night’ – the latter a present from his auntie Deborah and, alas, the kind of book which I am certain that you would never find in a charity shop as you can never to be too old to enjoy the anticipation of creeping up Spook Hill and being terrified by the hoots of a giant owl.
Nowadays Tristan is quite a challenge to read to – mainly as he insists on grabbing and chewing on everything that I am holding, from TV remotes to my indestructible mobile phone. So for now we have to give up on reading to him and, instead, we go to bed each night with one of the ‘That’s Not My …’ books.
I am a huge fan of these colourful books (I am yet to come across one in a charity shop) and Tristan never seems to tire of feeling the prickly ears, bumpy buttons or squashy feet before he eventually gets to his robot with the sparkly antennae, or his teddy with the furry tummy. However I thought it would be useful to compile a list of the books which I think Tristan will eventually come to love, and which I already have built up an affection towards. So, I think every baby should own the following:
Margaret Wise Brown Goodnight Moon (1947): this book has spawned endless imitations including Goodnight Bush, Goodnight America and Goodnight Goon
Dr Seuss Green Eggs and Ham (1960): debatable which Dr Seuss to add to the list as they are all brilliant, but this is probably my favourite
Maurice Sendak Where the Wild Things Are (1963): I didn’t quite see the attraction of this book until I looked closely at the illustrations, and realised how they related to Max’s nightmare
Judith Kerr The Tiger who came to Tea (1968): finding this for 30p was like having all my Christmases come at once. At the moment I am getting quite a bit more pleasure from it than Tristan though.
Eric Carle The Hungry Caterpillar (1969): this book comes in endless formats – to attach to the buggy, large format paperback, small and dumpy board book
Stan Berenstain Bears in the Night (1971): out of the shelf, through the door, on the bed …
Julia Donaldson The Gruffalo (1999): the loveliest book to read to a baby, and surprisingly easy to find in charity shops
Campbell Books Faces (2002): babies love looking at black and white contrasts and faces in equal measure so this book was popular from the start.
Lydia Monks Aaaarrgghh, Spider! (2007): a Christmas present from the grandparents with the most wonderful illustrations, and a brilliantly horrifying ending!
James Mayhew Katie and the British Artists (2008): actually a present from my parents to me, but a lovely way of introducing babies to the great artists
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